The adventure continues and the summer tour rages on towards Oregon. Saddle Mountain is the tallest mountain in Clatsop County, Oregon. Part of the Oregon Coast Range, it it is located in Saddle Mountain State Natural Area in the northwest corner of the state. Not far from Portland, the campsites and trails are worth the trip. Just take care not to feed the chipmunks.
7/11/2017: On the way back from La Push, the Adventure Wagon began making strange warbling sounds. Just a small hesitation before ignition. Surely nothing serious. And don’t call me Shirley. We sat, idle in the parking lot of the auto shop for about two minutes in Forks, pondering our fate and how we might choose to address the battery problem before we head off into the desert. Ignored, we continued down the road.
Moving south from the Olympic Peninsula into Oregon, Thunderbird, Lucy and I encountered something unusual and absent from Washington…other people. From the oyster bars of Sunset Beach to the shops lining the streets of Cannon Beach, wet would once again be sharing our story with others. The isolation and privacy of the Quinault Rainforest was giving way to more diverse adventures.
Having abandoned ship in the middle of the night, Hambone was heading from Washington back to Florida to begin tilling the rocky soil on his farm. The seed he fertilized a few months ago in Live Oak had surely found purchase and the garden was definitely in bloom. In the middle of the night, after vandalizing my car, he’d taken Luke Skywalker with him and left me alone with an increasingly stressed-out and twitchy Lucienda. The constant sound of tip toeing chipmunks in the brambles were taking their toll. Recently hired on as a driver, Thunderbird had gone several days without his “medicine” and had reached a point where routine chores had become a real struggle. Often when sedatives were not readily available, he would ask to be shot in the head and had his constant mumbling not finally abated, the idea would have been given more credence.
Saddle Mountain Summit Trail
The challenges of this two mile summit trail include a continuous elevation gain, changes in weather, and loose footing above the treeline.
- Wear appropriate shoes.
- Dogs must be kept on leashes.
- No water on trail.
- Do not pick the flowers.
- Elevation climb 1630 ft.
- Hike Type: Out and Back
- Distance: 5.2 miles round trip
- Seasons: April–November
Camping at Saddle Mountain
- 10 primitive campsites at the base of the mountain. They are nicely spread out from each other.
- 11$ a night.
- First come, first served.
- Plenty of firewood.
- Snuggled in the forest with plenty of privacy and cover.Ed. note: Superglue works fine on broken side mirrors. It’s been busted off twice now and it seems to be holding. Next stop duct tape.
History: Saddle Mountain was named by Lt. Charles Wilkes, U. S. Navy, in 1841 because of the saddle between the peaks. According to tradition, the Indians called it “Swallalahoost” for a legendary chief who, upon being killed by his enemies, assumed the form of an eagle and created thunder and lightning on the peak. Lewis and Clark referred to the peak as an area for elk hunting in 1805 but did not name it. The park area lies generally at the boundary of territories claimed by Clatsop and Clatskanie tribal groups.
Caution: Beware vicious and greedy chipmunks. They are driving Lucy into the vehicle as she hears their little feet everywhere.
Saddle Mountain State Natural Area is known for its hiking trails, wildflowers and breathtaking scenery. It has a small, seasonal campground, day-use picnic area, a two and a half mile trail to the summit and a short .16 mile side trail. Enjoy mature forest setting with a variety of habitats; to fields of grassy open “balds” filled with wildflowers; to an open panoramic view from the 3,290-foot summit. The sweep of the Columbia River as it enters the sea, miles of Pacific shoreline- and on the eastern horizon, the Cascade Mountains in Oregon and Washington.
The main trail is occasionally steep and difficult, with a 1,640 foot rise in elevation over 2.5 miles. It begins at an elevation of approximately 1,650 feet at the park’s parking lot and climbs to a viewing platform with an elevation of 3,290 feet. It is recommended for experienced hikers wearing proper footwear and clothing. Weather conditions can change rapidly, bringing wind and rain year round and snow in winter. Portions of the trail can be slick in wet conditions. The challenge this popular trail provides is well worth the reward. If you aren’t up for the rigorous climb of the main hike, try the short, 10 minute Humbug Mountain viewpoint trail that shoots off from the main trail a quarter mile from the trail head.
Ground Score: Post hole digger found to the east of Saddle Mountain, near the spring water fountain. Fetched creek water from the side of the road, likely full of diatoms and protista. Induce vomiting soon. Taking the post hole digger to Jennifer back home in Florida. She’s got holes to dig and everyone knows, foundation is crucial.
Next stop, Danny Barnes and the white peacocks of North West String Summit. Hold on.