Sometimes We Try to Kill Mommie Dearest: Beacon Rock State Park and Oregon Miscellany

Hiked: March 3, 3019

Mileage: 2 miles

Elevation: Up

Sometimes a hike just doesn’t go the way you hope. Sometimes your dogs just try to kill you.

Hi, I’m Jenna, human Mom to Aggie and Charlotte (and please shoot me if I ever use the word “humom.”) We all know dogs have hearts of gold and whatnot, but sometimes they also have heads of air.

This is our third time hiking Beacon Rock, a sort of annual tradition for the family. Located in the scenic Columbia River Gorge, Beacon Rock is the core of an ancient volcano, and boy, is it impressive. I never get tired of rounding the corner and seeing that massive tower of rock standing all by its lonesome on the shore of the Columbia River.

Picture is from 2015, when we were all young and naive. 

The day called for Sun, cold, and wind. So. Much. Wind. This is what they mean when they say “windfall.” To give an indication of how my day would go, it began in the parking lot when I opened the car door and got an eyeful of dirt and debris before the door blew back shut on me.

We debated on doing the hike with the amount of wind that was currently pummeling the gorge this morning. Eventually we sucked it up and got out of the vehicle.

Once we got on the trail proper, we were shielded from the bulk of the wind as the majority of the trail is on the western side of the rock.


Beacon Rock may seem a daunting trek, but it is the easiest 600 feet you will ever ascend, made gentle by constant switchbacks and a helpful railing.


Unfortunately, Charlotte does not understand switchbacks. She either cuts them and forces Mom to climb under the railings with her, or tries to shoot straight off of them. On a hike as steep as Beacon Rock, that’s not a great choice.

“Switchbacks are for pansies. I make my OWN trail!” – Charlotte

Almost immediately, the views are incredible. The Columbia was especially turbulent thanks to the wind.


The gorge isn’t so green these days; the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire incinerated the lovely green Oregon hills just across the river. It’s also a world of difference between summer and winter. The two pictures below are the same view, one taken in June 2015, the other today, in March 2019.



All was well and good on the trail until we rounded onto the east side, where the last several switchbacks were cased in snow and ice, as well as being exposed to the full fury of the wind. I guessed that this is what Mount Everest feels like all the time, except sixty degrees colder and also higher.

We made it to the top, where I took this single photo, because I spent the rest of the time trying NOT TO DIE.

We made it! OK, let’s go!

The descent down the icy path was part modified glissade, part clinging to the rail for dear life as the dogs had a blast slipping and sliding downwards and passing hikers laughed and laughed and laughed at the lady leashed to two furry maniacs trying not to shoot off the end of a switchback like a bobsledder.

I was adamant that I DID NOT FALL, only slipped a few times and managed to stay up with the help of the rail. I’m quite proud of my resistance to gravity, however, it was not fated to last.

After enduring a final icy blast of wind as we sprinted to the car, we drove up past the Bonneville Dam and across the Bridge of the Gods into Oregon.

Pylon below Bridge of the Gods. I found Bigfoot! 

We wanted to stop at Multnomah Falls, but the parking was such a circus that we were content to just drive on by. We had a brief interlude at Rooster Rock State Park, which is 90% picnic tables. This is where I met my downfall. Not hiking a field of boulders. Not slipping and sliding down a treacherous ice chute. In a parking lot.

I’m not even sure how it happened. The dogs were running out ahead of me, I mistepped, Charlotte kept going and I just kind of windmilled to the ground. It was seen and laughed at by all.

Rooster Rock, I guess. And the infamous parking lot. 

Food makes everything better, however, and we stopped at Country Pride in Troutdale for a delicious, crispy chicken fried chicken.

Aggie and Charlotte, as always, had the best day ever, and are blissfully dreaming doggy dreams, which may or may not involve dragging their mother off a cliff.


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