Hood River Mountain

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I had never heard of this hike up Hood River Mountain until just this week. So I decided to hike up there today and see what’s what. It was worth it!

There were just a few cars parked at the trailhead when I arrived. I squeezed my car in amongst them (there’s not a whole lot of parking) and headed off up the trail. It starts off in the trees, climbing steadily. Then it evens out as it reaches the top. For some ways along this flat section there is a lot of tall brush crowding the trail, but there was one opening that allowed a sweeping view to the north and west which included Hood River, the Columbia River, and Mt. Adams. Beautiful!

A little ways down the trail, about a mile from the trailhead, you suddenly pop out of the brush and you’re in the meadows, which stretch out for a long ways along the top of the mountain. Oh yeah, and there’s a view of Mt. Hood too!

There were lots of wildflowers blooming up there. The balsamroot has gotten a good start, but hasn’t peaked yet. It’ll start looking pretty awesome in a week or two.

There were some paintbrush as well.

These looked like yellow glacier lilies, although I’ve only ever seen white ones. Can anyone confirm?

Not sure what these were.

I also saw lots and lots of lupine leaves, but they look like they’re about two weeks from blooming. It should look pretty spectacular up there when they do!

There was fierce cold wind up here and judging by the tree branches all growing the same direction I’m guessing that it’s always like that up there. But I was hungry, so I sat on a warm rock and ate my lunch admiring the view and trying to ignore the wind.

A group of hikers appeared and started heading across the meadow. And suddenly a gentle old collie appeared next to me, staring politely but intently at my sandwich. I gave him a pat and tried to gently send him on his way, but he was totally ignoring his owner’s calls. Boy he really wanted that sandwich! The owner came over and guided the dog back to the trail. I ran across them later and learned he is 14 years old. His long hair blew in crazy ways in that wind and I was tempted to ask if I could take a picture, but I didn’t.

I hiked the trail through the meadows until it turned and headed down the backside of the mountain via a gravel road. This passed through more meadows. No balsamroot there, but there were thousands of buttercups blooming there and lots more lupine leaves soon to sprout that purple loveliness!

At the bottom of the gravel road I turned and followed Elder Road back to the trailhead. Hardly any cars and best of all no wind! It was three miles round-trip. Great hike! I’m glad I learned about this place.

Windy at Rowena

Got up at 5:30 this morning and was out of the house by 6:00 so I could photograph flowers in the eastern Gorge with nice morning light. Well, Mother Nature let me down and conditions were poor.

I went to Tom McCall Nature Preserve (i.e. Rowena Plateau) first. The wind was INSANE. It was the kind of wind that prevents you from standing still. My fingers went numb within 30 seconds of leaving the car. It was about 7:30 and I was the only one around, not surprisingly. Photography was pretty much impossible and I just got a few quick “for the record” shots before retreating to the car.

I took a quick video. You can hear the wind and you can see the camera shake from me not being able to hold it steady.

I tried taking a drive through the Hood River Valley to see the blooming orchards. The overcast day obscured both Hood and Adams. The orchards are blooming quite nicely, though. I expect this is the last weekend for them.

Dry Creek Falls

The muddiness and wetness of winter has kept me off the hiking trails for the last three months or so. I missed it, so I was determined to go hiking on Sunday. I was dismayed as I watched the forecast deteriorate from clear and dry to cloudy with a good chance of rain. I went anyway and fortunately I didn’t get rained on until the very end of the hike.

I had hoped to see more signs of spring out there, but maybe it’s just been too cold. This was about the only sign of spring I saw:

I ambled up the trail, huffing and puffing (so much for the last five months of working out at the gym!)

After all that rain on Saturday, Dry Creek Falls was anything by dry. It was gushing.

And let me tell you, it was COLD there. The waterfall spray was icy and quickly numbed my fingers as I tried to take pictures. Hiking back down to the junction with the trail, I scrambled down to creekside to try some shots down there.

On the way back to the car, the sun tried to make a few brief appearances, but then it vanished and the rain and hail began. I picked up the pace and made it back to the car without getting too wet. I am really looking forward to drier and more colorful (wildflowers!) hiking conditions!