Multnomah Falls/Wahkeena Falls Loop

Back to my weekly hiking trip, I decided to do the Multnomah Falls – Wahkeena Falls Loop.  That is 5 miles and 1600ft elevation gain, so not as bad as Tom, Dick, and Harry a couple weeks ago. Oh wait, it’s a mile shorter, and only 100ft less elevation – that probably means it’s about the same or worse. Well, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?
Last time I hiked to the top of Multnomah, when I came home all my friends said I should have kept going! Well, I wasn’t quite up to it that time, but this time I am a bit lighter and a lot stronger, so I was up for it. First I had to sit in traffic on the old highway for half an hour just to get to the parking lot, then weave my way through approximately one billion tourists speaking every language you could imagine, I love to see all these people coming to see what we can drive out here and enjoy anytime. 
Luckily the farther you go, the fewer people there are. Some people never go past the lower viewing platform. Many more stop at Benson Bridge. A few more head on up the switchbacks, but it definitely thins out at that point. I was stopping to rest halfway up and chatted with a nice Pakistani couple where were also catching their breath. They were discussing if they could make it up all 11 switchbacks, and I told them the last few switchbacks go downhill – and he translated that for his wife and she seemed relieved 🙂 Indeed, 9 is the last uphill switchback, then you go over the top and back downhill the next couple to the river at the top of the waterfall. 
This time I didn’t even go check out the top-of-the-falls viewing platform, instead I headed upriver. I chatted with some folks coming from that direction to confirm I was going the right way. In this picture, the trail hugs the rock wall to the right.
Then you come to Dutchman Falls, which was a nice little waterfall, with water roaring past on this day, making a cool spot to sit for a few minutes and relax after the long hike up. 
Pretty view back down Multnomah Creek in the direction I came. The trail hugs the rock wall to the left in this shot.
The trail goes under this cool basalt overhang called Dutchman’s Tunnel. Oregon Hiker’s site says this trail was built in 1915!
My favorite shot of the trip. Heck, my favorite shot of the summer so far! Weisendanger Falls. I had to wait a few minutes for the small crowd to clear, but that was the end of crowds on this journey. After this it was just passing by single hikers here and there along the way.
The trail passed right by the top of Ecola Falls, but I only got this peek-a-boo look at it, since I didn’t want to go sliding down the muddy bank to get a better view. 
This whole walk is just ridiculously pretty. It’s like something out of a fairy tale.
Things were a little confusing here. I KNOW I don’t want to go to Larch Mountain, and I am already on #441, but what I’m looking for at the junction is #420. Luckily someone added the note on the bottom to help me out – Wahkeena Falls -> Thataway. That was my guess, but I’ve heard of people getting lost up here, and since I was alone I really wanted to be sure!
Pretty, peaceful walk.
Why can’t someone pay me to do this?
The camera is level in this next shot, to show how steep the hill behind the sign is – VERY steep!
This is what I’m looking for. Definitely on the right trail, and finally heading back downhill. That was a long climb up. 
I saw these cool Indian Pipe plants. I only saw this one little patch of them on the whole walk. They survive on fungus that survive on trees. What a cool adaptation!
Now I guess I’m following Wahkeena Creek back down.
This beauty is Fairy Falls. It is a lovely cascade of water. 
There was a Japanese family I kept passing and then they would pass me, so I asked them to take my picture. I wasn’t sure if they spoke English because I heard them talking to each other in Japanese, but they spoke perfect English, of course! So here I am in front of Fairy Falls (it’s only 20ft high). last shot of Wahkeena Creek before my camera battery died! 
After this I came to Lemmon’s Viewpoint, named after a firefighter who died fighting fires in the area. Beautiful little overlook of the Gorge, and a nice place to rest up a little. 
I guess I should have shot a pic of Wahkeena Falls with my phone, but I didn’t think of it. I sat on a bench and loosened up my boots for a few minutes (my toes were complaining from the long downhill), then crossed the little bridge that goes right in front of Wahkeena and the water makes a delightful spray on a hot day. Then at the bottom I just had to follow a half mile trail that followed the Old Highway back to Multnomah Falls, and my waiting car. It was a great hike, and the most waterfalls I’d ever seen on one hike! I’m glad my friends told me to go back and do it!
I’ll have to go back and get pics of Wahkeena Falls sometime.

