|My son's 3rd grade class cookbook|
My son Cody has been one of my favorite hiking partners. He's always loved rambling in the woods. From very early on, he'd follow his mother on the trail. At the tender age of 10, I led Cody up Dog Mountain, a very steep, strenuous hike - the first of many trips we'd make to see the spring wildflowers. Cody always loved identifying the trees and flowers, which led him to major in Biology, with a Botanical Emphasis.
|My son and I on Dog Mountain - circa 1995-ish|
Due to the demands of seminary and some health issues, Cody and I haven't hiked together for several years. However, in late August Cody was home on break between his summer assignment and fall seminary classes. I decided it was high time for us get back on the trail.
|Beautiful trail sign|
For the day's hike, my path of choice was Cape Horn Trail, on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge. A fairly new route, this hidden gem climbed a towering bluff boasting spectacular clifftop viewpoints, before descending to even better riverside vistas, mossy woods, wildflowers, and a wispy waterfall.
|That's one big tree!|
Our adventure began with a climb through lush bigleaf maple woods, complete with a few huge grandpa trees. Cody, back in his element, began pointing out the different plants and trees. Made me realize how much I've missed hiking with him. I always learn something!
|A few wildflowers still hanging on|
Due to our hot summer, the usual flower show was gone, shriveled up in the blazing heat. But eagle-eye Cody managed to spot a few holdouts - bright orange blooms hiding under some shady ferns (and, yes, he told me what the flowers were, but I've long since forgotten their name).
After a hot trek up a steep, switchback-y trail Cody and I arrived at the first of three breathtaking viewpoints perched on the edge of the bluff's precipitous cliffs.
Panoramas stretched eastward to Hamilton Mountain. The Columbia River, far below, looked like a wide blue ribbon.
A quick romp through the forest and we emerged at the second viewpoint. This one gave glimpses of Gorge scenery to the west.
|Highway perched on the cliff|
I got a great view of state Highway 14, perched precariously on the cliffs of Cape Horn, a well-known promontory jutting over the Washington side of the Gorge. That road must have been quite a feat to build!
After soaking in the vantages of viewpoint number two, it was off in the forest in search of the third one. But it appeared the land managers were trying to close the trail to this last viewpoint, as the trail was covered in woody debris.
|Old mossy trees|
So Cody and I continued on, following an abandoned lane through pasturelands, before crossing a paved road. Beyond this road, our trail resumed through a wide grassy plain before diving back into the forest again. The gnarled, mossy maple tree trunks here were especially interesting.
|Nancy Russell overlook|
After a short walk through these lovely woods led us to the wonderful Nancy Russell overlook.
|Not bad views for a cloudy day|
Dedicated in August 2011, this overlook was built to commemorate Nancy Russell, a tireless crusader for preservation of the Columbia River Gorge. She was instrumental in getting the Gorge designated as a National Scenic Area, preventing this special area from being marred by development.
The views here are grand indeed - one can follow the mighty Columbia, stretching eastward all the way to Beacon Rock. One of Nancy Russell's favorite places, her family had an ambulance take her here three weeks before she died.
|Good place for a lunch break|
The lovely circular rock walls made a nice place for sitting and enjoying our lunch.
|Highway 14 hiker undercrossing|
After filling our bellies, Cody and continued our trek, climbing downhill towards the highway. We spiraled down for what seemed like forever through thick forest, before finally spotting our crossing.
When this trail was brand-new, hikers had to scurry across the road.
|The light at the end of the tunnel|
But the conservancy who manages this area had since constructed a nifty tunnel under the highway, that safely ferried hikers to the other side.
|Lower overlook was fantastic|
I was delighted to discover a brand spanking-new overlook on the river side of the highway.
|Mighty blue Columbia|
This placed boasted even more great Gorge panoramas. And these were much closer to the river level.
|Out on a steep cliff|
Winding through the forest, we became confused by a maze of unofficial scramble trails. Some led to dead ends, others to overused areas that appeared officials were trying to close. Cody noticed a path that he suggested we explore. Tired of wild goose chases, I almost told him to bypass it. But I'm glad we didn't.
|Views of the railroad track below|
The trail came out on a narrow point jutting over the river. Looking down, you could see railroad tracks directly below. We were on top of a railway tunnel, and once before I'd witnessed a train come roaring out, and chug down the tracks. A fascinating sight, I was hoping we'd see again. But....no trains today. Oh well, the incredible views were more than enough.
|Crossing a talus slope|
Time to get moving again! Our path switchbacked up a large talus slope, before meandering back into the woods a final time.
|The waterfall is just a trickle|
The cherry on top of this fabulous hike was crossing a tiny creek with a tall, wispy waterfall dripping above. Usually a much larger cascade, the hot summer had taken a toll here too. But afternoon sun illuminated the water droplets into a sparkling white sheen.
Our day's adventure ended with a hot, dull 1.3 mile uphill walk along a narrow country road. Not a fun way to end a hike, but we put one foot in front of the other, and got it done.
|Great day with my son!|
What an awesome way to spend time with my son! Hiking through the woods with Cody brought back many good memories. Although he's now a grown man, I think I've instilled the love of hiking firmly into him. Hopefully, Cody will fondly remember these treks with his mom - and I hope he still thinks I'm the best. :)
Sharing with: Through My Lens and Our World Tuesday.