Hiking in Washington state and RA update

We have been on some incredible hikes this week, and this also has been the summer my RA decided to revisit and remind me it’s not going away in such simple fashion. But first, the hiking adventures:

Photo by Carol Stewart Beacon Rock State Park, Washington.
Photo by Carol Stewart
Beacon Rock State Park, Washington.

Last weekend we drove down to Beacon Rock State Park on the Washington border with Oregon. We THOUGHT we knew where we were hiking, but unfortunately got started on the equestrian part of a loop trail, which added 3-4 miles to our day hike. The surprising feature was since it was the equestrian trail, it was easy and level, good for the knees. And, it had peekaboo views of the Gorge area.

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View of Columbia River from trail.


However, the reason we were there was to see Beacon Rock and the waterfalls. So after about 2 hours of hiking the easy but unspectacular trails, we came across a park ranger who helped us find where we needed to go — merely one road over into the campground portion of the park.

By that time, we felt we’d hiked our normal distance. But we continued for a SECOND hike of about the same distance. This was the most I’d personally hiked in one day probably in about 6 years. And this was all uphill. Along the way, you could see Bonneville Dam way off in the distance below:

photo (28)
If you squint you can see the dam. I have zoomed in shots but they are too grainy.

This was a long, hot, humid hike. Not too far after we saw Bonneville, we stopped at a bench overlooking the valley. Hikers made their way on the return trip from the waterfalls past us, and one stopped and gave us his printout about the falls. “It’s absolutely worth seeing,” he said. “Spectacular.” He gave us more specifics on how to get there and his printout noted that the waterfall we were heading for should be as famous as Multnomah. Really. That gave me pause. Multnomah is my favorite waterfall, and it is a big tourist draw. Here’s my video from last summer at Multnomah to show you the hike and the typical summer crowd (scroll to the end to see the throngs of people at the base of the fall):

The last 1/3 of this particular hike was hard, but I don’t think it would have seemed as challenging had we not already hiked for hours beforehand. But the payoff was worth it. There are some smaller waterfalls, and then one big one that has a log that fell behind it at some point. You view this log and the top of the waterfall through a hole in a rock formation that surrounds it. Absolutely spectacular.

Photo by Carol Stewart
Photo by Carol Stewart The waterfall and the log … and me.

And here’s 0ur video. The second half of the video shows how high up the platform is that gets you to the log/waterfall spot.

When we were finished admiring that, we made it down the trail and had a picnic at a quiet park that’s right at the beginning of the trail. Hike and eat is our motto.


The famous quinoa salad.
The famous quinoa salad.

After quinoa salad and mock tuna salad, we decided to try Beacon Rock, the centerpiece of the state park. If you have vertigo, stay far, far away from this. Otherwise, climb along the side of a monolith that’s next to the Columbia River as high as you want to go.

photo 1 (3)
Trail was finished in 1918 and still holding strong.
Late afternoon allows you to see some beautiful light through the trees below.
Late afternoon allows you to see some beautiful light through the trees below.
The marina below the trail.
The marina below the trail.

And my video to give you a sample.

So that was our day at Beacon Rock. Two days later, we went to Mount Rainier and hiked from Paradise to Panorama Point, 5 miles roundtrip. The wildflowers were in full bloom!

Clouds kept Mount Rainier hidden the day we were there, but you could see other peaks.
Clouds kept Mount Rainier hidden the day we were there, but you could see other peaks.


Wildlife among the wildflowers.
Wildlife among the wildflowers.

From Glacier Vista Trail to Skyline to Panorama. This year, the hike was easy for me, particularly after our killer Sunday never-ending tour of Beacon Rock.

A much colder waterfall.
A much colder waterfall.

And video from Panorama. Well worth the trip.

Since the hike adventure part of this blog is so long, I won’t go into much detail about the RA, other than I’m under a new protocol that focuses on gut health (enzymes and probiotics) and I am taking low-dose Minocycline and Moducare, as prescribed by my doctor, to get off prednisone. Minocycline is in the tetracycline family but given in maintenance doses it can wipe out inflammation and RA flares. I take it three times a week and I have been able to gradually come down on the prednisone with no side effects or pain. (I’m at 10 mg today, down from 40 mg at the height of last flare two weeks ago.)

I tried to taper from prednisone with no other medication except supplements twice this summer to very painful results. The flares came back worse each time, which is not unusual with RA. The good news is that the Minocycline should get me off the prednisone for good and with support from the Moducare (plant sterols) and the stomach support supplements, things should all start clicking. And as you can see from the hiking we’ve done, I’ve put a lot of miles on my legs this week and had no pain whatsoever. It’s still early in my Minocycline protocol, but I’m optimistic. And yes, we are still plant-based. If anything, I think things would be much worse if we were not. But my doctor and I finally came to a compromise that intervention beyond diet was necessary at this point, mainly to get rid of the prednisone, keep me pain-free and on the trail. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Clouds and sun over one of the valleys in Mount Rainier National Park.



6 thoughts on “Hiking in Washington state and RA update

  1. Finally had time to read this post — love your photos! I really want to take a mountain vacation if we can ever afford one. The problem is that we’re not camping people, and resorts are usually pretty pricey. Let me know if you happen to know of any non-luxury but still nice resorts anywhere in the Pacific Northwest!


  2. ALSO … please keep us updated on your RA flareups. RA runs in my family to some extent, so I’m always interested in what you have to say about it. Hope your new protocol is doing its job. Keep on hiking!


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