Hike Distance: 7.2 miles Yearly Hike Distance: 713.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 1062 feet Yearly Elevation Gain: 103513 feet
It didn’t look like too bad of a day so I headed out toward the Columbia River Gorge area, for yet another forest road hike. The weather I found there was much different than the forecast I’d seen, and it was like a brutal storm. The wind was gusting, and the trees looked like they were threatening to fall. The temperature should have been warmer, but it felt cold, with both wind and rain pelting down. In addition, I was alone, as my wife had obligations at home.
I was up in the clouds and wondered if I should turn around and go somewhere else, or home. I decided to stay and see where things progressed, and took my chances. Besides, I could always turn around and escape the horrible weather.
I donned my rain gear, and even added my ear warmers and neck gaiter. I had some smartwool gloves, but they weren’t waterproof. Oh well, we’ll see what happens? I started the hike and noticed how eerie it was. I was walking in the clouds, and it was rather dark when I looked into the forest. To be honest, I halfway expected some creature to come out of the forest and pounce on me, but I fought back the concern and kept on moving.
The weather never got much better and the rain was getting through my waterproof clothing. My hands were getting cold as my gloves became more and more wet. The only part of me that felt dry were my feet and my head. Everything in between felt moist or wet, despite the rain gear.
I came to a road that seemed interesting, and followed it for over a mile. The road was covered in large rocks, and not the fine gravel. This forced me to slow down as I didn’t want to twist my ankles or knees. Thankfully, my back was holding out! I was glad when I got off this uneven road and back to the typical surface we enjoy.
I wanted to stop and have fluids and food but the perpetual downpour made this only a passing thought. I managed to consume a large piece of banana bread that my wife gave me, and the calories kept me from running out of energy. I didn’t even have a liter of fluid, under these harsh conditions, and got back to the car and was dehydrated.
You might get the impression that this was a lousy hike, but you’d be wrong! I loved this hike and wouldn’t trade it for anything. You see, I felt alive, and I was consumed in the moment without any other cares in the world! Add to the weather conditions that there were no other people and I was all alone, but made it out safely. It’s a powerful experience to go through these conditions and find the confidence/motivation to overcome my fears and enjoy the exploration.
I don’t recommend going out alone in these conditions (or any for that matter) to everyone, but I’ve gone out alone hundreds of times, and am extremely prepared for most situations. My inReach Satellite communicator lets my family know exactly where I am every 10 minutes, and I can press a button to get Search-and-Rescue. Be safe and good hiking!