65 Hike Challenge - 2020

Having successfully completed the "52 Hike Challenge" in 2019, I decided to set more ambitious goals for 2020.  Since I was able to complete 65 hikes in 2019, I decided to shoot for the same number again this year.  And if that wasn't demanding enough, I've also added the following caveats to 2020's hikes:

  • 5 of the hikes must be overnight backpacking trips
  • 25% of the hikes must be on "new to me" trails
  • At least one must be a long (15+ mile) dayhike
  • 25 miles of this year's hikes must be new miles on the PCT
  • One trail in a state I've never hiked in before

What constitutes a hike?  In order to be counted, it must meet the following qualifications:

  • Be 3 miles or more in length
  • Take place outdoors in a woodsy or "natural" area
  • Snowshoeing and backcountry skiing count as hiking
  • Photos or it didn't happen!  I plan to take a selfie for each hike.

So - with those parameters in mind, it's time to get started documenting this year's challenge!  Check this page often, it will get updated much quicker than the full blog posts.

Time to go hiking!


Hike No. 1 - 1/3/20 - Frog Lake Butte to Lower Twin Lake snowshoe.  Well, it was supposed to be a snowshoe but hardpacked snow made Catherine and I decide to leave our snowshoes in the car.  Turned out to be a good decision as we had easy walking most of the way.  Lovely sunny skies and friendly gray jays at Lower Twin Lake made this first hike of 2020 a winner!  7 miles, 800 feet elevation gain.

Hike (Ski) No. 2 - 1/19/20 - Skin up to just above the Magic Mile Lift, Timberline Ski Area.  The initial goal of the day was to make it all the way to the Palmer Lift terminus, but terrible, icy snow conditions made me chicken out and turn back halfway to my goal.  I still logged a respectable 2.5 miles and 1000 feet of elevation gain.  And it was a lovely, sunny day on the mountain.

Hike No. 3 - 1/24/20 -  Dry Creek Falls via Herman Creek Trail and PCT, Columbia River Gorge.  After an extremely rainy week, I lucked out with a break in the "liquid sunshine" for the entire hike.  Sad to see so much fire damage along the trails, but encouraging to notice vegetation is coming back.  10 miles, 750 feet elevation gain.

Hike No. 4 - 2/16/20 - June Lake Snowshoe, Mt St Helens National Volcanic Monument.  I'm not doing so well on my hiking challenge this year - I've been too busy skiing!  However, trying to make up for lost time, I took a lovely trek through snow-covered woods to a nice lake, complete with waterfall.  Hubby joined me for this hike and it was good to be out in nature once again.  6 miles, 500 feet elevation gain.

Hike No. 5 - 2/22/20 - Tilly Jane Ski Trail, Mt Hood.  After last year's wonderful ski tour, I'd been  hankering for a revisit of this scenic trail.  Predicted sunny weather sealed my plans.  Sadly this  year's low snow conditions made for a treacherous, icy trail on the lower reaches (and put into use my best "survival skiing" skills).  However, amazing views of Mt Hood made up for those scary moments.  And I got a great workout!  6 miles, 2000 feet elevation gain.

Hike No. 6 - 3/1/20 - The Dalles Mountain Ranch Loop, Washington.  I joined Young and John for a "new to me" trail through the Columbia Hills State Park.  Although I've only visited this area during spring wildflower bloom, I discovered this place is also beautiful in the off-season.  9 miles and 1200 feet elevation gain on a windy, chilly but sunny late winter day.

Hike No. 7 - 3/13/20 - Multnomah-Wahkeena Loop, Columbia River Gorge Oregon.  It was 37 degrees and "snaining" as I left Portland and many times I considered turning around and heading back home.  But I stuck it out, and was rewarded with a beautiful snowy hike through the Gorge.  It was a nice break from all the coronavirus hysteria, if only for a few hours.  5.7 miles, 1600 feet elevation gain.

Hike No. 8 - 3/20/20 - Catherine Creek, west loop, Columbia River Gorge, WA.  After a stressful week learning to telework, I looked forward to social distancing myself on the trails above the Columbia River.  However, an upsetting text message from work as I was starting out on the trail ruined the rest of my day.  Someone in who works in my building had reported coronavirus symptoms.  Although I had a good trek on a "new to me" trail in this scenic area, the morning's bad news weighed heavy on my mind.  And with a shelter in place order pending for Oregon, it will likely be my last hike for awhile.  5.5 miles, 1000 feet elevation gain.

Hike No. 9 - 5/8/20 - Gales Creek - Storey Burn Trail Loop, Oregon Coast Range.  I'm back!  After 7 long weeks of staying home, I couldn't take it any longer and started searching for hiking trails that were open.  My quest brought me to the Tillamook State Forest in the Oregon Coast Range.  Although the campgrounds and day use areas were closed, I discovered the hiking trails very much open.  Hoping to avoid as many people as possible, I chose a little-known loop connecting two trails.  It was a winner!  Tons of blooming wildflowers, beautiful mossy forests, and babbling streams.  Best of all, I only met four hikers and four mountain bikers the entire trek.  Social distancing at its finest!  Sooo wonderful be back on the trail again.  8 miles, 1450 feet elevation gain.

