Silver Star Mountain

Silver Star Mountain

Finally! I have been trying to do this hike for three years. Silver Star Mountain has been eluding me. The first time I tried to get to the trailhead, I couldn’t find it. The second time, I thought better of driving my car up the ungodly awful road that was the final push to the trail. The third time, I decided to throw caution to the wind and make my way up the terrible road. I made it 50 yards in and I got a flat tire. I had to back down the one-lane road, potholes and all, and get to where I could change the tire. 

I woke up this morning and decided that today’s the day. I found a different road, with a different route that could take me to the other side of the mountain. Even though it was rated “difficult” in my trail book, I usually find that trails are rated one level harder than I think they actually are. Well this trail kicked my butt. It’s an in-and-out trail of 3.25 miles each way. Pretty short. Problem is elevation gain. Silver Star peak is only 4,300 feet, but you start out the hike at 2,300. So, you do a 2,000-ft elevation gain in 3 miles. No one informed my calves about this ahead of time. 

Slow and steady got me there, dripping with sweat.

After I reached the top, I stood, looking around, with my hands on my hips, just taking it all in. The hands on the hips provide an outward show that you mean business, and did a good job of covering up the fact that I was afraid to sit down for fear that I wouldn’t be able to get back up. “Well, I’ll be!” hands on hips, “Is that Mount St. Helens?” 

The top affords a 360-degree view, where you can see Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, and on a clear day, Mt. Rainier. These mountains were a little haze-covered, but I got to see all of them but Rainier. 

Thing is, once you’re up 2,000 feet, you have to come down 2,000 feet, which is getting to be the more difficult of the two the older I get.

On my way down, I passed a bunch of people. “We’ll move out of the way. You’re going faster than us!” one elderly couple exclaimed as they tried to keep from tripping each other with their hiking poles as they yielded the trail to me. “Going downhill is where I excel!” I yell as I go flying by, absolutely unable to stop, my legs flying rapidly in circles like a Scooby Doo cartoon. They didn’t know I had lost my brakes about a quarter-mile up the trail. Plus the large rocks that comprised the trail made quick stopping nearly impossible.

I finally slowed to a more manageable pace, and ran across a family, just making their way up. The dad was in front with the Golden Retriever, “How much farther?” he asked. My good Christian upbringing says that honesty is important, all the time. However, years of hiking experience have taught me that this question needs to be answered with wisdom, not honesty. Read the crowd, then give your answer. I took a look at the wife’s anguished expression as she was heading up the rear behind the kids, and decided that their marriage could not handle honesty at this point. “Oh, about half a mile,” I said, knowing it was clearly at least a mile. As the woman passed me, she said “You said a half of a mile?” “Thereabouts,” I said, putting my hands on my hips. Incidentally, I have had other hikers ask me about the distance as I’m coming down. If they are wearing flip-flops, I will tell them 5 miles further than it actually is. 

Finally got back to the car at 7.2 miles. Sweating aside, it was a lovely hike, surprisingly filled with wildflowers, which is unusual for this late in the year. I got to meet and pet a lot of wonderful dogs. I even found some huckleberries to munch on. We’ll see if I can walk tomorrow, but at least I earned my reward – a big, greasy cheeseburger and tater tots from K&M Drive In in Washougal.

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