river, it reverts for a time to soft dirt and pine needles. Unfortunately, that doesn't last long. There are numerous rock slides along the trails in the gorge and the Larch Mountain trail is no exception. The good thing is there are only two rock slides to worry about, the bad thing is that one of them is quite long. This part of of the trail reminded me of Mt. Doom, with its steep slopes covered in jagged loose rocks. Luckily for me there weren't any unpleasant creatures like Gollum waiting on the other side. After what seemed like miles but was probably the same distance as my apartment door to the street, I was back on more stable ground. Then it was a long trek at a steady upward angle for another mile or so. This part went by fairly quickly. Near the top of this first upward
pull is what appears to be an old rock wall. I would love to find out the history of it. Usually there is a handy dandy historical marker nearby with such helpful bits of trivia as "site of first picnic with plastic forks" but alas, nothing like that is to be seen. The trail splits here and my speculation is that the right-hand trail goes to the middle parking lot of the Larch Mountain trail. I didn't take the time to find out as the trail went downhill and I had no interest in going down only to have to come back up. Speaking of up, I discovered that on this trail whenever there was a choice to be made as to which direction to go, it was the trail that went uphill 99% of the time. That must be one of Murphy's lesser known laws. As the trail continues up (notice a trend here?) the trees seem to change and suddenly it feels as if you've wondered into a part of some elvish forest. I felt very small here and it was all I could do to say "Toto, we're not in the Shire anymore." I know, wrong book, but you get the idea. From here, it's not that much farther to the parking lot (yes, civilization is always lurking nearby) and then up to the viewpoint at Sherrard Point. On a clear day, one can see Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Jefferson. All the peaks were out today except for Jefferson. There was just too much haze in that general direction. Finding the trail to head back is rather interesting. You have to go down the paved road until the first guardrail appears. About 2/3 of the way through the turn, there's a break in the guardrail and the trail starts up again. It's very intuitive. I mean, I always look for trails near guardrails, right? From here it's a mostly straight shot down with occasional forks in the trail that are fairly well marked. And again, any time there is a fork in the road, it's always the trail going up. One note about the trail markers, some of them must have been put up by a Paul Bunyan type because they are way above eye level.
PS I can't explain the spacing in this post, maybe someday I'll learn to speak HTML.