Hike No. 10 - 5/15/20 - Elk Creek Trail, Tillamook State Forest, Oregon.  The closest forest to my home is winning the "open hiking trails" category.  I tried this new-to-me trail that followed the beautiful Elk Creek and it was wonderful.  Blooming wildflowers, lovely green forest, and only two other people the entire day.  So happy to be out hiking again!  9 miles, 2000 feet elevation gain.

Hike No. 11 - 5/22/20 - Oxbow Regional Park, Gresham, Oregon.  Before today, I'd only visited this park once, back in 2013, and it must not have impressed me as I never went back.  But with limited hiking options right now beggars can't be choosers.  I had a nice rainy day trek through lovely mossy forests with occasional Sandy River views.  A few wildflowers and a flock of mergansers made for lots of camera fodder.  5 miles, maybe 100 feet elevation gain (at most!).

Hike No. 12 - 5/24/20 - Johnston Ridge Observatory via the Boundary Trail from Hummocks trailhead.  In observance of the 40th anniversary of the Mt St Helens eruption I thought it only fitting to do a hike on the mountain this weekend.  Due to COVID the Johnston Ridge Observatory is still closed, and the road barricaded.  But I discovered I could still reach the observatory via the Boundary Trail starting at the Hummocks Trailhead.  This trek was 2 hikes in one - I also completed the very beautiful Hummocks loop before charging uphill to my final destination.  Perfect weather, amazing mountain views, and wildflowers just beginning to bloom.  Most hikers were good about stepping off the trail and covering their faces when passing, however the last half mile to the trailhead was swarming with people and they didn't get the social distancing memo.  Still a great day to pay my respects to MSH.  10.5 miles, 1800 feet elevation gain.

(social distancing with MSH)

Hike No. 13 - 5/29/20 - Bayocean Spit, Tillamook, Oregon.  Although I've hiked nearly all the trails on Oregon's northern coast, for some reason this one had eluded me.  A skinny peninsula between Tillamook Bay and the Pacific Ocean was once a thriving resort community until being reclaimed by the sea in the 1930's.  I had a lovely clear day, however the wind was raging.  I'd initially planned to hike along the ocean beach but thanks to the wind, I cut that short and stuck to the bay side.  The scotch broom was in bloom, and although invasive, it sure was pretty.  A nice change from the mountain and forest hikes I've been doing lately.  6.5 miles, no elevation gain (unless you count climbing over a sand dune!)

Hike No. 14 - 5/31/20 - Eightmile Creek Loop, Mt Hood National Forest.  In the social distancing spirit of trying to find lesser-known trails, I stumbled across this loop east of Mt Hood.  Reputed to have a good spring wildflower bloom, I decided to check it out.  It was a nice forest ramble, complete with a stop at the Fivemile Butte Fire Lookout Tower.  And there were wildflowers!  Not a bad way to spend a Sunday.  7.5 miles, 1400 feet elevation gain

Hike No. 15 - 6/5/20 - Table Rock, near Molalla Oregon.  The last time I hiked this trail was 10 years ago.  Social media posts reawakened my interest - it was one of the few trails open during the quarantine and several people had hiked in the area.  This is a view hike, and I didn't pick the greatest day for my revisit.  Clouds and fog hid all the Cascade peaks so my climb was for naught.  But there were many wildflowers, and it was good to hike somewhere different.  Driving back through farm country, I picked up a flat of ripe strawberries on my way home.  7.5 miles, 1500 feet elevation gain.

Hike No. 16 - 6/7/20 - Central Salmon River Trail, Mt Hood National Forest.  Hoping to catch the rhododendron bloom, I decided to venture over to the foothills of Mt Hood.  Showers were in the forecast and the mossy woods along the Salmon River Trail make a good rainy-day hiking destination.  It was too early for the rhodies - only a few were just beginning their bloom.  But I love the lush old-growth forests along this trail - couldn't resist hugging one of those big trees!  A great 7.3 mile, 800 foot elevation gain trek. 

Hike No. 17 - 6/12/20 - Pioneer Bridle Trail, Mt Hood.  I went to Mt Hood in search of blooming rhododendrons, and found them in huge quantities on this trail!  The higher elevations were socked in with fog, so I took this low(er)land trail and had no rain the entire time.  Always love it when the weather ends up better than predicted.  A nice romp in the woods.  7 miles, 700 feet elevation gain. 

