Columbia River Gorge

Waterfalls!! Somehow these never get old.

A few weekends ago (yeah, I’m tardy on this post!) I hit the Gorge with several co-workers (Team Jive: Matt, Kevin, Phil, Christy, Michael, Erin and myself) to do a series of short hikes/waterfall stops. We happened to catch some amazing weather. Cold temps, but came right after a bout of winter weather in the Portland area (snow?!?! OMGWTFBBQ!!!). This made for some truly astounding scenery as most of the waterfall areas were frozen over.

First trail was up to Latourell Falls. Ordinarily this is a pretty easy trek, however on this day we had a wildcard: ice. Everywhere! Several sections of trail were completely frozen over, making for some pretty interesting ice patch crossings. I didn’t mind, it added some excitement to the day. πŸ™‚


The first of many icy spots


Trying to make our way down the trail (completely frozen) at Upper Latourell Falls. Me? I slid down on my butt. Bumpy but efficient.


Just as Kevin started sliding down.


Every single blade of grass, twig, string of moss… frozen.


Amaze.


The one little bit of sunshine we saw. πŸ™‚


Hanging out up at the top of Lower Latourell.


So cold, even the sap was frozen.


Wonky tree.


Lower Latourell Falls.





It had this kind of lit-from-within look. Beautiful.


Uphill trail covered in a sheet of ice? No chance. We improvised and climbed up a little cutoff… still plenty challenging, it was also frozen.



More frozenness.


After Latourell, we stopped off at Bridal Veil Falls, a short half mile hike off the historic highway. Took a couple shots and headed back.


Bridal Veil Falls


The team


An off-the-side-of-the-road waterfall that I forget the name of. Shame on me.

Since we had an out-of-towner with us, we decided to swing by Multnomah Falls just so he could say he’s seen it. Now, I usually love to make fun of Multnomah Falls for its numerous tourist trap qualities. Soft serve ice cream, espresso bars, gift shops, strollers and grandparents as far as the eye can see (which is still pretty funny). But on this day, I was actually once again amazed by this place, which I never thought would happen again. I’d never seen it frozen over. Gorgeous.


Multnomah Falls


Put a bird on it (see it?).


The freezing mist created big ole piles of fluffy snow at the bottom of the falls.


From the bridge, looking down over the lower part of the fall.

Last trek was out to Elowah Falls, about another 2-2.5 mile loop. More ice on the trails, although this one was more snowy than anything. We did come across some pretty rad icicles. I didn’t consider it at the time, but in retrospect, I probably should have been more nervous about one of these breaking off right over my head. πŸ™‚ Elowah was probably my favorite waterfall of the day, although it was SO powerful that the mist prevented me from taking many photos. 😦 Only got a couple, and they didn’t really capture it properly, IMO.


Ice crossing! Pretty certain I scooted across this one too. I’m lazy like that.


Man-sized icicles!


What? This seems like a perfectly safe place to stand.




Traversing more ice. Thankful for that handrail right about now.


The bottom of Elowah


Elowah Falls

And, because sometimes I like to make an appearance on my own blog (so what?), here are a few of Kevin’s photos from the day:


Matt schooling me in something.


A perpetual state of wonderment.


A totally organic, definitely not posed, moment.

Stellar day. So glad we made it out on this day… I feel like we lucked out and got to see something pretty special. Even better that it was with an awesome group of people. Of course, after a day of chasing waterfalls, it only made sense to hit Hood River for some Double Mountain… and then SE Portland for some Cascade Brewing Barrel House… and then Cartopia for some Wiffie’s Fried Pies. #loveportland

Hiking and backpacking season is right around the corner! Been thinking about it a lot lately. Can’t wait to get back out there…

Advertisements

Elk Meadow and Gnarl Ridge

Holy tardy blog post Batman! It is embarrassing how long it has taken to post this. Almost as embarrassing as how long it’s been since our last hike. 😦


So, uh, our last real hike was two months ago. The term WTF?!? immediately comes to mind, for two reasons: 1) I’m just posting about it now, and 2) how have we not gone on a hike in two months?! Of course, it’s November in Portland and the weather has turned less than stellar. Not like that’s a good reason for not getting out. It’s simply a convenient excuse. Paul has been working on me to actually go about our normal hike/camp activities in the rainy/snowy/cold weather. I’m slowly but surely coming around to the idea, but need some more appropriate gear first.


