Oregon Forest Road Hike

2021 Hike # ; 112

Hike Distance: 7.8 miles

Elevation Gain: 1219 feet

Yearly Hike Distance: 903.6 miles

Yearly Elevation Gain: 103,630 feet

Such a gorgeous day, and we expected crowded trails almost everywhere. So, we decided yet again, to go on a forest road walk. And to no surprise, there were NO people or vehicles on the roads. Add to the solitude the fact that we could see three volcanoes (only the tip of Mt. Adams) and you get a fantastic day!

The highlight of the day was seeing Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood clearly. 🙂 There was also plenty of Foxglove and Lupine flowers, for some added color. On previous hikes we’ve been getting a bit more tired, but today we had plenty of energy. We had no complaints on today’s hike, and it was even a good change to travel to the northern Oregon forests.

18,000 Miles Reached on PCT Hike west of Panther Creek TH

2021 Hike # ; 97

Hike Distance: 8.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 1114 feet

Yearly Hike Distance: 787.1 miles

Yearly Elevation Gain: 92,794 feet

As of about two weeks ago my wife and I have been fully vaccinated for Covid19! We both had the Pfizer/BionTech vaccine, but are still masking, for those that can’t, or haven’t been, vaccinated yet. My wife had minimal vaccination symptoms and I had flu-like symptoms for about a day. To be honest, the Shingrix vaccination, for shingles prevention, was much worse!

As a result of being vaccinated, we’ve gotten much more optimistic, and adventuresome, about future hikes and have been venturing out onto normal hiking trails. We’re still visiting forest roads, because there’s more solitude, but we’ve planned some exciting vacations for the remainder of the year, and hopefully we won’t have to cancel them, for some unforeseen issues. In addition, we plan to begin providing trail magic, on the PCT, later in the summer! I’m hoping to provide more blog updates as these hiking events occur, so stay tuned. 🙂

Today’s hike was a special event as I knew we’d pass through a lifetime total of 18,000 miles!!! To mark this special event we planned a special hike, on the PCT, west of Panther Creek in Washington state. There’s a nice parking spot off of forest road NF-65, and we pulled right in. There was a large amount of traffic on NF-65, as this was a Friday, and people were grabbing camping spots before the Memorial Day weekend started.

Let me preface this trip report by mentioning that the weather was outstanding, which made us think that the trail would be crowded. However, and this is a spoiler alert, the trail was mostly empty, except for one couple that we saw down along the Wind River shoreline.

Our plan was to head west (south) on the PCT from our driving location. However, Panther Creek is only about 0.25 miles east on the PCT, and it’s well worth visiting. So we walked east and reached the incredible beauty of Panther Creek and its shallow crystal clear waters. We spent a short time on the sturdy bridge above the creek, and down along the bank of the creek. The lush vegetation only made this place more beautiful. If you add to that the old growth trees that surrounded the trail section that leads up to the creek, then you get perfection. This is a special place (and there’s not much water beyond this if you hike north on the PCT, for many miles).

Leaving Panther Creek, we headed west for about 2.5 miles, before reaching the Wind River, and its incredible long arching bridge. The 2.5 miles of trail, before reaching Wind River, is lush but overgrown. The PCT in this area needs brushing out, and in a bad way. It’s obvious not much foot, or horse, traffic has been here in a while, and mother nature is trying to eradicate the trail. haha I would normally be a bit concerned about ticks, in such high brush, but we wear a full outfit of Insect Shield treated clothing, and it works exceedingly well.

Wind River is quite the sight to behold. Its shallow fast flowing crystal clear water is mesmerizing, especially when you’re at the peak height of the bridge! For all intents and purposes you’ll feel like you’re in the wilderness, except when it gets crowded on the hot summer days. This is where we saw the lone couple during the entire day! 🙂 After many photos we moved on.

