Thursday, May 26, 2005

Dog (Tired) Mountain

Wildflowers on Dog Mountain
Originally uploaded by Rozanne.
Owing to a goof-up on the part of one of my clients, the project I was working on shuddered to a standstill yesterday. Since I could do nothing until the client sorted out the problem, I was presented with an unexpected day off. And what better thing to do than engage in some rather strenuous loafing a la Henry David Thoreau?

It was a gorgeous, sunny day, so I decided to hit the hiking trail and tackle my nemesis--Dog Mountain. Dog Mountain is famous for two things: its magnificent wildflowers (at their peak for only a very narrow window of time between late May and early June) and kicking hiker ass. I can attest that it has/does both. The last time I tried to hike it (2003), I scuttled back to the trailhead after only a quarter of a mile—it kicked my ass so hard and so fast. How embarrassing is that? Especially since I’d gotten to the top the year before. My hiking license could be revoked for that!

So off I went, with B deciding to tag along at the last minute.* Dog Mountain starts with a steep, punishing half-mile grind (where I was so ignominiously weeded out last time) but after that bit is out of the way, the trail becomes marginally easier even though it’s pretty much all uphill. There are great views of the Columbia River Gorge on the way up and several fabulous wildflower meadows, overflowing with golden balsamroot, blue lupines, red paintbrush, meadow death-camas (do not eat!), fringecup (said to improve the night vision of elves), western buttercups, cluster lilies, and spreading phlox. It is just heaven to walk through these meadows, although the wind was gusting to over 40 mph at times, which made photography problematic. (I've always got some excuse to explain why my photos aren't quite up to snuff!)

We made it to the top of Dog Mountain with its view of Mount St. Helens and basked for a while in our achievement—we’d hiked 2,820 vertical feet, roughly twice the height of the Sears Tower.** The trip down was a fun romp along the slightly longer (and more knee-friendly) Augsberger Trail. I’m pleased to report that Dog Mountain did not kick my ass this time, and, thus, I had plenty of energy available for stopping in the one-brewpub town of Stevenson, Washington, for a pint of Walking Man IPA and a burger.

It is true that my ass is a bit sore today, but not because it was kicked—I just made it do some real work for a change.

*B is also self-employed and actually has a much more flexible schedule (sometimes) than I do.

**2,820 feet of elevation gain is really not all that impressive. If I were really hardcore, I would have climbed Mt. Defiance (right across the river) with a gain of 4,800 feet.


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