Back to two months ago. My mother-in-law Joyce and step-father-in-law Tom flew out from Michigan to visit us for a weekend. We had a fabulous weekend of eating and drinking and wine tasting and more eating and drinking (naturally), but I think all of us were most excited for a day of hiking. In Michigan, there isn’t much (or any) mountain hiking to be done, or anything terribly high elevation for that matter, so we really wanted to show Joyce and Tom a great time. Nice trail, maybe some water features, mountain views, decent distance and climbing… really wanted to fit it all in to one perfect hike. The weather in the city wasn’t looking great that day, so we decided to head over to the Elk Meadow/Gnarl Ridge trail on the other side of the mountain to catch some sun. We had perfectly blue skies and sunshine all day! Leaves were also starting to turn color, so we were treated to an all-around beautiful day.


Elk Meadow to Gnarl Ridge
Mt. Hood (east side)
Total hike distance: 11.87 miles
Total elevation gain: 2,638 feet


Click map for full GPS data



Picking up our wilderness permit


The trail starts out nice and easy until crossing the Newton Creek, then the climbing starts. When deciding which hike to do, I wanted to be sure we didn’t choose one too long or intense for our guests; not an insult to them, but Michigan is awfully flat, so I just wasn’t sure what level would be appropriate! They are super into mountain biking so assured me they were up for anything. After all my worry, they ended up kicking my ass up and down the mountain (big surprise, I know… I’m always the slowest).



Buckley doesn’t need no stinkin’ bridges! Crossing Clark Creek, an easy crossing on a footbridge.



Approaching the Newton Creek crossing



Newton Creek



Cairns lead the way through the rocky creekbeds


After crossing the creek, there are a series of fairly steep switchbacks that bring you up to a 4-way intersection of trails. You can take a more direct route to Gnarl Ridge from here, but we opted to go straight on the Elk Meadow Perimeter trail for a short detour that goes around Elk Meadow – well worth the extra 1.2 miles. You get a stellar view of Hood, the beautiful meadow, and can hang out at the shelter for a snack break.



The gang at Elk Meadow



The shelter just a little ways down the trail. We plan to camp here sometime soon!



View from the shelter



Tom and Joyce



Paul played photographer for a while πŸ™‚


After a brief break at the shelter, we continued on our way. The trail from there hooks back up with the Gnarl Ridge trail and is pretty slow and steady,Β  interesting but fairly uneventful as you are winding through forests without much of a view. Then after about a mile you turn onto the familiar Timberline Trail, and get to that wonderful ~6,000 foot subalpine level. At about this point you round a bend and come back into full view of Hood, not to mention the expansive view of Adams and St. Helens to your right. The subalpine zone is always my favorite when moving through elevations; I love the adorable little Hemlocks and Firs and Pines and rocky terrain and krummholz formations (stunted, twisted, and crooked trees caused by fierce winds and little shelter).



Getting into the subalpine






Actually not certain if this is a Hemlock or Fir or something else entirely…


This section of trail takes you right around Lamberson Butte (which you can scramble up if you feel adventurous), and from there you are above treeline heading straight up Gnarl Ridge.



Gnarl Ridge leading up to Hood



Looking back out behind us, you can just barely make out Mt. Jefferson in the haze (we could just barely see the Sisters as well, but the camera didn’t pick it up)



Finally… beer and lunch break!








There are several ways to get back down the mountain, aside from taking the same trail that we took on the way up. We decided to make a loop of it. Rather than taking the Gnarl Ridge trail back down, we stayed on the Timberline trail which follows along the rushing Newton Creek. We started out high above the creek, but the trail eventually makes its way down to the creek itself, where we were left to figure out how the hell to cross it!



Remains of a stone shelter crushed by avalanche



Thank goodness for cairns to show us the way


When we got down to the creek, the trail kind of disintegrated into a creek bed of boulders and sand. It was not immediately obvious where we were supposed to cross the creek, which was much deeper and wider and faster than it initially appeared. We almost made the mistake of “just going for it” before discovering just a little ways down, there were some logs thrown across the creek. Turns out there were a few pink-taped branches sticking out of the rocks to guide the way that we had initially missed. Glad we found it! Although, it was still a fairly nerve-wracking crossing. Those logs were not particularly stable and that water was not slowing down for us.




The “bridge”



We all made it, some of us on all fours πŸ™‚



On the other side


After crossing the creek, we followed more of the brightly-colored posts to a fun scramble that gets you back up onto the trail. Someone was kind enough to tie up some rope here to help hoist ourselves up.



Pretty much a straight shot from the creek bed up to here… maybe 20 or 25 feet? So much fun!


The rest of the hike out was uneventful but beautiful. The fall colors were starting to show themselves so we had plenty to marvel at.



A little natural spring that had… well, sprung



Farewell Mt. Hood


I have to admit, now two months later, I’m probably forgetting a lot of details on this one! I do remember that is was a huffer and puffer, but just beautiful. I have no idea what kind of shape this trail would be in now… I’m guessing covered in snow?