Continuing west from here the trail ascends up a nicely forested area, but there are scant views to be found. There is some old growth here, and they’re magnificent! There was a lone fallen tree on this ascent, and it needs to be cleared, but is still passable with a bit of care. It doesn’t take long to ascend this incline, and it was at the top where I reached the 18,000 mile milestone. It was tough not to be a bit emotional. I really can’t believe that this many miles has been reached, and after 14 years of effort. I owe so much to my wife for being there to accompany me, and also be the primary driver to all the trailheads. 🙂 This isn’t her goal, but she has been supportive and helped move me forward. This is a joint accomplishment, and been good for bonding, and experiencing mother nature’s beauty together.

I should also mention that we saw a few different flowers. Lupine and wild roses were our favorite, but there were a huge amount of some white flowers, whose name I don’t know.

We turned around shortly after reaching the 18,000 mile milestone, and the return trip was nice but uneventful. What a fantastic day, and we’re looking forward to many more hikes on “real” trails. :

Beacon Rock State Park Loop Hike Through Saddle

2021 Hike # ; 74

Hike Distance: 9.1 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,888 feet

Yearly Hike Distance: 598.4 miles

Yearly Elevation Gain: 73,788 feet

A truly gorgeous day in the PNW and we’ve been taking advantage of the exceptional weather. We’ve been a bit more bold in that we’re going out to “real” trail systems rather than continuously walking forest roads. While the forest roads were fairly safe, they were hard on our bodies, due to the hard surfaces and shifting gravel. So, we headed out to one of our favorite Columbia River Gorge hikes, to Beacon Rock State Park.

Most everyone that visits Beacon Rock State Park hikes either to the top of Beacon Rock or on the Hamilton Mt. Loop. Both are incredibly spectacular, but also terribly overcrowded. With the current state of the Pandemic, and our desire for solitude, we preferentially hike a completely different route!

We usually start at the Equestrian TH, and hike up the road to the Hardy Creek picnic area. Hardy Creek is one of those beautiful places to stop and feel the serenity. The creek is a constant flow of fast moving water over a streambed of large rocks. If you can’t relax here, then you’ll have to wait until you reach the Hamilton Mt. Saddle.

From the Hardy Creek Picnic area we walk north on the Upper Hardy Creek Trail and turn right to ascend towards Hamilton Mt. This ascent is a switchback, and steep, but the effort is worth every ounce of energy (short of a heart attack) you put into it. You’ll know when you reach the Hamilton Mt. Saddle because it will take your breath away.

At an elevation of about 2100 feet the saddle has breathtaking views, looking both east and west, down the Columbia River Gorge. When you first enter the saddle, which is a vast open area, you’ll be greeted by a view (looking south) of the peak of Mt. Hood. We also saw a small group of Glacier Lilies that were still blooming. No photos I’ve ever seen has portrayed the overwhelming natural beauty displayed on the Saddle. This place feeds my soul and brings tears to my eyes. This is a place to stop and rest, and to put all of life in perspective! Drink it in. Oh, and this is where we saw plenty of hikers, but we kept our distance and wore masks. It was also very windy on the saddle, as is usually the case.

After a short food break, we continued north on a typically unused fire road to the northernmost point of the Upper Hardy Creek Trail. This unused fire road is usually devoid of people and passes through nice second growth forest. We saw nobody today. 🙂

Once on the Upper Hardy Creek Trail we hiked south until we reached the cutoff that brings you to the horse crossing bridge, over Hardy Creek. Again, nobody here despite plenty of people being on the Hamilton Mt. Loop. We stood on the bridge above Hardy Creek and watched the water flowing over the rocks. I also took some long exposures to catch the water flowing effect. An added bonus was that I found a singular Calypso Orchid, just off trail, but the photo isn’t very good since it was at ground level.

Once over the horse bridge, we intersected the Hardy Ridge Trail and followed it south until we reached the main trail back to the Equestrian TH. The small section of trail south of the horse bridge is one of our favorite places in the park. There are small stream crossings, plenty of Trillium and Salmonberry, and only one person seen. It wasn’t long before we made our way back to the Equestrian TH, and finished the hike. A truly fantastic day!

