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On a cloudy and breezy morning, I parked at the Hardy Ridge Equestrian Trailhead in Beacon Rock State Park. My goal was to do an 8 1/2 loop hike to the open saddle underneath Hamilton Mountain.
I began an ascent mostly on old logging roads on the west side of Hardy Ridge, dropping to a bridge over Hardy Creek in about two miles.
Turing left, I began the hike up the east side of the creek, quickly running into packed snow up to 1 1/2 feet deep. Only one person had hiked up the trail since it had last snowed. I decided to change plans and do the up-and-back trail to the 2,100-foot saddle below Hamilton Mountain.
At the Saddle there was heavy cloud cover up and down the Columbia River Gorge, adding an ethereal beauty to the views, some of the best in the Gorge.
On the return hike, I enjoyed the solitude.