Monday, June 7, 2010

Hiking Saddle Mountain

Friday night, the forecast for Saturday gave us hope of decent weather... so we decided to hike Saddle Mountain.

We've been wanting to hike the coast's tallest mountain for a few years, now... and took the chance.

Here is the view from the Astoria Column, back in March.

Saturday turned out to be beautiful... and the hike was awesome.

The first long switchback was covered with Sour Grass. The kids seem to like the taste, but have heeded the warnings about the slightly toxic plant.

Very quickly the trail breaks out and side-hills some very steep, beautiful views.
The shade was very nice, too.

Overall, it is a great hike - not too difficult for the kids, and not too long. It is a total of about 2 miles to the top.
There are a few steep stretches, but not bad.
We were glad we did it early in the year with the cooler weather, because we all got very hot on the way up.

Here is one of the steeper parts.
Piece of cake for these mountain goats!

As the trail tops out on the saddle portion, it gives beautiful views of the surrounding hills and even the ocean.
Here, the mountain is about 10 miles from the beach.
As the crow flies...

Here is the summit peak from the mountain's lower bench .
It is deceptively close. You can see the trail switchbacks to reach the peak - it is still a good 20 minutes away!
Never mind that - the kids could see the top and kept going.

The hillside was covered with all kinds of wildflowers.
Most of our pictures were of the fauna.
We were all suprised at the amount of Indian Paintbrush we saw... they are so common in Wyoming, we figured they were more of a dry climate flower. It was like running into an old friend around every turn of the trail.

The clear sky also gave up beautiful views of Mt Rainier (left), Mt St Helens, and Mt Adams (on the far right).
Mount Hood was also visible but obscured by clouds. All of them wouldn't fit into a single picture.

Finally, the summit! It took just under 2 hours of nice hiking to peak out on the top.
There were sure alot of tables and guardrails... which made us suspect alot of people have gotten into trouble up here in the past.

Here is a reciporacle picture of the Astoria Column. Sure looks short from up here.
The clouds and haze started moving in late in the afternoon, so some of the distant points were more difficult to make out.
Time to head down.

There were alot of side-trails to check out on future treks.
Some of them are rather narrow and require more caution. This hike could get dicey in wind and weather...

This rock was just begging to be rolled... except that it was perched above the parking lot below!
Still, it was worth looking over, and posing for a picture.

This picture makes things alittle dizzeying!
A nice, comfortable seat in the sun - even if it is made out of stone.

Here is a Chocolate Lilly - there were quite a few of them around as well. The only other place we'd found these was along the Eagle Creek trail.
Very pretty.

The hike down was only about an hour.
The sun was still warm, and the beach close enough, we all decided to cool our toes in the ocean!

These hikes are a great time to tell stories, look at plants, splash in small creeks, and explore. We definitely recommend hiking Saddle Mountain on a sunny day to anyone.