It was Friday and the end of the work day seems to drag on forever. With no weekend plans to speak of, hope was dwindling. Then I received a message beloved by hikers everywhere. “Want to go hiking tomorrow?” These beautiful, magical words glowed on the screen of my phone. I was saved!
My savior was my outdoor soulmate, Becka. It was she who inspired me to make outdoor videos. A person who’s badassery knows no end. Unfortunately she is a person who lives 287 miles from me. Luckily for us the Columbia River Gorge is what separates us and is the perfect place to meet.
We met up on the Washington side across from Hood River at the Coyote Wall Trailhead. The Coyote Wall Trail is in the Catherine Creek Area, which is popular in the spring time for fields of wild flowers and greenery. We, of course, went in the summer when the green fields had turned to gold and the wild flowers were exchanged for blistering heat.
The trail starts out paved, but soon we turned off the pavement on to the Little Maui Trail. As you rise with the trail you can begin to see Mt Hood. Then we cut across the Old Ranch Road to the official Coyote Wall Trail. From here we hiked up along the edge of the wall, which had some great views.
At this point my face was covered in dry salt, so we decided to take a snack break. We found one lone tree to escape the sun and wind. Once refueled we headed east on the Coyote Wall traverse Trail and then onto Atwood Road. Eventually we headed back down on the Labyrinth Trail. I was excited to see Labyrinth Falls, but no dice. The water had mostly dried up and the waterfall was down to just a few drips. So we rambled our way back to the cars.
After our hike we went to Big Horse Brew Pub for some well deserver burger and drinks! It’s hard being long distance with one of your besties, but sometimes you can hit the trail and pal around together!
Got a late start, we didn’t get to the trailhead until 11 am. It was so hot that I was sweating just sitting in the car. My girlfriend was digging around in the trunk, getting her gear together. The parking lot was full, so we had to park down at Beacon Rock. The pay station was out of order and my smallest bill was a twenty. I tried to pay by phone, but phone was on the fritz. So while I was repeatedly pounded the same spot on an unresponsive screen, I started to cry. The frustration had gotten to me and I had a small panic attack.
I felt the rush of adrenaline hit its peak, while hot tears ran down my face. My girlfriend came over to my side of the car to see what was wrong. She looked confused, I probably snapped at her, and then she told me not to worry about the parking pass, that she would take care of it. Money in hand she headed down the road to figure out the parking situation. She came back a few minutes later having sorted the whole situation.
Typically I’m not the type of person to flips out over a bad parking experience. I’m usually unflappable in the face of inconvenience, a skill I have built up over the past few decades of being a middle child. Coming down off the high of the anxiety, I took a deep breath. I was disappointed in myself for getting so worked up over such a little situation. The last time I freaked out this hard, I just been laid-off from my job. These two situations are not on the same level.
Now was I really stressed out about the parking, probably not. A hundred little things in life build up and then you have a melt down over parking. Some version of this has happened to just about everyone. I also know that a lot of people, myself included, use the their time in the outdoors to relax. So, it’s hard when the stresses of everyday life invade the small amount of time I’ve reserved for enjoying my passions.
Most of my time is spent working, running errands, trying to be responsible, which can be a little dull at times. But a few times a month I go on my little adventures and enjoy the silly, goofy person I am. Often I forget the silly part of me. I convince myself I’m just a person who sits at a desk for 8 hours a day and occasionally cries in really hot cars.
I make videos as a sort of meditation on the small, fun, exciting part of my life. To remind me of the person I can be. That I don’t aways have to be one type of person. Some days you’re on the top of a mountain, some days you’re crying in a hot car and sometimes it’s the same day.
As many of us know the parking situation at Dog Mountain during the spring can be an ordeal more difficult than the hike itself. Now I do not mind getting up stupid early to do a hike, but I live several hours away and enjoy dragging others along on my little schemes. So, I made a 4 part plan.
Go on Sunday. Weekdays were ruled out do to this thing called work and people are more likely to hike on Saturday than Sunday for some reason unknown to me. So, Sunday was the day.
Eat breakfast at the trailhead. This will save about half an hour. I packed up yogurt, fruit, and beagle bites. This also allows breakfast to be at a time when I’m actually hungry because who’s really hungry at 5am. It is certainly not me.
Camp near the trailhead. I found a campground that is a 15-minute drive from the trailhead. It was a nice campground with wifi, showers, and ice cream. In the tent sites, they had a layer of shaved wood to put your tent on, like hamster bedding. It was fantastic! Between the hamster bedding and our sleeping pads it was like sleeping on a cloud. It was the best night’s sleep I’ve ever had in a tent. Highly recommend the hamster bedding. Here is a link to the website of the campgrounds we stayed at.
Do the loop. I have found to avoid crowds and be kind to the knees, that it is best to do the loop. I like to go up the common route and then back down the other side of the mountain. It is less crowded and not as steep.
These 4 simple steps are a recipe to Dog Mountain success. We beat the crowds to the top of the mountain and to the parking lot. And borrowing one of my father parking colloquialisms, “We got the number one spot, in the number one row.”