Hikes have difficulty ratings. They are generally easy, moderate, or difficult. In the 47 hikes we have done up until now we have never done an easy hike and we have never done a difficult hike. My friend, Jeremy Wedell, has been telling me about the glory of Dog Mountain since before I started hiking. It’s by far his favorite and he assured me that my sister and I could handle it. I was skeptical. It is a difficult hike. It’s just shy of 7 miles long and has 2800 feet of elevation gain. Many of the steepest sections are on loose gravel and I am just so damn clumsy. We only had 5 hikes left. It was time to put on our big girl pants and just do it.
Why we always decide to do the hardest hikes right after a super party-filled night, I will never understand. I guess, really, it’s good for us. But seriously, the first couple miles I thought I was going to die. We had tons of fun on the 4th. We ate terrible food and didn’t get enough sleep. Dog Mountain starts steep and it stays steep throughout. There are a few flattish sections that offer a slight respite, but for the most part you are headed up and and up and up.
The only thing more amazing than the difficulty of the hike is the beauty, particularly at the top. As you struggle up the steepest portion you have yet to climb on slipping and sliding gravel and stones, you are simultaneously crossing the most beautiful meadow I have ever encountered. We just caught the end of the wildflower bloom. I can’t even imagine what it looks like in May/June. The wind just howls across this meadow portion, which I’m sure makes it super scary if it’s wet. Luckily our weather was perfect.
We definitely took note of the fact that about 85% of the hikers were female. There were many groups of women headed up the difficult trail and loving it. Girl Power! When we finally got to the top, after two hours, we could see majestic Mt. Hood peaking over the top of the gorge. It was beautiful. We sat down for a moment, appreciated the view and then headed back down the way we came up. There are several different routes and choices on the hike. We liked the “less difficult” trail, not because we’re weak, because it is more scenic and offers spectacular views.
We saw a lot of wild life on the hike. I saw the biggest snake I have ever seen not in a zoo. It really freaked me out. I am no snake fan. But that paled in comparison to what happened as we neared the end of our hike. Although Dog Mountain is a well-traveled and populated hike, we found ourselves alone in a heavily wooded portion of the trail. I heard a crashing sound in the distance and looked toward it. I told my sister to stop moving because a black bear was SPRINTING through the forest about 50 feet away from us. It crossed the trail right in front of us and stopped. We just stayed still and hoped it wouldn’t come toward us. After what seemed like an eternity, but was actually more like 10 seconds, it kept running in to the forest in the same direction it was running before. We very quickly and very quietly continued down the trail looking behind us the whole way. My sister said, “There is too much nature on this trail.” We also researched what you should do in the event of a bear attack. If it’s a black bear, which it was, you’re supposed to fight it. I’m really glad it didn’t attack us.
Much like every other steep descent that we’ve made, I fell multiple times. My clumsiness is that of legend. At least this time I didn’t break my toe, or screw up my knee, or bleed anywhere. It’s just a scrape and some dirt. We made it back to Sid with a four hour round trip. It was totally worth every minute.
For information about Dog Mountain click here.