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Heart_bw

Hamilton Mountain

12.5 miles of hiking • 3000' elevation gain •

Yep, again. It's a good thing the closest mountain to home is also such a fun one to play on, because I just seem to keep going back. And now, it's one of the few Gorge trails that's actually doable. Finally. What a mess this winter has been!

Fair bit of storm damage, but overall the trails in Beacon Rock State Park are hikable. Traction (microspikes) helped a lot in the upper areas. The snow is very dense, and kicking steps really isn't an option when needed. First time I've ever been turned back on Don's Cutoff. Hillside was just too steep and hard, and sliding into a tree there would hurt!

So after taking the road down from the saddle, we headed back uphill towards the Equestrian Bridge, which we found with well over a meter of snow covering it! First boot prints along that whole stretch, which after looping back to the Hardy Creek crossing added another nice 3.5 miles to the day.

A huge tree has fallen just past the bridge below Hardy Falls, and its rootball has taken out most of the trail. It's still passable, but prepare to get muddy!

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February 25, 2017

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Heart_bw

Bells Mountain Trail

19 miles of hiking • 3750' elevation gain •

Finally! After four months of some of the worst weather ever... Miles and miles of trail over dirt and duff! This is a great low-elevation option, just far enough from the Gorge not to have suffered all the ice-storm damage, to break out of the winter blahs.

We started with a quick side-trip over to Yacolt Creek Falls, where we found the bridge had been swung wide open, so we couldn't do the mini-loop. Then enjoyed the classic views of the Moulton Falls Park bridge, before heading south along Bells Creek Trail. It's just as steep as ever those first couple miles. :-)

Hitting the first clearcut, we enjoyed magnificent views of Mount Saint Helens and surrounding peaks. (Even Minnie!) The older clearcuts are really starting to take off, with new trees 15-20' high now. Lots of reforestation happening in the newer ones, too. But, despite the reputation, most of the trail is through forested buffers and along gorgeous waterways.

Hiked a bit more than 7.5 miles along BMT before we hit Cold Creek day use area, beside Cedar Creek Falls, for lunch. The return was very much the same... Joyful! Just to be on dry ground again. Not even the couple ticks picked up by the dog could put a damper on this (what seemed to be) first day of Spring!

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February 17, 2017

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Heart_bw

Whipple Creek

5.5 miles of hiking • 1000' elevation gain •

Had a ton of yardwork to do, but slipped away for a couple hours in the afternoon to go explore Whipple Creek Park again. Hadn't been in here in 15-20 years or so, because it was SO DAMN MUDDY the last time. But it seems the WTA has been putting in a lot of good work, and the trails are really in very nice shape. (Especially given the horrid winter we've had!)

Had to cross trails with a half-dozen horses, or so, as well as two unleashed German Shepherds (wth is wrong with people?), so that was kinda fun with my dog. He'd never encountered horses "in the wild" before. This is a great "new" option to add to local leg-stretchers! I'll be back.

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February 12, 2017

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Heart_bw 1

North Coldwater

9 miles of hiking • 1750' elevation gain •

Seems we may have taken a "wrong turn" somewhere, and "missed" our trail? We ended up scootching around the north side of Coldwater Lake, enjoying some pretty epic landscapes. Unfortunately, we also saw far too many signs of wanton forest rape, as a company that makes holiday wreaths and swags had given a buzz-cut to countless square miles of noble fir. About the nastiest treatment of living things I've ever witnessed personally. (Which is either a very good or very bad thing, I suppose?)

Other than the forest-rapers' devastation, it was a most-pleasant day indeed!

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January 28, 2017

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Heart_bw 1

Forest Park

15.5 miles of hiking • 1500' elevation gain •

Had absolutely no interest (or stomach) for participating in the national media obsession du jour, so on this very gloomy day for the USA, decided that a nice, long walk in the woods was exactly what was called for. Fittingly, the woods were fairly gloomy too, as they were just beginning to recover from the most recent Snopocalypse.

It was my first time hiking in Forest Park, really. And I'll say it lived right up to all my expectations for muddy trails and invasive species. But it was relaxing and rejuvenating at the same time, to just walk mile after mile in the rain, paying little attention to the pervasive wetness. I'll be exploring this area more in the future, I suppose.

This day, we started at Lower Macleay Park, followed the Wildwood for what seemed like quite a ways, cut downhill on the Maple Trail, and then followed Lief Erickson Drive back to our starting point. Lesson learned, Lief Erickson is much shorter than it looks on the maps, compared to the other trails out there. Give it less weight when calculating turnaround times and distances.

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January 20, 2017

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Heart_bw 1

Debris Flow Exploration

8 miles of hiking • 1250' elevation gain •

We seem to have missed a turn along the Boundary Trail, as we headed east into the blast zone intent on exploring the 1980 debris flows. Snowshoes meant we didn't even leave footprints, at least after 30 minutes of the persist winds. A most incredible day on the volcano!

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January 14, 2017

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Heart_bw

Icicle Tour

8 miles of hiking • 1750' elevation gain •

Fun day in the frozen Gorge! Hopped in and out of the car, hitting three different smaller adventures. Icicles galore! Started the day with a tour of Upper McCord and Elowah Falls, then a brief jaunt up Eagle Creek, and ended with a quick in-n-out at Wahclella.

First time I've wandered around our initial destination. Headed up towards the Upper McCall Falls first. Ran across a huge (12-14" diameter?) cast iron pipe running down the hillside at one point. No idea what the heck that might've once been! The railing-provided walkway blasted from basalt offered beautiful, crisp views of the mountains across the river in Washington. Then we hit the icicles, which ultimately had frozen up the entire trail. That was our turn around.

Headed down towards Elowah Falls and ran into Webfoot, an old "virtual" friend from PortlandHikers.org - always fun! The falls were spectactular! Ice formations of countless variation. Incredible 40'-tall(ish) pyramid of ice beneath the falls. Took lots of photos; froze fingers in the process. It was about 24° at this point. Just beautiful.

Thought we'd go check out the Metlako viewpoint, that is no more, next. But it wasn't to be. Got a mile, mile-and-a-half, up the trail and decided there was a spot that just didn't warrant the risk of continuing. Lots of ice had rained down from above, so footing wasn't solid and generally sloped over the very near cliff. The cable was no help, either, as it was pretty frozen in. Oh well. Ran into Don, another PH irregular here, too!

Final stop was the normally tourist-overrun Wahclella Falls, which today had but a fraction of its normal traffic. More beautiful than ever, ensconced in ice! Again, we passed under cliffs letting loose massive amounts of ice. Kinda crazy. But beautiful!

Great day in the Gorge!

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January 6, 2017

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