Since mayhem insists...mayhem wrote:No TR! it did not happen!kepPNW wrote:That same spot on my feet are killing today, after 22 miles in a pair of New Balance 889s yesterday. Not good.
One year ago this coming Saturday, May 18, the 33rd anniversary of MSH slapping us mortals silly, is also the 1st anniversary of my being "Back on the trail again!" This came to my glaring attention as I realized that my Discover Pass will expire then. Last May 18, I climbed Hamilton Mountain, to see if I still could. It not only seemed fitting to end the first year back with a return trip there, but to double-down on the original proposition and make a grand loop out of the park, exiting on the north and re-entering to descend back down along Hardy Ridge. My shins would disagree, but this was actually a pretty fun adventure.
Warning: I would strongly advise not trying this loop without benefit of a GPS and paper map! There are portions where route-finding is far from intuitive! Map and track at end of post.
My general plan was to climb Hamilton, then follow it's spine NNW-ward toward the clearcut seen in the saddle nearly at the middle of the following photo. This meant wrapping around the near knob on the right, then around the left of the one behind that, then traversing the logging operation for a few miles before bushwhacking back up to Phlox Point on the upper left. The second snap from Google Earth probably tells it better than I can...
Much of the journey, in a single shot.
Looking down the spine of Hamilton Mountain, pondering the loop. (Right-click, "View Image", to see full size.)
I spent most of the day trying to hit trails within Beacon Rock State Park that I hadn't yet traveled. Last time I went up Hamilton, I took the detour along the cliffs of Little Hamilton. That day, the winds were far too strong for some sections, or at least for my comfort level that close to the cliffs. But today, there was barely a breeze, so I skirted along the entire section of old trail.
Lots of exposure, and views to compensate, on the old route along Little Hamilton!
Stepping back to take in the entire panorama. (Click for screen-size.)
This route is just sooooo much more interesting than the hidden one down to the left! (Click for screen-size.)
And the scrub oak provides a bit of a handrail as you negotiate the cliff edges. (Click for screen-size.)
There were a half-dozen, or more, folks lounging about the little summit area of Hamilton. I've never been too enamored of that spot, so I guess I took a photo or two, and headed onwards (about halfway to the saddle) towards the spine. This is a spot you can pretty much be alone.
Emerging out of the woods, onto the spine of Hamilton.
A full 360° panorama from the spine. (Click for screen-size.)
Highly recommended: Interactive Photosynth lets you zoom and spin all the way through.
Not too dangerous, but certainly some exposure. More the farther out you explore.
The air was thick with water vapor, producing some interesting clouds, but also obscuring the vistas.
From the saddle, I took an old jeep trail NNW into the woods. At first, it was very pleasant to walk along. As I hit the natural turnaround for the Upper Hardy trail, it became far less so. By the time I'd gotten to the gate marking the state park boundary, the trail was still obvious but fully overgrown. The last mile or mile.5 to the logging road was a bit tedious. It didn't help that many young things were sporting fresh pricklers - devil's club, assorted berries, and such.
Just north of the saddle, the road was pretty nice, really.
North of the Upper Hardy trail turn around, it shrank to a single treadway.
Nearing the gate, it was pretty darn well overgrown.
Past the gate, I sorta wished I wasn't wearing shorts.
About 1.5 miles north of the gate, the "trail" emerges out from under some powerlines and into a clearcut area. There's a logging road here, that can be followed over towards Hardy Ridge.
Mere paces outside the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area boundary.
Table Mountain from due west; a different angle. Must remember this profile, to see it from Silver Star.
Looping back over towards Hardy means traveling a bit over a mile on this logging road.
The waste is impressive. Not necessarily in a positive way, lest anyone be confused.
There are some nice views of Hood along the way. Hamilton is small bump in the 'V', below/right of Hood.
Noticed a wandering lenticular cloud formation, too.
Before long, I re-entered the forest, and was astounded at just how tinder dry it was, here! This place seemed like a conflagration set to happen. The sounds of matchsticks snapping with each step wasn't something one is supposed to hear in May. I truly sense a very bad summer ahead, in this regard.
