Dog Mountain: A TrailDudes Hiking Guide
All Signs Point to Difficulty
There wouldn't be any beating around the bush on this one. Right off the bat, the first sign you see (after the trail head signs, of course) warns you of the hike difficulty and that, oh yeah, the trail is covered in poison oak. It's not meant to scare you. A true hiker is inspired by the task ahead.
The climb is immediate. A steady slope beckons you and you plod upward step, by step, by step. Nothing's paved, but you're shocked to see the multitudes of people along the trail. Distracting yourself from the difficulty of the climb, you soon realize you've lost your hike partner, and have to look down through the hiking groups to find him, huffing and puffing below you.
"We've only been hiking for a mile or so, and I'm already out of breath," he says into the camera as you watch him catch you on the path. The switchbacks haven't quit, and neither can you.
It's not long before you notice it; the sporadic bunches of poison oak lining the trail. Up and down the path's edge you notice the green plants with "leaves of three," and show those around you what you've found. Then you notice the destroyed tree above. Was it lightning? Was it termites? Was it... BIGFOOT? You may never know.
The edges to the side are becoming steeper as well. One misstep will send you tumbling. However, as you pull up near the end of your current switchback, there's a break in the trees. A goup is gathered around to peer across the gorge and the spectacular view you've been awarded only part way up the mountain.
The Way of the Samuri
"Does it ever stop going up?" you think to yourself as you continue to summit what seems to be an endless bombardment of steep switchbacks. You push forward and notice a point above where the ground levels some. In excitement for a change of pace, you rush to meet it.
A sign comes into view. The bottom says "less difficult," with an arrow to the right. Above, it reads, "more difficult," with an arrow to the left. Which will you choose? Without thinking much about it, you jump the gun.
"Since we're doing this for you..." you say to the camera, and walk to the left.
As you go, you notice another sign to mark the path. "More difficult," it reads. You don't see it, but the other TrailDude does. The path you have chosen is clearly labeled, "The Way of the Samuri."
It's a Trick... Oh... Just Kidding
You took the "Way of the Samuri," but the path seems to be easy; far easier than what you've done up to this point. There isn't even a real incline, and though you're greatful, you feel as though you've been duped.
"Probably an escalator on the other side," TJ--your trail pal--calls ahead.
You notice a swarm of flies above the dirt.
"Someone who tried to take the difficult route didn't make it," TJ jokes. Or, perhaps there was a sneaky Samuri attack.
Then it comes, the slope. It starts off mild before asserting itself ahead. It just seems to keep getting steeper and steeper. You begin to wonder if you should've taken the other path.
The Sharpie Totem
A man, a girl and a dog are ahead. You pass them by and end up caught in an endless game of leapfrog. They pass you. You pass them. You have a TrailDudes TrailNuts break. They pass you. Up ahead there's another fork, and there they are, resting.
Upon reaching the fork, you notice a wooden post in the ground. There are no signs on the post. However, when you inspect the post closer up, you notice Sharpie signs; little words and arrows written in deep black ink. You follow the arrow that says, "summit."
The Big Reveal
Just when you thought it couldn't get any steeper, it does. You feel as though if you were to fall backwards, you wouldn't be able to stop the rolling incurred from the increasingly precipitous slope. Steps are slowed, and your chest begins to rise and fall at a faster rate.
Out of breath, and stubbornly trudging, you turn right up a new switchback. The foliage to the left and right creates a sort of tunnel before you and you push to pace through it. The flora is impressive in it's small quantities amongst the bush, but the towering vegitation seems to be shrinking.
You can see it now! Up ahead there is a clearing. Excited, you move quicker through the dirt and the brush. Tall foliage gives way to a flowering hillside above you to the left, and an amazing scenic view to your right. This is what you've been waiting for.
Winding, Windy, Then Lunch
Climbing to the tip of the trail before it turns and yet again rises, you stop and admire your surroundings. A geological survey marker intrigues you for a moment, then you return to your photography of the landscape.
A young family happily speaks with you about their hike. The wind cuts out their words, but you understand their sentiment--tired and happy. The kids even show their excitement as the group looks out across the gap below.
You realize you're not done yet. You still haven't reached the summit. Another path pulls at you, and you continue to move. The trail is winding, and windy, but the views are all around. Flowers bloom yellow, white, purple, and blue all across the hillside as rocks jut upward. Two crows circle around, and you admire their flight until you reach the summit.
Additional Exploring / The Way Down
"There must be another cool view," you think to yourself after lunch. You wander off through more bushes and realize that additional exploring yeilds no results. TJ catches up with you, and you make your way back to the summit, admiring the view once again.
After watching the view for a few minutes, you decide it's time to head down. The trail stretches to the right, and you follow it mile after mile downward. You wind through trees, along a ridge, and through a rocky hillside before seeing the poison oak again. The trail seems never ending until a break in the trees allows you a view of the river, then another, and another until you can see the trail head.
It's been a long hard walk. You've drank all of your water. You sweat out all your energy. You're fresh out of snacks. Your hiking duo heads straight for the car to end the journey. Although somewhat relieved, you are happy to be sitting and heading home; especially when you remeber that you will surely stop for ice cream in Cascade Locks.
We Don't Know... Do You?
Why is it called Dog Mountain?
Your Dog Mountain Video Guide
Dog Mountain Photo GallaryClick thumbnail to view full-size
How to get there
Dog Mountain presents a challenging hike with rewarding scenery at the top.