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Archive for the ‘Hikes’ Category

Silver Star Hike

Silver Star Mt. hike provides the quintessential¬† hiking experience in the SW Washington Cascades! The Forever Young Hikers of Clark county were at it again. This hike affords outstanding 360 degree views of 5 volcanos (St. Helens, Rainier, Adams, Hood and Jefferson) … on a clear day. We saw the bases of all but Mt. Jefferson.

Besides stellar views, “The Sound of Music” landscapes and dozens of vibrant wildflowers this peak is quite conspicuous on the eastern ridge-line from Vancouver and Portland.

The hardest part of this trek was getting there! The last 5 miles was a deeply rutted, winding dirt road. We approached from the North, at trailhead #180 (elevation 3,175′).

It was about 3 miles to the summit with a 1,200 ft elevation gain. The incline was steady and relatively easy due to the broad trail. The loose rock trail bed kept all eyes on the ground when walking.

We stopped often to catch our breath and savor the terrain. The cloud ceiling was still pretty low on our ascent. (Perfect weather for a workout.)

The clouds broke up a bit as we reached the summit.

It is hard to visually convey the exhilaration of the exertion, the vast open space, the heights and power of wilderness. This view is looking east from the summit trail.

I believe this is Pyramid Rock (looking west).

Again, but for the cloud ceiling we would have seen the volcanoes. This is the most we saw of Mt. St. Helen’s.

Below is an awesome shot that demonstrates how Silver Star got its name … I’m told from the star-like junction of five ridges.

The western ridge is bordered by the Yacolt Burn area, which is now a state park. Trees were not replanted and the western slopes remain treeless — but densely covered in shrubs and wildflowers.

Speaking of wildflowers, we counted 50 (20 less than last year’s count) and it was clear that with this year’s cool wet spring has delayed the peak bloom at this elevation. We saw bear grass, penstemon, golden pea, iris, phlox, violets, service berry, columbine, paintbrush, Sitka Valerian — and on and on! Gentian was everywhere but not yet blooming. This USGS link illustrates some of the most abundant wildflowers.

The Avalanche Lilly was especially profuse.

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Lava Falls hike

The intrepid 50+ hikers were off again. We hiked the Ape Canyon and Lava Canyon trails at the base of Mt. St. Helens (MSH for short, hereafter).

MSH was right in front of us, but with the overcast skies it was hard to appreciate her majesty.

We only went about 2.5 – 3 miles up the Ape Canyon trail. The elevation gain was gradual so we weren’t too miserable. We only came upon snow at one sheltered ravine.

The real thrill of the day was after lunch. The Lava Canyon trail isn’t visible from the road, as the approach is from the top. The falls drop 200 feet down and away from you.

Apparently this dramatic canyon was buried in ash and dirt for some 1,800 years and was only exposed as a consequence of the MSH eruption on May 18,1980, when a mudflow scoured this valley free of topsoil and forest to reveal the ancient basaltic andesite lava flows. This website has an awesome slide show of the canyon.

As breathtaking as this was … the real thrill was yet to come. About a 1/2 mile down river from the falls is the “bouncy, lively” suspension bridge. It’s only 3 ft wide and 100 ft across. There’s quite a lot of wiggle as you go over.

Of course, it affords a great view of Muddy River.

It was as thrilling as any roller coaster. Sahale Bridges built the bridge in 1993. Their website has terrific photos and even a video of crossing the bridge.

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Silver Falls Hike

The Forever Young hikers went to Silver Falls state park in Oregon. It made for a great hike. Read about the curious history at this post.

With so many falls I couldn’t help but think of Ronald Reagan’s infamous quip, “Once you’ve seen one redwood you’ve seen them all.”¬† There were at least ten falls and photographically speaking, once you’d seen one … well, enough said.

We started at North Falls. Click on the image to enlarge and see the trail that goes under/behind it.

It has to be said that the geography of the area is spectacular. The water pours over these massive lava “shelves”. The force of the water has carved out enormous hallow caves underneath which allow for trails.

Here’s a view from under the falls. All those negative ions recharged our batteries. You can just barely make out a group of hikers on the cave trail just to the left of the water column.

Again, we have FDR to thank for putting the CCC to work restoring the area. It’s now the largest state park in Oregon.

Other falls came in all shapes, heights and sizes — from broad and flat to wispy, slithery streams over moss-laden rocks. A word of caution at this time of year — pay attention! Portions of the trails are steep and slippery.

