Sunday Solitude at Aldrich Butte

DSC_1339Well, 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.

DSC_1340Up at the top of the Butte, the slough was glacial green, and the surrounding greenery had turned red. It made for really beautiful views. The tops of the Oregon mountains were dusted with snow.

DSC_1344Oh, hello stairs! It’s quite amusing to walk an hour in the “backcountry” and then come across a staircase. Three stairs.

DSC_1346Some things in life are the greatest for target practice. Signs are one of these things. Regardless of that fact, I would like to point out the font on this sign. Isn’t it attractive and unique?

DSC_1356According 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.

DSC_1358Here’s Alex walking along the foundation, taking in the views.

DSC_1362See 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!

DSC_1363Since 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!

DSC_1364Back to the lookout, I had to get a close-up of an old nut with moss growing next to it. I’m a sucker for this type of symbolism.

DSC_1367Alex found this odd item. It was not ice, but it was not glass either. Dirt is the dark spot in the center. What is it? Alex thought it might have been a place where lightning struck. Thoughts?

DSC_1372Hello Carlton. Are you enjoying the view?

DSC_1373On the way down, I took time to appreciate the beauty of the surrounding forest. This tree is almost entirely covered in greenery. It felt like a sponge.

DSC_1374The trail was a little rocky and wet, but my socks didn’t even get wet, despite crossing four or so streams! The serenity and grandeur of Pacific Northwest forests haven’t gotten old for me.

DSC_1377Do 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.

DSC_1378Look 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.

DSC_1379Here’s to hoping that hikes are in your future! And to ones as perfect as mine on this day!

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