The first official Pentaquest hike of 2017 didn't go exactly as planned, but it still ended up being a fun day in the snow. After Portland was caught in the icy maw of Winter Storm Jupiter and several weeks of snow and ice brought travel in the Columbia Gorge to a halt, it was important to get out of town and hit the trail during a brief weather window. We originally planned to go up Hardy Ridge, but a road closure forced us to call an audible and shift to nearby Hamilton Mountain. The road to the trailhead was also closed, but the walk in from the parking area at Beacon Rock State Park only added an additional ten minutes.
Snow covered the route from the start, making it necessary to use microspikes to gain traction on the trail. Less than a quarter mile in we climbed over a downed tree that had likely fallen during one of the storms. While passing Hardy Falls, Rodney Falls, and the Pool of Winds, we noticed a considerable amount of damage to a fence along the trail. We kept going another mile and made a decision to turn around near the base of the switchbacks below Hamilton Mountain due to the depth of the snow and an issue with one of the traction devices.
Overall it was great to get in a snow hike see the Gorge in its winter brilliance. The Washington Trails Association and other trail crews have their work cut out for them in the coming months. Maybe we'll pitch in and join one of the volunteers teams to help out.
Click here for photos from the hike.