Cape Horn Trail Hike

Hike Distance: 5.1 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 200.7 miles

Elevation Gain: 1114 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 25584 feet

Despite the recent snow fall, and poor road conditions, we decided to drive into the Columbia River Gorge and hike the Cape Horn Trail.  The temperature was at around freezing but it felt much warmer than that.  The roads were clear but the parking lot, at the Salmon Falls TH, was snow covered.  My wife wanted me to park the car and I gladly did so.

There was much more snow here than I expected, so we both put on our Kahtoola micro spikes.  We knew we wouldn’t go very far, due to the amount of effort it takes to hike in snow, but it sure felt like we went at least twice the distance!  There were plenty of people on the trail but we had plenty of time alone at the viewpoint. 🙂

We ascended up the trail and were so excited to be on our first snow hike for this year!  We were thankful that people had already blazed a trail as it reduced the effort needed to lift our feet and take the next step.  I estimate the snow was anywhere from 8-20 inches deep.  I’m sure the wind played a part in providing some drifts that were quite deep.  We reached the first viewpoint, where there were about six people, and they quickly vacated it and gave us some alone time with nature.

The view of the snow covered Columbia River Gorge was breathtaking, and the pictures just don’t do it justice.  It was such a surreal view and we felt immersed in a beautiful painting.  Words simply can’t describe the beauty.  We stood there and soaked this into our souls, and I didn’t want to leave.  I can only describe the view as a religious experience.

Not wanting to end the hike we decided to continue in a counter-clockwise direction around the Cape Horn loop trail.  We were headed toward the Nancy Russell Overlook but were moving very slowly.  The snow on the original ascent was somewhat compacted, and the micro-spikes worked extremely well.  However, the snow turned more powdery as we continue our hike, and snow was clumping around the micro-spikes.  I had to constantly kick off the clumping snow.  In addition, the weight on my ankles, from the boots, spikes and snow was significant.

We made it to an open field, past a parking area (snow covered but three cars there) and had to turn around due to the time of day.  We were probably about a half mile from the Nancy Russell Overloook but simply had to turn back if we wanted to avoid hiking in the dark.

We made it back before dark, which was nice.  We so enjoyed our first excursion in the snow, and hope we can repeat it soon!! 🙂