Tom, Dick, and Harry Mountain

I screwed up my courage and headed off on another solo adventure – to Tom, Dick, and Harry Mountain. This is my first hike outside of the Gorge. It is a 6 mile hike, with 1700ft elevation gain, so the most strenuous hike I’ve done so far. It is up by Mt Hood, with spectacular views, and along the way you pass by Mirror Lake, with a beautiful reflection of Mt Hood. On a clear day, anyway.

The trailhead is right on Highway 26, so I found a spot and started walking. Among other firsts, I got to cross a scree slope, which I’ve always thought would be pretty scary, but the well-used trail was actually quite stable on the slope. I crossed several of these by the time I was done.

The trail continued on through lovely forests. Everything was a little muddy, because it had been raining, and was actually raining off and on during my hike. Enough that everytime I thought it was over and tried to take off my rain jacket, it would start sprinkling again. So I had my jacket and hat on the whole hike.

Notice the rhododendrons blooming along the trail – neat!

Finally I came to Mirror Lake, which is only a mile and a half in. This was a nice place to stop and rest a little, have a snack, and enjoy the view. That lump on top of the ridge straight ahead is where I’m going. At this point I was looking at it and thinking, no, there’s really no way I’m going all the way up there! It looked pretty high from the lake.

I started to walk around the lake to see the view of Mt Hood, but I could tell it was clouded over. I got to the trail to Tom Dick and Harry and thought about it. No way, I’ll never make it, I told myself. There was a family at the trail junction with three little kids, and they said ‘you go ahead, we don’t want to slow you down!’ I thought, NO ONE has ever slowed ME down, I’m the slowest hiker out there! But seeing them was the push I needed, and I thought, I’ll just go up the trail a ways and see what it looks like – I can always turn around when  I’m halfway tired.

Another first for me – hiking in a Wilderness area!

Bear Grass

A pretty view of the valley, but no mountain.

Pretty, whatever it is! I think it’s Indian Paintbrush.

Still plugging along, another beautiful viewpoint, but no mountain.

Pretty little flowers,

Getting closer to the top. Still no mountain.

Funky moss on a rock.

I was stopped for a rest from the relentless uphill climb, and saw a couple coming downhill, so I chatted them up about the hike. They said it was worth it, and they got a view of the mountain at the top! But they warned me, I was about ten minutes from the rockpile, and after that it got ‘climby’. Ok, not sure what that means…


Oh, THAT’S what ‘climby’ means…

So, it looked like that off and on for the last 20 minutes, and then finally, I climbed up a rocky bit, and tah dah! On top of the world! Looking down on Mirror Lake – and no mountain.

Tom Dick and Harry is cool, look at all those rocks pushed together! I read it was formed through glacial action, as opposed to all the basalt/lava I’ve been seeing in the gorge.

There was another family at the top and I chatted with them. They were visiting from North Carolina, and they were eating lunch and hoping it would clear up and give them a view before they had to head back down.


So I sat down against a boulder to eat my lunch..and it started SNOWING on me!!

The snow cleared up and I walked around and took some pictures. I think this is Columbine.

TD&H also has a beautiful view of Mt Jefferson to the south. On a clear day…

So my new friends and I took pictures for each other, and they reluctantly headed on down. Here I am with Mt Cloudy in the background.

Now I had the top of the world to myself, so I settled down on top of a boulder and decided to soak up the sun and rest a bit.

I closed my eyes and opened them when a raven flew by so close I could hear his feathers rustling! Cool. I closed my eyes again. So quiet. Just the wind…and some rocks clinking together. I heard it again. I was not alone up here!

Golden-mantled Ground Squirrels! There were two of them, running around. One even came up and sat right next to me on the boulder, and then took off before I could catch a selfie with him!

After about an hour of resting on the top, I decided to head back down. It was beautiful, and I can’t wait to go back. On a clear day, next time!


Bridal Veil Falls, Horsetail Falls

Back to the Gorge for some more waterfall hiking. Stopped at the Portland Women’s Forum Overlook again. That’s a nice place to get out and stretch after getting on the old Highway.

