Although the long climb from the Columbia River to the top of the Gorge is often hot and dusty, the next seven miles of the Herman Creek hike more than justifies the initial effort.
Once you've reached the first plateau at 800 feet, the nature of the trail changes as it flattens out. Waterfalls stream from surrounding cliffs, cooling the air and producing outbursts of golden-green foliage.
Moss-covered creeks undisturbed a thousand years fill the air with the sounds of rushing water, broken only by long periods of silence and the occasional tweets and chirps of birds drawn by the water in this arid countryside.
None of this, though, is quite as awe-inspiring as the Cedar Swamps where most day-hikers turn around. Here the visitor is greeted by fallen, and standing, Giants.
Camping here overnight on a solo hike, I was struck by the eerie silence, almost as if I had been suspended in time and something stood watching over me.
It's hard to imagine how long these giants have stood watch over this land. One can only hope that they will continue to stand watch now that this has been declared a Wilderness area.