Hike No. 18 - 6/14/20 - Hardy Ridge, Columbia River Gorge, Washington.  The weatherman promised a sunny day - and he lied!  I got soaked with intermittent showers all morning while climbing up to the top of Hardy Ridge.  The only consolation - the wildflowers were off-the-charts amazing!  It was windy and cold so I didn't bother going all the way to the very tippy top and snatched a not-so-great selfie at my turn around point.  I'm calling it 7.5 miles and 2000 feet elevation gain.  At least I got out today!

Hike No. 19 - 6/19/20 - Trapper Creek Trail, Diamond Peak Wilderness, Oregon.  While camped at Central Oregon's Odell Lake for the weekend, my hubby and I decided to check out one of the many nearby hiking trails.  The PCT passes by this lake, and I'd originally wanted to hike a section of this famous trail.  But....we couldn't find the connector and had to settle on the Trapper Creek Trail instead.  It was a good consolation prize - lovely lichen-draped forests and a beautiful, crystal-clear creek to follow.  If not for the swarms of hungry mosquitoes is would've been perfect!  5 miles, 500 feet elevation gain.

Slapping at one of the many blood-sucking mosquitoes

Hike No. 20 - 6/27/20 - Silver Star Mountain, SW Washington.  After seeing the online trip reports and photos of this year's fantastic wildflower bloom, I had to go see it for myself.  I thought choosing a rainy day might keep the crowds at bay, but no!  A little rain and fog never stop PNW'ers - the place was crawling with people.  My hubby joined me for today's hike and it was sure nice to have company for a change.  And the flowers - OMG - the reports were true!  It was one of the best blooms I've seen here, and I've hiked this trail every year for the past 10 years.  10 miles, 2700 feet elevation gain.

Hike No. 21 - 6/28/20 - Pacific Crest Trail, Lolo Pass to Top Spur Junction, Mt Hood National Forest.  After yesterday's big hike, I wanted something a bit shorter.  I also was hankering to see more Mt Hood rhodies before the bloom was done for the year.  But....rain was predicted.  After a lot of self-talk I loaded the car anyway and set off for the mountain with several destinations in mind.  Halfway to Hood I decided to hike some of the PCT from Lolo Pass.  It poured the entire way from Sandy and was still raining heavily when I arrived at the trailhead.  Initially I was going to hike the PCT northward, but a chance encounter with two young men at the trailhead made me change my mind and go south instead.  And it was here I found my rhodies, lining the trail for at least a mile.  A great day, with 2.8 new PCT miles towards this year's goal.  5.6 total miles, 1000' elevation gain.

Hike No. 22 - 7/3/20 - Ape Canyon to Abraham Junction, Mt St Helens, WA.  The promise of plentiful wildflowers led me to choose this trail for a holiday weekend jaunt.  It had been a few years since I'd hiked here and I remembered a long ascent through thick woods until - finally - emerging to a pumice plain with MSH views and wildflowers.  And, yes, things hadn't changed much, except the mountain hid under a cloud all day and the wildflowers weren't quite as numerous as my last visit.  But I added a few extra miles by hiking over to the Abraham/Windy Pass junction, topping my total distance to a new daily record of 14.3 miles!  Oh, and 1300 feet elevation gain.

Hike No. 23 - 7/5/20 - PCT from Crest Camp to Big Huckleberry Mtn, Washington.  I've accessed Big Huckleberry Mtn from the south via Grassy Knoll Trail.  But the northern access from the PCT has recently intrigued me - and it was a section of the PCT I'd never hiked.  So today I made the 6.5 mile one-way journey.  The trail was underwhelming, except for the last mile before Big Huckleberry when flowers lined adjacent slopes and views of Mt Adams peeped through the trees.  Another long day of hiking, 13 miles total and 1700 feet elevation gain, but I got some more "new to me" PCT miles added to this year's total.

Hike No. 24 - 7/10/20 - Patjens Lakes Loop, near Santiam Pass, Oregon.  My hubby decided he wanted to spend his birthday weekend camping and hiking.  Well, no objections here!  After securing a nice car campsite, we headed up to Santiam Pass to hike a trail I'd had on my radar since last year.  It was a resounding winner!  Prolific wildflowers, (the beargrass was off the charts!) stunning mountain scenery, (Cascade peaks lining the horizon), and the grand finale was walking around one end of impossibly blue Big Lake with sensational Mt Washington views.  6 gorgeous miles, 400 feet elevation gain.

Gotta stop and smell the beargrass

Hike No. 25 - 7/10/20 - Coffin Mountain, Willamette National Forest, Oregon.  Today was a hiking 2-fer.  After completing the Patjens Loop, I  had this crazy idea to see sunset from the top of Coffin Mountain.  Since we were camped nearby, the trailhead was only a quick drive away.  So I drug my sweet, willing hubby up to the summit, and we enjoyed a supper of wine, salami, cheese and crackers.  The views and sunset were lovely.  Trying to beat total darkness, we descended quickly and were back to the truck just as skies faded to black.  A tiring, but rewarding day.  3 miles, 1000 feet elevation gain.

