Friday, June 5, 2009

Dog Mountain Hike

Last Sunday I did my yearly hike up Dog Mountain. Dog Mountain is located on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge, and it is known for its beautiful wildflower meadows. The flowers are usually at their peak by the end of May. I try to make it up to the top of Dog Mountain every year to see the flowers.

The weather forecast was for a hot day, so I got up early and arrived at the trailhead by 7 am. It was great! Only 5 other cars in the parking lot. I was mostly by myself as I climbed up the steep, steep trail. (Two of the trails that will lead you to the top are signed "difficult" and "more difficult.")

I stopped for a photo break at "puppy point" which is about half way up to the summit. Above is my view from this vantage. You can see the yellow-tinged hills above - that yellow is all flowers.

After huffing and puffing my way up the trail (it gets murderously steep in parts!) I arrived at the wildflower meadows of the Dog Mtn. summit. I pulled out my camera, and went to work!
The photo to the right is Wind Mtn. and the Columbia River as viewed from near Dog Mtn. summit.

The most common flower up here is the balsamroot. This flower looks a lot like a sunflower, but smaller. They grow like crazy in the gorge, and especially on Dog Mtn. Dog Mountain's upper slopes are mostly treeless, which provides lots of sun - perfect for the flowers! The meadows look like someone took a yellow paintbrush to them, but it all balsamroot flowers.

Here's a couple of flower pals that caught my eye (and my camera lens!)

Balsamroot are not the only flowers that bloom in Dog Mtn's meadows. There is also Indian Paintbrush, Lupine, Phlox, and many other flowers that I don't know the name of. It's times like these that I wish I had Cody with me - he could name them all! This variety of flowers makes for a beautiful riot of color.

I discovered the largest Indian Paintbrush bloom that I have ever seen (see orange flower in the above photo). It must have been as big as a golf ball.

After taking lots of photos and enjoying the views and great weather, it was time to head back down. I encountered lots of people heading up the trail on my way down, and was glad I started my hike as early as I did. When I arrived back at the parking lot, it was overflowing with cars! There were parked cars lining the road in both directions. A warm, sunny day in early June brings the crowds to Dog Mountain. But with such natural beauty, who can blame them?

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