Sunday, April 28, 2024

Hike: Hummock Trail, Toutle, WA

Getting There

From Castle Rock, just off I-5, take WA-504 east for for 43.3 miles to the MSH Science and Learning Center. Then, take the cloverleaf turn and follow the road for 2.4 miles to the Hummocks Trailhead.

I'd stayed the night in Castle Rock so I wouldn't have as far to drive arrive by the meeting time at 9:30AM. There was a bit of snow in the shaded parts of the road between Elk Rock and Castle Rock Viewpoints but the road was otherwise clear. It was certainly skirting freezing temperatures.

Despite having the hotel room, I arrived at the parking lot for the Hummocks trail at 9:15AM. Most of the Sunday group of fellow Volcano Naturalist classmates had already arrived. I began getting ready for a rainy, cool hike.

The Hike

Distance: 2.41 miles
Elevation Gain: 280 feet
Highest Elevation: 2,567 feet



Even though this was a group hike, I still brought most of my usual gear (shelter, warm clothing, extra snacks, water). Before setting out, we formed a large circle in the parking lot and introduced ourselves. Besides the classmates and Sarah, we were accompanied by a geologist and MSH author.


This was not intended to be a long or strenuous hike. We adopted a leisurely pace and set time aside to stop and hear from our guests to talk about eruption, features to look out for next to the trail, and anecdotes about conducting research.

As shown, the mountain was shrouded with cloud and we were soaked by the end, though we were all prepared with appropriate gear. I didn't take many photos as the focus was learning.

After the hike, we got in our cars and reconvened at the Coldwater Science & Learning Center for a bit more instruction and wrapping up the day and VNP course in-general (it was our 3rd and final field trip).

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Hike: Auspurger Mountain Trail, Bingen, WA

Getting There

The Augspurger and Dog Mountain Trails share the same trailhead parking lot off Hwy 14. 

I took WA-14 eastbound from Vancouver, WA. It's 54 miles from Vancouver and 6.2 miles from the Carson turnoff/round-about. For a midweek work party, there were more cars in the parking lot at 8:00am than I expected.

I got my gear on and was ready for the safety talk at 8:30am.

The Hike

Distance: 4.57 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,610 feet
Maximum Elevation: 1,712 feet

I'd been wanting to hike this trail for a while. I'd seen the connection point near the Dog Mountain summit and remember meeting some hikers that had made it a loop. I've been up the longer ("Difficult") route up the Dog Mountain trail and had hiked down the shorter ("More Difficult") route but never the Augspurger Trail. Also, I've seen photos from the Augspurger Mountain "summit".

This trip was a work party. It was marked as a "high mileage" outing. Compared to other work sites, this one was still relatively close to the parking lot (2.75 miles), albeit with some decent elevation gain, 1610 feet. Also, we were carrying tools: green grubber, handsaw, loppers.

In the couple of weeks leading up to this work party, I'd been getting a lot of nose bleeds and had received a couple acupuncture treatments. I was a bit on-edge about having another one. 

Just 4 days before on my Hamilton Mountain hike, I had a bad nose bleed on the trail after a strenuous ascent to Rodney Falls. More of an inconvenience but disconcerting. I didn't want to alarm other hikers either.

I was a bit sluggish but still faster than a couple of the older folks. This was not my first rodeo for hiking fatigue, I tried to eat some snacks and hydrate. It seemed to help a bit but it wasn't until I tried some SaltStick tablets from Mike. I loved them. Easier than powder packets and "contaminating" my water bottle. I pushed on and helped on some bigger tasks for widening and benching the trail at spots.

I was overdressed from the cold morning and I was wary of the poison ivy or oak on the trail that we were warned about. A fellow green-hat showed me what to look for. I didn't want to put my bag down in the middle of a patch.

We completed all of the repairs on the list but we didn't do a loop. We turned back about 1.75 miles from the Dog Mountain summit with another 1,000 feet of elevation gain. I want to come back this spring or early summer, probably midweek due to parking permit requirements during the weekend.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Hike: Wahkeena-Larch Mountain Trail, Corbett, OR

Getting There

The weather was amazing, the temp were in the upper 60s and blue skies for miles.

I took I-84 east and parked in the Multnomah Falls parking lot between the eastbound and westbound lanes. Plus, real or imagined, I'm guessing this parking lot is "safer" due to high turnover and cameras.

The lot was about 1/2 way full, plenty of open spots.

The Hike

Length: 8.01 mi
Elev. gain: 2,293 ft
Moving time: 3:23:09
Avg pace: 25:21
Calories: 2,052
Total time: 3:51:28
Type: Out and Back

Now that the time changed to Daylight Savings in March, I can get a late start and not feel rushed to beat the sunset. I decided in the late morning that I wanted to go for a hike. I'm fortunate to have the time and resources for a midweek hike.

Last time I was out (Hamilton) I got a bloody nose early into the hike. I was weary of it happening again so I packed tissue and supplies to deal with it. I also made sure not to strain too much. 

Even though I feel like I'm in pretty good shape, I was feeling a bit sluggish from the beginning. I was hiking faster that most other folks on the trail but it felt like I had weights on my feet. My heart felt good, not beating super fast or hard. I knew that I hadn't properly nourished my body. I pushed through the fatigue and continued past Lemmon's Viewpoint.

The trail damage is still an issue around Fairy Falls and above at one of the switchbacks: the entire hillside collapsed. There is a steep detour but it required care and caution.

