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|The hike started out on an old road|
|Beargrass and Mt. St. Helens|
|The paintbrush was going strong|
|Snack break on a talus slope|
John's truck bounced along on the awful pothole-filled dirt road. We drove for what seemed like eons. Hardly any of the roads were marked, making navigation extremely difficult. Young directed John down one gravel lane, and after traveling for 10 minutes with no trailhead in sight, we were forced to backtrack. Jolting along another unnamed road, my friends and I kept thinking our destination was "just around the next bend." But after rounding nearly 15 bends, it became apparent we'd missed a turn somewhere.
|The wonderful view|
Both Young and I needed a bathroom break badly, and bumping along on this terrible road wasn't helping matters. Finally, John pulled over and we ladies both ducked into the bushes. I then pulled out my Forest Service map, which was tucked away in my backpack in the pickup bed (heaven forbid I keep it up in the cab with me so we could navigate!)
|Path through the flowers|
After traveling such a long distance down this crappy road, and wasting almost two hours, John was not ready to do any more driving (not that I blame him!). He suggested we follow the men in the car and hike the Bluff Mountain Trail instead. I grudgingly agreed, though secretly disappointed. I'd had my heart set on a trip through Ed's Trail.
|Lots of Mt. Hood views|
|Path through another talus slope|
From the trailhead, the first two miles of the Bluff Mtn Trail follow an old road that hugs the top of a ridge. The lack of trees meant there were views from the very start. My companions quickly spotted Mt. Adams snowy summit, and a short time later, Mt. Hood started to make its appearance. Right before the road transitioned into trail, it dived down a steep, steep hill. Young and I both groaned knowing this wasn't gonna be fun to climb on our return.
|Looking ahead to Silver Star Mtn|
|Weather beaten trail sign|
|I found a few tiger lilies|
The only bad thing about hiking on an open ridge line was the lack of shade. Summer finally arrived in the PNW, and it came with a vengeance. Temps were climbing into the high 80s by afternoon. Now to the rest of the country that's been stuck in a heat wave, high 80's probably doesn't seem very hot. But to us Northwesterners who've endured a cool, wet spring, it might as well have been 100 degrees. Not used to hiking in the blazing sun, a little more shade would've been helpful. But we sucked down more water and soldiered on.
|Marching through the wildflowers|
|Paintbrush lines the trail|
|Beargrass close up|
Another great thing about the Bluff Mountain trail, we didn't encounter many other people. The long bumpy drive to its trailhead naturally weeds away all but the most determined hikers (well, and those of us who get lost on the way to another place!) We leapfrogged with a group of three men (the same people in the car we'd earlier asked directions from) and met a couple of very unprepared groups on our way back, but that was it. In comparison, when the flowers are out, Ed's Trail is usually crawling with people. It was nice to enjoy the flower fields and views without hordes of hikers.
|Hood was always over our shoulder|
The heat and frequent photo stops dug into our hiking time, and before I knew it my watch read three o'clock and we were still over a mile from Silver Star's summit. John's gps said we'd traveled almost six miles. Knowing we'd have to cover this same distance to get back, we made a group decision to turn around before it got too late. Silver Star would have to wait for another day.
|My hiking companions|
So back we trudged in the heat, through the talus, the wildflower fields, the wonderful shady woods, until we reached that long rocky old road. And the hill. As Young and I predicted, climbing that hill in the hot sun at the end of a long hike was not fun. The road seemed to go on forever. All I could think about was the promise of a cold microbrew when we finally reached civilization.
|Incredible view for an incredible day|
But as we headed back to John's truck, the group deemed this a wildly successful hike. My friends were really impressed with the trail. They liked the wide open views and the thick concentration of wildflowers. And due to Bluff Mtn's remote location, we nearly had the place to ourselves. All the amenities of Ed's Trail without the crowds. Sometimes getting lost can be a good thing!