September 30, 2017 Rainy weekend predicted; possible dry window Saturday to the east of Portland; Indian Heaven still closed from the Crater Fire; windy along the Columbia River. We decided to try some short hikes in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest between Mt Adams and Indian Heaven, near Trout Lake, WA.
Our first drive through the Columbia River Gorge since the fire: Good photos are posted in official feeds elsewhere. I was pleased to see how much is not burned. That said, it was sobering to see the extent of the burn: blackened trees on the skyline, blackened forest floors down to the highway in some places, blackened trunks on still green trees. I felt great appreciation for the fire fighting, for the massive cleanup that has already occurred, and for the challenge ahead. We will be back someday but not soon.
We got a glimpse of Mt Adams and an intense, wide rainbow just as we entered Trout Lake.
Steamboat Mountain (#48)
This short hike (1.5 miles, 400′) is touted by Scott Cook in his Curious Gorge book to have some of the best views of the Cascades and a relatively easy trail. The weather was not in our favor, though. When we parked at the trailhead/quarry, we could just see the top of Steamboat Mountain from the base.
As we hiked up the well graded trail through red huckleberry the clouds closed in.
From the rocky top, I could just make out our Suburu parked at the base, but no mountains, no views.
We ate our lunch, hiked down. We were reminded that we are now in hunting season, as people were firing guns just on the other side of the quarry.
Driving back south toward Trout Lake, we visited Langfield Falls, just east of Tire Junction. There is a short trail down to the waterfall viewpoint, and another user trail along the creek above the falls. A spatter of rain, a lovely waterfall.
Back to Trout Lake, then west about 5 miles, is the Natural Bridge area- a collapsed lava tube with bridges in places of incomplete collapse. A friend from the Portland Hikers Facebook group had tipped us off to brilliant fall color here, and we found this to be true – even if we were early for the full show. The inner collapsed tube is overgrown with vine maples that blazed in gradation through the spectrum from bright green, to yellow green, yellow, yellow orange, orange, red orange and red: the analogous colors from half the color wheel on view. We wandered around for a while, and Dan set up his tripod as we waited for sunbreaks to illuminate the scene.