Saturday, June 28, 2014

Surprises on Hardy Ridge

Hardy Ridge wasn't my first choice for a hike.

The tiger lilies were out!

After a group excursion to Ramona Falls was cancelled at the last minute, I was hankering to go there.  My friend Katie and I made plans to visit this trail the following Saturday.  But then my car ended up in the shop with transmission problems (don't even get me started on how much that cost...)

Brushy trail

So Katie became the default driver.  All was well until we met that morning, and Katie complained of back pain.  It made her uncomfortable to sit in the driver's seat for long periods of time.  Ramona Falls was a good hour and a half drive, and she really didn't want to hike someplace that was so far away.

Droplet-speckled foxglove

She suggested we try Hardy Ridge.  Located on the Washington side of the Gorge at Beacon Rock State Park, it was a fairly quick jaunt from east Portland.  Although disappointed my visit to Ramona Falls had been thwarted yet again, I smiled and told Katie Hardy Ridge would be fine.

These water drops looked like diamonds

My friend John had hiked this trail the previous week, and gave a glowing report about the number of wildflowers blooming.  Oh well, if I couldn't see a waterfall, at least there'd be flowers to photograph.

The tiger lilies were abundant

At the trailhead parking lot, my friend and I observed a large group of people (it appeared to be an extended family) with many young kids pull up in multiple cars.  Katie and I hustled to get ready and beat this group on the trail.  Unfortunately, they began their hike at the exact same time we did.

Tunnel of green

Not wanting to follow a large, slow group of people, Katie put on the afterburner, setting a quick pace down the trail.  I struggled to keep up.  Luckily the first mile was on an abandoned road, and although slightly uphill, it had a nice even walking surface.

Loved these yellow "Oregon sunshine"

I spied some lovely orange tiger lilies blooming in the underbrush.  Making a quick photo break, I managed to capture a few images before the group began to catch up.


And so it went for the first two miles, Katie zipping ahead, and me stopping to catch a photo or two, and then practically running to catch up.  We followed the old road for a mile, and then turned onto another long-abandoned road turned trail.  This one was totally overgrown necessitating a small bushwhack through the tall grasses and desert parsley.


The previous night had been a rainy one, as evidenced by the amount of water droplets covering the foliage.  I initially wasn't planning to wear my gaiters until Katie commented that things might get wet.  Now, charging through the waterlogged vegetation, I was thankful for my friend's advice.  Despite the dampness, my feet and lower legs were staying dry.

Interesting color of paintbrush

The flowers were nice along this second trail.  Besides tiger lilies, paintbrush, lupine, foxglove, and some cheerful yellow flowers called "Oregon sunshine" decorated our path.  It was very hard not to stop and photograph each and every one.

Topping out on the ridge trail

At the next trail junction, Katie, who'd hiked this trail many times, warned me this was the place where things got steep.  And, boy was she right!  Our path took off nearly straight up.  Katie charged uphill like a mountain goat.  Panting and sweating, I struggled to keep up.

Wild rose

Although a tough climb, the amount of flowers blooming along this stretch helped lessen the pain.  We came across huge fields of yellow Oregon sunshine, Indian paintbrush, lupine and larkspur.  Katie spied some vibrant orange honeysuckle on a nearby bush.  Everytime I turned a corner, there was something new and beautiful to admire.

Foggy views from Hardy Ridge

Finally, my friend and I came to a small trail sign announcing Hardy Ridge.  From this point, trails branched out in different directions, some heading back downhill, while others followed the ridgeline.  Katie opted to continue across Hardy Ridge, promising me we'd get some nice views.

Paintbrush cluster

However, today was a typical cloudy and damp PNW day.  Even though the weather was less than ideal, I could still catch glimpses of the Columbia River through the clouds and fog.  Nearby forested hills and the Oregon side of the Gorge drifted in and out of view.  The vistas along Hardy Ridge were indeed nice.

Happy to be on top!

But parts of the ridgeline trail were thickly overgrown.  That meant more bushwhacking through dripping wet vegetation.  Both Katie and I began to get wet.  Our shirt sleeves and upper pant legs (what wasn't covered by gaiters) became soaked.  The higher we climbed on the ridge, the stronger the wind became.  Although Katie had hoped to reach the other end of Hardy Ridge, we were fast becoming cold, wet and miserable.


So Katie and I decided to stop at an overlook about halfway along the ridgeline.  It was past noon, and we were both starving.  We huddled behind a small amount of vegetation.  I changed out of my wet shirt (so thankful I always carry a spare!) and donned a warm jacket.  PB & J, hot tea, and fresh cherries made for an excellent lunch.

Katie pauses in a field of wildflowers

As we ate, I admired the view below.  Not only the Columbia River, stretched out like a shining ribbon, but our panorama also overlooked Bonneville Dam. 


Katie, who'd just celebrated a BIG birthday a few days before, commented that last week she'd taken the last hike of the 60s, and today was her first hike of the 70s.  She is one amazing lady!   I was honored to be the person to accompany her for this milestone hike.  When I'm her age, I hope I can charge up steep hills like Katie does (with a sore back, no less!).

