Hiking up to Nesmith Point, August, 2010

Click on the small pictures to see larger ones.

This is a terrific hike, but a tricky one. It's steep and rocky as it winds its way up a narrow valley, gaining 3000 feet in about three miles. Even when you reach the ridge, you're not done climbing, with about 900 feet left to scale. At least along the ridge, you do it in 1.6 miles. But any way you slice it, this is a steep, tricky hike. The mountaineering groups in Portland use it as their spring conditioning hike since it is clear of snow by April. Other than those folks, though, the trail is usually empty. I didn't see a single person in my seven-hour hike, and as it happens, that's just fine with me! Total mileage was 9.8 with an elevation gain of nearly 3900 feet.

For a little perspective, the Empire State Building's 102nd floor (the observation deck) stands 1,250 feet tall. So basically, I climbed the stairs of that building three times today. Up *and* down. No wonder my hips hurt a little bit tonight! (but my knee is fine!)

Nesmith Point Trail
Elevation Profile - THREE Empire State Buildings!
(Much thanks and credit to Al for photo-shopping my elevation profile)

The hiking books that I have which even bother to list this hike all agree on one thing: it's a tough one. The path is narrow and steep and in some places looks exactly like a random pile of rocks. But it sounded perfect for me! I enjoyed the solitude of this hike, since that's rare for a trail so close to Portland (less than 40 miles from home!). The view from the top of Nesmith Point was amazing and I enjoyed watching both Beacon Rock and Mount Hamilton dwindle beneath me as I climbed and climbed up the valley.

steep dropoff

same drop on the other
side of the valley

tiny tiger lillies, so cute!

a hard-won summit

bright orange fungus

finally some softer
trail surface

what will I find around
that bend? Maybe some
more "up"?

stunning view

I was escorted up the mountain by birds and squirrels, all of whom seemed quite surprised to see me. Lunch at the summit was idyllic as I read my book of poetry and listened to the wind & trains work their way west, downriver. I hated to leave my spot in the clouds since it was so hard-won, but that trail wasn't going to hike itself! I packed up and took a deep breath, knowing that this was going to be a long, tricky walk downhill.

neat, tiny flower

but very complicated

descending the valley a bit

pretty blue flowers, not sure
what they are, though

I was very careful indeed on the slick rocks as I crossed the creek in the center of the valley. I only fell down once and, happily, landed on my bottom, safe & sound. I took the opportunity to rest a while and snack on some Swedish fish.

The valley walls were steep and I tried not to think how far I would roll if I slipped off the trail. It was often less wide than my two feet! But I made it safely, and got a terrific photo of a hummingbird along the way. All in all, it was a great day and I thoroughly enjoyed having the mountain, the peak, and the trail all to myself.

can you spot the trail
under the rocks?t

disappearing, reappearing trail

click on this photo and
check out the

shelf fungus, about 12" long

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