Sunday Solitude at Aldrich Butte
Well, it was a Sunday in February, and the gloomy clouds covered the sky. What a perfect day for a trek out to the Gorge! No, really, it was a perfect hike day. Not too cold, not too hot. There had recently been a landslide in the Gorge on the Oregon side, and I-84 E was closed to trucks and motorhomes, and closed to all vehicles after Exit 44 (Cascade Locks). Not sure if it was the weather, the highway closure, the hike, or the day, but Aldrich Butte was pleasantly deserted. Alex and I only saw two other couples hiking. Above is Carlton the Loon, all strapped in, watching the scenery go by for the 45 minute drive to Aldrich Butte from southeast Portland.
According to the delightful guidebook Curious Gorge, what you see above is the remaining foundation from an old lookout. It was used to monitor the construction of the Bonneville Dam below. It’s really neat to be able to see the trees inside the foundation, guessing that the building was out of use by the 1940s. That means these trees are about 75 years old.
See the snow? The trail to the top of Aldrich Butte had practically no snow, only a few piles here and there. It’s about 1000 feet in elevation gain. I was glad to see Table Mountain so far away with its abundance of snow. Hello snow! You stay over there!
Since moving to the Pacific Northwest, I’ve gathered that dams are controversial. Opinions are divided regarding their usefulness and damage. Even as an environmentalist, I cannot deny the awesomeness of dams like the Bonneville Dam: imagine the enormous human effort put into constructing this grand feat of engineering!
Do you see Beacon Rock? It looks small from here! The green plants in this plain go wild in the summer, and they’re the only small green plant during the winter. Alex and I called them “grasping wastrels,” inspiration from Tom McCall, of course.
Look at the ladder on this power tower. Maybe it’s the crackling of the wires, or maybe it’s the punifying effect of being so dwarfingly large, but I always get shivers up my spine in powerline corridors like this. They were even more terrifying in Michigan, where people are adamant defenders of their property, and you never see anyone else hiking. Here, they had crowing ravens ironically sitting, and were surrounded by snow dusted mountains and one of the most gorgeous and powerful rivers of the Pacific Northwest. Everything about the Pacific Northwest is less scary than in the Midwest.