Saturday, August 4, 2012
This is the best time of the year — when trails are often crowded, dry and dusty and temperatures climb into the 90s — to take advantage of the county’s many upper-elevation recreational outlets. Stretching between Highway 35 and Dufur, Road 44 is a long-established route through the densely forested transition zone between southern Hood River and Wasco counties.
Among the many dozen back roads and trails that crisscross through the area, Surveyor’s Ridge Trail (#688) is among the oldest and longest and is by far the most scenic.
Surveyor’s Ridge Trail offers several out-and-back and loop options for hikers, runners, bikers and horseback riders. In this installment of Get Out, we explore the 13-mile stretch from the south trailhead at Road 620 to the bottom of Oak Ridge Trail at Smullen Road in Mt. Hood.
The trail runs north to south along the ridgeline that separates Hood River and Wasco counties. It starts at about 4,280 feet and ends at about 2,650 feet, and although it has become a popular outing for mountain bikers, it remains a great route on foot. Judging by the signs of larger animals on the trail, it is also still fairly popular on horseback.
Rolling singletrack through thick forests and open meadows, wildflowers and berries lining the trail and sweeping vistas await around every corner. Although it loses elevation overall, the trail is definitely a good hard hike or ride, with plenty of climbing mixed in with rolling downhill sections. It’s not until the last mile or two that the trail heads back downhill toward the highway.
Highlights from the trail include an up-close view of Shellrock Mountain, multiple unobstructed vistas of mounts Hood and Adams, Rainier and St. Helens and the option for a short scramble to the top of Rim Rock; the site of a former lookout tower and one of the best places around to have lunch and a quick siesta.
If you run a shuttle from the bottom of Oak Ridge, the last couple miles of trail consist of steep and rocky switchbacks that will give your knees or brakes a good run for their money. It’s one last burn before the end of a great adventure.
Other options are to start at the bottom and do an out and back; in which case you’d be better served by starting at the trailhead off Road 630 near the power lines. Road 17, also known as Surveyor’s Ridge Road, runs all the way from Pine Mont Drive to Road 44 at Brooks Meadows and is a good option for the way up as it is a steadier grade than the trail. A shorter option is an out and back to the campground at Gibson Prairie, which can be done as an out and back or loop using Road 17.
For an extra workout or as an outing in itself, consider the climb to Bald Butte. The trail heads north from the Road 630 parking area and is a steady climb to the top. Striking views in all directions await as a reward.
Other popular trails in the Road 44 vicinity to check out are: Dog River, Eight Mile, Fifteen Mile, Gunsight Ridge, High Prairie and Knebal Springs.
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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"
Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge