Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Hike: Hamilton Mountain, 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 early afternoon and the weather was a bit crappy: overcast skies and drizzly rain. When I was getting ready, there was a heavy downpour. I noticed a few hikers returning from the trail and a few hikers going up. I considered bailing on this hike but decided to play it by ear and go as far as I could.

The Hike

Length: 6.54 mi
Elev. gain: 2,172 ft
Moving time: 3:07:52
Avg pace: 28:43
Calories: 1,899
Total time: 3:50:05

I'm so glad I decided to do the hike after all. The rain slowed to almost nothing and the views from Little Hamilton and above were spectacular. 

This was my second hike in the last week while still nursing my bruised or cracked ribs. As with the other hike, the pack weight was carried on the my hips so I didn't feel too much strain on my chest/ribs. This difference this time was I had a lot more elevation again so I was breathing more heavily, however I really didn't notice too much pain. I tried to inhale slowly and it worked. I didn't feel winded.

When I got up to the side trail for Little Hamilton, I went up to enjoy the views. Wowzers. I wasn't sure if I was going to do the Saddle/Hardy Creek section so I didn't want to pass the chance for the 270° views.

My right foot was hurting a bit but not the same pain with the metarsalgia, it was a kind of burning sensation on my outer two toes. I wiggled them around in my boot and they hurt but not like I'd injured them. I remember the pain from the previous hike's descent. Argh.

I kept going up through the ridge and in the the bare rock. In the last section I counted off the turns at the switchbacks. As I've mentioned before, sometimes when I leave the trailhead, I wonder if I'm going to make it to the top, even after summitting this small mountain dozens of times.

When I got there, the views were great and I could see all the way to Dog Mountain. I looked at the time and the clouds overhead. I decided I didn't want to do the loop and started my descent.

I passed a hiker about 1/3rd of the way down the top section. I made the comment about hoping the rain stayed up there and pointed at the clouds. I didn't get much of a response. Guessed they were tired or just cautious around other hikers.

When I got back down the Little Hamilton, I made my way out to the lower viewpoint to eat some of my sandwich and take a break to appreciate how lucky I am to have the time to hike, the physical ability, and means to get there. The view of Beacon Rock and the Columbia River Gorge hasn't gotten old yet and I hope it never does. I know there are so many beautiful locations to hike to but I just love this place.

I was so happy the rain hadn't gotten worse and that the downpour at the parking lot was just an afternoon anomaly.

At the Hardy Falls viewpoint side trail, someone had moved the trail sign to mislead other hikers; the arrow pointed down the trail instead of to the falls. I moved it back to where it was supposed to be. I remember seeing where some cretin had craved something in the clay past the falls, I rubbed it out with my shoe. Probably the same knuckleheads that moved the sign.

I was were my wool gloves and took them off to take a picture of some plants. I passed a woman heading for Rodney Falls. Not long after that, I looked down and realized one of my gloves was missing. Crap.

I started walking back up the trail but was aware it might look like I was following that woman. I rehearsed what I would say "I'm just looking for my other glove." Fortunately, I found the glove and never saw the woman.

I skipped going to Little Beacon this time. I was happy to have hiked, my ribs didn't hurt too much, and I made it back safely.