Frenchmen’s Bar Area Hike

Hike Distance: 6.5 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 301.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 477 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 40084 feet

I almost didn’t get out today but my wife forced me to leave, knowing I wouldn’t be in a great mood without some fresh air and exercise.  haha  I haven’t mentioned it yet, but my wife had a torn meniscus repaired four days ago.  As a result, she won’t be able to hike for a while. 😦  That said, she’s doing well, and seems to have minimal issues due to the surgery, which is great!

So I stayed close to home and Frenchmen’t Bar is my new go-to place when getting out late.  It was a rainy day, with plenty of wind, and I loved it!  It’s nice to see winter weather resume, and I felt right at home on the trail.  The only problem I had was forgetting my waterproof winter gloves, but at least I had a pair of smartwool gloves with me.

The path I took on this hike was thoroughly contorted, and it would mess with your head if I tried to explain it.  The noteworthy things that occurred were as follows:  A couple of women told me about a trail that connected the north end dike to the beach, and I investigated that.  It turns out there is a trail there, and the access looks normal on the dike side.  However, the beach side of this trail seams to terminate in the brush, but you can still easily get to the beach.  This is obviously not an official trail, and who knows who made it?

The second thing that occurred on my hike was to visit the DNR land that is adjacent, to the east, of the Frenchmen’s Bar Park.  I visited this area because there was a large body of water, from all the rains, that looked to make a good photo.  Turns out it wasn’t such a great photo, and looks better in person, but I included the picture anyway.

Lastly, I spent plenty of time on the beach, along the Columbia River.  There were a couple of large container ships moored there.  There was also some great photo opportunities, due to the lighting and interesting rain cloud formations.  The weather did start to clear at the end of the hike, and I saw some blue sky.

Despite being a Saturday, there were few people at the park due to the bad weather.  My good fortune!  Oh, and were starting to see some of the trees and plants blooming!  I’m just hoping my allergies don’t act up.  haha   A great day, and my mood was lifted after the hike. 🙂

Cape Horn Trail Hike

Hike Distance: 6.4 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 294.9 miles

Elevation Gain: 1507 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 39607 feet

I don’t go here often, mostly because it’s crowded, and today it was fairly crowded!  To be honest, the major issue is finding a place to pee.  haha  In actuality, the small parking area keeps the crowd manageable, and I was lucky to get a space.  That said, it was a weekday, which is the best time to beat the crowds.

I didn’t do the entire loop, and often just am not in the mood (or feeling brave enough) to walk along the Cape Horn cliffs.  The cliffs are along the lower trail, so don’t go there if you don’t like drop-offs!  I’ve done the entire loop a couple of times, though.

So, I took the upper trail and headed for the overlook that’s called Pioneer Point.  To be honest, this overlook also has a drop-off, but I find it tolerable since you don’t have to get close to the edge.  I’m not sure how, but sometime in my 40’s or 50’s I acquired a healthy respect for drop-offs?  I think I’m feeling more mortal as I get older.  When I was younger we had no problem going to Eagle Creek and looking 300 feet down over the edge, but we thought we’d never go over the edge.  Hmm.  Oh well, most trails have no exposure so it’s easy to avoid.  I digress.

I was intending on going to the Nancy Russell Overlook, and then turning around, but I went a bit further.  The Nancy Russell Overlook is quite amazing.  I could sit there all day and look east at the Columbia River Gorge!  Only a couple of people there, for a short time, so I enjoyed the view alone.  The wind here was making it feel much colder than it was.

On the way back to the car I discovered a forest road that parallels the trail for a short bit.  I looked on my OnX Android software and found that the road is part of the Columbia Gorge Scenic Area.  The road goes all the way down to Rainbow Falls road, and I plan to do the entire thing in the future, just to add some mileage.  Oh, and nobody goes on this road, so there’s solitude here.  There’s also a view of Silver Star (which was snow capped) and the valley, looking north.

Another nice thing that happened on this hike was to meet up with a PCT thru-hiker with the name “Daddy Long Legs”!  We had a very nice discussion, about hiking things, and it was a pleasure to talk with him.  Since my wife and I are PCT Trail Angels, there was plenty to talk about!

Also, it was nice to see some trail maintenance going on along the upper trail.  I talked a bit with one of the WTA volunteers.  It’s much appreciated to see people giving of their time to improve trail conditions.  I applaud their work! 🙂

Beacon Rock State Park Loop Hike

Hike Distance: 9.2 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 256.6 miles

Elevation Gain: 2377 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 34482 feet

I felt like a nice long hike in Beacon Rock State Park, and invited my friend Marshall to go along .  He’s been to the summit of Hamilton Mt. many times but has never gone to the back of the park, and the the west side trails.  So we parked at the equestrian TH as our starting point.  The wind was significant, and not expected, and we both put on another layer to keep warm!!

