Extreme weather holds a certain allure for me. Perhaps it’s because I live in a city where the weather rarely goes to extremes. Whatever the case, when a very cold and dry mass of air settled over the area, bringing temperatures down into the single digits (F) in some places (and bringing with it crystal clear, cloudless skies), my first thought was to get out and hike in it.
So on Wednesday, one of the coldest days of the cold snap, I joined Tom & Friends on a morning hike of Dog Mountain, on the Washington side of the Gorge. Even on our drive out there, we could tell that this was no ordinary winter day in the Gorge. Ice floated in the Sandy River. A waterfall on the cliff below Crown Point was completely frozen, and there was someone ice climbing on it…they were halfway to the top when we passed them at approximately 8:15. And most spectacular of all was Multnomah Falls, still flowing but adorned with myriad icicles and its cliffs caked with sparkling white ice.
Upon starting our hike, the temperature at el. 200 ft was 18° F (-7° C). We were hiking to approximately el. 3000 ft, and some places near the top were exposed to the wind, though thankfully the wind was just a mere breeze (winds of 50+ mph are not uncommon here). I stayed pretty comfortable for most of the hike, but while we were exposed to the wind, I found myself wishing I had brought ski goggles, as some of the others on the hike had done (see photo).
Once we’re out of the cold weather, we’ll be back to the normal winter gray skies and chilly drizzle. I’m already looking forward to getting a good snowstorm.
I joined a Mazama backback to the Goat Rocks wilderness in Washington, led by Tom Davidson, on July 21-23, 2009.
Before I had this blog up and running, I posted a report on this trip on PortlandHikers.org, which you can still read here. If you’ve never been to the Goat Rocks, let me say that this place should be on every Western hiker’s life list.