Outdoor Program Hike Up Dog Mountain
The day dawned gray, with the promise of dampness ahead. Nevertheless, the intrepid hikers, 11 students and 2 leaders, gathered at Catlin to set off to climb Dog Mountain. All were present before the hour for departure, so the expedition left 5 minutes ahead of schedule. Driving through the Gorge the clouds thickened, the moisture condensed, and the wipers came on. In the distance much brighter clouds over Dog Mountain enticed us onwards.
As we approached the trailhead, the summit of our climb was shrouded in cloud. The trail at the base was clear and dry, so after introductions all around, we set off up the first steep pitch in high spirits. True to tradition, some students charged ahead, while others (and one leader) plodded up in the rear. With stops at each junction to ensure that everyone went the same way, the group was never overly stretched out. Despite the chilly, damp season we’ve had so far in the Northwest, the wildflowers were emerging colorfully. Yellow Balsamroot, red Indian Paintbrush, and, higher up, lilac Phlox were to be seen, along with many others.
The wind rose and the temperature dropped as we neared the summit. We were very glad of the extra layers and warm hats and gloves we’d brought along. As we huddled in the flower fields at the top, a light rain began to fall as the view alternated between the damp inside of a cloud, fleeting views of snowy slopes on the Oregon side of the Gorge, and spectacular panoramas westward over Wind Mountain and down the Gorge towards Portland. Living up to its name there were many dogs of all sizes on the trail. One even sported a doggy rain poncho.
The wet, windy and chilly weather didn’t dispose us to linger on the top, so we soon packed up our things and set off down the alternate route towards the base. The lower we descended the warmer it got. By the time we reached the trailhead the sun was out and it was a beautiful day.
The group came for many reasons: conditioning to climb Mt Hood or Mt St Helens, to build towards a summer of hiking, or just to have fun outdoors. Since all made it to the summit, the goals were achieved. We returned to Portland and Catlin 6 minutes ahead of schedule, tired but well satisfied with our efforts of the day.