Cold and heavy winds almost turned me around only a short climb from the summit. Hoarfrost covered the few wind-blown trees. My fingers and face were becoming numb. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
President’s Day had all the makings of a good time to climb a mountain. The day was cool, mostly cloudy and the weatherman predicted no precipitation until the evening. I arose early and drove to the Dog Mountain Trailhead in the Columbia River Gorge, roughly 50 crow-flying miles from home on the Washington side of the River.
The Trail began with a one-half mile steep ascent to the Mountain’s first bench, passing mainly Ponderosa pine and oak trees (a sure sign the Trail was on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountains.)
After a short interlude walking through a second-growth Douglas fir and maple forest, the trail began another steep climb to a viewpoint. The next mile was very steep. Soon a better viewpoint was reached, the site of a long-removed fire lookout tower. By then, the cold winds were sapping much of the pleasure from the outing. The Summit was only one-half mile away.
In over thirty hikes on Dog Mountain I had been turned back by blizzard-like weather twice. I wasn’t going to be turned back again.
I gritted my teeth and fought the wind to the summit, quickly sheltering myself on the lee side of a large Douglas fir. I ate a well-deserved snack and took some photos of the stark, arctic-like scenery before braving the elements on the return loop.
A tough, but beautiful hike. In length it was 7.3 miles with 2,900 feet of elevation gain.