This sign had a nice history of the building of the highway. I particularly liked this part:

“Standing here I realized the magnitude of my task and the splendid opportunity presented. Instinctively there came a prayer for strong men, and that we might have sense enough to do the thing in the right way…so as not to mar what God had put there… Samuel C Lancaster, Engineer, 1915”

I think that’s an attitude that is sadly lacking in so many endeavors today. Many thanks to those who created the access for us to enjoy this natural playground.

I headed on down the highway to Bridal Veil Falls. It is one of the first falls you come to, and it is just an easy walk to the falls, not even a half mile, on a very civilized gravel path, so of course it was quite popular, and I was lucky to get a spot in the trailhead lot.

Pretty little flowers along the path.

Finally the path goes up some stairs, over a couple little bridges, and takes you to the waterfall, which is kind of around a corner. There is a small viewing platform for admiring it.

The water flows into the pool, and then continues downhill, but walking down to the stream, you can barely see the waterfall.

Very pretty, still. I was happy with this shot.

And a little farther downstream, past one of the bridges. I love the way the water turned out on this one.

Afterwards I took a stroll around the path that goes around the parking lot, and out to the edge of the cliffs. I stopped to read this sign about Native American traders, and was a bit taken aback by how they slipped ‘Slaves’ in there with basketry!

More flowers on the path.

The path goes out to the cliffs with a nice view across the river to Cape Horn. Phoca Rock is visible out in the river. You can click on this pic to get a bigger version.

I was certainly not worn out yet, so I headed on down the old highway, looking for something else to do. After driving past some of the bigger attractions, I came to Horsetail Falls, and was surprised to see it was right there by the highway!

About then the rains came back and I decided to head home. Nice easy day of visiting waterfalls though. I really enjoy my weekly ramblings.


Panther Falls and Falls Creek Falls (and Cave)

For my weekly outdoor adventure I decided to drag Dave along. For one thing, I hadn’t forced him out into the woods lately, and I thought it would be good for him. For another thing, it was a LONG drive out to the woods, and I didn’t want to be alone if I broke the Miata.

So we headed down Highway 14 to White Salmon, and headed north into the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. We had a guidebook, ‘Curious Gorge’, but in retrospect next time I’ll bring some accurate maps. This wasn’t like driving the old highway to Multnomah Falls. Forest roads are winding and poorly marked, and I was a bit worried we were going to get lost more than once! And it’s not like someone is going to come along and help you find your way, there’s not a lot of people out there in the middle of the week!

First stop: Panther Creek Falls.

I was told this is the most spectacular waterfall you’ve never heard of. There isn’t even really a trailhead, just a wide spot of rutted dirt to park alongside the road. Then you walk back along the road about 50 ft and there’s an arrow hand-spray painted on the road that says ‘falls’ – we almost missed it. Follow the little path there into the bushes, and suddenly you are walking on a lovely path through tall trees.

The path goes down to follow this stream a short distance, protected by a fence, and then to a viewing platform for this:

 It’s difficult to capture how big this is! It’s two streams flowing down this huge wall of rock.

 The streams that tumble down to the waterfall are pretty impressive on their own.

So that was a very short walk to a very spectacular waterfall. People told me if it wasn’t located deep in the woods, everyone would be flocking to it. I agree!

 Next stop – Falls Creek Cave.

We didn’t do much at Falls Creek Cave except look at it and change our minds about going any further. I think I would do this if I came with more people, but with just the two of us, if someone got hurt, it would be bad. We decided to hold off on this adventure.

Next stop: Falls Creek Falls

So, again, people told me this is the best waterfall in the Gorge (though it’s quite a ways from the Gorge itself. They assured me it was worth it. It’s a two mile hike in through a lovely forest along a river for much of the hike.

One neat feature, again – hard to capture in photos, was this section where you cross over a little stream coming down the hill, and the rocky area the water is coming out of is all covered in beautiful moss. It was really other-worldly.
The trail continued along past this neat rock wall all covered in moss and ferns
Finally we heard the falls, and looking up, way up, we caught sight of it – the upper falls. Seeing photos of it did not prepare me for how HUGE it was, and the spectacular roar of the water, and the rush of wind coming off of it. It was amazing!

