Trip Report: Columbia River Gorge, Day 2

I woke up early on Thursday (Day 2), eager to hit the trail. As mentioned previously, my route involved entering the Hatfield Wilderness via Herman Creek Trail 406, a quick side trip to the Chinidere summit, and then back to my car via the PCT. Approx 24 miles and 5000 ft of elev gain.

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Into the wilderness via Herman Creek, out via the PCT

But first I had to eat breakfast. The only reason I actually go camping is so I can eat Maple Brown Sugar oatmeal straight from the packet. After breakfast I got in my truck to drive to the trailhead… and the battery was dead.  Dammit.

I wandered around the campground until I spotted an RV with lights on. I knocked on the door and a very nice man came out and agreed to jump my car. Turns out that staying in an “official” campground was worth every cent. Had I been parked on some random Forest Service road without cell coverage, getting a jump would have been a tad more difficult.

I was finally on the trail by 8 am, which is a little late for my taste. The trail up Herman Creek was nice. The trail itself is primarily composed of soft pine needles, there were lots of small waterfalls and creek crossings, and the ascent was very gradual and runnable. It doesn’t have the “wow” factor of Eagle Creek, but on the other hand I only saw one person on the entire trail. A ranger had warned me that the trails had not been maintained over the winter, and that there could be significant blowdowns due to a recent windstorm. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect…. What I got was 2-3 blowdowns over the 10.5 miles of Herman Creek trail. In other words, near perfect conditions.

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An example of the conditions on Herman Creek trail.

Herman Creek trail eventually leaves the creek and intersects with the PCT. This section of trail was one of my favorites. The forest was more open than the dense Washington woods that I’m used to, and the ground was covered in thick bear grass. I kept expecting Little Red Riding Hood to peek around one of the trees. It was hard to capture it with my camera phone, but I did my best.

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Looking for Little Red Riding Hood.
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Columbia River, please!

The spur trail to Chinidere comes up quickly on the PCT. I hiked up to the top of Chinidere and enjoyed a fantastic view of Hood, as well as glimpses of Adams, St Helens and Rainier on the horizon. Although Rainier is a cool mountain, it dominates many views in the Seattle area and it was nice to stare at some different volcanoes on this trip.

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Mt Hood from the summit of Chinidere

After taking a few pics on Chinidere, I descended back to the PCT. I’m not sure how this is possible, but the Chinidere spur trail is definitely longer going up than it is going down. 😉

Once I was back on the PCT, it was basically a lot of downhill running all the way back to the trailhead. I got into a good rhythm and was at the Herman Creek bridge before I knew it.

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Herman Creek as seen from the bridge – almost done!

All in all, a great day in the Hatfield Wilderness. And double bonus, my truck started right up when I got back to the trailhead!

Last but not least, a huge thank you to my extremely supportive husband Tom for holding down the fort and single parenting while I run off to play in the woods.