|Hamilton Mtn - our destination|
Cody's always had a keen interest in nature. From the early age of 10, he'd join me in the forest and always took note of the various trees, plants, and flowers. Not surprisingly, he earned his first bachelor's degree in Botany. Over the years Cody taught me a quite few things about plant identification. Our hikes have always been special times, and I was looking forward to having him on the trail with me once again.
|Early fall color|
For our hike, I chose a sunny mid-September Friday and decided to visit Hamilton Mountain. A popular hike on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge, it's known for a lovely waterfall and tough climb to spectacular Gorge views.
|Rainbow in the Pool of Winds|
Cody, along with many young adults under age 30, had developed another interest - playing Pokemon Go. While heading out to our destination, I noticed him spending lots of time staring into his phone. After inquiring what was so interesting, Cody replied he was looking for Pokemon. I didn't know it at the time, but I was about to get a lesson in this summer's most popular mobile game phenomenon.
|More lovely color|
Heading out from the trailhead, I admired some early fall colors just beginning to show, while Cody proceeded to find and catch a "seal" Pokemon. Amazed we actually still had cell service, I was also surprised one could capture a Pokemon on a hiking trail in the boonies. Wasn't this supposed to be a city game?
|I made Cody pose at this overlook|
As we climbed the path to Rodney Falls, Cody gave me a quick primer on Pokemon Go. Apparently Pokemon can be found anywhere there is cell service. The seal Pokemon he'd just captured was rare, and unusual to find in the woods. Normally (according to Cody, because I'm far from an expert!) woodland-type Pokemon are found in the forest and more aquatic-type Pokemon (such as the seal) are found near oceans or other large bodies of water. Hmmm...who knew? I was still adjusting to finding Pokemon in the woods.
Arriving at Rodney Falls, Cody and I first climbed a short distance to see the Pool of Winds, a cave-like chamber in the cliff face. Rodney Falls gets trapped inside, and swirls around in a pool, creating odd wind currents, before dropping further to the creek below. Visitors are only able to view this scene through a 10 foot wide slit in the rock. We got really lucky that day and arrived when the light was in the right place to produce a lovely rainbow from the spray.
Beyond Rodney Falls, our climbing began! The trail ascends 1500 feet in a little over two miles. Trudging up the numerous switchbacks, I struggled to keep up with Cody (ah youth!) Of course while waiting for me to catch up, my son would pull out his phone to check for nearby Pokemon. Although cell service was spotty, he managed to catch a couple - even demonstrating how to capture the little creatures to his Pokemon-challenged mom.
|These trees are starting to turn|
About halfway to the top, the forest parts giving a fantastic view of Hamilton Mountain's steep cliffs and the Columbia River far below. Bonneville Dam's massive structure and power plant spread out across the river. A great place for photo ops, I was busy with my camera, while Cody, taking advantage of having cell service, caught yet another Pokemon.
|Columbia River shines below|
Then it was a long trudge to Hamilton's brushy summit proper. I'd forgotten how endless the switchbacks were! Even Cody commented the climb seemed to take forever (however, for him it may have been due to lack of phone service).
|Cody catches a pokemon|
On Hamilton's summit, we were joined by a couple groups of hikers. One particularly chatty guy kept me occupied, so while I conversed with him, Cody took advantage of renewed cell service to look for more Pokemon.
|On the sadlle|
One would think a mountaintop would provide splendid views, but Hamilton's summit is partially obscured by tall vegetation. On this hike the best panoramas are found on an open saddle further down Hamilton Mountain's northern ridge. Here one is treated to a front-row view of nearby Table Mountain, as well as Mt Hood and Adams.
|Looking back towards Hamilton Mtn summit|
After soaking in these wonderful views, Cody and I continued across the bare ridge, admiring a few nearby trees just beginning to turn gold.
|View of the Sadlle|
Then we ducked back into the woods, following first the Don's Cutoff Trail, and then an old road before reaching a meadowed creek crossing. From, there another lovely forested trail led us back to our original path near Rodney Falls.
|Beacon Rock and the river|
Taking advantage of the nonexistent phone service along this stretch gave Cody and I ample time to catch up on each others lives. Hiking time along a wooded path always produces great conversations. It was great to hear about his new job and life in Montana.
|Lower Rodney Falls|
Before we knew it, Cody and I were back at Rodney Falls. We crossed the sturdy bridge spanning it's creek and stopped for another look at the lovely lower falls. Not carrying my tripod, I attempted a slow exposure shot by bracing myself against the bridge railing.
|Looking up towards the pool of winds|
Then it was a short uphill trudge back to the trailhead, civilization, and cell service. I think Cody may have hunted for a few more Pokemon, but by that time I was too tired to notice. I was more than ready for some food and beer!
|Happy to be hiking with my son|
Cody and I ended our day with dinner at a nearby brewpub in Stevenson. We declared the day a success, both in climbing Hamilton Mountain and catching Pokemons! And although Cody was able to teach his old mother a thing or two about Pokemon Go, I won't be playing anytime soon. Think I'll stick to hiking! :)
Stats: 8 miles, 2000 feet elevation gain