Thursday, May 26, 2011

Return to Angel's Rest

Since I didn't do any "real" hiking during last weekend's coast exploration, I was more than ready to climb up some trail in the Gorge.  I wanted to choose a hike that had lots of wildflowers. This time last year the Angel's Rest Trail was sporting a beautiful bloom of larkspur flowers.  I decided to go check out this year's crop.

Little purple larkspur

The wildflowers of Angel's Rest did not disappoint.  I got my first larkspur sighting next to the trailhead sign.  From there, it just kept getting better. 

My happy pup!

Not too far down the trail, I ran into a huge purple mass of larkspur blooms lining both sides of the trail.  Forward progress ground to a halt, as my camera came out.  I spent at least 20 minutes shooting photos of the beautiful flowers. 

The flowers look like little purple birds

Bear started getting antsy, so I finally turned off my camera and continued the hike.  But we hadn't gone much farther when I encountered another huge mass of trailside flowers, this one even better than the first.

Gobs of purple flowers brighten the forest

I had no choice but to stop and take more photos.  There was so much larkspur blooming that it colored the sides of the trail purple.  I think this display was even better than last year's bloom!

Purple spot

I spent way too much time photographing at the second spot, and finally had to tear myself away.  If I kept this up, I was never going to get my hike in!

Looking west down the Gorge

I huffed and puffed up the steep trail, occasionally stopping for a water or photo break.  I began to get glimpses of the Columbia River through the trees.  Then I crossed a rockslide, and knew I was getting close.

Gnarled tree at the top

I've hiked Angel's Rest many times, and know where the good view spots are located.  When I reached the top, I bypassed the large rocks where most people stop, and headed for the bench.

Bear and I taking a breather on Angel's Rest

There's a sturdy wood park bench that sits near the edge of the Angel's Rest cliffs.  This bench is located in a very scenic place.  You can look east and west down the Gorge for fabulous views of the Columbia River.  I was lucky and found the bench unoccupied.  I claimed my spot, dug out some snacks, and had myself a nice break.  Although the skies were overcast, the Gorge panorama before me a was mighty fine sight.

Time to check out Devil's Rest

The Angel's Rest trail is a nice hike, but for me it's too short.  Whenever I'm hiking this trail, I always try to tack on a few additional miles.  Today I decided to try and hit Devil's Rest, and to make a loop, return on the Wahkeena Trail.  I've hiked to Devil's Rest a few times, but I've always approached from the Wahkeena Trail.  This time I'd be hiking to Devil's Rest from the opposite direction.

Pink flowers brighten the forest

I followed signs and trails, almost got lost once (and was saved by my gps) but finally arrived at the large rockpile in the forest that is Devil's Rest.  It's kind of a disappointing place - no views, just a bunch of huge, mossy boulders.  But it was past lunchtime, and I was hungry, so it looked like a great place to stop and nosh.

Lots of trilliums in the higher elevations

When I arrived, there was a couple already sitting amongst the rocks of Devil's rest.  We said our hellos, and I then busied myself with recharging my body's energy supply.  When I looked over at my neighbors again, they were deep in a long kiss.  Embarrassed, I turned away from their private moment.  Many minutes passed, and when I dared to look again, they were still smooching away.  The couple stayed lip-locked for at least ten minutes longer.  Uncomfortable to be intruding on such an intimate moment, I scarfed my lunch down, and headed back to the trail.

The cliffs of Angel's Rest

I headed down the Wahkeena Trail.  After climbing for most of the day, it was nice to let gravity do some of the work.  But sadly, what comes down must go back up, and to get back to Angel's Rest, I had to do more climbing!  Luckily, there were lots of pretty wildflowers to distract me from my slog.  And occasional photo breaks to give me some quick rest!

The trail home!

Finally the steep cliffs of Angel's Rest came back into view.  It was all downhill from here!  I was getting tired and footsore, so it was a welcome sight.  As I traveled back down the trail, I met tons of people hiking up.  Angel's Rest is a very popular hike, and on nice weekends attracts lots of people.  I was glad to have started early and avoided the crowds.

Although I didn't get any sun today, I also didn't get any rain.  The way this spring's going, I'll take the dry day!  Total stats for this hike:  10 miles, at least 2400' elevation gain to Devil's rest, and probably another 500' on the Wahkeena Trail.  Enough to get me tired and sore, satisfy my yearning for a hike, and give me lots of wildflower photos.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Don't be shy! Please leave a comment.