Hike No. 26 - 7/11/20 - PCT from Santiam Pass north to Three Fingered Jack viewpoint.  The following day my hubby and I checked off some more PCT mileage towards my yearly total.  This portion of the PCT was gorgeous, traversing through an old burned forest covered with beargrass and then lupine.  The fire opened up views of the southern mountains and I tried my best to capture them through the dead trees.  The only downside, once we hit higher elevation we encountered melting snow - and hungry mosquitoes!  The final mile to the viewpoint was a quick ramble to keep ahead of those blood-sucking beasts.  We only spent a mere 5 minutes at a very spectacular view of Three Fingered Jack before turning around and trekking back down.  A long, hot day (thankful for gusty winds or I would've fried).  11.4 miles, 1500 feet elevation gain.

Three Fingered Jack

Hike No. 27 - 7/17/20 - Umbrella Falls Loop and short jaunt to Newton Creek.  During the pandemic, I'd sorely missed hiking with my friend Catherine.  But we hatched a reunion plan - driving separate vehicles we rendezvoused at the Elk Meadows Trailhead.  I'd heard this year's wildflower bloom was spectacular on the ski slopes of Mt Hood Meadows.  Yep - it was definitely a winner!  Huge fields of beargrass and lupine.  Lots of photos may have been taken.....  Great to catch up with my hiking buddy, and as evidenced by the photo, we were good girls and practiced proper masking.  6 miles, 700 feet elevation gain.

Hike No. 28 - 7/19/20 - Windy Ridge to Plains of Abraham, Mt St Helens, WA.  One of my all-time favorite trails, the only reason I don't hike this every year is the long drive (3 hours one way!) to the trailhead.  But this year I braved the drive over terrible Forest Service roads.  It helped that my hubby decided to join me.  The weather was perfect - sunny, a good breeze, and not too terribly hot.  We first hiked to Loowit Falls, where hubby spotted a mountain goat family. Then it was over Windy Pass and down to the Plains of Abraham before taking the flower-filled Abraham Trail back to the car.  Amazing mountain views and the flowers were off the charts!  A great day - totally worth the long, grueling drive.  12 miles, 1400 feet elevation gain.

Hike No. 29 - 7/24/20 - Tilly Jane Ski Trail to Cooper Spur shelter, Mt Hood.  One of my favorite winter backcountry ski runs, I'd hiked this trail two summers ago on a beastly hot day.  But - the wildflowers were so nice back then, I got the itch to try it again.  I had vastly different weather, sunny but with a nice cold breeze.  The lupine was off the charts amazing!  An even better flower show than two years ago.  Wonderful hike!  I came home with a camera full of beautiful wildflower images.
8.5 miles, 3000 feet elevation gain.

Cooper Spur Shelter

Hike No. 30 - 7/31/20 - Vista Ridge Trail, Timberline Trail to Ladd Creek and then to Elk Cove, Dollar Lake and back (whew!).  This hike was a tour of Mt Hood's greatest hits  - NW side edition.  Climbing up the Vista Ridge trail I was too late for the avalanche lilies and too early for the fireweed.  But once I reached the Timberline Trail, things improved flower-wise.  My timing for heather, lupine and magenta paintbrush was right on the money.  It was one flower show after another all the way from Ladd Creek to Elk Cove.  A warm but lovely day on my favorite mountain.  10.7 miles, 2000 feet elevation gain.

Takin' a break in Elk Cove

Hike No. 31 -8/2/20 - PCT from Williams Mine Trailhead to Horseshoe Meadow and Lookingglass Lake, Mt Adams, Washington.  I'd heard the wildflowers were out on the slopes of Mt Adams, so I convinced my hubby to join me to check things out.  We trekked up the PCT for 6 miles, through zillions of blooming purple asters.  Little did we know, the flower show was just getting started, because Horseshoe Meadow was amazing, and the Round the Mountain Trail to Lookingglass Lake was downright stunning!  Lovely sunny (but warm) day on the mountain.  Ended up not only bagging 6 more new PCT miles towards my year's goal, but also logged my longest hike this year - 16.3 miles!  Whew!  (and 2000 feet of elevation gain to boot)

Hike No. 32 - 8/6/20 - Berkeley Park Camp, Mt Rainier National Park, Washington.  Time again for my annual Mt Rainier wildflower hiking extravaganza!  My friend Young joined me and on our first day after arriving at Sunrise, I chose a random trail.  We headed to Berkeley Park camp and hit the jackpot.  Fields of lupine, paintbrush, asters, etc.... And marmots!  Tons of cute whistling marmots.  What a fantastic way to start off our long weekend.  8 miles, 1600 feet elevation gain.

