Today I decided to try a hike in the Columbia River gorge that I haven't done before. I like going out into the gorge because the further out you go, usually the less travelled the trails are, especially during the week. The works very well for me because I like to let my dogs run amok off leash. The trail that I decided on was Mount Defiance. Nice name, don't you think? There are some nice little waterfalls along the way and some nice spots to take pictures at. The whole big loop for the trail is 12.1 miles long and rated very difficult. I didn't intend to do all of that, but a good chunk. So my INTENTION was to take the route that is labelled as easier because the climb isn't as bad that way. Somehow, I managed to get that mixed up and I took the less nice way up. OMG! But I'm getting a little ahead of myself.
When you start out on the trail, it runs along I-84. Initially there's a 7 ft. fence between you and the highway. Then it goes down to a 3 ft. cement barrrier and finally nothing. Needless to say, the dogs remained on leash. Which is always fun when they're raring to go! Once we got to the little bridge, I turned them loose. We started climbing a little ways and I figured this was the climbing part that I had read about. Not so much! After we got past the first few waterfalls, the REAL climbing started! OMG! I started off soaked in rain water and ended up soaked in sweat! We spent a little over 2 hours climbing. The switchbacks were brutal and the climbing was relentless! You would think that because there are switchbacks, it would make the climb a little gentler. Not so much! I guess that it's gentler than it could be, but gad zooks! Talk about a work out. I had been mentally preparing for some climbing, but not to this extent! This is definitely the hardest climb that I have done to date. The dogs had a blast. Since I was so freaking slow, they got to run off into the woods every so often to sniff something out and do lots of exploring. Normally I don't stop on climbs unless I'm taking a picture. I'll slow my pace down, but I'd rather keep on moving. I had to actually stop several times along the route to recharge a bit. It was pretty brutal and DEFINITELY earns the ranking of very difficult. So after a little over two hours of that, I decided that it was time to head home. I've got a whole lot of meat that needs to be bagged and wasn't quite prepared to be hiking what would turn into a for sure all day hike.
The way back down was a relief at first, but then it started really working those butt muscles! The dogs were still running all over the place and not really acting like they were feeling it at all. Bess is notorious on our hikes for finding a sent and just darting off into the forest. She used to be really bad about coming back and would be gone for like 5 min. Which, when you're freaking out that your dog is lost, is an eternity. Now she just darts off and then comes back. Sometimes in a direction you were not expecting. Which is also a little startling when you're out there by yourself!LOL I'm pretty sure that Bess easily does about three times the mileage that I do. Heffner probably does about twice because he doesn't stray as far. But Bess was pretty much this little fawn blur all over the place. It's pretty amusing!
All told we did 5.39 miles in 3 hours and 56 minutes and a little over 2,000 feet gain in elevation. And somehow, the dogs aren't as tired as I am!! I want to try this hike again, only I seriously want to take the easier climbing route! What the heck is wrong with me!!
Right now I'm trying to figure out how to get the pictures that I include to show up in the post where I actually want them to be. At the moment they're always popping up at the top of the post no matter what I do. Hopefully I can figure out how to fix that soon! And now I'm off to bag up some meat!