Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Tackling the Coyote Wall

A Columbia River Gorge Landmark

Ah . . .  the Coyote Wall.  I have taken hundreds of photographs in summer, spring, winter and fall of this Columbia River Gorge landmark.  Best seen from the Oregon side of the river in Mosier, its sensuous curve and ominous basalt rocks make it one of the most interesting and most photographed of all the geological formations around here (and there are many).

Since moving here, I have attempted to make it to the top many times, but a few weeks ago I finally succeeded.  It took me a full three hours to make the round-trip six-mile journey but I was in no hurry.  The wildflowers were in bloom, the day was sunny but not too hot, and the views were tantalizingly beautiful.  I lagged way way behind my travel buddy who is in training for mountain climbing.  I'm more of a stop and smell the roses kind of hiker.  I'm resigned to the fact I'll be hiking alone from now on.  It's fine.  I have my water bottle and whistle.  I just wish the snakes would stay off the trails.
The Coyote Wall (aka the Syncline) is located east of Bingen, Washington on State Highway 14.  Turn onto Courtney Road and if you're lucky, there will still be a parking space in the small lot.  On the weekends, cars line up on the highway.  The first part of the walk is along an old road at the base.  It's a bit unnerving seeing all the fallen boulders.  Just hope you aren't underneath when another one comes tumbling down!
But getting up close and personal to these giant columns of basalt is euphoria to a geology nerd like me.  (Oh and by the way this is actually an anticline not a syncline, but oh well . . . .)

You have several different trail options once you begin the ascent.  We opted for the trail hugging the ridge, but this one goes straight up.  There are other less strenuous switchbacks, which we took on the way down.  (Easier on the knees.)

My heart began racing almost immediately, but like I said, I stopped often to admire the views and they just get better and better the higher you climb.
If I'm going to keep up with my travel buddy, these arduous hikes are going to become routine.  I was proud of myself for making it and happy to see there were a few youngsters huffing and puffing their way to the top as well.

Beware the crazy mountain bikers on the way down, especially if you're a stop and smell the roses kind of hiker like me!

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