Hike No. 33 - 8/7/20 - Burroughs Mountain Loop, Mt Rainer National Park, Washington.  I'd hiked this amazing trail three years ago and loved it so much it was high time for a repeat.  Young and I started from the White River campground, followed the Glacier Basin Trail and then climbed up, up and up some more until finally arriving on the summit of Second Burroughs.  There's no better view of Mt Rainier than the one from Second Burroughs Mtn.  The loop back to the campground via the Wonderland Trail is equally spectacular.  A long day but so worth it!  11 miles, 3200 feet elevation gain.

Hike No. 34 - 8/8/20 - Owyhigh Lakes Trail, Mt Rainier National Park, Washington.  Foggy weather foiled our first choice hike at Naches Peak, so Young and I settled for a quick climb through lovely old growth woods to amazing wildflower meadows and lovely lakes.  We even passed by a pile of fresh bear poop!  (Thankfully no bear)  A nice early morning trek, 7.5 miles, 1350 feet elevation gain.

Hike No. 35 - 8/8/20 - Dege Peak from Sunrise, Mt Rainier National Park, Washington.  It was a hiking 2-fer day!  The Owyhigh Lakes trail wasn't quite enough, so Young and I headed up to Sunrise for an afternoon ramble through the flower fields.  We chose the Sourdough Ridge Trail and ended up on top of Dege Peak.  Luckily the weather had improved from the morning and we took in some great views from there.   4 miles, 600 feet elevation gain.

Hike No. 36 - 8/15/20 - Cleetwood Cove, Crater Lake National Park.  The only trail that legally accesses the ultra-blue waters of Southern Oregon's Crater Lake.  While on a quick visit, I was intrigued by this path down to the water's edge.  Although short, 700 feet of elevation gain in just a smidge over one mile made for a steep return climb.  The lake was gorgeous as always, and so interesting to see it from water level.  Lots of people taking a dip (surprisingly swimming in the lake is allowed).  2.2 miles, 700 feet elevation gain.

Hike No. 37 - 8/21/20 - Paradise Park Loop, Mt Hood.  It's a yearly tradition to visit the wildflower-filled meadows of Mt Hood's lovely Paradise Park.  This time Catherine and her daughter joined me on a cloudy day that unleashed a few rain showers and a bit of wind.  But I'll take that over the recent heat wave!  Flowers were a bit past prime but the high meadows were still full of color.  The highlight of today's hike was capturing photos of two marmots and a pika.  Always a grueling uphill trek at the end, but we survived to tell the story!  13.5 miles, 2300 feet elevation gain.

Hike No. 38 - 8/25/20 - Crow Creek Falls and Eagle Interpretive Trail - Elkhorn Mountains, Montana.  While visiting my son, I of course wanted to sample the hiking around his new hometown.  My son suggested a loop that combined two trails.  We walked through lovely meadows, rushing creeks, and made a wrong turn that added a couple of miles to our daily total.  The hot weather and steep climbs nearly did me in, but upon finally arriving at our destination, it made me appreciate Crow Creek Falls even more.  The cascade's shady grotto was a wonderful place to have a break.  We raced a thunderstorm back to the trailhead and made it just before the deluge hit.  13 miles, I'd estimate at least 2000 feet of elevation gain.

Hike No. 39 - 8/28/20 - Edith Lake Trail, Big Belt Mountains, Montana.  My son picked another great hike, this one climbing up to a high ridge before descending to a lovely mountain lake.  My hubby and son packed their fly rods and spent a very pleasant couple of hours trying to lure trout onto their hooks.  (And I had fun watching them).  Lovely day - things would've been perfect had it not been for hazy, smoky skies (smoke from California wildfires).  7 miles, 1500 feet elevation gain.

Hike No. 40 - 9/4/20 - PCT from Crest Camp north to Blue Lake (Indian Heaven Wilderness, Washington).  After hiking the PCT southbound from this location in July, I was curious to check out the other direction.  I'd hiked the first three miles last fall on a loop to nearby Red Mountain Lookout.  My other goal for today was to score some huckleberries, since they were in season.  The first four miles I was striking out in the huckleberry department and began to think I was too late.  Then I climbed up Berry Mountain (very appropriately named, by the way) and hit the motherlode!  I spent way too much time picking and then had to hustle to complete the distance to Blue Lake and back.  It was a HOT day and I ran out of water.  Good thing the last three miles were in shady forest.  15 long miles, 1500 feet elevation gain.

(Excuse the crummy cell phone photo)

Hike No. 41 - 9/6/20 - Elk Cove Trail, Mt Hood.  I've hiked most of the trails around Mt Hood but this one had somehow escaped my boots.  Burned in a 2011 wildfire, I knew this would be a shadeless uphill trudge.  So don't ask my why I picked a beastly hot day to hike here!  The views of Mt Hood were stellar (despite wildfire haze) and I got in on the last bit of dying fireweed higher up.  It would be a wonderful trail on a crystal clear day when wildflowers are peaking.  Still, any day on my favorite mountain is always a good day.  10.2 miles, 2200 feet elevation gain.