We’ve spent a lot of time at the indoor rock gym over the last month or two, working on our bouldering. Bouldering is addictive! I’ve conquered a pretty decent handful of V0’s thus far, and Paul has gotten several V1’s under his belt. Sadly, Paul suffered a sprained ankle a couple weeks ago so it’s put a little hold on things, but here’s hoping we’ll be back at it soon. This seems like the perfect time to get some low-elevation Gorge hikes in!

Green Lakes

Back to our usual adventures this weekend! My Dad flew out from Michigan on Friday for our annual camping trip. The tradition started as a Father’s Day gift in 2006, when we decided to take him camping with us (since my Mom would never, ever be down for that :)), and we’ve done it every year since. Up until this year though, it’s been car camping every time. Since we’ve come to love backpacking so much we decided to bring pops along for a new kind of experience.


We went back and forth a hundred times on where to go for the weekend, as the weather was not looking great anywhere near Portland. Mt. Hood, St. Helens and Adams all had forecasts of clouds and cold temps… not what I was looking for! We decided to make the extended drive out to Central Oregon to hike into Green Lakes, situated in Three Sisters Wilderness right between our old friends South Sister and Broken Top. This part of the state is considered high desert, so it’s almost guaranteed to be sunny (and it was definitely sunny in the daytime hours, but it surprised us all how cold it got that night). Still a good time had by all.


Green Lakes
Three Sisters Wilderness, OR
Elevation: ~6,500 feet
Total hike distance: 9.46 miles (this can vary depending on where you camp)
Total elevation gain: 1,746 feet (also varies depending on campsite)


Click image for full GPS data


We took off early on Saturday and made it to the trailhead around 10:30am, and were greeted by about a hundred other cars. Oy. Luckily most of these seemed to be day hikers, but it was still a pretty busy area this weekend. While picking up our wilderness permit at the trailhead, we saw that there was a campfire ban where we were headed. 😦 Bummer! We’ve camped without a fire before, but I was most disappointed for my Dad because I know he loves campfires. Sorry Dad!!





It’s about a 4.1 mile hike to the Green Lakes, but not too much elevation gain, which made for a very pleasant hike. The trail follows the appropriately named Fall Creek for the first couple of miles, which is just lousy with waterfalls.



One of the many falls along the way


After the trail parts ways with Fall Creek, it follows a smaller creek the rest of the way to Green Lakes. This part of the trail is very cool, with rock slopes full of shiny Obsidian glinting in the sun, stream crossings and tons of wildflowers.






You can see Broken Top peeking out between the trees



One of the many little stream crossings



Bright and colorful flowers everywhere


A short time later we arrived at Green Lakes! The area consists of the main Green Lake, and the smaller North and South Green lakes on either side. Next task was to find our campsite. The process of finding a site here was different than anywhere we’ve been. It’s kind of organized, but also not. There are a number of designated campsites around the lakes (I think about 28 in all), which are numbered and have corresponding post markers at each site. A map of the area with the numbered campsites is available at the trailhead.Β  But, there aren’t necessarily trails leading to all the sites; rather, they give you the GPS coordinates for each of the numbered sites, and you have to find your way there. Some of them are fairly obvious as they are close to the trail, but most of them take some wayfinding. It was early afternoon by the time we arrived in the area, so of course most of the sites that were relatively easy to find were already taken. Rather than all three of us wandering around trying to find a campsite, Paul took the map and GPS and set off to find our home for the night. With the GPS, he was able to find an available site (site #14 to be exact, near South Green Lake), hooray! This was one of the sites with no designated trail leading to it, and happened to be perched way up on a ridge. So, we climbed… straight up a fairly steep slope a good 100 vertical feet or so (and at that elevation, my Dad and I were huffin’ and puffin’ to get up there). Despite it not being the easiest site to get to, it actually was quite a nice spot. There weren’t any other sites within view which made it feel more secluded, and we still had a view of South Sister through the trees.


We got to work setting up camp, us in our tent and Dad in Paul’s brand new bivy sack. I think sleeping in a bivy sack makes Dad a more hardcore camper than myself… it’s basically a sleeping-bag-shaped tent with just a little head room on one end. Not for the claustrophobic.



Taking a little nap after setting up his sleeping quarters



ZZZZzzzzzzz… sorry Dad, had to post it πŸ™‚



That’s some nice handiwork to keep this thing stable



Beer time



Buckley’s already a very tired pup


After having a little Mountain House lunch (natch), we headed out to explore a bit more. Heading down the back of the ridge that we were camped on, there was a giant meadow sprawled out before Broken Top. Lots of cute little flowers (we were careful not to trample them), a creek, and amazing views to enjoy.









Broken Top



Adorable!