I slogged up to the top where the Vista and Devil's Rest trails met. I stopped and had some trail mix and electrolyte water. It didn't work right away but I felt better. I decided to bail on hiking up to Devil's Rest. I was just going to hike to Multnomah Falls, back to the car.

When I reached the junction for the descent, I was feeling pretty good. I went up the Larch Mountain trail for awhile: I wanted to go to the spot I reached last March 2023. I didn't quite reach it but was close enough. I certainly wasn't going to have nearly enough time to reach Sherrard Point (some day).

On the way back to the Multnomah Creek junction, I decided to backtrack to the Wahkeena Falls trail. I had the time and energy and wanted to skip any crowds at Multnomah Falls.

I'd been seeing trail markers for a running race this past weekend. They routed the race past Vista Point so I took that route. The views are amazing, as usual.

Somewhere along my travels, I ran across these gorgeous flowers.

Arctic butterbur
Petasites frigidis (L.) Fr.

I felt strong the rest of way down. I remember seeing a guy at the Wahkeena Falls parking lot. I arrived with my big pack and InReach. I zoomed past him and hopped on the Return Trail. I didn't look back but imagined him being mind blown. LOL.

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Hike: Hamilton Mountain + Hardy Creek Loop, N Bonneville, WA

Getting There

Just after Doetsch Ranch you'll see the Ranger Station on the north side of the road just before the Beacon Rock parking lot, then another road across from the bathrooms. The road winds up the hill for a bit.

For a beautiful day, I was happy to find a few open spots by the bathroom. It was late morning, around 11am. When I was getting ready, more cars arrived and filled up the lower lot. The gate to the upper parking lot was open but I don't know how full it was up there: there were a few occupied campground sites.

The Hike

: 8.54 mi
Elev. gain: 2,264 ft
Moving time: 3:43:14
Avg pace: 26:08
Calories: 2,255
Total time: 4:16:15










The weather in Portland was sunny and springlike but as I drove out toward North Bonneville, clouds filled the Gorge. I knew the hike up Hamilton Mtn is mostly in the trees so I figured it'd be okay. Surprisingly, it was pretty nice. There were visible rain showers nearby but very localized.

The 2nd section between the powerlines and Rodney Falls, I got a nose bleed. It's been happening more lately, since January. Worst timing. I didn't even have any napkins or tissue with me. Fortunately, I was wearing a cloth neck gaiter. The blood was flowing pretty good. I didn't want to alarm other hikers so I turned my back on the downside of the trail. I blotted my nose and took my time opening a water bottle to hide the immediate issue. 

The neck gaiter was black, which hide the blood. A white handkerchief would have been so noticeable. It was starting to slow down and clot but it kept going. Fuck! I thought my day was over. My allergies were fine but it was straining a lot on that first section. That probably was enough.

When I could, I hiked further up the trail to a stream where I knew I could rinse my gaiter out. Ew!!! I paused and consider if I could or should continue my hike. Fuck it. If it's gonna happen again, so be it.

I reached the trail to Little Hamilton. I considered whether I'd just summit and come back down or do the loop. If I was doing the loop, I would be back this way to see the 270/360 views. I did this "side quest". It meant the two hikers I'd just passed would pass me.

Hamilton Mtn from Little Hamilton

Cascade Locks, Columbia River

I did monitor how much I was straining and backed off when I needed. As I continued I passed several pairs of hikers, including the two I just mentioned. I jokingly apologized for leap frogging (again).

I was making good progress and feeling strong all the way to the top. A few hikers had been ahead of me but they were nowhere to be seen at the top: they obviously did the Saddle Loop. I lingered for a min or two, and stalled when an older guy and dog came up from the Saddle. Expecting conversation but none happened. I continued the loop.

Table Mtn

Rain on Carson and/or Home Valley

The traverse was in great shape and I think I found the section where I fell in the snow: a soft fall but a bit of a wake up call. Accidents happen. In a way, I'm glad because it keeps me careful and vigilant and also reminds me that stuff is gonna happen and how you respond is important. Like that first 1st-Aid incident at Ape Cave: hopefully next time, I'll be more calm and collected.

When I reached the Saddle I kind of expected to see some of the hikers ahead of me but I had the place to myself. The part of the hike is exhilarating and comforting. It is the furthest from the car but it's virtually all downhill: the hard was over.

The nose bleed made me choose the Equestrian Trail and not take Don's Cutoff. My nerves were up a bit. As I made my way down, I recalled the last time I was there, it was covered with snow. Then I remembered hiking up here after bailing at an attempt to Phlox Point. I took the Equestrian Trail up. I had to make milestones up this trail. It seems so far, even on the descent.

Hardy Creek

Halfway down the (Lower) Hardy Creek Trail, I heard some weird noises. I know my 1/2 filled water bottles can make noises but I was sure a few of them were in the bushes or trees. I've learned to accept some rustling just off the trail as 90% birds or rodents. I have been noticing more signs of felines after taking the class to identify canine, feline, and other mammal tracks in the snow. What I heard more of a growl or snarl, protective warning. It wasn't loud but it was unusual among the other usual sounds.

I tried to be as quiet and deliberate in my movements. I stopped a few times to look behind me. I don't know how I would react if I'd actually seen a cougar or bear. LOL.

Hardy Creek Trail

I finally rejoined the Hamilton trail and down the powerlines. I've been stopping at Little Beacon the last few times here. It was no different this time. I had the top to myself. I ate a sandwich and drank in the views.

Approach to Little Beacon Rock

European slug (Arion rufus)

Beacon Rock from Little Beacon Rock

Looking north from Little Beacon

Looking through the trees from Little Beacon

Trillium flower