Hike No. 42 - 9/19/20 - Bayocean Spit (again), Oregon Coast.  Wildfires raging across the state kept me home for two long weeks, and hazardous air also kept me inside the entire time.  When the smoke finally cleared (literally!) I grabbed my backpack and headed for the beach.  One of the trails still open, was Bayocean Spit near Tillamook.  I'd hiked a partial loop in May, but high winds had forced me to cut things short.  Today I'm happy to report I covered the entire distance!  Walking along the crashing waves was quite relaxing and it was fun to watch all the salmon fisherman crowded around the jetty and in the bay.  8 miles, zero elevation gain.

Hike No. 43 - 9/20/20 - Boundary Trail from Johnston Ridge to St Helens Lake, Mt St Helens.  I can't let the year pass by without at least one hike on my favorite MSH trail.  Although I usually hit this one during wildflower season, I discovered fall is also stunning.  The huckleberry leaves are already turning red (and I discovered they still have berries too!)  The day started out cloudy but I ended up with partly sunny skies and some nice views.  11 miles, 2000 feet elevation gain.


Hike No. 44 - 9/26/20 - Larch Mountain Crater Loop, Columbia River Gorge Oregon.  Last time I'd hiked here was way back in 1996!  But looking for a close-to-town, short hike for today I decided to revisit this forested trail through Larch Mountain's crater.  Rain was threatening, and I did feel some sprinkles off and on.  But I love rainy days in the Gorge.  Fog in these old growth forests make for some beautiful, moody photos.  I dashed off the 6.6 miles and 1300 feet elevation gain and was back home by 3:00.  Only saw 6 other people the entire time - social distancing at it's best!


Hike No. 45 - 9/27/20 - Junction Lake Loop, Indian Heaven Wilderness, Washington.  One of my favorite classic fall hikes, I recruited Catherine and her family to join me on a picture-perfect autumn day.  The red huckleberry leaves and golden alpine meadows were in great form, and we even spotted two pikas in the talus slope.  A great ramble in the woods.  9.6 miles, 900 feet elevation gain.


Hike No. 46 - 10/2/20 - Skyline Loop, Mt Rainier National Park.  After a freak snowstorm foiled my fall colors trip last fall, I penciled in a return for early October 2020.  And boy did conditions redeem themselves this year!  Crystal-clear skies, warm (but not blazing hot) temperatures, and slopes full of beautiful reds, yellows and golds.  And Mt Rainier was looking mighty fine too.  6 miles, 1700 feet elevation gain.

Hike No. 47 - 10/3/20 - Skyline Trail, Paradise Glacier Trail, Golden Gate Trail, Mt Rainier National Park.  After just missing out on a bear sighting the day before, my hubby and I returned to the Skyline Trail hoping for another glimpse of the bruin.  We did see the bears - a momma and two cubs from a far distance (which was probably just as well, don't want to be too close!)  Then we hiked up to Paradise Glacier, which was outstanding, and returned via the outrageously colorful Golden Gate Trail.  One of my new favorite fall trails at MRNP, the slopes looked like someone had taken a paintbrush to them.  Another great trek - 6 miles, 1100 feet elevation gain.

Hike No. 48 - 10/3/20 - Lakes Trail, Mt Rainier National Park.  Having an afternoon yet to kill and wanting to see more of the park, my hubby and I parked at Reflection Lakes and climbed the Lakes Trail to it's junction with the Skyline Trail.  More great fall colors and marvelous mountain views awaited.  Another favorite to add to next year's MRNP autumn trip!  5 miles, 1300 feet elevation gain.


Hike No. 49 - 10/9/20 - Wahtum Lake Loop, PCT and Chinidere Mountain, Mt Hood NF.  It had been years since I'd  hiked up at Wahtum Lake, in the shadow of Mt Hood.  I remembered nice fall colors, so when sunny weather was predicted for Friday I headed that way.  However, the hike was a bit of a disappointment.  Fall colors were mostly done, the trail was kind of boring, and I got halfway up neighboring Tomlike Mountain, lost the trail and decided to turn around before I got lost.  Still any hike is a good hike and I'm glad I got out today.   8 miles, 1500 feet elevation gain.

On top of Chinidere Mtn

Hike No. 50 - 10/16/20 - Fret Creek Trail, Divide Trail, Lookout Mountain, Badger Creek Wilderness, Mt Hood National Forest.  Today's hike was a larch march.  I went out in search of the elusive Western Larch Trees - the evergreen trees whose needles turn gold and drop in the fall.  I found a few just beginning to turn on Mt Hood's eastern slopes.  A combination of three different trails I managed to log 10.4 miles and 2500 feet elevation gain for the day.  (Oh - and no larches were harmed in the making of this image!)


