Panorama of paradise: Dog Mountain in the Columbia River Gorge

Panorama: n a complete or unobstructed view of a wide area

Paradise: n. a place or state of bliss, felicity or delight

Eat your heart out. This is where I was on Saturday:

Columbia River Gorge from Dog Mountain trail

Columbia River Gorge from Dog Mountain trail

The Dog Mountain trail is one of the very most beloved in all the Gorge – particularly when the wildflowers are at their peak, which was this week.

Everybody and their brother (and some of their dogs and kids too) were on the mountain, but rather than seeming crowded, it was like a jolly meetup. Everyone greeting each other, encouraging each other, sympathizing with each other.  The encouragement and sympathy gush forth because it’s a dog of a hike.  Pretty much unrelentingly UP – like 3000′ in 3 miles.

Slow slogging... only halfway there

Slow slogging... only halfway there

Most people use hiking poles (land version of ski poles) to take some of the burden off the thighs and knees, and on the way down to brace you lest you slip on little rocks.

Any excuse to stop is a good excuse. Water, photograph, shoelace adjustment…

Photographing a hillside of balsam root in bloom

Photographing a hillside of balsam root in bloom

It was a glorious sunny day and you could see way down the river both east and west. At the top you could also see Mt. Hood poking up behind the Oregon palisades, Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier off the back sides of the mountain.

Mt. Rainier, looking north from the top

Mt. Rainier, looking north from the top

We got to the top around noon, and joined a happy throng having lunch and savoring the opportunity to sit. Problem was… how to get up again.

About half way down my legs got so shaky I was afraid they’d just give way, so I stopped often to admire the flowers:

Balsam root, lupine, indian paintbrush, snow-in-summer, buttercup

Balsam root, lupine, indian paintbrush, snow-in-summer, buttercup

Truly the Gorge is one of the most awesome places in the world, and this hike on this lovely day was something I’ll never forget. My quadriceps won’t either.

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3 responses to “Panorama of paradise: Dog Mountain in the Columbia River Gorge

  1. Yourr timing was perfect. Lucky you.

  2. Superb! I’ve run out of superlatives. Now that’s what I mean by wide horizons, lucky you having that on your doorstep.

    Your photographs are pretty amazing as well.

  3. Oh, June, the photos do not do the flowers justice… I wish you could have been there to see this in person.

    A friend sent me a link to her photos of this excursion on Flickr and they are infinitely sharper than mine. And thanks to Flickr’s ability to show you the technical details of a shot, what I discovered is that her photos were taken at ISO 100. My camera’s ISO setting has been at 800 for MONTHS (unbeknownst to me) – which means I can shoot in low light, but that my pictures in regular light come out very grainy.

    The scales have fallen from my eyes! I might even take some crisper photos in the very near future.