All the little plants and flowers made the ground look pink



Contemplating



The wide angle view: Mt. Bachelor waaaayy in the distance on the left, South Sister, and just the peaks of Middle and North Sister on the right






On the way back down





Back at camp, we downed a few more beers/glasses of wine/pulls of whiskey with dinner. When the sun started setting, it started getting cold. We all added as many layers as we could to keep warm… and the effing campfire ban didn’t help things! We did see a couple deer running our site after dark though, which was pretty cool. At about 9pm (maybe it was 10pm? who really knows) it was time to turn in, as it was just getting way too cold. We anticipated it would get down to maybe the upper 40s but damn… it was f-f-freezing. Luckily we all had several layers, so we were all just about warm enough overnight, but a few degrees cooler and we might have had some issues.



Night night


Usually once the sun starts to come up, it instantly warms up in the tent and I can sleep a couple more hours in peace. Not this time… I swear when the sun came up, it got colder. None of us wanted to get out of our sleeping bags until it was tolerable, so we ended up sleeping in until like 8:30am! That’s late, for us. Even then, when we got out of our tents we were greeted with frost on the outside. Frost! Luckily after that point it warmed up very quickly, and we were comfortable in no time.


We decided to gather our food and cookset and have breakfast down by the water. It was just beautiful… sunshine, blue skies, and crystal clear views of the mountains. That morning made up for the entire frigid night.



Good morning, South Sister



The panoramic view over South Green lake



Paul bringing us our morning coffee


After a (very) leisurely breakfast, we slowly started packing up to head out. It was quite a pleasant hike out, very flat but the creeks and falls made up for it.






My brand new 64-liter pack (so exciting!!), before shoving everything in it



Broken Top






A trailhead beer to celebrate the close of a great trip





After heading back through Bend for lunch (at the Bend Brewing Co.), we stopped at Smith Rock briefly just to show my Dad. Still an awesome place… maybe one day we’ll be good enough at rock climbing to scale some of these walls!








Despite the freezing cold and campfire ban, we had a great annual camping trip with Dad. Hopefully he thinks so too! πŸ™‚

McNeil Point

Wow.

On quite possibly our most amazing hike so far, we headed up to McNeil Point on Sunday with fellow Jiver and hiking enthusiast Matt (who also joined us on Nesmith Point earlier this summer… congrats on being the first repeat special guest! :)). Inspired by some recent trip reports, it looked like the time was right for this hike, with the snow on its way out and the wildflowers still in full bloom. This was only our second hike actually on Mt. Hood, and it brought us closer to the summit than we’ve been before. It’s a humbling experience to say the least.


McNeil Point
Mt. Hood National Forest
McNeil Point Shelter: ~6,100 feet; McNeil Point: ~6,870 feet
Total hike distance: 11.48 miles (including trip up McNeil Ridge)
Total elevation gain: 3,312 feet (including trip up McNeil Ridge)


Click map for full GPS data


We started up the trail at Top Spur trailhead (about 3,940 feet), and while it started climbing right out of the gate, it was pretty gentle.Β This hike is absolutely full of breathtaking views at every turn, with the first one coming around .7 miles in. We rounded a bend on the trail and came face to face with monstrous Mt. Hood. Note: Not only is the trail full of views, but also full of confusing junctions. There are trails criss-crossing all over this area… if you’re heading up, make sure you have clear directions as it’s easy to make a wrong turn (which we actually did at one point, and had to backtrack). The directions in the Sullivan book were pretty solid.



Well hello, Hood


Blankets of wildflowers


On a typical hike the major payoff view comes at the end of your climb. This time, we were spoiled with amazing views of Mt. Hood right away! And not only were we treated to mountain views the entire way (which you’ll see), but I’m pretty sure that we saw every single variety of wildflower that we’ve ever seen and then some, all on this hike. Ridiculous.



Matt (and Buckley’s butt)


I couldn’t resist the Tiger Lily


I am pretty sure these are Subalpine Mariposa Lily – anyone know for sure?





At about 3.5 miles or so, we came to a pair of shallow but perfectly clear tarns reflecting the mountain above. This part was a little confusing as the trail forks and it’s not obvious which one you should take (FYI, you can either fork right just after the first tarn, or go a bit further on the left-hand trail and take an unmarked side trail to the right that spurs off by the second tarn and meets up with the main trail). From the tarns you have a clear view of McNeil Point above.



The far point directly below the Hood summit is where we’re headed


You will know you are on the right trail when you hit this McNeil Point sign about .3 miles after the tarns. Despite this very clear sign, later on we saw people hiking through the protected meadow. Hey, you suck.





