Impervious Dog Mountain Subdued My Pride

A dramatic river valley! This is rugged, steep, and deep. It divides and unites the states of Washington and Oregon. A divider and uniter! How cool is that?

How many river valleys you know rise fiercely from zero to snow-high levels with no apologies? In spring, the tip of Dog Mountain (Washington side) blooms in millions of wild dwarf sunflowers called yellow Balsamroots. It took some research to find the name of that precious flower that attracted hundreds of admirers, yet nobody knew her name. Isn’t that weird? Well, in their defense, I must say, Americans are very sophisticated people.

I asked four admirers. Everyone was as clueless as me. Besides the Balsamroot, Dog Mountain is also home to the paintbrush, rock pennycress, prairie star, blue-eyed mary, chickweed, a thousand mighty tall firs, and some reluctant chocolate Lilly flowers.

On the opposite shore of the river (Oregon side), stands Mt Defiance with patches of snow on May 16. Welcome to the magnificent Columbia River Gorge, overlooking the famous Bridge of the Gods, near Cascade Locks. The Columbia River Gorge is one of the 7 Wonders of Oregon!  Make no mistake, this is not your grandfather‘s gorge. Nope! It is sputtered with three man-made dams. It used to be waterfalls and rapids long before Lewis and Clark, the famed explorers.

Saturday, May 16, I stood at the base of Dog Mountain, overlooking the Columbia River. Brimming with pride of the wacky African mountain climber, I thought I got this… am about to show these folks how good I am. Alas, that was simply my hubris on steroids.

My experience from climbing Africa‘s second tallest peak counted for nothing. It has been, a quarter of a century! Five hundred feet later, I was panting for my breath with my tongue out like a dog. The guy who wanted to shame the rest was now under severe duress. 

That day, I almost passed out three times! The only reason I finished the climb is that morning, I had bragged so much about my mountaineering exploits to my nephew Jehan. In retrospect, I should have just kept my tongue in check. Ouch

I came away with one 3 lessons. Lesson 1 To brag about your past is to trap yourself mask.

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