Hike No. 51 - 10/18/20 - Coldwater Lake Loop, Mt St Helens,Washington.  The trek around Coldwater Lake is one of my all-time favorite fall hikes.  I recruited friends Young and John to join me for today's adventure.  Unfortunately, the weather decided not to cooperate and we were met with rain at the trailhead.  But one of the things I love about my dear friends, they're game for hiking whatever the forecast!  We endured a very wet journey, and got totally soaked, but it just made us feel like badasses to be out in such dreary weather.  And although I took very few photos (my camera was safely stowed in my pack most of the day) I did manage to capture a few images of the lovely vine maple colors on the lake's north side.  11 miles, 2200 feet elevation gain, and wonderful to catch up with my friends!


Hike No. 52 - 10/23/20 - Angels Rest, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon.  Knowing rain was forecast for the afternoon, I chose this nearby hike for a quick morning romp to beat the wet weather.  The most popular hiking trail in the Gorge, I'd avoided it like the plague (no pun intended) for years.  But starting early and choosing a less-than-stellar weather day meant I had the rocky summit almost to myself.  It was sobering to see the Eagle Creek fire damage, but finding fall colors beginning to turn helped lessen the sting.  The forest immediately to the east had such nice color, I hiked an extra half mile beyond the outcropping for more photo ops.  So my total ended up being 5.6 miles and 1500 feet elevation gain.  And, yes I beat the rain!


Hike No. 53 - 10/25/20 - McNeil Point, Mt Hood National Forest.  It was a cold and windy day, but that didn't deter me nor my friends Young and John from tackling the McNeil Point trail today.  I even convinced hubby to join the fun!  At first due to snow, ice and high winds, reaching McNeil Point was doubtful.  But we persevered and ended up on top!  And the wind wasn't that bad - plus the clear day made for incredible views.  A grand adventure, we logged 11 miles and 2200 feet of climbing.


Hike No. 54 - 10/30/20 - University Falls Loop, Oregon Coast Range.  I purposely waited for the morning's rain to stop before heading out to hike this trail.  And it worked - I had an entirely dry hike.  Fall colors were great, and the waterfall was lovely as always.  The only downer was some yahoos decided to shoot their guns in the woods for 2 hours!  Not exactly a relaxing environment, especially when I didn't know where these folks were or which direction they were shooting.  But the Coast Range isn't exactly pristine wilderness, and some redneck shenanigans are to be expected when hiking there.  Still it was great to be out on a lovely fall day.  8.5 miles, 1200 feet elevation gain.

Hike No. 55 - 11/1/20 - Umbrella Falls Loop with Elk Meadows add-on, Mt Hood National Forest.  It was an uncharacteristically beautiful fall day so I just had to get up to my favorite mountain.  Fall colors are pretty much gone in the high country, but I did see a few golden larch trees in the distance.  Had lunch in Elk Meadows with a few gray jays, who tried their hardest to steal a bite of my PB&J.  Mt Hood was looking amazing in the fall sunshine.  A lovely trek, and so good to be out on a dry, warm sunny day.  Gotta enjoy it while I can!  9.8 miles, 2200 feet elevation gain

Hike No. 56 - 11/8/20 - PCT from Cascade Locks to Herman Creek Pinnacles.  A chilly, but dry day and I got an early start to beat some of the crowds.  Fall colors were wonderful along this burned-out stretch of the PCT.  Lots of Big Leaf maple (or as I like to call it "Big A$$ leaf maple").  Skipped the side trip to Dry Creek Falls, as too many people were heading that way.  Nearly had the trail to myself past the waterfall turnoff.  Nice quick 8 miles and 800 feet elevation gain got me back in town by early afternoon.  Gotta love these close-in Gorge hikes!

Hike No. 57 - 11/11/20 - Hamilton Mtn, Columbia River Gorge, Washington.  Hamilton Mtn on Veteran's Day is one of my hiking traditions.  Luckily, the weather cooperated (the only dry day all week!)  Catherine joined me, and we had a good time catching up with our lives and oohing and aahing over the beautiful fall colors.  A few people we met on the trail had no idea this hike was a loop.  As I told Catherine, the "saddle" portion of this loop is, in my opinion, the best part of the hike.  I think you can see why.  8 miles, 2000 feet elevation gain on a spectacular autumn day in the Gorge!


Hike No. 58 - 11/15/20 - Lower Deschutes River Trail, Oregon.  An extremely rainy weekend kept me inside, but seeing dry skies were predicted in the Eastern Gorge on Sunday I headed there to get my hike in.  It had been many, many years since I'd hiked here, and I didn't remember where any of the trails went.  I cobbled together a loop, and first enjoyed hiking along the mighty Deschutes River, then followed an old roadbed, and finally climbed the bluffs high above the river for a birds-eye view.  The sun came out and there was no rain the entire time!  However, I drove home through the Gorge in a torrential rainstorm - it was so bad I almost regretted my decision to hike (well almost).  8 miles and 800 feet elevation gain.