Shortly after this point we started to hit snow. We were expecting and prepared for a lot of snow, and in the middle of a sunny day we were fully expecting to post-hole through it. It actually ended up not being too bad. Most of the snow patches were pretty packed down with clear boot tracks to step in, the other parts were soft enough to kick in your own steps. At about the same time we encountered snow, we also encountered ridiculous views of Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens. I just can’t get enough of this.



Mt. Adams in the distance


That tree looks a little threatening…


Looking back over the outflow of the Glisan Glacier with (L to R) Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainer and Mt. Adams


Most of the trail was clear of snow, but there were a few large snowfields to cross. It looks worse than it was. It was pretty comfortable to cross even without poles. It was also a very hot and sunny day, so I took advantage of the snow by mashing handfuls of it against my forehead and the back of my neck for quick cool-downs. πŸ™‚



The first big snow field


Another wildflower first for us! Got to see some Western Pasque Flower, also known as “Hippie on a Stick.” Heheee!


Before we knew it, we were at the McNeil Point shelter. This is a great place to declare victory and have some lunch, but the trail does continue up from here to the actual McNeil Point, adding another 800 feet or so of climbing. I think most people do turn around at the shelter, but that trail was beckoning to us…



McNeil Point Shelter


The trail just kept going… how could we stop??


We decided to press on and get to that point. It doesn’t look all that far away, but man… it’s up there. I struggled with this last stretch. I could only take about ten steps before I had to pause and catch my breath (I distinctly remember this feeling from South Sister!). Paul was crushing it, but little by little I made my way up.



Buckley stood there and cheered me on until I made it up this part. He is awesome.


About halfway up this extra hike I had to sit down for a minute. So did Buckley. πŸ™‚



Taking it in


The trail ends at that big rock outcropping just to the right of middle


So I have to admit… I didn’t make it all the way to the very end. I stopped probably a tenth of a mile short, and decided to hang back to take pictures of Paul. I was proud of myself for getting as far as I did anyway, since I really wasn’t sure if I could make it up the ridge. In any case, this is the closest either of us had been to Hood’s summit. It felt like it was right there! I felt microscopic next to this beast.



Almost there…


Made it!


After taking it in for a minute, we headed back to the shelter area for a quick lunch and then our return trip. The descent was relatively uneventful, but it was nice to revisit all of the gorgeous views again.



Hippies!


The view on the descent


Thousands of Avalanche Lilies


We did briefly meet one PCT thru-hiker when we were almost done. It was the first time we’d met one in person, very exciting! People actually backpack the entire Pacific Crest Trail, from Mexico to Canada, over the course of several months. That’s 2,650 miles of walking. The woman we met (I regret I didn’t ask her name) was French, and had started from the Mexico border 3 1/2 months ago by herself. She said it was more difficult than she though it would be – not the hiking so much, but being dirty all the time. I totally identify! I feel so grimey after one day I can’t imagine what several weeks or months feels like. Even so, the thought of conquering the PCT is enticing… what an accomplishment. Maybe next year.


This was one of the most enjoyable hikes yet, and we will undoubtedly return. There were lots of great campsites along the way, so I have a feeling this will turn into a backpacking trip in the near future… πŸ™‚


p.s. I am just about to wrap up a beginner photography class that I have been taking for the last few weeks, which has been awesome! The day before this hike my class went on a little photo outing around downtown Portland. I uploaded some of my favorite shots to my Flickr photostream, if you’d like to see them you can click on the “More Photos” link in the Recent Photos box to the right!

Devil’s Peak

This is a hike that taught me not to go in too cocky. Eight miles, 3200 feet elevation gain… meh, that’s not so bad. Lesson learned!

This weekend we took on Devil’s Peak (via Cook Creek Trailhead) for the first time with Don, one of Paul’s coworkers. Devil’s Peak is tucked away in the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness of the Mt. Hood National Forest, a little southwest of Hood.


Devil’s Peak
Mt. Hood National Forest, Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness
Summit at 5,045 feet
Total hike distance: 8 miles
Total elevation gain: 3,200 feet
(Our GPS data is slightly off near the trailhead, but mostly accurate)


Click map for full GPS data

The trailhead is right off the side of the road, it will sneak up on you!


Two words: butt-kicker. The hike report I had read on this hike was terribly dramatic, with tales of endless climbing, gasping for air and sweating uncontrollably; at first I figured someone was exaggerating the details in order to tell a good story, but quickly realized that that is exactly how it is. It became painfully clear that I have been slacking this year (I can’t speak for the guys though, who bounded up the trail with no trouble… almost like they were part machine… hmm…).The trail is steep right out of the gate, with absolutely no warmup time. The first mile or so is pretty brutal, climbing up and up through dense forest. After that mile, the trail is slightly tamer, and starts to open up to gorgeous viewpoints. The trail is also lined with tons of wildflowers the entire way, including several I haven’t seen in person before, which was a nice distraction from my racing heart and profuse sweating.



