Sunday, July 01, 2007

Saddle Mountain

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More pics from the recent mini-roadtrip, this time from Saddle Mountain State Park, out in the Coast Range. Saddle Mountain is north of US 26, a few miles east of where 26 joins with US 101. (Google map here.)

There's a narrow side road that meanders up to the park, where there's a small parking lot, a few campsites, and the trailhead for the trail to the top. The trail's only a bit over 2.5 miles, but it's steep and treacherous in parts. Here's a good page about the trail if you're interested, and there's even a site offering VR panoramas of the place.

The top photo, for a little perspective, is Saddle Mountain from the Astoria Column, which is about 15 miles or so north of the mountain. (Some similar shots from various locations can be found here.)

Below is a shot looking up the mountain from the parking lot. Yes, it's up there somewhere. As you can probably tell, these were taken on different days.

I saw this and decided to hike up into the mist anyway. I'm not sure what that says about me, if anything.

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The views start pretty early on the trail, and get better as you go up. You probably don't think of the Coast Range as a place where there's much of a view, but check this out:

(Oh, and the place is packed with wildflowers too. But I'm saving most of those for another post.)

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I'm a little embarrassed to report that I didn't go quite all the way to the top. This is pretty close, but not quite all the way there. See the tree in the mist, off in the distance? That's the point where I turned around. The trail is hacked into open, rocky slopes at this point, and they lay down a wire mesh over the rock to keep the trail in place. This gets slippery when wet, and it was quite wet, and I decided I just hadn't brought enough traction to proceed with confidence. Which means I'll have to go back some other time, I guess. I did notice the clouds and fog seemed to start clearing out as I headed back, per my usual luck. I thought about turning around and heading back up, but I was getting hungry and trail nibbles just weren't cutting it, plus I was running low on camera batteries. But next time I'll go to the top for sure, definitely, probably.

On the way down, I encountered a number of people heading up the trail with large dogs on leashes. Some of them were wearing flip-flops. I didn't stick around to see how that turned out.

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If you're like me, you're used to thinking of the Coast Range as an obstacle, not a destination. The roads are narrow and windy, and you inevitably get stuck behind a Winnebago with Ohio plates doing twenty mph under the speed limit. You probably spend most of your time in the Coast Range swearing under your breath and looking for a spot where it's safe to pass the damn geezers, already. And you've seen the constant news stories about gruesome head-on crashes through here, vehicles crossing the center line and wandering into oncoming traffic at least once every weekend, or so it seems. So chances are you drive with your fingers crossed, and you don't spend a lot of time just enjoying the scenery. There aren't a lot of places to stop and have a look around, either. This one, at least, is worth the trip.

1 comment :

Mile73 said...

Great photos, as always. And not nearly as much complaining as I did. ;-)