Midweek hiking for the win! We had the viewpoint to ourselves.

Lunchtime, with a view!

Dave climbed down to the lower viewpoint to try and give a little more perspective. As he said, it looked like something you’d expect to see in the jungles of Peru or something!

Finally we headed back, and Dave took a picture of me crossing the bridge at the beginning of the trail. It was a great hike, and a spectacular waterfall.


Wahclella Falls / Toothrock

Another day, another adventure in the Gorge. I’ve lived here my whole life and never wandered out to these places before, it’s great to finally be exploring them.

Wahclella Falls is at the end of a short 1 mile hike through a canyon surrounded by steep walls. It’s an easy trail, and super popular. I went on a Saturday with one of the photography groups I hang out with.

When I got to the trailhead at 9:30 it was already full. It is a small trailhead. But there was parking on the road, so I parked there and walked back. The clouds were starting to clear and it was looking like a “blue sky – puffy cloud day” was in store.

As we walked along Tanner Creek there were some nice little waterfalls along the way, including Munra Falls, which I’ll grab a pic of on the way back.

But eventually the trail slowly climbed it’s way up until the water was far below.
Walking under cover of the forest.

Finally we broke out of the forest and crossed to the sunny side of the creek.

The walls of the canyon looked like old lava flows, with lots of basalt columns.

There were places where HUGE boulders had fallen down into the river. One of our fellow hikers said it happened back in the early 70’s. These boulders are as big as a house!
Here is a closeup so you can see the guy standing on one of them in the picture above.
Finally we came to Wahclella Falls itself. It comes roaring out of a slot in the wall at the end of the canyon. Above it you can see a sliver of a little waterfall feeding into it.
And when you get to just the right spot in front of it you can see there is another waterfall further up the slot. Imagine how long the water has been flowing there to carve that slot!
Another feature very close to the falls was a place where water runs down off the rocks like a constant rain and trickles over this moss-covered wall. Almost impossible to get a good photo of, the water comes down over it like natural misters, and the moss wall twinkles from all the water running down over it. It’s kind of magical that something like this exists at all.
After crawling all over the Falls area looking for great shots, we retreated back to the sunny side of the creek for lunch. 
I’m getting in the habit of taking pictures of my boots to show where I’ve been.
Finally we headed back, stopping for pictures along the way.

Tiny flowers!
Then we passed Munra Falls again.
It comes down a sloped rock wall, and the trail bridge goes right next to it. Makes it very difficult to photograph!
So that was a fun morning out. Since the hike was only two miles, I had energy for a bit more. When I returned to my car I decided to drive up to the Toothrock Trailhead and see what was there. It is a restored section of the historic highway only open for walkers and bikes. So I took a stroll there. Great views of the river and Bonneville Dam.

Beacon Rock!
I was walking down the trail wanting to see Toothrock. I figured it was something like Beacon Rock. Eventually I realized I was walking alongside it the whole way – it is a HUGE rock. The freeway goes through a tunnel THROUGH it. I walked about a mile before I figured it out. Then I walked back, and stopped for a snack and sat on the old highway rockwork and enjoyed the view of the gorge and the cars zipping down the freeway for a bit. 
It was a beautiful day!

Multnomah Falls

Back to the Columbia River Gorge for a little hiking. Today I set out to challenge myself to do the most grueling hike I’ve ever been on – to the top of Multnomah Falls. Approx 1.25 miles up, 700ft elevation gain. It’s just kind of brutal, and it’s for no good reason at all, because basically all you can see from the top is the parking lot. But I had to do it. I’m hiking the Gorge, I might as well get it out of my way and check it off the list early.

Same as last week, I took the old highway for a nice scenic drive through the trees, swung by Crown Point again, and ended up at Multnomah Falls. What I wasn’t expecting was that there would be approximately a gazillion people there, and I would spend 20 minutes driving around looking for a parking spot – on a Monday in April?! I finally got one.

Here’s the traditional shot of the Falls, and the Benson Bridge. Beautiful. Much like Mt Hood, Multnomah Falls is one of those things that is ours. I used to visit it almost every summer with Grandma Lynn when I was little. I haven’t been back here in years. We just pass it on the freeway and go, oh look, there it is. I guess it’s time I paid my respects.

