Cape Horn in winter

January 16, 2012.

7 miles | 1200′ ele. gain | 4 hrs.

I met up with a fellow Portlandhiker for this lovely hike on the Cape Horn trail. I’d been here before but not in the snow.

The gorge was dusted in a coat of pretty white. The air was cold and dry, perfect hiking weather. It was nice hiking with a fellow hiking enthusiast, and someone I’d only just met in person for the first time. Back east I hiked with people from the Internet all the time but here it was much less frequent. We shared stories about past hikes, dreamed up future adventures and spent some time in quiet solitude. The trail can do that: both inspire chatter and demand your silence.

It’s interesting to go back and hike a familiar trail in winter conditions. The trail is different, the experience altogether new. It’s almost like cheating—finding a novel experience without having to do any new research.

And winter brings solitude in many cases. Hiking falls off the radar as people switch gears to skiing, snowboarding or retreating to their homes til spring. The Columbia River Gorge trails, overrun with humanity in the peak of summer, fall silent during the winter season. The landscape gets a respite from overuse so that it can be ready for the onslaught of spring rains and human footfall.

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