Saturday, November 14, 2009

Cape Horn

Rarely when one goes on a major hike in the Columbia River Gorge do they hike between the freeway and the river. Today I did just that as I led an Adventurous Young Mazamas hike on the Cape Horn trail. This was my third attempt in the past 12 months to led this hike. High winds and snow foiled my plans the last two times. But today the weather was cooperative and we were able to enjoy the sweeping views of the gorge that this trail offers.

I should note there is much more to this hike than views and waterfalls. I was fortunate to have Mazamas Hike Leader Cathy Oswald along on this hike, as she knows this trail like the back of her hand. She shared what she knew about this trail with us and helped me lead the group.

The Friends of the Columbia Gorge have played a major role in protecting the area from development. They have worked with various individuals and land trusts to acquire properties to protect this stunning view of the gorge. Their video for their Campaign for Cape Horn on YouTube gives some insights of their role.

Currently the Forest Service is working on a Environment Assessment for the Cape Horn Trail Recreation Plan that considers the route of the trail. You can view the Environmental Assessment here. There was some discussion on our hike of the possible alternatives that the Forest Service is considering for this trail.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Rudolph Spur

Even thought the weather report did not look encouraging, I ventured into the Columbia River Gorge for a hike up Rudolph Spur. This is an unmaintained trail that starts out at Cascade Locks on the Oregon side of the gorge and ascends to the Benson Plateau.

This is a trail that climbs up a forested ridge, which I find very enjoyable. Even though not one among us had set foot here before, most of the time we did not have any route finding problems. We were quite fortunate with the weather since it was dry as we hiked up the steep portions of the trail. It was not until we started to reach the Benson Plateau that it started to snow.

Our descend was via the Ruckle Creek Trail. At we lost altitude the snow turned into pouring rain. The trail was steep and slippery, so I took care to place my feet well. At one point I heard a thunderous snap to the left of me. As I looked in that direction I saw the upper trunk of a dead tree tumble down to the ground. Glad to be a at safe distance, I continued my way to the trailhead and the dry cars.