#60 in the Northwest Book, February 21, 2010; Moderate – 7.8 mile round trip, 270 feet elevation loss.
A day-hike in the high desert makes a great escape from the February gloom on our side of the Cascades. Along this time are Ben, Becky, Margaret and Digby.
The adventure portion of this hike occupies the 12-hour span of time before the hike. We camped at Deschutes River State Recreation Area the night before, and since the weather report looked very pleasant, we tried not to over-pack. Anyone who’s camped in this climate zone knows what happened next: we shivered the entire night. At one point, Digby decided enough was enough, and dove down to the foot end of a sleeping bag. Morning dawned bright and frigid, complete with a frost-covered tent. We put together a much-needed hot meal in the morning and drove to the trail head.
The trail follows a now-defunct railway that ran along the Klickitat River north of The Dalles; a long, skinny state park that’s entirely surrounded by private land. I was glad for my boots; while the rail bed is flat and level, its surface is 3-inch rock, and doing this in flip flops probably would have landed somebody a twisted ankle. The sun warmed us as we hiked through the scrubby green-brown countryside.
About half a mile in, the shape of the land changed as we descended into Swale Canyon. We were in the shade again, so on went the single extra layer we had brought.
We lunched by the riverside about three and a half miles in, near where the book suggests. This was our view:
Yeah, life’s rough out here.
On our way back, we noticed our little pug was favoring one leg, and it turned out his paw was bleeding. This was our first hike with the little guy, and since pugs are a low-energy breed in the first place, we had come prepared:
He didn’t like it, of course, but I’m sure he regrets it less than walking the last mile on that foot. He later made a swift recovery, and there’s no permanent damage.
Notes: Open October through June due to excessive heat during the summer months. Very rocky, good sturdy shoes are a must. Dogs must be on leash. Longer and shorter versions of this hike are available.