"Go East, Old Man" (grass and rocks at the east end of gorge, Washington)

Discussions and Trip Reports for off-trail adventures and rediscovering lost trails
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Chip Down
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"Go East, Old Man" (grass and rocks at the east end of gorge, Washington)

Post by Chip Down » March 21st, 2019, 7:07 pm

Overslept, woke at 4:30, threw a pack together and ran out the door. Seeking new adventure in the gorge sans postholing or snowshoes, which dictates Washington side (melts out faster) and way east, further than I've been before, past Coyote, Catherine, Lyle, Doug's Beach, until the terrain flattened, and the highway is no longer pinched between river and cliffs. Turned around, west back to the cliffy zone, in search of the first parking space that was legal and safe.

From my car, headed up a bit, then west because it looked more scenic that direction, followed a frosty grassy bench, past a spring-fed waterfall, and finally picked a ridge to ascend up, north, away from the river.

Routefinding was fun. Although there were options, it wasn't overwhelming. Generally, it was a matter of deciding which ridges I would ascend and descend, and which side of crest I would take when the crest was too rugged.

I had assumed my ascent ridge was as far west as I would go, but on the way up, I realized there were better adventures to the west, so I vowed to go down over there instead of the ridge to the east. But first, after topping out on my ascent ridge, I wanted to explore east.

I walked through grassy hills, gentle and easy, until I hit oak and snow and a rugged canyon. It looked like continuing east would be pleasant enough, but not as enticing as what I had seen to the west. Besides, I started to see evidence I may have been on somebody's property. I happened to notice a tan rectangular speck at the highway below, and binoculars confirmed I was directly above my car.

I returned west, past the top of my ascent ridge, struggled a bit to find the top of snowsliver ridge (see pics for explanation) in the forest, then descended to a beautiful open grassy ridge. I followed it down to a sensible stopping point, then up and over to the next ridge to the west, down as far as I could, then explored on the way back east to my car.

Considering how wildly random this day was, it was amazing how things turned out: no dead ends, except for cliffy spots where I knew I would have to turn back. West and east extents were natural and satisfying. I felt good when I turned back from both ends. I never felt like I wished I had more time to explore more (well, maybe just a little). I had hoped for just a bit more snow, but I realize as recently as two weeks ago it might have been too much, so I guess my timing was good.

I took some heat for posting a TR on a mystery location a couple weeks ago, but this is a little different. This was an un-named place, and I don't even think I could accurately draw my route on an aerial photo. Anyway, sometimes the purpose of a TR isn't an enticement to follow in my footsteps, but an exhibition of what's out there if you just take a chance and go exploring.
Attachments
0.jpg
Spring-fed waterfall. That illuminated ridgecrest up and left of the waterfall was my original intended descent route, until I spotted better adventures.
1.jpg
The bottom of my ascent ridge.
2.jpg
Looking east [edit: oops, west] from my ascent ridge. See that long white line? It's snow clinging to a ridgecrest. Without that snow, you wouldn't even realize there's a ridge there, right? Not only did it entice me onto that route, it also served as a distinctive landmark.
3.jpg
As far east as I went. That plateau over there looked okay, but not worth the time/effort.
4.jpg
An overview of the main ridges I hiked: closest ridge was my ascent, then snowsliver ridge to the west, and one more further west, the one that gets very rugged down low.
5.jpg
Snowsliver ridge. I was shocked. Earlier, I had thought it appeared to be a sliver of snow, but I figured it looked that way because a larger snowpatch was just poking over the ridge. But no, turned out my eyes were right, it really was a slender line of snow.
6.jpg
This was just a quick snapshot, but I love how it turned out.
7.jpg
That rugged ridge was as far west as I went. Made it to that grassy spot just down/left of peak.
8.jpg
Random viewpoint.
9.jpg
Random viewpoint. (just realized it seems to be same as above)
Last edited by Chip Down on March 21st, 2019, 7:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Chip Down
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Re: "Go East, Old Man" (grass and rocks at the east end of gorge, Washington)

Post by Chip Down » March 21st, 2019, 7:10 pm

manmade stuff
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mm1.jpg
In the oak forest at the eastern end of my travels. From a distance, thought the pattern around the circ was masonry.
mm2.jpg
I buy almost every 18% beer I see. I'm as sophisticated as a fratboy.

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adamschneider
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Re: "Go East, Old Man" (grass and rocks at the east end of gorge, Washington)

Post by adamschneider » March 21st, 2019, 8:18 pm

FYI, your ascent ridge and "Snowsliver Ridge" are in Doug's Beach State Park. But your western and eastern limits, including the valley below the "rugged ridge" to the west, are on private property... and that landowner has a reputation for being extremely unfriendly to wayward hikers.

