January 21, 2007.
Hamilton Mountain trail, 8 miles (?) | 2100′ gain | 4:15 h.
This morning I set out with a Mazama group of 18, yes 18 hikers to the formidable summit of Hamilton Mtn. (2488′). As much as I deplore doing anything in a group so large, the hike today wasn’t all that bad. The pace was slow as we ascended through a green forest and past a large, icy waterfall. Over the wooden bridges, and up the stairs we went. I chatteda bit with some of the others as we plodded single file up the increasingly icy trail.
We stopped at a viewpoint about an hour into the hike. The views of the Gorge were amazing; the weather was clearer than I anticipated. I had a quick swig of Gatorade and half a granola bar before we started moving again. “32 switchbacks until the summit!” proclaimed our hike leader. And we’re off.
As the trail grew slicker and steeper, the pace slowed to a crawl. I’m glad I wasn’t in charge of all those people. I was happy to be outdoors and moving, even if just a little bit. The air felt nice and cold. The footing never got too bad, and I was never sorry that I didn’t have Yaktrax.
At the summit of Hamilton, we got a sweeping view of the river, the surrounding peaks, and Bonneville Dam. On a clear day, you can see Mt. Hood, but that wasn’t going to happen today.The wind was blowing here, so we continued along the route to have lunch at a different location. We continued to be bombarded with beautiful views all along the way.
I thoroughly enjoyed my turkey sandwich and steaming hot cocoa. I brought a full winter pack today for the weight; although this was labeled a “conditioning hike” I figured I’d need a little extra challenge. A thermos is always worth the weight anyways. After lunch, the gigantic group headed down along an old forest road to loop back around to the waterfalls and the path back to the cars.
I hung towards the front of the pack, enjoying some good conversation and a leisurely pace for the remainder of the hike.