Hike No. 59 - 11/20/20 - Trillium Lake out and back, Mt Hood, Oregon.  There's snow in the mountains!  So of course I had to go up and check things out.  The short road walk to lovely Trillium Lake makes for a nice snowshoe trip.  However, the snow was packed down enough no snowshoes were needed.  I hiked in with a nice lady visiting from New York and it was fun to tell her about the area.  Beautiful sunny, picture-perfect day!  4.5 miles, 230 feet elevation gain.

Hike No. 60 - 11/21/20 - Hardy Ridge, Columbia River Gorge, Washington.  This sunny Saturday called for a view hike with friends!  Hubby and I joined John and Young, Steve, and Joel for a romp along this favorite view-packed Gorge ridge.  We added on a loop to Hardy Creek Bridge for an extra mile.  After so many solo treks, it was fun to hike with a group of people for a change.  9 miles, 2700 feet elevation gain.

Posing with the famous "Boot Rock"

Hike No. 61 - 11/27/20 - Gales Creek - Storey Burn Loop, Oregon Coast Range.  No shopping for me - this Black Friday I wanted to "opt outside."  I chose a trail close to home and in 35 minutes I was marching through foggy Coast Range forests, admiring the mossy trees and abundant swordferns.  Having discovered this wonderful loop trail last spring, it's fast becoming one of my favorite close to home hikes.  8 miles, 2000 feet elevation gain.
Oooo!  Ghostly foggy forest!

Hike No. 62 - 11/29/20 - Dog Mountain, Columbia River Gorge, Washington.  I usually avoid this wildly popular trail, so haven't been up here for at least 2 years.  But I figured late fall was as good a time as any to tackle this challenging hike.  Winds buffeted my car as I drove through the Gorge, but I persisted and made the trek anyway.  Fog prevented any views once I reached the summit, and strong winds cut short any kind of a lunch break.  But it was great to get out and test myself on this quad-burner.  I can still reach the summit without too much pain and suffering!  7.3 miles, 3000 feet elevation gain.

(This is from the lower viewpoint, before the fog took over)

Hike No. 63 - 12/6/20 - Indian Beach Trail, Ecola State Park, Oregon Coast.  It had been a long time since I'd hiked  here.  A huge winter storm several years ago had taken out this trail and the Oregon Parks Department, always strapped for money, had taken several more years to restore it.  The old trail followed oceanside cliffs with spectacular views.  The new trail, ummm, not so much.  It was disappointingly routed through the forest, with zero ocean views.  Oh well, it was good to get out and check out the new trail.  I made it halfway to Tillamook Head before I had to turnaround or face hiking in the dark.  I logged a respectable 6 miles and nearly 1600 feet of elevation gain for a unseasonably warm December afternoon.

Hike No. 64 - 12/26/20 - Kings Mountain, Oregon Coast Range.  It's been three entire weeks since I've hiked (yikes!) and since I'm so close to reaching the magic 65 I had to fit in a hike today - rain or no rain.  I chose close-to-home Kings Mountain not only for it's location but also because I'd yet to hike this challenging trail in 2020.  It 'twas a cold, foggy, wet day and I thought my uphill slog wouldn't yield any views - but upon arriving at the summit, I actually had two whole minutes of blue sky! Yeah!  Although I got plenty wet and muddy it was fun to traipse through the mossy forests of the Coast Range.  And sorry for the smeary photo - my poor camera didn't fare well in today's weather.  5.5 miles, 2800 feet elevation gain.

Anndddd......(Drumroll...)  Hike No. 65!!  - 12/28/20 - Bennett Pass to the Terrible Traverse snowshoe, Mt Hood National Forest.  I started out this morning trying to capture a sunrise at White River Snowpark - and was horribly skunked by thick fog.  However things took a turn for the better once I arrived at nearby Bennett Pass and slipped on my snowshoes.  This "new to me" hike followed a closed road through lovely snow-covered forests.  About 1.75 miles in was a tremendous view of Mt Hood.  Perfect spot for a snack and photo break!  And luckily the fog was long gone by then.  Wonderful first snowshoe trek of the winter - 5 miles, 500 feet elevation gain.

Yahoo!  Despite COVID, wildfires, and rainy weekends, I actually was able to complete this year's 65 Hike Challenge!  Back in April when most every trail was shut down due to the pandemic, I had my doubts.  But averaging 2 hikes a week throughout the summer and fall helped get me there.  Stay tuned for a special blog post after the new year with mileage tallies, nerdy statistics, favorite hikes and much more!


  1. Hello,

    Are the birds, the Gray Jay? Love the photo and reading about your goals for 2020.
    Happy weekend to you!

  2. Hi Linda, I was looking for information on hiking Fret Creek to Oval Lake and came across your blog. This is really great! If you ever want some company on any of your adventures I'd love to join you. I live in Hood River and I also ski and backcountry ski. I have a 4 legged hiking companion named Recco and I'm 55 years old. My boyfriend broke his leg back in March so he's not able to hike with me until it heals. Look me up on Facebook! Have a great day! Cori Collins


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