We first ascended up to the Saddle area of Hamilton Mt., as that’s where the best views are located.  Most of the elevation gain was achieved during this first section of the hike.  As we arrived at the Saddle it was a bit of a surprise to see some snow.  I’d thought the snow had been melting but it wasn’t all gone.

The views at the saddle were amazing, but the wind gusts were equally strong.  We only stayed long enough to take a few pictures, and then headed north from the saddle on one of the roads that  parallels the ridge.  These roads were mostly snow covered, but very easy to traverse.  After that we descended, at the north side of the park, to the portion of the Upper Hardy Creek Trail that parallels Hardy Creek.  The snow here was a bit deeper, and quite consolidated, but not a real problem to walk upon.

We reached the trail intersection that led to the horse bridge, and crossed over to the west side of Hardy Creek.  We both loved this heavily forested area as the mood here is wonderful.  We followed this trail until we met the main trail, that led back to our cars.  On the way back we also went on a small loop trail, and then proceeded back to our cars.

It was a wonderful day, with blue skies and plenty of wind.  It seemed much colder than it actually was, but we were prepared.  My only gripe for the day is that I brought my new Olympus camera, but forgot to re-install the memory card, so all pictures were taken with my phone.  Very few people seen all day, and that’s always a pleasure!

Moulton Trail Loop Hike from Hantwick Rd. and through DNR Roads

Hike Distance: 8.1 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 247.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 1515 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 32105 feet

I got out very late but was still able to haul butt and complete this loop.  The Washington DNR has been planning to log part of this area, and I wanted one last look before it was destroyed, at least for the remainder of my life. 😦   So, I parked at the Hantwick TH of the Moulton Trail, and started up the road.  My goal for the day was to enjoy this area before it’s logged, and also to try taking some time exposures of water with my new Olympus camera.  This camera has 5.5 stops of image stabilization, and I found that I could take a 2 second exposure and have no blur in the picture!!!  I was amazed at how well this camera keeps the image still while holding it for long exposures, and without a tripod. 🙂

I love this area because it’s rare to see anyone, and today was no exception.  There were no people, but I also didn’t see any animals.  The forest area designated for a clear cut was still intact, and I loved going under the canopy in this area!  I took this road for almost two miles before a small trail connects up to the Bells Mt. Trail.  Just before intersecting this short-cut trail there is a phenomenal view of Mt. St. Helens!  It’s always a treasure to get a close-up view of any snow capped volcano. 🙂

Once on the Bells Mt. Trail, I headed north (took a left after crossing two small streams) back to the Moulton Trail.  Next, I reached the Moulton Trail and turned right to get a view of Moulton Falls.  You can’t see the entire falls from my vantage point, but it’s still very impressive.  I got some great long exposure photos of the falls, without a tripod, and this is a first for me.

It was getting late, so I tagged the high bridge, above the Lewis River, and then headed back west toward my car.  There were many people walking on the trail, and they were all very nice.  Along the walk back to my car there were at least three small streams that I photographed, with long exposures.  I included them in the photos below.  This was a much better hike than I expected, and I was grateful to have made the time to go there.

Vancouver Lake & Frenchmen’s Bar Area Hike

Hike Distance: 8.7 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 215.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 434 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 27463 feet

Today my hiking friend, Marshall, and I went out to explore the Vancouver Lake area and Frenchmen’s Bar trail.  He hasn’t been here before so that made it more exciting and I took the time to show him the places that I frequented.

We parked in an area close to the boating club, which doesn’t require a Clark County Parks permit.  We then walked north through the Vancouver Lake trail system.  We visited the lake shore, and also explored the North Lake Trail.  The water level at Vancouver Lake was rather high, so we couldn’t see all of my favorite spots. 😦

Along the North Lake Trail we bumped into three guys, that were friendly enough, and exchanged a few words with them.  We had heard someone fire a gun earlier, and it turned out that one of them was carrying an assault style rifle that shot .22 caliber bullets.  We even found the casing for the bullet on the trail.  I should have called 911, as shooting in a county park is illegal, but they were on their way out and I didn’t know what vehicle they were driving, and we were moving away from them.  Also, I wasn’t the one that saw the rifle.  A sad day when you can’t feel safe in a county park. 😦

After finishing up the trails in Vancouver Lake Park, we took the Frenchmen’s Bar trail to Blurock Landing.  This is about half way to the Frenchmen’s Bar Park.  We strolled along the beach and enjoyed the sun, which finally came out and warmed the air.  Again, the Columbia River water level was high and we couldn’t take the shoreline around and into Frenchmen’s Bar Park.

We then headed back towards our cars and took a final detour along a southbound trail that parallels Lower River Road.  This is an area where people stopped to walk their dogs.  We didn’t walk the entire length of the trail and opted to turn around.  Before ending our hike, we took one last look across Vancouver Lake and enjoyed the fresh air.  The only volcano we saw today was the tip of Mt. Hood.  Clouds covered the Washington Cascades, and covered Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Adams.

We had a great time and were very fortunate to have such a nice day, before the rain rolls in tomorrow.