Devil’s rest, Dec 28th

To close the year Val and I decided to revisit a trail that neither of us had done in probably four years. Even though we’ve been to Angle’s rest somewhat recently, none of those times, we continued to Devil’s Rest. Weather was acting up a bit with low hanging clouds and the potential for rain. Most of the hike up to Angel’s rest was quick and easy with no rain. We made a quick stop there to take a picture of us sitting on a rock to send to family and at that very moment we got the first couple of rain drops. Looking back towards the ridge, we could see the clouds coming from bellow and climbing the hill in the same direction we were going. The hike covered so we pushed on. I had vague recollection of the trail and the steeper part towards the top but it was nice to get to one of the most unrewarding destinations in the Gorge. Up there, you just see a small rock pile indicating you’re there and that’s pretty much it. That said, this hike was rewarding but in a completely different way. The moment that we started hiking down from Devil’s rest we started getting some snow flurries. As we walked they got fatter to the point that we saw the trail and trees in front of us start accumulating pretty fast. After having almost no snow last winter we welcomed the fresh snow that fell only for a couple of minutes. At a point in the trail we stopped just to enjoy the moment before continuing down.



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Wauna Point, Dec 13th

Something weird happened when I was making the map for this hike. I found an old track I made for it back in March of 2009. Yet I couldn’t remember if I had actually done this hike. From the views we got – though limited – I’m sure this is a hike I would remember easily. Looking at old photo albums, I found that in fact I tried this route back then but due to sow, we never made it to the actual viewpoint. I’m glad that this time we made it there because it totally worth it. Contrary to other hikes, this one was offered as an option by our friend Erin. We had been planning on going out on a hike with her for some time and finally the stars aligned and it happened so the three of us with Val got together, went to the Gorge and did it. Not only it was a fun day in the wood but the views were spectacular, even despite the fog and rain. We started from the Tanner Creek trailhead using a shortcut trail to the old Forest Road giving access to the Tanner Butte trail. It was mostly a new route for me that soon became a bit familiar. We traversed some dense, tall forest that looked like a drawing from a fantasy book. We didn’t see a soul there so that made it even better. For the most part while going up, we had rain on and off, but that didn’t stop of from pushing on. Erin led the way being more familiar with it as she uses it for training before her long trips. At some point we veered off from the Tanner Butte trail and stated following a much fainter path towards our destination. At first we traversed some steep slopes and then came to a ridge were we got a fast glimpse to the possibility of clear skies. It didn’t last long but as that was happening, we saw a knob with trees in front of us that looked like an island in the sky. The coolest part was that we were going in that direction. The trail climbed a bit to the highest point were, on clear days, you get some limited views of the Gorge but we didn’t stop there. From that point on, the trail drops about 600’ following a knife edge ridge so exposed that it almost makes you dizzy. For moments we couldn’t see more than 10 0r 15’ in front of us but we kept going. In front of us the clouds were moving and dense fog was preventing us from seeing anything. And then, there it was, the end of the trail were there’s no mark or anything, just a sheer drop of into pretty much nothing – or at least that how it looked that day. For a very brief moment, a hole in the clouds allowed me to see the Boneville Dam far below us and I got my bearings of where we were. I could tell that the views on a clear day must be incredible but I will have to go again to get those. For now I can comfort myself in knowing we got there and now I know where it is. We had a quick lunch perched on the ridge until drops of rain maid us move. On the way back, some of the views opened up a bit and we saw fast moving, low level clouds climbing the side of the hills. It was magical. Further down, once we got back to the avenue of the giant trees, we finally saw some patchy blues up in the sky and sun rays coming thru the trees. A bit in retrospect is funny to think that I started this hike with a bit of resistance because of the weather and rain.



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Saddle Mountain, Nov 30th

I would have to call this hike the bitter sweet hike to Saddle Mountain. This is a hike I’ve done probably 5 or 6 times as it’s close to home, easy to get to and a good option when you want to get out but don’t have a long day. Sunday was such a day. One of the things I’ve been waiting to get from this hike though was the promised views from the top. I really can’t recall, in all the previous times, going up there on a clear day and being able to see the coast and the ocean. This day though, it was looking pretty promising. It was a spectacular fall day with clear crisp blue skies. It was also cold and very windy. The night before we had a small snow dusting at low elevation so we found the trail partially covered in snow, also a new for this route. Val and I started with a quick pace, not to get up there quickly but just to warm up. The first part thru the forest went quick with sun rays coming at a low angle illuminating everything around us. Then we got to the open section of the trail and were welcomed with incredible views of the valley below us and even more wind. At a certain point, the trail makes a switchback in front of a rock outcrop that’s usually a good spot for pictures and that’s when I saw it first. Out in the distance I was able to see a faint yellow line and some more blue in a different hue than the sky. It was clearly the ocean. That right there almost made the hike. It was going to happen. We pushed up as the trail got more frozen solid and the wind picked up. We passed a hiker coming back down that mentioned he was not able to get to the top. We thought it was because he didn’t have proper gear. We had our microspikes with us so we were set. WE got to a second view point that extends to the south were the view of the ocean was even better. At that moment, when I was taking a picture, a strong gust almost knocked me over. We got back on the trail on the cover of some trees and continued. The next portion of the trail was very exposed and slippery so we put on our spikes and continued fighting the wind and being careful not to slip. Once we got to the point where the trail makes a sharp turn to descend to the stairs to nowhere things changed a bit. From that point we could see the saddle before the final push to the summit. Wind was howling and blowing snow across the saddle. It looked pretty intense. We thought about for a minute or two and tested it a bit and were almost blown away. Seeing that the rest of the hike, after the saddle was an open slope all the way to the summit with no wind protection made us think twice about it and decide to turn around. We made a second stop at the view point where I took another picture towards the coast, just to prove I saw it. I guess Saddle Mountain just doesn’t like to show those views.

