Cape Horn, Nov 26th

This hike is kind of becoming our pre-winter classic with Mark and Carole. If my memory serves me right, we have done this loop more than a couple of times, and it’s always fun to reconnect with friends and plan stuff as we enjoy the views of the Gorge. Not surprising the weather was gorgeous although a bit windy up on the ridge. We found a section or two that were closed to prevent erosion – and accidents, but other than that, another beautiful hike in the Gorge.
Oh, and we found something I’m not sure I’ve seen before. WE noticed some sticks on the grounds had what looked like white feathers. Looking closer we figure it was ice. It had been dry for the last couple of weeks so we couldn’t figure out why these limbs were iced over so we thought that the limbs are just catching the wind and somehow filtering moisture out of the air that freezes due to the air temperature… but what do we know, we’re not meteorologist




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Tom, Dick and Harry and exploration, Nov 22nd

So needing to get out, I picked this hike that I hadn’t done in a quite some time. The drive is short so you can be on the trail pretty quickly, but as soon as I got there, I noticed a frigid it was. I’ve hiked in cold weather before but this was just ridiculous. So I bundled up with pretty much everything I had and started hiking at a quick pace to warm up. The trail from the start until the junction where you can go up to the summit or go around the lake is very forested and beautiful. It did go a bit fast as I was still trying to warm up. When I got there, I decided to go around the lake. The weather forecast indicated it was going to get cloudy in the afternoon so if there was chance to get a nice picture it was going to be early. When I got to the first opening, where you get the first view of the lake, I did notice big lumps on the water. For a second I couldn’t make what it was. Was the lake almost dry? Was it something floating? But then I realized it was rocks and dirt people have thrown into the lake and landed over a sheet of ice that was covering about half of the lake surface. The trail around the lake was covered in a thin layer of snow and a bit slippery but I got the opportunity to stop on the southwest corner where you get the poster view. I didn’t quite get it because the ice doesn’t reflect as the water does, but it was still pretty nice. Then I picked up the pace and started climbing towards the summit. I didn’t have a plan so I just marched up. At some point, the trail reaches the ridge and turn sharply left. There’s a big rock pile at this turn indicating you should not go straight but by then, I needed a bathroom break. My first thought was to go around the rock pile but I had hikers coming down from the top and a small group behind me so I had to go a bit further beyond the rocks. Thru the trees I noticed what looked like a big boulder so I decided to do my business and go check it out. It turned out to be a big rock pile outcrop with ample views to both sides. I continued over the rocks and followed an animal path on the ridge line. Towards the north, the drop was pretty abrupt giving me a full view of Hwy26 down below. I did get to a point where the ridge starts dropping down fast so I decided to stop there, check the view and turn around. The view is pretty intense and I was happy to discover it. Back on the trail, I continued up and quickly got to the false summit. There was a big group there so I only stayed for a couple of minutes and then decided to continue on the ridge to the actual summit.
Not many people continue this path as it goes up and down over rocks following the ridge. Views are magnificent so I did enjoy the extra stretch. Once at the summit I had a bit of hot soup while I took a couple of pictures. I noticed a foot path coming down from the summit and pointing towards Mirror Lake. I followed that path for a bit and twisted my ankle which made me turn around and go back even though I did saw a path that seemed to go all the way down to the lake. Maybe another day exploration. After a short rest I limped my way back to the car.



