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 Post subject: Surprise on the Labyrinth Trail
 Post Posted: January 21st, 2018, 5:30 pm 
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Joined: June 2nd, 2013, 1:25 pm
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Location: Vancouver, WA
We had been teased by changing weather reports all week, and finally Saturday (1/20/18) we decided we had to get out. I had hopes of doing an exploratory hike in the upper Rock Creek area (north of Stevenson), but when we got there, it was just too wet for us. So, kept driving east on Hwy 14, and by the time we got to the Hood River bridge, it was getting brighter and we could see some blue sky ahead. So, on to the parking area at the old Hwy 8 junction. There were a few cars parked there, but had no trouble finding a spot.

We started up the old abandoned road bed, and after passing the gushing falls, we turned up the Labyrinth trail. Someone has recently done some nice work, and parts of the lower trail have been very nicely rerouted. It didn't take long before the views started to open up
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At the viewpoint, just above the upper falls, we noticed a man with a camera, working very intently, down close to the ground. He was eager to show off what he had found, surprise! An early bloomer!:
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This was to be the only bloom we saw on the whole hike, but the grasses & other greenery are definitely getting anxious to get on with life. In another 3 weeks or so, the area is really going to start showing off it colors.

We were to see quite a few mountain bikes coming down the trail. All were very courteous, and thanked us for stepping off the trail so they could pass by. We were only surprised by one man, as we popped up a step. He was on his brakes anyway, trying to plan out his line down, so it all worked out. If we had met about 10 seconds later, when he was committed to dropping down the step, and we had no place to go, it would have very different. But I think even then, he would have seen us, and been able to stop before he was past the point of no stopping.

After crossing the stream on sturdy plank, a dramatic columnar crag comes into view. I had read about a climbing crag called Wankers Columns, and this turned out to be it. Most of the routes are past my abilities, but there are a couple that this old boy might try. I think I see an easy route here, that if I do it, I am going to name “Stairway to Old Age”:
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The trail passes around this crag on the left side, then enters a very pretty grove of oaks (Bobcat says they are white oaks, I'll take his word for it)
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The time was getting late, so we didn't go much farther, just to the next view point, that has amazing views to the east, up the river. The mountain dominating the skyline is The Dalles Mountain, another hike we have to do.
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This is looking back towards the trail. In a month, this basin will be an amazing display!
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On the way down, last shot of Wankers Columns:
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We got back down to the old road just before sunset, and then topped off the trip with this special treat, sitting there, posing just for us:
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This little get away was only about 2 3/4 miles, with 525 feet of gain, but so enjoyable!

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 Post subject: Re: Surprise on the Labyrinth Trail
 Post Posted: January 22nd, 2018, 12:47 pm 
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K.Wagner wrote:
...
At the viewpoint, just above the upper falls, we noticed a man with a camera, working very intently, down close to the ground. He was eager to show off what he had found, surprise! An early bloomer!:
...

Great TR! That man showing off the flower was me :D. Nice meeting you guys! I actually found a few more flowers around the upper falls before I went to Catherine Creek where I spotted dozens.


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 Post subject: Re: Surprise on the Labyrinth Trail
 Post Posted: January 23rd, 2018, 2:36 pm 
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Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm
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Location: The Dalles, OR
Wankers Columns - learn something every day (one would hope). :P

I think it would be a bit optimistic to think that we will have a lot of color there in three weeks. That takes a strong sunny period and the near-term forecast looks pretty wet and gloomy. Temps have been above average, but I think the sun is key for early flowers.

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 Post subject: Re: Surprise on the Labyrinth Trail
 Post Posted: January 23rd, 2018, 5:33 pm 
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Joined: July 26th, 2008, 8:16 pm
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Location: Tri-Cities, WA
Grass widows?


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 Post subject: Re: Surprise on the Labyrinth Trail
 Post Posted: January 24th, 2018, 10:05 am 
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Joined: June 2nd, 2013, 1:25 pm
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Location: Vancouver, WA
Dean, for more info on the crag, go to mountainproject.com, then Washington>sw Cascades.

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 Post subject: Re: Surprise on the Labyrinth Trail
 Post Posted: January 24th, 2018, 12:11 pm 
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Joined: June 6th, 2009, 2:48 pm
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Man, we really like to rush the seasons here don't we. Carpeted with wildflowers in three weeks? It's January in a La Nina year. That climatologically favors a cold back half of the winter (February and March). Probably good and natural for the flowers to get a bit of a longer nap, and we need the mountain snow too.


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 Post subject: Re: Surprise on the Labyrinth Trail
 Post Posted: January 26th, 2018, 7:50 pm 
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Joined: June 18th, 2008, 6:49 am
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Kelly- We've always called that formation "Accordion Rock"

Jesse-the grass widows start to pop up about now in this area, just about every year.


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 Post subject: Re: Surprise on the Labyrinth Trail
 Post Posted: February 13th, 2018, 9:11 am 
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I wonder how the grass widows are liking the lows around 20 out that way this morning? Although since they are late winter bloomers anyway they are probably quite hardy. Still, they got a bit of a false start.

Then we could be seeing snow and even colder temperatures in the region by early next week. Might be a while before we see acres of flower filled meadows out there. It is still winter after all. :D


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 Post subject: Re: Surprise on the Labyrinth Trail
 Post Posted: February 13th, 2018, 10:21 am 
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it's not unusual to have little snow accumulation in the mountains in February, then a bunch in March and April

if there's no big snow the next couple months it will be an early hiking season


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