Hamilton-Hardy Loop 14-March-2010

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VanMarmot
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Hamilton-Hardy Loop 14-March-2010

Post by VanMarmot » March 14th, 2010, 4:54 pm

Either Hamilton Mountain or Hardy Ridge are enjoyable hikes in their own right – Hardy particularly so when it’s snow-covered. But neither fills up a hiking day. So I thought why not piece together a loop and do both in one day? Sounded like something different and thus a good idea. Thanks to Don Nelsen’s excellent map of the area (http://www.portlandhikers.org/forum/vie ... php?t=2331) I was able to piece together a route up Hamilton, across to Hardy Ridge (Phlox Point), and back to Hamilton’s upper parking area.
As I was heading out I-84 somewhat dazed by the time change, it looked like we were going to get the promised sunny day. Alas, no – a pearly gray overcast soon moved in and that was the sky for most of my day. I was braced for a crowd but when I got there (late for me) there were only a few cars (it would be a different story on my return). The trail up Hamilton was its usual straightforward self. I always find there cliffs fascinating – so sheer, so seemingly climbable, such loose junk.

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There was no snow on the trail until just before the summit and, even then, it wasn’t much. My only concession to snow was gaiters.

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I could see Hardy Ridge across the valley and could see snow in among the trees, but the snow-flocked forest of Saturday had apparently melted overnight.

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From the top of Hamilton, I had a good view across to Table (now with a fresh snow cover) and beyond to Adams.

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I was mindful that a recovery operation was in progress just on the other side of Table for the hiker who went missing last week and whose body had just been found. So many questions left unanswered here. My one hope is that the family finds some small measure of solace in at least being able to lay her to rest in their own way.
It was very windy and surprising cold on Hamilton, so I headed north to the saddle, then down Don’s Cutoff Trail to the road at the bottom of the valley. A short distance up the road is the “new” bridge – a solid effort obviously designed for horses but a boon to hikers too – which spans Hardy Creek.

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Across the bridge is the “new” trail (better names obviously needed here for bridge & trail) which leaves the bridge as a wide trail but soon descends into a meek effort defined largely by flagging. I was just thinking how nice it would be to have a better trail when I turned the corner and ran smack into a volunteer work crew from the Washington Trails Association. They were stretched out quite a ways along the trail moving dirt, building rock walls, felling trees, etc. – basically building more “new” trail. THANK YOU!! While waiting for a tree to fall, my attention was drawn to this unusual tree fungus.

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The “new” trail past the construction zone is a veritable superhighway and I was up to the road in no time. Turning right, I followed the road to its end, where a trail heads up to Hardy Ridge. Once on the ridge, it was pretty easy going to Phlox Point – mainly because there were 5 people ahead of me breaking trail. The snow was probably no more than 18” at its deepest. There’s a good view of Hood from Phlox Point (2957’) – the high point on Hardy Ridge.

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It wasn’t a whole lot warmer or less windy on Hardy Ridge, so taking a long break there wasn’t all that inviting. The return was anti-climatic – back down the trail to the road, then down the road to its junction with the road that leads either to Hamilton or the Equestrian Trailhead. A left turn here took me to the Hardy Creek trail and hence back to the Upper Parking Lot. My rough estimate of this loop is 12.5 mi & 3900’ total gain – more than enough for a day hike.
Last edited by VanMarmot on March 15th, 2010, 5:38 am, edited 2 times in total.

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weathercrazy
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Re: Hamilton-Hardy Loop 14-March-2010

Post by weathercrazy » March 14th, 2010, 6:13 pm

I was the first one to break trail! Got a little wet in the process!

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roadtripmom
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Re: Hamilton-Hardy Loop 14-March-2010

Post by roadtripmom » March 14th, 2010, 6:14 pm

We did the Hamilton loop today also. ( not Hardy) Was beautiful, but you are right, very windy on the top. This was my first time on this hike and I really loved it. We met so many wonderful people on the trail and the views are stunning. The pictures you took are wonderful !
Filling my bucket, one hike at a time.
Amanda

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VanMarmot
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Re: Hamilton-Hardy Loop 14-March-2010

Post by VanMarmot » March 15th, 2010, 5:42 am

weathercrazy wrote:I was the first one to break trail! Got a little wet in the process!
Thanks for making my day easier! I did Hardy Ridge for the first time last December and broke my own trail through 2-3' of snow. I got more than a little wet doing that.

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Don Nelsen
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Re: Hamilton-Hardy Loop 14-March-2010

Post by Don Nelsen » March 15th, 2010, 10:37 am

Hi VanMarmot,

Great report and pictures! I really liked the photo with Table in the forground and Adams in the distance.
-Don
"Everything works in the planning stage".

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Guy
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Re: Hamilton-Hardy Loop 14-March-2010

Post by Guy » March 15th, 2010, 4:33 pm

Great Trip report, Thanks. I love cobbling shorter hikes together into longer loops so this one is definitely on my to do list now..
hiking log & photos.
Ad monte summa aut mors

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