Since my daughter was born a month ago, I haven’t been able to get out and stretch my legs on the trail. So when an opportunity came along to go hiking, I jumped at it. The past few weeks had been miserably hot, even to the point where escaping into the high elevations wouldn’t provide refuge from the heat. However, since nights were cool, the early morning hours were a pleasant time to be outside. So one morning, CJ and I hit up Spud Hill in Deary and made it down just in time for the heat to make life uncomfortable. Despite the haze in the air, we could see all the way out to the Wallowas over 100 miles away.
On Wednesday of last week, temperatures actually broke 100 degrees fahrenheit, making it the hottest day of summer so far. We had to go to Spokane to pick up my mother from the airport, but because it was so hot, we didn’t even take any walks in the city. On Friday, we got a blast of cold air from Canada, but with it came smoke from a massive series of fires burning in the Northwest Territories. The smoke was so bad that even I was having trouble walking around town. Luckily, it moved out of the area over the weekend and yesterday, the air was pretty clear and still cool. There were clouds in the sky, but so far everything seemed dry, so I suggested we take advantage of the “good” conditions and hike up to Grandmother and Grandfather mountain.
The clouds were thicker over the mountains. On the drive up, I notice that the summits of each of the peaks were cloaked in the cloud, and the dark skies had the possibility of rain. But the clouds were moving quickly, and there was sunshine to the west that had me hopeful that we’d end up with a nice day on the mountain. During the hike, the summit of Grandmother Mountain came in and out of the clouds. We must have timed it just right because when we hit the summit, the low clouds had lifted and moved further out. Since it seemed nice, we decided to continue on to Grandfather Mountain.
At Grandfather mountain, we noticed that there was some rain to the northeast. The clouds still looked like they were moving from the northwest, but it didn’t take long to feel the raindrops upon us. We ate a quick lunch and I found a geocache on the summit that hadn’t been found since 2005.
Though the rain never amounted to more than a light sprinkle, we got fairly damp having to hike back in it for four miles. Despite the weather, it was a great hike. The wildflowers were in the peak of their blooms and provided a colorful carpet as we passed by. There were more beargrass flowers than I had ever seen up there before. I have not hiked 8 miles at once in a while, but my leg has healed such that I was pleasantly tired at the end, but not overly sore. In fact, my good leg was aching more than the injured one. I think I might be ready for a good hiking season, that is, if I can get the time to get out.
The full trip to Grandfather Mountain is a little over 8 miles with almost 2000 feet of total elevation gain. If you don’t wish to make the full trip to Grandfather, the shorter hike to Grandmother Mountain is just as good since the best views and scenery are found on this section of the hike. Grandmother Mountain is my favorite local hike. I’ve been up here several times each year since I’ve moved out here. It’s even a popular destination for people living farther away. On this hike, we met some hikers who came down from Spokane. That’s impressive considering there are plenty of great places to hike with a shorter driving time from the city.