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Chip Down
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Re: "Go East, Old Man" (grass and rocks at the east end of gorge, Washington)

Post by Chip Down » March 22nd, 2019, 6:01 pm

to summarize then:

Chip: "Wow, I had the coolest adventure yesterday!" :D
Adam: "Umm, dude, that was literally a walk in the park." :roll:
Chip: "Dammit!" :oops:

Webfoot
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Re: "Go East, Old Man" (grass and rocks at the east end of gorge, Washington)

Post by Webfoot » March 23rd, 2019, 4:37 am

Chip, it's become customary for me to ask: any ticks? :|

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Chip Down
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Re: "Go East, Old Man" (grass and rocks at the east end of gorge, Washington)

Post by Chip Down » March 23rd, 2019, 7:54 am

Saw none, but based on recent experience just a few miles away in similar settings, I have no doubt they're about. I was doused in permethrin; they didn't stand a chance.

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bobcat
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Re: "Go East, Old Man" (grass and rocks at the east end of gorge, Washington)

Post by bobcat » March 23rd, 2019, 7:56 am

Your last three photos in the first post are at the Ortley Pinnacles, the most contorted formation in the Columbia River Basalts as they represent a true vertical fold. They are west of the state park boundary. The land all around Doug's Beach State Park is owned by Schreiner Farms, the cattle, giraffe, zebra, yak, reindeer, camel, wallaroo, etc. operation at Dallesport. When they let them out after the snow all melts away, there's a chance of getting stampeded by multiple species of exotic ungulates . . .

Just kidding. They keep the exotics close to home where the public can view and purchase them if they want.

One hopes that someday the Ortley Pinnacles acreage will be purchased/donated to connect Friends of the Gorge property west of it (Lyle Cherry Orchard) with Doug's Beach.

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Chip Down
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Re: "Go East, Old Man" (grass and rocks at the east end of gorge, Washington)

Post by Chip Down » March 23rd, 2019, 8:32 am

Thanks for the info, Bobcat. I see you've done quite a bit to document this area (field guide and TRs).

Note to those considering visiting this spot: Don't do it! It's terrible! Matted brown grass, routefinding challenges, crappy parking, a barbed-wire fence to contend with unless you get creative, poison oak, ticks galore, highway noise, risk of being trampled by exotic ungulates ( ;) ), and hostile owners of unmarked adjoining property. Okay, I'm partly exaggerating so the place doesn't get overrun, but in all seriousness the Lyle Cherry Orchard features a similar experience with less hassles.

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adamschneider
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Re: "Go East, Old Man" (grass and rocks at the east end of gorge, Washington)

Post by adamschneider » March 23rd, 2019, 3:03 pm

Chip Down wrote:
March 23rd, 2019, 8:32 am
Note to those considering visiting this spot: Don't do it! It's terrible! Matted brown grass, routefinding challenges, crappy parking, a barbed-wire fence to contend with unless you get creative, poison oak, ticks galore, highway noise, risk of being trampled by exotic ungulates ( ;) ), and hostile owners of unmarked adjoining property.
Nice try, I'm going out there tomorrow. :) Seriously, though, I am, because I want to try to find some early flowers without dealing with the rampaging hordes of Catherine Creek.

(And I'll be armed with the attached GPX file, showing the exact boundaries of the state park.)
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Re: "Go East, Old Man" (grass and rocks at the east end of gorge, Washington)

Post by adamschneider » March 25th, 2019, 8:38 pm

Here's some more details about that "extremely unfriendly" landowner I mentioned. When I posted on the Oregon Wildflowers Facebook page about having gone to DBSP this weekend, someone reported this personal experience from December 2011:
I was carrying a GPS so we were certain we were on Doug's Beach SP land. We were sitting, eating lunch, when the adjacent private landowner pointed a rifle at us and verbally threatened to shoot us if we didn't leave immediately...

It took us 3 years, but Klickitat County finally prosecuted Joe Schreiner for assault. It wasn't an employee, it was the landowner himself. He took an Alford Plea and was sentenced to time in jail and no gun ownership for 10 years. He hired a big-time defense attorney and claimed that he thought we were butchering a cow that we had rustled.
So... yikes. That said, I don't know if this belligerence has been an ongoing thing, either before or after the 2011 incident, or if this one terrifying story accounts for the bulk of the hiking community's nervousness about Doug's Beach State Park. I'd like to think that the Schreiners have been at least somewhat chastened by Joe's conviction, but who knows.

The really baffling thing is that Schreiner Farms still hasn't put up "No Trespassing" signs. In response to this issue, someone else added:
He did have signs up along SR14...Posted on RR lands and State Park lands, which to my knowledge have now been removed.
You'd think a proper set of signs (on their own land) would be a whole lot cheaper than a defense lawyer! On the other hand, if this guy was accusing lunching hikers of butchering purloined cows ("Hey! Where'd you get that beef jerky?!"), he may not have the firmest grasp on common sense.

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