The second weekend of May had all the makings of a good time to climb a mountain. The day was sunny and warm, and the balsamroot were reported to be at their peak on Dog Mountain.
I arose early and drove to the Trailhead in the Columbia River Gorge. The large parking lot was already partially full. It is one of the most popular hiking trails in the Gorge. Although, it is not easy, gaining almost 3,000 feet in three miles.
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. The golden balsamroot were spectacular: it is one of the truly beautiful wildflower hikes in the Northwest.
In over thirty hikes to the summit of Dog Mountain, this was one of the best. I ate a well-deserved snack while enjoying the views with at least 30 fellow hikers.
A tough, but beautiful hike.