Hamilton Mountain for Two

It’s practially impossible to hike mountain peaks with preschoolers. Technically, they can ride along in a [very heavy!] child pack and I guess one could stuff in earplugs after the kids’ patience limit expires, but seriously, a 5-hour hike is sooo much more fun for two. And on a weekday, we mostly had the trail all to ourselves. Not once did I feel sorry for my three kids spending the day at an amusement park with “Gramma and Bocca.” Sorry for the grandparents, maybe, but not the kids!

We hiked Hamilton the day after arriving in Oregon on our road trip from Colorado in August. What a great way to stretch the legs after four days of travel! Hamilton Mountain is in Beacon Rock State Park, on the Washington side of the Columbia River.

Going up, we took the loop direction marked “more difficult” (the other was marked “difficult”) and passed Rodney and Hardy Falls. We reached a high grassy knoll around lunch time and thought we had summited well ahead of schedule. We enjoyed lunch and explored a bit, and as I turned the camera vertical to take a photo of Richard, I realized there was a striking peak behind him… yeah we had to hike down a dip and up again to the real mountain top! Duh.

From the top we had a nice view of Table Mountain and Bonneville Dam but there was too much vegetation to truly see the Gorge – that view was much better from the bluff. The return portion of the loop, once we finally found the correct trail, was less pretty than the ascent but easier on the knees. We found a picnic table in a little valley clearing. As we began passing people on the way up in the afternoon, I contemplated how it was completely unlike Colorado where afternoon lightning storms encourage early ascents. In fact, The whole morning was overcast in the typical Northwest fashion and the clouds began burning off to blue sky mid-day. We had been the second car in the lot at 9:45 but it was almost full when we returned.

Too bad I didn’t think to photograph the plentiful salmon berries! I made quite a feast of them on the way up!

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