A Windy Hamilton Mountain 11-Jan-2011

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VanMarmot
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A Windy Hamilton Mountain 11-Jan-2011

Post by VanMarmot » January 11th, 2011, 4:22 pm

As I drove back on Monday from a meeting in Bend, the weather forecasts were abuzz with dire warnings (Snowmageddon! Snowpocalypse! Glacierzilla! The Iceinator! and so on...) about a winter storm due in Tuesday afternoon. Despite these forecasts (or maybe because of them) I figured I could squeeze in a hike of Hamilton Mountain on Tuesday morning – a little mileage and gain then out of the Gorge before the winter wonderland arrived (again). Going out I-84, the wind was making my little car skitter around like a June bug on a hot griddle and it was also blowing full blast across the parking lot at Beacon Rock. But things calmed down a lot once I got up the road and on to the trail. Although the air temp was at or below freezing, Rodney Falls wasn’t the ice fall I’d expected.

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The Hamilton Mountain trail was snow-free up to the first good view point at 1600’,

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but soon thereafter picked up about 6” of new snow – just enough to fill in the old boot tracks. I had snowshoes and Microspikes but used neither. It was clear enough early on (before 9am) for a view of Hood.

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The wind came back with a vengeance on the summit and extra layers of clothing were immediately needed to stave off its bite. The summit sign seems to be taking a beating - either from the weather or excessive memorializing of reaching the top.

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Using the sign as a brace (it was very hard to hold the camera steady in the wind), I got this shot of a very snow covered Table Mountain, with an even snowier Adams in the distance.

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I continued N along the ridge to make a loop and ran into very strong winds (30+ mph) at the saddle. The wind had scoured the snow off the saddle in some places,

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while piling it into 3-4’ drifts in others. In one location, frozen boot tracks had served as a resist to the etching action of the wind, leaving “prints” of boots that were 2-3” thick.

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Once past the saddle, the wind ceased and I was able to hike down the road in calmer, but not any warmer, conditions. There was about 6-8” of snow on the road, but it was over a solid base so, once again, there was no need for snowshoes (but I take comfort in the extra exercise gained from carrying them up and down Hamilton).

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Just after I reached the Hardy Creek Trail, the clouds moved in and direct sunlight became but a memory. This was also where my camera’s battery finally succumbed to either overwork or the cold. Back at the TH, the wind was still going full blast – to the point where I had to lean into it to move forward. This must have looked odd to drivers zooming past on 14 but ... I ... just ... wanted ... to ... reach ... the ... heater ... in ... my ... car...

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awildman
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Re: A Windy Hamilton Mountain 11-Jan-2011

Post by awildman » January 11th, 2011, 5:10 pm

Those scoured boot prints are awesome!

Lovely report; makes me cold just sitting here.
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Crusak
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Re: A Windy Hamilton Mountain 11-Jan-2011

Post by Crusak » January 11th, 2011, 5:43 pm

Brrrr! looks like a fun hike, but extremely chilly. Can't imagine the cold with those winds at the top. Looks like you had a fun hike!

I remember my first (and so far only) hike up Hamilton, the wind in the Beacon Rock parking lot was crazy then too. I also remember the long hike down the road when I did that loop. Nice and easy. Well, when I did it at least, it was almost shorts weather.

I'm surprised you didn't end up using any traction devices up there. It is comforting (and good exercise) to carry them though, like you said. :)
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ponyboy84
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Re: A Windy Hamilton Mountain 11-Jan-2011

Post by ponyboy84 » January 11th, 2011, 6:36 pm

Those boot prints are awesome.

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weathercrazy
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Re: A Windy Hamilton Mountain 11-Jan-2011

Post by weathercrazy » January 13th, 2011, 8:03 pm

Love the pic with the trail and Hood as well as the boot prints, very cool!

Hard to believe it's in the 40s and 50s up there now!

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Re: A Windy Hamilton Mountain 11-Jan-2011

Post by justpeachy » January 14th, 2011, 8:00 am

The wind had scoured the snow off the saddle in some places, while piling it into 3-4’ drifts in others.
Four-feet-tall drifts? That's a heck of a lot of snow.
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VanMarmot
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Re: A Windy Hamilton Mountain 11-Jan-2011

Post by VanMarmot » January 14th, 2011, 8:20 am

justpeachy wrote:
The wind had scoured the snow off the saddle in some places, while piling it into 3-4’ drifts in others.
Four-feet-tall drifts? That's a heck of a lot of snow.
Only in a few choice spots, like behind a tree or a large rock. I only mentioned it because one of these drifts sat right across the trail. But the snow is probably all gone now, what with the warm rain and all...
Last edited by VanMarmot on January 15th, 2011, 6:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Easyrider
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Re: A Windy Hamilton Mountain 11-Jan-2011

Post by Easyrider » January 14th, 2011, 8:47 am

Thanks for the report and fabulous pictures!!!! I'd been wondering what the conditions were up there as I have been looking for "high altitude", local hikes that can be done without tons of equipment. A recent trip report for Table Mountain has me salivating at the chance for another go at that one. Hamilton was muddy and slippery when I went there last June. I actually prefer the cold and frozen ground to hiking in pudding. Hamilton is one of my favorites... close to Portland, excellent views, not many people, well marked, 8 miles RT.

http://easyrider.easyrider.com/hamilton.htm

Thanks for the great report!
Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from surviving bad judgment. ~Rita Mae Brown

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VanMarmot
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Re: A Windy Hamilton Mountain 11-Jan-2011

Post by VanMarmot » January 15th, 2011, 6:53 am

Easyrider wrote:Thanks for the report and fabulous pictures!!!! I'd been wondering what the conditions were up there as I have been looking for "high altitude", local hikes that can be done without tons of equipment. A recent trip report for Table Mountain has me salivating at the chance for another go at that one. Hamilton was muddy and slippery when I went there last June. I actually prefer the cold and frozen ground to hiking in pudding. Hamilton is one of my favorites... close to Portland, excellent views, not many people, well marked, 8 miles RT.

http://easyrider.easyrider.com/hamilton.htm

Thanks for the great report!
Thanks! You can combine Hamilton and Hardy Ridge (Phlox Point) to make a big loop (12+ mi) or just do Hardy Ridge starting from the equestrian TH. Both can be done without too much gear - even in snow.

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Re: A Windy Hamilton Mountain 11-Jan-2011

Post by Easyrider » January 20th, 2011, 8:49 pm

Your trip report inspired me to have another go at Hamilton in the near future. I drove by there yesterday on my way to hike the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail and saw that the access road gate to the Hamilton Mountain trailhead is closed for the Winter. Did you park at the rest stop on 14?

Hamilton is a fairly rugged hike for a novice weenie like me.. and having to hoof it up hill to the trailhead would of course add a couple of miles to the hike. And a closed gate sort of implies that the trail is closed as well :(

I did Hamilton last June, just after my 63rd b'day. That was the first "serious" hike I'd ever done in my life. Since then I've lost 100 pounds and have quite a few hills under my belt now so I'm anxious to see how easy/tough a second visit will be. I like Hamilton because you don't need a GPS, compass or a map. I did need water though. LOTS of water!
Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from surviving bad judgment. ~Rita Mae Brown

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