Today I headed down to the Columbia River Basin and stopped at Beacon Rock State Park. I've been eyeing Beacon Rock for many years. First stop though was Hamilton Mountain.
The air was chilly and the winds were whipping around pretty strong. This was going to be a cold day regardless of the air temp. The trail starts out very wide, much like Mt Si. There had been only one other car in the parking lot when I started on the trail.
I enjoyed the golden color as I gained elevation and then made my way back into the forest. In short time I made it to Hardy Falls and Pool of the Winds.
Pool of the Winds
It was a very pretty scene as water raged down the mountainside.
View through trees
As I ascended I got views which gave me a false sense of a nearby summit. Just as I'd get excited, I'd realize that I had much more to go.
I found my wardrobe to be very frustrating as one moment I'd need my jacket due to the cold winds and 50' later I was too hot with it on and I'd start sweating. I'd remove my jacket and get really cold from the sweat evaporating. It was a constant battle as I journeyed further up the mountain. Finally I reached the summit of Hamilton and the views were pretty good.
I didn't stay long since a couple showed up and I wanted solitude so I started down. It was then that I realized that I lost a glove from my left pocket. I asked the couple and they said they saw it and put it on a rock just below the falls. So much for 2 warm hands on my decent.
I cruised down the mountain passed a LOT of people!!! This is the Mt Si of the area!!! So many people, it was insane!! So glad I got an early start!
Just below the falls I found my glove....sitting on some Poison Oak Luckily it was getting warmer so I didn't need my gloves.
Further down I took a turn at a junction so I could tag Little Beacon Rock and get some solitude again. To the next junction it was only another .6 miles and from there .2 to the base of Little Beacon. Once at the top I tagged a few possible candidates for the highest point keeping a vigilant eye out for Poison Oak.
Back on the main trail and the crowds I was greeted at the parking lot with every spot taken! This place was rocking! I wanted to tag Beacon Rock as well but I was nervous that the parking lot at the other trailhead would be full so I walked the .5 mile, down 300' and across the highway.
Good reason to buy a mountain
So it seems that Henry Biddle bought Beacon Rock for a measly $1 in the early 30's with the intent on building a trail to the summit. Sounds like my kind of friend! Years later this ancient volcano core (similar to Devil's Tower in a way) was left to the State Parks Dept. The trail starts out easy and relatively flat...then you get to the railings and the sheer cliffs and spectacular views!
I was reminded of Angels Landing in Zion a little bit, just not with quite as much exposure. The railings seem to go on forever. I looked up and all I saw was railing after railing. The view down was pretty cool, if you don't mind sheer cliffs.
Finally I reached the very windy summit. Strong winds dominated the day and the chill in the air bit through with a vengance.
View from Beacon Rock
I only stayed up there long enough for a few photos and video before retreating to get out of the wind. The trip back down was uneventful as well as the pilgrimage back up the road to my car.
All in all a great day to explore a new area and bag 3 new highpoints.
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