A July morning seemed perfect for taking a hike in the Columbia River Gorge, and so it was. The temperature stayed relatively cool and the skies were mainly overcast (good for tackling a long, tough hike.) Toss in summiting two mountains, gaining over one mile of cumulative elevation and seeing a bear, and you have the makings of a fun day.
I arrived at the Dog Mountain Trailhead early in the morning, roughly 50 airmiles from home. Looking down the Columbia River, I could see Indian Point which had been my destination the previous week. After some stretching exercises I put on the daypack and headed north on the Augspurger Trail.
In 2.7 miles I had gained 2,100 feet of elevation and reached the backside of Dog Mountain. Turning right, I could have summitted the mountain in a little over one mile. But, I turned left and dropped 500 feet to a small valley separating Dog and Augspurger Mountains.
The Trail then followed a BPA power line access road for awhile before beginning a steep ascent up the east side of Augspurger Mountain to the crest of a ridge. During this portion of the hike, I had begun to see lots of fresh bear sign and, sure enough, I spotted a good sized male digging up plant roots. Before I had a chance to take a good photo, he took off at a pretty good clip through the forest. It was exciting though. I have seen many bears in the wild, but this was only the fifth one I had seen in the Gorge.
The Trail basically stayed on the open ridge top providing magnificent views of the Columbia River Gorge and surrounding areas. In two more miles I had reached my first destination, the summit of Augspurger Mountain at 3,700 feet. The actual summit is anticlimactic because it is relatively flat and covered in trees.
It only takes a short hike back along the Trail to the south before the views open up again though. I hiked back down the ridge, to the valley and back up to the intersection of the Dog Mountain Trail.
Looking down the Columbia River from the ridge crest on Augspurger Mountain
Paintbrush, Glacier Lilies, and Trillium Lily
I had one more mile to climb to reach my second destination, the 2,900-foot summit of Dog Mountain. I really enjoyed this stretch of the Trail with the balsamroot and other wildflowers covering the meadows with color.
At the summit I reflected that so far the hike had covered 10.7 miles with 5,500 feet of elevation gain – – – a considerable feat. To put it into perspective, the Starvation Ridge/Mt. Defiance hike directly across the Columbia River (considered by many to be the toughest day hike in the Pacific Northwest and one I have done many times) is 12.1 miles with 4,900 feet of elevation gain.
I would have savored the accomplishment longer but the wind was gusting mightily. So, I put on my pack and began the three-mile steep descent on the south side of the Mountain. To steal an old fisherman saying: Days like this are not subtracted from your allotted days on Earth.