November 5, 2006.
Trail 147, “Most Difficult Trail,” Augspurger Tr– total about 6.5 mi.?– under 3.5 hours
After having taken about 2 weeks off from hiking I finally saw a window of opportunity to get outside thie weekend, if even for just a few hours. I took the short drive to the other side of the Gorge and started up the Dog Mountain trail 147 at approximately 8:30am.
The trail is pretty steep right from the start, but I moved along as quickly as I could knowing some other hikers were right on my tail. Soon I came to a junction with signage indicating a “more difficult” trail to the left and a “less difficult” trail to the right. Of course, I headed left and continued along the unrelenting and more direct route to the top.
The trail winds back and forth in a series of switchbacks, which caused me to get somewhat disoriented. I was glad to emerge from the forest onto the more open top of the mountain, with the river in clear view giving me a better sense of direction. The trail bends at a nice viewpoint where it appears some structure once stood. The forecast called for massive amounts of rain but the skies were holding back for now. The wind picked up and the occasional drizzle sprung from the low-hanging clouds, but there was never any significant rain. Although the clouds hovered over the peaks across the river, visibility was still pretty good.
Near the top I reached several junctions and attempted, fruitlessly, to pinpoint my location on the map. I stopped at a campsite located somewhere near the summit and took a break. I didn’t feel like wandering around in the woods to find some nonexistant summit marker, so I happily devoured some peanut M&M’s and cheddar cheese instead. A bit later, two other hikers arrived and took a break there too. The clouds rolled in, reducing visibility significantly. No more views of the river, time to get moving again.
After walking back and forth, trying to orient myself, I decided to take the Augsperger Trail down, since it was slightly longer than the alternatives and would probably be free of people. The trail quickly dipped back into the forest and the grade ranged from moderate to steep and everything in between. It was a little more rugged than 147. There were actually some trees strewn across the trail. Yes! Now it actually feels like I’m walking in the woods! In addition to the blowdown, there was more variety, a ton of views and other elements that are hard to describe that just gave the trail so much more character. I really enjoyed the trip down and was in awe of the fantastic views of the valley below. I would have liked to take this trail to the top of Ausberger Mtn. but that’s a trip for another day. By noon I was back at the trailhead.
My one peeve from this hike is my observation of the couple that was hiking behind me. It just irritates me to see a man and a woman hiking together with only the man carrying a backpack. How much more difficult is it to carry your own stuff, ladies, really? If you can’t handle it then pick a different hike. I don’t think it’s chivalry, I think it’s obnoxious. Am I way off here? The only time a (male) friend and I hiked together with only one pack, we switched off carrying it so we shared the work. I’d feel like a total jerk if I had to depend on someone to carry my stuff. To each her own, I guess. Not very empowering.
And so, I carried ALL my own stuff up and down the mountain, as always 🙂 I brought a ton of layers thinking it would be cold and wet but I ended up just wearing short sleeves and pants, no rain pants, for most of the day. I’ve got to start loading up my pack with weight to get ready for winter hiking anyways. Oh, if only the weekends were longer!