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Nesmith Point, Nov 15th

Winter is coming and maybe snow? That’s what the forecasters were predicting for the weekend but we were a bit skeptical even though we’ve been getting a lot of rain thanks to El Niño. With that in mind, I picked a tree-covered hike in the Gorge. From the start we were all wearing rain gear to keep the drizzle at bay. There was still a lot of falls colors on the trees and the ground. Mosses were in full bloom and mushrooms everywhere. Within the group I had, I had fast hikers and slower hikers so I stayed somewhere in the middle that quickly became an almost isolated spot. For most of the hike I could only hear the water drop hitting the trees and my own breath. The faster group ahead stopped a couple of times allowing me to catch up and wait for the rest but as the slower gang fell further, I found myself waiting by myself a couple of times. Then the magic happened. As I was going up, I transitioned from rain to snow in a very spectacular way. I had to stop and take pictures of it as it was something I had never experiences before. There was a clear line between no snow and snow. On my side, everything was green and lush, on the other side, a blanket of white. At a turn next to a stream I stopped for a while to wait but also to enjoy the sound of the creek next to me and the falling snow. It was truly a gift. Further up I knew there was a turn so I thought the faster group would be there waiting. Before getting there, I found Val coming my way looking for me. WE walked up to the junction and stopped there to wait for the rest of the group while we drank some hot soup. Once the rest got there, we continued a bit further to the last push where the slower group decided to stop and turn around and the faster group was coming back down. Being less protected, the wind was filtering thru the trees making it a bit colder. With Val we decided to still go up all the way to the top and check the outhouse (which I’d missed the other time I did this hike as I didn’t know where it was). We reached the top and Val pointed the way to the outhouse that is no longer standing. It was kind of those races where you get to the end, touch the line and run back though. We got to the top, turn around, took a picture or two, and headed back down. The hike back was uneventful and peaceful retracing our step to the parking lot. In the description I did say it was going to be a workout, and it was. But we did get a nice reward with the snow. Winter is here



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Multnomah – Franklin Ridge Loop, Nov 8th

Trying to catch falls colors in Oregon can be a bit of a challenge for many reasons. For starters, we don’t have a lot of trees that go brown and drop all their leaves in the winter. Most of our forests are covered in different pine species that stay green throughout the winter. The other reason is that it can be a very delicate balance. AS leaves start to turn yellow, the rain also start. If it doesn’t rain too much, then you get a chance but, this is Oregon. Nothing like not too much rain. This year in particular with the visit from el Niño, weather started turning grey and rainy pretty fast so we had kind of a boom, everything is yellow now kind of deal. Still, with lousy weather, we wanted to get a hike in an area with good fall colors. After looking for a while we ended up re-visiting an old loop that usually has a lot of potential. We usually stay away from Multnomah as it’s a tourist attraction and you get a lot of people. This day though, for some strange reason (or just because we got there early) the parking lot was almost empty. That gave me a chance to take a picture of Multnomah Falls and the bridge without any people, a very rare sight. After admiring the fall we marched our way up via the 11 (yes, they are numbered) switchbacks to the top of the fall before entering he Multnomah basin. That’s when people start to thin out and you finally are in the forest. We were welcomed with a very lush forest covered in moss. Even though the sky was covered in dark grey, we had some really nice colors ranging from the still yellow leaves on some limbs to the brown covering the ground. It was a quiet hike as some parts where almost deep in fog. Creeks were also noticeable higher with the rain so that was a relief. IN all, nothing to complain about. It was a fantastic fall hike



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BPA Road – Newton Road loop, Oct 18th

With cooling temperatures and overcast predicted pretty much in the entire state we didn’t have a good choice for a hike. Still, Val and I needed a descent loop for a workout. Something in the 10+ mile range with descent elevation gain just to keep our hiking legs in motion. I generally overlook trail in Forest Park because most of them have very easy access so you get to share the trail with runners and city walkers. Also, you rarely get far enough not to hear he city so the sense of being out there is just not there. But I was proven wrong. Val found this loop on the Northern end of Forest Park that combines two service roads with some trail to form a pretty descent loop. It’s not visited as much because the trailhead is right on the Northwest Saint Helens Road which is like a secondary highway. When we read the description, it did say to park in the shoulder, but that meant leaving the car right there, sitting b itself in the middle of a busy road. It didn’t look like we would find it on our way back. So we made a turn on Marina Bay Road and park there which worked pretty well. The hike starts from the closed service road that quickly climbs up towards the power lines. As it winds up, you get far from the road, and the noise pretty quickly. Being an overcast and almost rainy day didn’t give us a lot of views so not much to comment on that front. WE did take a detour for and out and back, down the hill to a view point where you can see the river and the Sauvie Island Bridge in the distance. Once back on the primary loop, we continued up to a couple more viewpoints that didn’t offer anything due to cloud cover. From there the return actually felt a bit more familiar. Part of it was following the Wildwood trail that traverses the entire park until we got to Newton Road which we followed all the way down. The cool thing about this hike is that you get the distance and elevation and then you can get home quickly for well-deserved hot shower and a meal



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