Our day's destination was Nesmith Point - a steep trek up the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge. John's training to climb some mountains later this spring, and needed a good conditioning hike. I haven't been up to Nesmith in many years. All I remembered was a long, boring slog up a mostly viewless trail.
|Hail, hail the gang's all here!|
The opportunity for great company, not the trail itself, was my motivation for joining up. John always gathers the most fun, interesting people for his hikes. Today's group was no exception. Along with my ski friends Young, John (another John), and Katie, were his climbing pals Terri, Debbie, and Ted. A couple of these folks I hadn't seen for over a year. It was great to reconnect.
|Bear is ready to roll|
John's hiking club also had a four-legged member. After watching me pack up and leave for ski trips all winter, Bear was happy to finally be included. He's missed romping on the trails, and took full advantage of this opportunity, running back and forth making sure his "herd" stayed together. (I think he traveled at least double the distance we humans covered).
|Gorge view in between the trees|
|Looking ahead to our destination|
|The trilliums were blooming!|
Young and I discovered small patches of early wildflowers in the forest. The trilliums were in full bloom mode. Oodles of huge blossoms decorated the lower portions of the trail. I've never seen trilliums so big!
|We hit snow around 3000 feet elevation|
|Bear on the snowy trail|
Everyone picked their way across the snow-covered trail. The snow was firm enough to keep us on top, but the going was slippery. I was glad for my trekking poles.
|Making our way through the snow-covered forest|
|Foggy trail junction|
|Old moss-covered sign|
The mossy trail sign showed just how far we'd come.
|Foggy road to the top|
|A small peep of the Columbia River from Nesmith Point|
Nesmith Point! Today's low clouds and fog didn't make for much of view. However, there was tiny glimpses of the Columbia River and Washington side of the Gorge peeping out between cloudbreaks. After the monstrous climb, I appreciated any small reward I could get.
|Lunchtime at the top|
All the members of John's hiking group settled themselves amongst Nesmith Point's tiny summit to enjoy a hearty lunch. Bear wandered around, giving everyone his most mournful look, hoping to score some sympathy food. Katie gave him the most food and attention, so she became Bear's new best friend. (On hikes Bear never goes hungry. Lest you worry, I always bring a baggie of dog food and some treats for my pup. And he usually ends up with a large portion of my sandwich).
|John, Debbie, and Ted|
The temps on top were chilly, and everyone bundled up, putting back on the layers we'd stripped off during the climb. Many of us had also packed up thermoses of hot tea, which tastes great on a damp, cool spring day.
|The whole group (minus Debbie who took the photo)|
Before heading back out, I insisted we all pose for a couple of group photos. Debbie was nice enough to man my camera, which allowed me (and Bear) to be included in a shot.
|We discovered a newt in the snow|
After such a long, hard climb, the first mile of downhill was a welcome treat. We hit the snow again, and the march over the slippery white stuff was much easier than anticipated. Towards the end of the snowpack, John discovered a little newt lying in the snow. An unusual place to find animal life, we hoped it wasn't frozen.
|John rescuing the newt|
The newt appeared to still be alive. After shooing Bear away, and getting a couple of photographs of the little guy, John rescued our amphibian friend from his chilly perch. We left him in a snow-free patch of the forest floor to hopefully warm up and scurry to a lower, more temperate elevation.
|Young and Bear on the trail|
Everyone thinks climbing is the difficult part of hiking. But the descent can be just as grueling. Quads, calves, toes, feet and knees all take a beating from the constant downhill pounding. About halfway down, with our legs growing weary, Young exclaimed "Boy, I wish we had our skis. Skiing downhill is so much easier!"
|Mossy trailhead water tank|
As we descended in elevation, the air became warmer. The layers came off once again. Finally, we could hear sounds from the adjacent highway. The ancient water tank located at the trailhead came into view. Finally finished! Time to head into town for some beer and grub.
Total stats for the day: 9.8 miles round-trip, 3800 feet elevation gain.
But my weekend fun was not over yet. Stay tuned for the next blog post - my wonderful weekend part two.