Table Mountain - Wind and Fog / by Ray Phung

This year for MLK day, I grabbed Adam and headed out to the Columbia River Gorge for another winter-time adventure.  Miraculously we both had the same day off.  We set out to do Table Mountain on the Washington side of river.  Table Mountain is one of the higher points in the Gorge, with a sheer triangular face visible from I-84. 

The Table Mountain is noted for it's long, difficult hike to the summit from the Bonneville Trailhead.  Adam and I decided to do the hike from Aldrich Butte Trailhead.  This newer trailhead shortens the hike to 8 miles with 3350 feet of elevation gain.  It starts among the power lines and largely follows old, abandoned sections of service access roads.  The Aldrich Butte was a location for a WWII defense site.  After ascending a portion of Aldrich Butte, the trail splits off to follow the Cedar Creek drainage, and parallels and eventually joins the Pacific Crest Trail. 

The trail stays among the forest and gradually climbs for a little over three miles before eventually turning into rocky, exposed switchbacks up the west side of Table Mountain.  For us, this is when the weather turned to utter shit.  As we climbed up numerous switchback, we ascended in to dense, low hanging clouds where gale-force winds, freezing temps, and snow were awaiting us.  Of course, the section of trail with the nice views is completely socked in with clouds.  

With snow littering the trail, we finally reached the summit. We tried walking around the summit, but it was completely whited out.  After hunkering down in the snow covered trees, we ate a quick bite and headed back to the forest sections of the trail.  When we hit the rocky switchbacks, the wind really picked up.  Adam, who is considerably taller than I am, got blown over multiple times.  We finally made it back to the cover of the forest, and headed back to the car.  

Adam found these mushrooms along the trail on the way to the car. 

Adam found these mushrooms along the trail on the way to the car. 

After getting home, I saw on the local news that up at Crown Point winds got up to 107mph that day. Keep in mind the Gorge does bottle neck at Crown Point, but the winds up at Table Mountain felt that strong.  Pretty gnarly.  It was a fun hike, but a disappointment without any views.  I guess we'll have to go back again in the Spring.  

Photos on this post were taken with a Nikon FM2n using 35mm Kodak Ultramax 400 ISO film.