Wygant peak, Nov 27th

With friends Mark, Carol and Brian we decided to go for a hike in the Gorge and try something new. Looking at maps and stuff, I found that we hadn’t tried Wygant Peak yet, or at least not recently enough for me to remember. Doing the research though, I found information about an old trail called the Chetwood Loop. I quickly marked some waypoints in my GPS with the idea of combining both routes into a single loop. It was a perfect day for this hike as it was overcast and most of the hike was in the trees. We got to the trailhead in good time and just after passing the rain on the highway. We weren't sure if we would get it or not but as soon as we started, we felt the first drops on our head. The hike starts following a path that travels parallel to the highway for a while. It has one or two openings with nice views of the Gorge but nothing compared with some of the other views we were about to get. Along the way, we found on one the ends of the Chetwood trail, our intended return path. Finally we turn left and started climbing away from the noise. The trail followed a creek to the remains of a broken bridge that is still usable to cross the stream below it. We meandered thru the forest and came to our first view point. A rock overhang on top of the highway that almost made you dizzy. It was exposed enough that wire was protecting the edge. From there we retraced our steps to the trail and started the arduous hike up doing numerous switchbacks along the ridge. On the way up, we saw the sign for the upper end of the Chetwood trail so now we had both points of our return. We continued as a drizzle started but finally made I to the uneventful summit. As with other destinations in the Gorge, this one is inside the trees with now views and only market with a small cairn. We stopped briefly to grab a bite before heading back down. Once we got to the junction with the Chetwood trail we turn right and started our exploration. The trail was somewhat easy to follow but had a lot of blowdown. The going was extremely slow and time was running fast. All of us took turns to fall or trip on the way and at some point we had to make a stop to make a decision. With limited time and sun light, we were not sure if we could do the loop or not. Part was because we didn't know what lied ahead. So we opted for the safe option of turning around and heading back. That was when Val, Brian and I went a bit of trail and descended a bit more than what was needed to get back on the main trail. At some point we heard Marks voice from above asking what the hell we were doing down there. Turning around was not an option so all three of us had to bushwhack our way up to the trail. It was hard work getting out of there but finally on the trail we started moving again heading back. Minutes before it got pretty dark we finally got to the lower trail that was wide enough to hike without headlamps. That section seemed to be longer that what it had been on the way in but we made it to the cars without headlamps and almost in the dark. Looking at the map afterwards, I realized we did about half of the Chetwood so there’s still a portion to explore and discover. Is in the list



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Fort Stevens, Nov 23rd

We hadn’t made plans for a hike over the weekend so we had to look for a quick option. Neither Val nor I ware super motivated for a hard hike so we even toyed with the idea of just going to the coast to hang out. While thinking about that, Fort Stevens came to mind. I recalled reading a bit about it in the hiking books but never making a point to go there as it’s a flat hike. Val hadn’t gone there either so in a split second decision, we grabbed small [packs with water, trail mix, a rain jacket and of we went. Fort Stevens is located at the mouth of the Columbia River into the Pacific Ocean. This is one of the forts that were built around the 1900 to protect the state, and possibly the country, from invaders coming by sea. These days, Fort Stevens is a State Park with some historic sites, a campground and some trails. Maps and guides of the area are not very clear but you can certainly find your way with a bit of common sense. From the Visitor’s Center, we started heading towards the ocean on what I think is therefore Stevens Trail (different sources show deferent names for the path). The path was mostly paved and easy to follow as it wondered thru deep and beautiful forests. In the distance we could hear the ocean so we knew we were close but didn’t know how close or when we would get to it. We got to a road and had to make a guess on how to continue but finally we took a connector trail that went straight to the beach. It didn’t get us there so there wasn’t a “walk by the beach” kind of thing. Instead, we followed parallel to the coast line but always behind a tree line. Nothing to see other than the coastal forest. Finally we got to a road that gave us two choices. First we went towards the ocean and finally got on the sand. It was a windy and cloudy day so there weren’t a lot of people there. We got to see one of the highlights of the trail, the wreck of the Peter Iredale. Only a small piece of this ship is still visible after about a century. From that point, we retraced our steps and continued inland until we took a small trail that lead us to Coffenbury Lake. We made a stop for lunch at a little camp table on a floating dock. Besides ducks on the water, we didn’t see another soul. We wanted to do some distance so instead of going back from there, we took a trail that goes around the lake. As any other, it was nice to walk around it and see ducks flying and moving around. There were several instances that we came around a bend just to scare some of them that would fly/swim towards the center of the lake scaring the crap out of us. On the South side of the lake we found a junction and not being sure, we guessed and took the wrong turn. That spur trail went into a more forested area on a less maintained path. We saw a private property sign and images of rednecks with guns started to appear on our minds. Towards the end we found a couple of big building that I think belongs to the girl scouts. We turned around and got back to the lake to continue going around. Once we got back to the point were we had stopped for lunch, we connected with the Battery Russell Trail going back to the parking lot. It was another quiet walk thru the empty forest. At one point we crossed paths with a lonely deer quietly exploring the area. Once we got back, the weather had improved a bit so we had a bit of blue ski and sun over us. WE took a short detour to explore the Battery Pratt and some of the other installations in the area before heading back to the car. It ended up being a day hike covering the distance that we normally do but without the elevation gain. Not bad for a no-hike day.



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