I wanted a new hike for all our enjoyment so I thumbed my nose at the morning drizzle and headed for the White Bluffs area of the Hanford Reach National Monument. I’ll call this the White Bluffs Hike.
It is a bit of a drive to the trailhead but I was ready to do some hiking so I strapped on my gear and headed out. It was kind of a foggy morning with light rain/snow but I could see across the river to the old Hanford High School burned out shell of a building on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.
I hiked along the roadway for a while, then I noticed a large bird in a tree. I think it was a golden eagle. It flew as I got close so I went off road and headed down by the river. The eagle took flight to the top of another tree and I followed it again. Finally, it flew over the river and out of sight so I headed back toward the bluffs.
It is awesome all the sedimentary layers you see in this area and along the bluffs with the amazing formations the erosion has made over the years. I saw an animal trail up the face of one bluff. I wondered if I should take it or go on along the road. I thought in my mind of the Robert Frost classic Road Not Taken poem:
- Two roads diverged and I took the one less traveled and that made all the difference (paraphrased).
I ended up taking the trail up the bluff, I’m so glad I did. It was not well worn but it was an obvious path for area animals. I was hoping for the opportunity to see some deer or elk or other wildlife. As I rounded the bend, I saw movement in the grass ahead. Three deer were scampering away!It was a steep climb as I continued up the bluffs. I was hoping to catch up to the deer. It was very interesting rambling through the bluffs with eroded out ruts and ravines.As I took a brief breather while climbing the bluffs, I looked up to the top and saw three heads poked up, watching me closely!I continued to the top of the bluffs and found a well worn trail, apparently traveled by deer, coyote and other critters. I saw fresh deer tracks as I continued north and hoped to get another glance at them as I hiked.
I stopped frequently to take in the sights. There was so much evidence of sedimentary layers and erosion formations that it was amazing! There were beautiful views of the Columbia River but my distance was hampered by some fog. I look forward to a return visit.I hiked north for a few miles and came to another gate across the road where access to this area could be gained from the north end. I decided to head down the road as I wanted to make my way to a formation which was closer to the river. I went cross-country and realized I was heading for the most recognizable representation of the Hanford Reach, a stunning rock formation that juts up with the river in the background.It is amazing to hike in this area as it is fairly remote and wilderness like. I saw no one else except one boater on the river my whole time on this hike. I did get several shots of birds and tracking the deer was a lot of fun too.I encourage you to get out and enjoy this new hike!