Tons of Salal everywhere


Some Cascade Lily right where the trail starts to open up to the views – this was the only bunch on the entire trail


Red Paintbrush



The trail is over so slightly more forgiving after that first mile, but is always climbing at a pretty steady grade. There are a few spots with well-worn side trails to viewpoints and campsites along the way, perfect opportunities to catch your breath and take in views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens, and even Mt. Rainier on a clear day (which we had, woot!). It took most of my energy to even stay within sight of the guys ahead of me, so I really didn’t take too many photos on the way up. My mission was just to get there without keeling over. All physical over-exertion aside, this is a really enjoyable hike. Great scenery, and you really feel like you’re working hard toward something. It makes the summit feel that much more awesome.


A gentler side to the trail


You know you are close when you come to the junction with the Hunchback Mountain Trail; you make a right here, and very shortly thereafter is the glorious “<— Devil’s Peak Lookout” sign pointing you to the left toward the summit. It felt great to get to the summit on this one and breathe a collective sigh of relief. There are little wildflowers everywhere carpeting the ground; Phlox, Paintbrush, Larkspur, and I’m kicking myself for not taking a picture of the Subalpine Mariposa Lily, which is apparently somewhat uncommon. The views are fantastic and the weather was perfect – I could have stayed up there for hours. Actually, we did spend quite a bit of time hanging out up there, drinking beers and just relaxing. Super fun.



Don and Paul enjoying a very well-deserved summit beer


View of Mt. Jefferson from the summit


There is a very cool fire lookout situated at the summit here, which you can actually overnight in if it’s not already claimed. I’m not sure if I could sleep there though; it’s pretty dirty and there are reports of mice scurrying about at night. I think I’d prefer a tent.



The old fire lookout


View from the lookout


Giant shutters around the outsides


The way up


The bed looks inviting and all…


The lookout was surprisingly stocked with wood, supplies, snacks, fresh water and toilet paper… if you did decide to make a night of it, you’d be all set (and I can easily see how one might get to Devil’s Peak and not want to leave). There is supposed to be a log book somewhere, but all I saw were some nonetheless entertaining notes on a single piece of paper from visitors over last year.



Josh, Cody and Toby had a badass weekend.


The view of Hood out the front door


If you take the narrow trail past the summit, down and to the left a little ways, you come to another amazing viewpoint (on a small and steep rocky slope though, use extreme caution!) with views of Hood, Mt. Jefferson and even Three-Fingered Jack on this perfectly clear day. It was nice to do a hike with such a view of Jefferson, we don’t usually get that.



Trying to figure out what’s what on the horizon


View of Jefferson


Buckley found himself a nice shady spot up there too


This is either Rock Penstemon or Barrett’s Penstemon… I simply don’t know… which was growing straight out of the rocks at this viewpoint. Anyone know for sure?


My rugged mountain man


I’m including this picture because it’s the only one I’m almost in. See reflection in the left lens of sunglasses. πŸ™‚


After taking in Mt. Jefferson, you turn around and are face-to-face with Mt. Hood.



Mt. Hood


Up close and personal


Mountain love


After lounging around in the sun a little longer, we threw the packs back on to head back the way we came. Needless to say, the descent is almost as hard on the knees and toes as the climb is on the thighs and calves! At least I was able to stop and take a few more wildflower photos, now that I was actually able to keep up with the gang.



Wild Rhododendron were in full bloom


Bunchberry carpeted the ground


Dainty little Foamflower (I think?) was also in abundance


Columbia Windflower (in the Anemone family)


There were also Vanilla Leaf and Queen’s Cup all over the place that I didn’t get photos of. I was loving the flower variety!



One more look at that single Cascade Lily on the way down


Walking through a Rhodie wonderland


We got back to the trailhead in no time, and proceeded to nom out on BBQ, mac n’ cheese and deep fried pickles at Skyway in Zigzag (our first time there – it was totes awesome). This hike was quite the workout, and completely worth it, even despite the grueling ascent. As Don put it: Some trails are happy and nice and give you a good feeling, but not this one. This is a mean one. This one is like… “#&@%Β you.”

Oneonta Gorge

I didn’t realize how much I missed hiking until stepping into the Gorge after two weeks away from the trail. I think I actually breathed a sigh of relief.