With all the shade and misting from the falls the wildflowers were robust! The moist rock walls were covered in cascading sedum and saxifrage. There were trillium, delphinium, mosses and ferns. I discovered an awesome Pacific NW wildflower site at Turner Photographics.

Here’s my photo of what I think is Hooker’s Fairy Lanterns (Prsartes smithii):

Corydalis scouleri was blooming and was everywhere along the trail:

These hikes bring out the kid in me. The easy socializing and conversations. Meeting new people. It’s like being on the playground in first grade.

All the planning and driving is done by others — often to places I’d never heard of (being a newbie and all). What a deal for $16! I’m having a ball. I was thoroughly (and happily) exhausted by day’s end.

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I went out on my first 50+ Hikers’ hike for 2010. It was pouring rain in Vancouver and Portland but got steadily dryer as we drove East. Our first hike was Hood River Mountain – just past Hood River, Oregon.

Just across from the trail head was this gate. I think this could be called a chain of locks.

Here’s the topo of the trail:

As hikes go, this was an easy one — only 3 miles RT and a mere 600 ft elevation. As the map shows, the elevation gain was initially steep but it leveled off to a very pleasant ‘table’ with sweeping views of agricultural fields and orchards.

The spring wild flowers were just coming on. The most notable of which were the Balsamroot:

Lupine vegetation was lush but not quite blooming yet. Here’s the Indian Paintbrush :

We also saw Larkspur, Glacier and Fawn Lilli’s, Brodiaea hyacinthina, Service Berry, Big-Head Clover, Fiddlenecks and lots, lots more.

Here’s a field of Butter Cups seen on our down-hill return:

After lunch we took a second jaunt at the Rowena Plateau — a square mile nature preserve on the bluffs overlooking the Columbia River. Again, fields of wild flowers and sweeping views.

Just below this cliff we spied this very healthy looking coyote.

And last, but not least was the ice cream stop at Route 30 Cafe in Mosier, where Umpqua ice cream was served. Here’s the big picture:

See: Grant’s Getaways – Rowena Crest Wildflowers from Travel Oregon on Vimeo.

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Local Walk

Forever Young hikers stayed close to home on this walk. It started as a misty morning in the mid-30’s. We hiked through the WSUV (Washington State University – Vancouver) campus — of some 320 acres!

It’s a beautiful campus with awesome views of the mountains.

You really feel old though when in a population of 20-somethings.

After a lunch at the Last Frontier Casino in La Center, we took another short hike along the Lewis River. As you can see the day quickly warmed up.

The winter-gray trees contrast nicely with the evergreen firs.

The skies began to cloud up a bit as we left.

These sculptures are made in trees still rooted in the ground!

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Moulton Falls hike

I went out on my first Forever Young hike for 2010. Moulton Falls is about 25 miles north of Vancouver. This was a leisurely 6 mile RT hike. In the middle of a solid forecast of drippy days Tuesday was a surprise of dry sunshine! It was warm too – in the mid-50’s.

This one’s for my friend Ron. Either some logger tossed this wagon wheel over a young tree many years back or a tree just happened to sprout there. Regardless, it’s a better story than image. This was an old wagon train route.

The Moulton Falls bridge was full of water in the morning.

It provided nice views of the river below.

Here’s one of our hikers coming over it.

This is a renowned summer-time rock — and apparently bridge — jump-off point. Here’s a terrific YouTube video of one such jump:

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City Walks

The weather has turned quite chilly — but also clear-skied. We’re getting 20’s at night and sunny afternoons in the 40’s.

Our first city walk was along the “Alameda ridge” … a rocky elevation in the wake of Rocky Butte during the Missoula floods. It was rife with stair cases and glorious (and sometimes historic) older homes.

Having just watched the documentary A Man Named Pearl, I noticed the topiary.

We came across poetry kiosks, Beverly Cleary‘s neighborhood and these lovely decorative sidewalks.

One resident invited us into their backyard to see there spectacular Koi pond. The yard was on a steep hillside. They just built a deck and filled the difference with water!

You can see more pictures of this and other walks in this slideshow.

I’ve been busy lately finishing up the Master Gardener program, taking the QuickBooks ProAdvisor exams and getting ready to leave for a 2 week stint of traveling with my sister in her van in California.

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