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Before I Blogged – Vintage Trips Along The Columbia River

I love going through old hiking photos – especially the ones from before the concept of blogging was there. Back a long time ago I had a small website (or was it really a web page?) where I kept tiny photos and thin logs of trips that we took. That site is long gone now but I have the photos and memories. (Ah, the days of small photos – people on dial-up would complain about it loading slow.)

In the late winter and early spring of 2004 Teresa, Tori and I were excited – we had decided we were going to do the Wonderland Trail that coming summer. We were often out, nearly every weekend from the summer of 2003 on. Ford was in kindergarten so it wasn’t a huge issue if I pulled him out of school to play hooky on Fridays. And did we go to so many places. We hiked and backpacked all over Washington, went snowshoeing a bunch and when early spring came we had crazy weekends where we’d drive to Eastern Washington to hike the windy cold plains and the next morning drive down to Oregon and hike on the border. In that one year I put a good 15,000 miles on my Explorer. Gas was cheap and we had all the time in the world. Simple days then to say the least!

These photos are of a couple trips. The pictures are not great, I was shooting on my first digital camera. It was a heavy as a brick Kodak DC3400 that shot in anย amazing 2.1 megapixels ๐Ÿ˜‰ Kirk had given it to me to get me off of my pocket film camera. It took me awhile to realize that with digital I could shoot nearly all I wanted and to not skimp. But to me those trips were of places I had never seen, I was just happy to be there! The photos slightly blurry and low res, but hey, it was a different time.

One weekend Teresa and I headed down to Eagle Creek on the Oregon side of the Columbia. Since then I have gone back many times but it was a real “first” that time. Walking the narrow path that was blasted out of the cliffs was unnerving that first time, especially with Ford with me. It was though a pretty hike.

Teresa crossing a side stream with man made pavers – the trail for the first couple miles is extremely heavily used. It is one of Portland’s favorite hikes. You can get solitude but you have to keep hiking.

Looking down on one of the many waterfalls as we hiked in:

Ford ahead of me and not overly amused to be out hiking that day:

The narrow trail as you approach the high bridge and cross over to the other side:

It is a pretty long straight down to the creek far below. The trail only exists due to the blasting and a couple bridges set over the canyon. There are a few spots near the river though where the walking is level, but not many. Many campsites though!

Another waterfall:

It was a great backpacking trip. We stayed at I think Wy’East Camp if my memory holds. And had racoons in camp all night, trying to get into our Ursacks! My friend Drew’s snoring apparently scared them off eventually ๐Ÿ˜€

The Columbia River basin in Eastern Washington is so unlike everywhere else in Washington. It feels like one should be in Utah or parts of Montana.

Ford walking a pooch belonging to a friend. We visited the Gingko petrified forest on that trip:

The next morning we drove down South to Dog Mountain where feeling crazy we hiked up the old trail, straight up until we joined the modern trail.

Teresa on Little Puppy, the shoulder below the summit, that once held a look out tower:

Ford, with the west behind him and the Columbia River below:

The odd nearly alpine summit of Dog Mountain:

Climbing on up:

Looking across at Mt. St. Helens, all white, and looking pretty right before she started spewing again:

Ford and I just below the back side of the summit:

We took the trail down the back side which I found to be the best choice. It wound around and dipped into the woods and was quite pleasant – with few people on it, where the other trails to Dog were very popular:

Until about halfway down we crossed paths with a nearly naked old dude, where upon Ford loudly stated “That man is NAKEY!”. Hahhah, that was rich.

That spring Teresa, Tori, Ford and I piled into the Explorer and drove down to Beacon Rock State Park and spent the weekend there, dayhiking and car camping. The campground was pretty much empty – it was perfect! It is tucked away from the highway, in a cool (temperature) hollow. Two things I remember: One was making fun of poor Tori’s subscription to Backpacker Magazine – Teresa and I were being super catty about it – and Tori was from the Midwest where seeing an issue with Mt. Rainier on it was the Bees Knees. Oopsies! The second thing was I made dinner for us. The one pot meal would eventually come to be Swiss Broccoli Mac & Cheese. We made it often when car camping because it is easy, tasty and fills you up. You have to bring a fresh loaf of bread for all the cheesy sauce! PS: There was a video made of this recipe.

When we got down to the Columbia River we met up with our friend Drew and hiked Hamilton Mountain. It is a pretty wooded hike past waterfalls:

And creeks:

That opens up to open windswept views – where the wind howls near constant.

The mountain itself:

A knob where you can look across to Oregon and the Columbia River far below:

In camp Ford and I took a short trail and checked out these rocks:

The next morning we went up Beacon Rock:

Ford at the summit looking over the view, with Hamilton Mountain in the distance:

Me at the top:

Looking down at Tori and and Ford:

A young Ford ready to hit a greasy spoon diner and a long drive home….

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