Paul’s friend Ben came to visit us for the weekend from Michigan. Can we pause to reflect on that for just a moment? A friend… not a family member or anyone else who is legally obligated to spend time with us… came to visit! Ben told Paul when we first moved that he would be the first friend to come visit. Guess he was right! Who’s next?? πŸ™‚


We had a great time (hopefully Ben did too) gallivanting around the city for most of the weekend; bike ride to the A-Crop (I did not partake in this particular event), dinner in Directors Park, VQ brunch, farmers market, organic beer fest (with about 3,000,000 other people), Voodoo Donut, and of course, the Columbia River Gorge.


We decided to hit the Oneonta Gorge, starting at the Horsetail Falls trail, and then meeting up with trail 400, then the Oneonta Trail which took us up to Triple Falls, then back down to the 400 which took us the rest of the way down. So it’s not really a loop, not really an out-and-back… more of a wishbone shape. πŸ™‚ Unfortunately, although we had the GPS on, it did not get a good track (weak signal maybe). So, distance and elevation are estimates based on guide books we use, and the map is just pulled from Google (and then crudely marked up with Jing). Not at all accurate. But you get the idea.


Oneonta Gorge trail(s)
Columbia River Gorge (Oregon side)
Total hike distance: +4 miles (not including wading around the creek)
Total elevation gain: At least 500 feet, probably more with all the ups and downs on the trial


This is a sad representation.



If you don’t already know, summer just arrived in Portland last week (literally and figuratively). We’ve been dealing with unrelenting clouds and rain for months, but last week, this strange giant glowing orb in the sky made its debut. So what do you get on the first actual nice weekend of the summer, on one of the more popular and easy trails in the Gorge? Trails so crowded you are literally tripping over other people and kids and dogs and Grandmas on the way. Okay… it wasn’t too bad, but much more crowded than we are used to. I kid you not, there was actually one lady wearing a sundress and fancy high-heeled strappy sandals hiking with her family. She didn’t make it as far as we did, but still, it made me feel like a pansy in my cushy hiking shoes and synthetic fabrics. πŸ™‚



Getting our start on the trail


It doesn’t take long for a payoff on this hike, as Ponytail Falls (aka “Upper Horsetail Falls”) is about .3 miles in. Very close.Β  So also, very crowded. I couldn’t get any waterfall-only shots as there were people running around everywhere. Will have to get there earlier next time.



Ponytail Falls (Paul and Ben are across the way)


This guy walked in front of the camera at the last second!! Can we pretend he’s not there?


The rocky cavern under the falls


A short distance later, we came to Middle Oneonta Falls.



Middle Oneonta Falls


Making our way


The sun was beating down, so after what seemed like ages we reached Triple Falls. We’ve been here several times, but I’m always amazed by how cool it is.Β  Unfortunately, direct sunlight is no bueno for taking waterfall shots, so it’s a little washed out.



Triple Falls


When you hike past Triple Falls, there is a bridge that crosses the creek behind the top of the falls (you can see it in the picture). After crossing this bridge, there are several large boulders and downed trees along the water that are perfect lunch (beer) spots. I could spend all day here.



Break time


The little doggies we shared the space with.


Looking downstream at the top of Triple Falls


Looking back upstream at the bridge we crossed over


On the way back down we came across lots of cool wildflowers.



Tiger Lily


Phlox


Red Columbine


Showy Penstemon


After we got back down to the highway and our car, we changed into sandals and spent a little time wading up the Oneonta Creek. I can’t believe we’ve been in the Gorge a gazillion times and never done this. Oneonta Creek runs through the Oneonta Gorge (natch), and near the road is pretty shallow. There are lots of boulders and trees and little rocky beachy areas to hang out in, mini swimming holes for the kiddies and dogs to go swimming in, and beautiful scenery all around. You can go as far or not far as you like.



There is a small stairway down and to the right to drop down to the water


In the creek


You can also wade all the way up the creek and climb over a log jam to a view of the Lower Oneonta Falls. It was still crazy busy there, I only had flimsy flips flops on and Buckley can be a handful around crowds – so we decided to skip the climb over the logs. We will definitely go all the way next time, as the lower falls are supposed to be beautiful.



Approaching the log jam


The boys up on the boulder – that’s about as far as we went


Buckley was loving it!


Looking back downstream


Off to the side we found a little rocky beach area with a pocket deep enough for Buckley to swim. Copious amounts of fetch ensued.



Maybe copious amounts of beer too…


And now, an absurd number of pictures of Buckley. πŸ™‚



He will not let that stick out of his sight


Shake!


Again?


Heheeeee!




Buckley even got to meet another doggie friend who was willing to share his tennis ball.



Buddies!


BRRRGRBLRBLRGLRBLRRGL


A little game of tug for good measure


Looking back up the creek


While a relatively easy hike, it’s loaded with scenery and fun stuff to do and doesn’t take up your whole day (unless you want it to).