A note to anyone who hasn’t visited Beacon Rock before, hike the Hamilton Mt. Loop to get the best views in a multitude of places! You’ll see Hardy Creek Falls, the front face of Mt. Hamilton, peaks of Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams, Best view of Columbia River Gorge, summit of Mt. Hamilton, and The Saddle. This will also be a shorter distance than what we hiked, but is a much more aggressive climb from the parking area. I mention this because if you only have one chance to visit, this is the hike you shouldn’t miss! My wife and I have already done this awesome loop and currently prefer other attributes of the park, for at least now. Haha

Forest Road Hike

2021 Hike # ; 50

Hike Distance: 7.8 miles

Elevation Gain: 869 feet

Yearly Hike Distance: 402.3 miles

Yearly Elevation Gain: 48,451 feet

Yeah, it’s been a while. I will admit that we’ve slowed down a bit compared to previous years, and much has been happening in our lives. Hopefully, things will be getting back to some form of normalcy as early as this summer, and we actually have a sense that we’ll be able to rise out of this darkness!

We’ve planned a couple of “vacations”, which means anything away from our home. We’re ready to cancel, if necessary, but are looking forward to anything that isn’t a “Forest Road”! Haha We won’t be visiting any restaurants during these vacations, except for possibly take-outs, and will likely bring some food with us? We’ll also be bringing our masks and wearing them in public, unless the “All Clear!” is broadcast. Wishing you all better times ahead! 🙂

On to today’s hike. What can you say about this forest road? Well, not much different from the walking point of view. Although, there were a large number of downed trees that we needed to trim in order to get past them. On the other hand, this wasn’t a good hike for me (but my wife was okay). You see, somewhere about halfway through the hike I started to get horrible allergy symptoms.

You may say this isn’t a big deal, but for me I haven’t had significant allergy symptoms for a about two decades! I took allergy drops for about 4-5 years, about 25 years ago, and they worked well for me. Everything was fantastic until today, and then my body decided it didn’t like the deciduous tree pollen, and I mean in a big way. 😦 My eyes were swollen and my nose was running constantly. My handkerchiefs were saturated in minutes and I was basically wiping and blowing my nose with a wet towel. I had constant sneezing fits that were violent and wracked my body.

On the way back the rain intensified, along with a bout of hail, and it only made things worse. I was so grateful to get back to the car so I could use dry kleenex to blow my nose. As I sit here writing this report my allergy symptoms have abated, but I’m left with the fear of going back out hiking. I can see that in my future there will be further visits to the ENT doctor for another round of allergy drops, but only after the pandemic!

Forest Road Hike

2021 Hike # ; 31

Hike Distance: 8.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 1137 feet

Yearly Hike Distance: 246.0 miles

Yearly Elevation Gain: 28610 feet

As I sit here writing this trip report I’m wondering when we’ll be able to go on our next hike. The temperatures where we live have finally gone above freezing but there is about 14-16 inches of snow that need to melt! It’s very infrequent for this much snow to fall in one storm where we live, in the Pacific Northwest, but alas it has happened. 😦

This was our last hike before the storm, and it was a beautiful day. This was another typical road, that we’ve hiked before, but it still offered much beauty and plenty of fresh cool air. 🙂 We only had one expansive view, for which I included a photo. We also took notice of all the wind damage that has occurred so far this winter. Nothing was impassable and was easily stepped over or avoided.

While I’m still enjoying walking these forest roads, there appears to be some hope of going back to some normal trails this summer, or later? We’ll have to see how the speed of Covid19 vaccination continues, but I’m hopeful of things improving this Summer or perhaps Fall? My wife and I both agree that we require a vaccine in order to feel safe around other people, especially at our age and with our medical issues. We’ll see what happens?

Hiking the circumference of the earth (25,000 miles)!