Smokey bailed on this forest long ago!
Getting to Phlox point from there is largely an act of guesswork. EP's mapset indicated a trail, which I never found. Well, studying my track later, it was clear that I had thought perhaps I found it, then rejected that notion as too ludicrous and moved on. Ultimately, I started uphill following a very feint game trail, which quickly vanished, and then just proceeded to crash through the underbrush until I hit the top. My shins and forearms were not happy about this! It was a bit over 1/4 mile, about 350'-400' vertical, at a 25° average slope, with terribly dense scrub and wicked dry branches to fight through.
Phlox Point summit in sight! Only the last 50' ascent were clear!
Looking back down at the "route" up.
But it was "all downhill from here!" Time to just enjoy the surroundings, and see what views haven't been clouded over yet.
A 200° panorama of the gorge from Phlox Point. (Click for screen-size.)
Recommended: Interactive Photosynth lets you zoom and spin all the way through.
Mount Hood is growing more and more clouds as the day wears on.
Hardy Ridge doesn't look that much higher from down on Hamilton. Sure does now.
Presumably, how this place got its name?
Looking east, towards Table Mountain.
All day, the spring flowers were popping everywhere. Up here on Hardy Ridge, the beargrass is only just starting to come out. Paintbrush and phlox are all over, and seeming to really just be kicking into gear. Lots of others, too. I can't name them all, so I'll just let'em rip, here...
Beargrass on Hardy Ridge
Indian Paintbrush on Hardy Ridge.
(No idea #2482.)
(No idea #2487.)
(No idea #2300.)
(No idea #2301.)
(No idea #2319.)
Delphinium and/or Larkspur
(No idea #2376.)
(No idea #2406.)
(No idea #2416.)
Bleeding Hearts coming out everywhere! (No doubt, Obama's fault.)
As I was heading down Hardy Ridge, it's occuring to me that there's still a lot of daylight left. And my Discover Pass is about to die. I decide I'll try to take a few more trails that I never have before, just to round out my own personal track set for this park.
I started by heading up towards the massive new equestrian bridge over Hardy Creek. This trail is really something to see! The stonework, while it can't compare to that done generations ago, was still a surprise to see "in this day and age."
Next, I headed back up the Upper Hardy trail and ended up on the saddle of Hamilton again (hence the "Double-Ham" in the Subject ). From here, I took Don's Cutoff back down towards Hardy Creek again, and then crossed over at the large culvert because I'd never taken that traverse either. Arriving at the equestrian side again, I decided to see where the Lower Loop Trail went next.
Finally, I came back to the main "Difficult" route down, and just put it in cruise back down to the parking area.
Definitely a horse trail, oh yeah!
Winding towards the equestrian bridge, the trail work was very impressive by today's standards!
This little flourish might actually be going a bit "above and beyond"?
Ran across what are probably the largest trees I've ever seen growing from a nurse log!
The equestrian bridge over Hardy Creek is an absolutely incredible structure.
Hardy Creek almost down to summer flow levels.
I'd gone back up the Upper Hardy trail to take this trail back to the saddle. Very pleasant.
Everybody: "Well I'm back in the saddle again..." (OKay, getting a little slap happy now.)
Aside from the occasional pile of horseshit, the Lower Loop Trail was actually very pleasant.
One more time across Hardy, and we're in the home stretch!
All of this meandering "closed the loop" on most of the trails in Beacon Rock State Park for me. Here's a map of where I've been there, over just this last year:
Four different hikes in Beacon Rock State Park, over the last year.
A more standard 2D map of just this single hike:
Right-click, "View Image", for full-sized map.
Normally, I'd stick a gpsfly map in here, but I thought I'd try using Hillmap instead this time, just to see how I like that. Today's trek:
Sorry, no video. This day's stats: 22.2 miles and almost 5000' EG...
Totally awesome day in the woods! Helluva way to close out the first year Back on the Trail, Again!