Two bloodsucking hitchhikers! I really, really dislike ticks! But, what can one expect? It was springtime, an oak tree environment in the eastern Columbia River Gorge, and 12 blacktail deer had already been spotted. Is there any better recipe for the little bloodsuckers? But, let’s return to the beginning.
I drove to the east side of the Columbia River Gorge to the Rowena Crest Viewpoint. Basalt cliffs, oak grasslands and interesting trails make it a pleasurable hiking area in the spring. I headed south through an open, relatively flat area for one-half mile. Violet shooting stars, golden balsamroot and purple larkspur created swaths of color on the green plateau, with several varieties of parsley thrown into the mix. Then the Trail became serious, gaining 1,000 feet in a little over one mile before reaching the top of McCall Point at 1,700 feet. The views extended for miles up and down the Gorge.
For a challenge I followed game trails and over-grown roads on a three-mile loop back to the Trailhead. After one mile I dropped off the cliffs into a steep canyon, following an old logging road through an oak forest with a few mature Ponderosa pines intermixed. Eventually, the old roads led to a large talus slope with a rough trail leading back to the plateau. It made for an enjoyable five-mile hike with 1,500 feet of elevation gain. The wildflowers were truly spectacular, but I could have done without the ticks.