Friday, November 24, 2017

Beacon Rock

On the Washington side of the Columbia Gorge is a volcanic plug called Beacon Rock. About a hundred years ago someone built a trail up to the top, and it's a doozy. It isn't long, maybe a mile, and it's not a huge upward slog, perhaps 800 feet elevation gain. Looking at these two photos, it appears trail-less. Where would they even put a trail on that hunk of basalt?

Well, once you get through the the early part of the trail through the forest, here is the doozy part that lies ahead:

51 switchbacks and no earth beneath! It's a little eerie to climb up an external [is that the right word?] trail like this. I can't think of another one like it. I hold on to the pipe and refrain from looking down as much as possible. On the descent it looks like this:

In 1805 Lewis and Clark stopped here on their journey down the Columbia River. This was the first point where they detected tides, a sure sign the Pacific Ocean was not far ahead.

We have climbed the rock plenty of times. The summit is high enough that the views up and down the river are uninterrupted. The wind whips you around at the top--it is never not windy up there. On the way is this pretty stone wall that keeps climbers from plunging to their deaths:
Someone thought it wise to put an actual door on the trail to keep people away during the dangerous hours of darkness.  I assume the park service really does lock and unlock this door every day.

Views from the top:

UPDATE 16 January 2018: here is a news report noting a large boulder fallen on the Beacon Rock Trail

No comments:

Post a Comment