Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Wygant Trail, Columbia Gorge, Oregon
Friday dawns cool and overcast, but we are prepared for rain. From Memaloose State Park, we head back west to the trail of choice for the day. We arrive at the parking lot at Mitchell Point, which is bathed in sunlight from a blue break in the clouds. The light from the rising sun leaks over the top of the tower of rock straight ahead of us, causing a glow in the haze that still hangs in the air.
We take a look from the edge of the parking lot positioned over the freeway. The sunlight through that growing cloud break becomes more brilliant as the sun creeps closer to the top of our rock tower. Finally, we turn toward the trail and begin the official hike.
The trail ducks down into the woods where the surface soon turns from dirt to a section of the old Columbia River Highway. We comment on how well the pavement has withstood the time. Covered with moss and needles, it could just be brushed off and put back to use.
Returning to a dirt trail, we start to climb. The trail is narrower than many others in the Gorge—it seems that this trail does not get as much use. Plenty of poison oak surrounds us. We come to an area where power lines cut through and there, on top of one of the electrical towers is a huge osprey nest housing two osprey. The trail then crosses a creek on a log and board foot bridge and continues upward. We arrive at a point 300 feet above the freeway and stare down at the passing vehicles. We are promised a better view if we keep on, so we continue and reach a ridge at the 1350 foot elevation where we can see up and down the Gorge for miles. Because of lingering clouds, we cannot see the promised view of Mt. Adams.
The trail loops around to the south to join the Chetwoot (“black bear” in Chinook) Trail, which is even more roughly maintained and overgrown. We finally reach the bottom of Perham Creek Canyon, where we must scramble over the creek holding onto branches that spread across it. Waterproof hiking boots help here.
Back up for awhile, but soon ever downward as we descend back to our beginning. My toes ache from the pressure of sliding up against my boots. We reach the bottom after an enjoyable 6.1 miles. We never saw a single soul the entire time we were on the trail.