Daises, specked with raindrops

Food really does work wonders on tired bodies.  After filling our bellies, Katie and I were ready to tackle the return trip.  This time, I got smart and donned my rain jacket.  No more wet arms for me!

Katie admires a tiger lily

The overgrown trail sections were much drier for our return trip (we'd already knocked most of the moisture off the leaves).  We headed downhill at more leisurely pace, perfect to capture more of these incredible wildflower gardens.

Droplet-studded tiger lily

Hands down, my favorite flower of the was the tiger lily.  I took so many great photos of these lively orange blooms, it was hard to narrow down which ones to include on this post (hopefully I'm not overloading you too much!). 

I'm so very glad Katie took me up Hardy Ridge.  I came with no expectations, and was pleasantly surprised by the beauty of this wonderful trail.

Sharing with:  Weekly Top Shot and Today's Flowers. and Our World Tuesday.


  1. Gorgeous flowers! I love the lilies. Looks like you had an amazing hike. Enjoy your day!

  2. Hi,Linda. There are many wildflowers in Hardy Ridge. I enjoyed your photos very much. I like the tigerlily photos very much. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Wow - I admire your stamina Linda! A wonderful series of captures; thanks for sharing. (The shots of Tiger Lilies are especially stunning)

  4. You have wild flowers in abundance on all your walks at the moment. What a beautiful part of the world you live in.

  5. Your friend Katie is amazing..She is like the energizing bunny..The wildflowers are just gorgeous. I love the pretty tiger lilies. And the view is beautiful.. Awesome post and photos. Thank for sharing your hike!

  6. The tunnel of green and those foggy views are really captivating. These images make me want to jump out of my chair and explore the world.

    Mersad Donko Photography

  7. Sounds like it was a great hike. You captured the wildflowers and views beautifully. A superb post..
    Happy Birthday, Katie!

  8. Sounds like another challenging hike, but wonderful flower pix.

  9. absolutely gorgeous... thanks for taking us on your hike!

  10. Wow, quite a hike. Katie should walk with my friend, Susan M.

    It's a challenge when you want to take photos and your hiking buddy wants nothing to do with photos.

    Glad you kept up the pace.

  11. Glorious and refreshing captures, Linda, you have made my day! Thank you! It is getting dangerous hot and humid here in Montreal, so thank you for this moment of pause and refresh.

  12. Beautiful place, and gorgeous photos! Nothing like spending the day surrounded by Mother Nature's glory.

  13. Another wonderful post Linda, and of course your images are magnificent.

    I just love reading your blog and gazing at your photos.

  14. You may have been rushing the photos to keep up with the amazing Katie, [stunned to learn her age] but
    yet again awesome shots. A wonderful day!

  15. Looks like it turned out to be fantastic! Love the gorgeous flowers!

  16. Haha! I do the same thing if I see a group of people at the trailhead. Sometimes I've been known to run a bit just to get a little bit ahead. Send Katie over here, she sounds like a great hiking partner!

  17. Definitely not overloading me with photos! I read through the post saying to myself, "this one is my favorite....0h, no this one wait, it's this one!!" Finally I think the last photo is my favorite too.

  18. I can now truthfully say I know of 2 amazing hiking ladies:) As usual, I loved your photos of wildflowers and the views from the top! That last photo of the tiger lily is gorgeous!!

  19. What a great photo opportunity it turned out to be! Love your shots.

  20. I didn't know there was a trail so close that had such great wildflowers! Thanks for the tour. The Tiger lilies are amazing, and the Columbines. What a beautiful red they are, great photo.

  21. What a great trail to hike on and the flowers are beautiful. I also love the landscapes.

  22. Beautiful place with sch lovely flowers.

  23. Beautiful!! Boom, Bobbi and Gary.

  24. wonderful series of macro floral shots ~ successful hike after all for OWT ~ thanks, ^_^

  25. ha ha, I thought I was the only one who hustled when I saw big groups at the trailhead. Those tiger lily pics are gorgeous!

  26. That looks like another beautiful hike - I would need to get used to all the water!

  27. You tell Katie she is an inspiration and she is definitely doing something right - she looks a lot younger than 70. Happy birthday!

  28. These are so beautiful Linda!
    You have captured the colors and beauty so well.

  29. Wow Linda, the flowers are all so beautiful! Terrific shots!

  30. Your flower photography is gorgeous. You were obviously meant to visit Hardy Ridge!

  31. Very nice- you got some beautiful flower shots

  32. I totally enjoyed every single word of your post and your photos were amazing. I especially loved that tiger lily. Such a breathtakingly beautiful flower. The water droplets and the overcast made it even more beautiful. How amazing that your friend just turned 70. So glad that you were able to go slow enough to get these shots without getting totally behind. Beautiful distant view of the Columbia River. Seems like not too long ago we were sailing down that gorgeous river on our paddleboat!

  33. Loved it all, wet and overcast is perfect for wildflower shots.


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