To celebrate the long weekend, we are heading out tomorrow morning to Shellrock Lake area for a two-night backpacking trip. Report soon, I promise not to wait until next Friday night to post!

Happy 4th everyone!

Nesmith Point

Alright, we may as well start a Gorge checklist.

This weekend we headed back into the Gorge once again to hike to Nesmith Point, a true endurance-tester that a lot of mountain climbers use as training. The distance and elevation gain don’t seem too daunting on paper, but it’s the fact that it is a constant, steady uphill battle (pun intended) rather than some other hikes where you get a break between excruciatingly steep sections. My legs were burning the entire way up. This time around we were joined by a co-worker of mine, Matt (Sales Engineer at Jive) and his wife Kelly. And of course, after all my talk about what hardcore hikers Paul and I are, they kicked our butts to the top. Figures!


Nesmith Point
Tops out at around 3,870 feet
Columbia River Gorge (Oregon side)
Total hike distance: 11.01 miles
Total elevation gain: 3,793 feet



Click image for full GPS data


The trail does not start out too steeply – pretty standard stuff. After the first mile or so, the trail takes you up! Steep switchbacks for the next few miles kept my legs screaming.



Starting out pretty flat, with great scenery.



Peeking through the trees, we had a view across the Gorge to Hamilton Mountain on the left and Table Mountain on the right. Bagged both of those summits this year!



Kelly and Matt: Adventurers.



We got in some good quality sunshine on this one!


We were a little apprehensive about tackling this trail this weekend; after an unusually cold and rainy week, the snow levels were a little low in the Gorge (as in, more snow at lower elevations).Β  We watched the trip reports and checked snow levels carefully. Luckily we had warm sunny days on Friday and Saturday, so some of it melted and we decided to go for it. We encountered snow starting at about 3,000 feet, but this also happened to be about the time that the trail leveled off a bit so it did not present a problem.



The first patches of snow.






Just Buckley, just wearin’ a backpack, just eatin’ some snow.


We finally made it to the top, but wait… what the… where’s the view? The expansive, sweeping view of the Gorge we’ve become so accustomed to?? Turns out Nesmith Point does not overlook the Gorge, but rather the woods below. Whomp whomp!



The pointy rock behind Matt is the actual, USGS certified Nesmith Point.



There was a spot near the point that offered a view looking West (Portland is somewhere waaay in the distance), but not quite as majestic as our usual views.


All the guide books and hike descriptions we had consulted said that while there wasn’t much of a view at the true “point,” if we traversed a ways down the slope at the top we’d come upon a much better view of the entire Gorge. We trudged up and down this damn slope three times looking for this coveted spot, and could not find it! There were several other parties up there as well who couldn’t find it either (most of them using the same book that we have), so we didn’t feel so bad. We did find one clearing that offered a partial view.



Mt. St. Helens over the Gorge.


After a lunch break at the top (enjoyed some more Mountain House freeze-dried noms… man that stuff is good!), we started back down the trail. This is an out-and-back hike, so we descended the same trail that we ascended on. My knees are still thanking me.



One last look from the viewpoint.



4.6 miles and we’re homefree.


I don’t know which is worse, the way up or the way down! Gasping for breath on the ascent, or hearing the insides of my knees getting mashed with each step on the descent. But you know it’s all worth it. πŸ™‚ At least on the way down, I had more of a chance to take pictures.



Lovely trees.



New life on dead life.







Trilliums everywhere!



Let’s get serious here, okay guys?



Fiddlehead fern! I wanted to sautee it up right there.



Lots of big boulders on the trail to climb over.






Hey, that’s the rockslide we climbed up last week on Table Mountain!



Some neato bark.



One of the many obligatory “Paul and Buckley on the trail” shots. They never get old to me. πŸ™‚



I believe these are Tall Bluebells… someone correct me if I am wrong! Bleeding Hearts.



Break time (i.e. waiting for me to catch up).



An old rockslide taken over by moss.



For my Mom, who won’t be happy unless there’s a picture of me somewhere…





We actually made it back in pretty decent time. Dare I say, we even hauled ass. Including about an hour at the top, we finished in about six hours. Not bad for 10 miles and 3,800 feet!



Celebration beer (we also had beer at the summit, how did I not take a picture of that??).


This is a pretty straightforward hike overall. There aren’t any intersecting trails, so it would be difficult to get lost unless there is lots of snow and you are making fresh tracks; the only exception being that elusive “view of the entire Gorge,” which I am still not convinced exists. We were definitely feeling this hike the next day though… sitting through the Monday morning Sales meeting for almost two hours was borderline torture (who schedules a meeting at 8am on Monday morning anyway?). Lack of stellar viewpoint aside, this is still a solid hike.