This last Saturday, I took my first hike with one of the local Meetup groups, the Portland/Vancouver Chapter of the Sierra Club. It didn’t quite wind up being the hike that we planned, and the people who I hiked with were definitely outside my usual scene, yet I had a good time and got to hike in Mt. Hood’s rain shadow, in the dry hills of the Badger Creek wilderness.
Our meeting point was Gateway Transit Center at 7:00 AM. A pretty reasonable time, considering that we’d be driving for a couple of hours to reach the trail head. Unfortunately, there are no buses in my corner of Little Bay Root at that hour of the morning, so I mounted my trusty track bike and pedaled the ten miles. There are covered bike racks at the transit center, so I was able to leave my cycling gear there with my bike until I returned.
Only four of us showed up out of the dozen that had originally RSVPed. I light turnout, but that meant that we could all load into the hike leader’s wagon and reduce the hassle. We had plenty of time on our two-hour drive to get to know one another, which revealed an interesting slice of archetypes: a mullet-having mustachioed computer programmer, a young Frenchman in tight, high-end sporting apparel, a middle-aged, recently divorced salesman with a repressed bitter streak, and me. An odd hodge-podge, but we had a shared love of hiking to keep us on track.
We started out on the Tygh Creek trail, which started as a faint trail and the simply faded from existence after about three-quarters of a mile. We fanned out and searched for a bit, before calling it quits and heading back to the car. There was a lot of bushwhacking involved with our search and we were all a bit scratched-up and demoralized as we fell back to plan b.
Our guide pretty much made up plan b on the spot, but luckily we had passed another trail on our way. So we headed back to the Ball Point trail, though I should point out that the signage there refered to it as the School Canyon Trail. Not sure what to think about that, but the whole Badger Creek wilderness is fairly remote and less travelled.
The new trail was much more exposed than the trails that I usually hike, passing through sections of sparse oak forest before heading up into a mixture of pines. The ground was much drier here than on the western side of Mt. Hood, often reddish in color and sandy in consistency. You could tell that this area didn’t get a lot of hikers based on the amount of coyote scat that we found on the trail.
A pretty good day of hiking all around, even with the false start and the bit of sun burn that I got. Hiking this far out does make for a long day though, as I left my house before six and didn’t get back until after ten.