So I head on up to the Benson Bridge, and it is so full of people I have to weave between the selfie-sticks and strollers and people snapping photos just to get past. Too crowded for me. I continue on up the trail. Now, I know how awful this trail is, so I take it slow. Slow and steady. Take my time. Stop to rest when necessary. Then I start seeing signs – Switchback 1 of 11! Really, did you need to tell me that?!

As I continue up these steep switchbacks, I’m singing to myself ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ and ‘you got me beggin you for mercy’. By switchback 6 I’m questioning every decision in my life that lead to dragging my out-of-shape butt up this trail.

At least #8 has a view. It will be a nice place for them to find my body.

It was really all I could do to keep going, because it was hard, and I am lazy, and I know the view at the top isn’t really going to be all that, but I kept going, because I said I would. I didn’t want to go home and hang my head only having done 8 of 11 switchbacks. I also didn’t want to come back here and do this again later this summer just to prove I could do it. I had to prove to myself I could do it, TODAY. Eventually I made it to the top of the ridge, and then the trail starts going back downhill – turns out the last few switchbacks were short and on the downhill side, so it wasn’t so bad.

Finally I get to the viewpoint. Yup, there’s the parking lot. Oh, and a 542 foot drop to your certain death. Lets back carefully away from that. There’s a railing and all, but still…

Turn around and right behind you is a little waterfall feeding the pool that goes over the edge. Aww, that’s very pretty!

I walked back up the river and sat by it, photographing the rapids, having a snack and some more water. The people thinned out and it was very peaceful. Now I was feeling pretty good about my determination and perseverance. I guess there’s something to pushing yourself to meet a goal. I really feel proud of myself. I did it! And here’s my reward:

There were some very pretty rapids here. I should carry a little tripod for long exposures like these.

Finally I headed back. I felt nothing but pity for all the folks who were on their way up as I enjoyed the downhill trail. Finally I was back to the Benson Bridge, and it wasn’t as crowded, so now I could stop and enjoy the view of the upper falls.

That’s it, I was right up there…

Wow, that’s way up there!

Back past the Lodge and the fudge and ice cream stands and the smell of waffle cones, I found my wee little car and headed home. It was a good day.


Latourell Falls

I headed off for another adventure in the Columbia River Gorge, but this time I went down the Oregon side, headed for Angel’s Rest, which is a short hike to an overlook.

I got off in Corbett, OR, and took the Historic Columbia River Highway. There are lots of great overlooks, like this one at the Portland Women’s Forum Overlook, with a view of Crown Point, and Beacon Rock in the distance.

I enjoyed top-down cruising on this little adventure, thanks to Mr Miata. Here we stopped at Crown Point, Vista House.

Vista House is a classic stopping point on any trip in the Gorge. I can even see it from Steigerwald Wildlife Refuge back home.

So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised I can see Steigerwald from Crown Point! Hey, it’s right down there!

I continued down the old highway, enjoying driving through the tunnel of trees, when I came to Latourell Falls. I stopped to stretch and have a look at the falls which was an easy stroll from the parking lot.

The water was coming down so hard I had a tough time keeping my lens dry!

I had a black & white assignment to do for photo club, so I used one of these shots. I liked the contrast of the water against the rocks, and the texture of the rocks.

I returned to the parking area and pulled out my Curious Gorge Guide, and saw that Latourell has a 2 mile hike up to the upper Latourell Falls, and it rated it as easy to moderate, where Angel’s rest was rated moderate to difficult. Since I’m just getting in shape, I decided this sounded like a better option. I grabbed my pack and headed up the trail.

The trail is pretty, winding through the woods. Lots of little wildflowers here and there. It was shady and cool.

A few more peeks at lower Latourell Falls between the trees.

What a peaceful walk. There were other people on the trail, but not enough to be annoying. In fact I felt safer with a few people around, since I was alone.

I got tired and stopped for a break to drink some water, and laid back on a log and looked up at this amazing tree for a bit. Just think about how old that tree is! Think about the people who preserved this so we could enjoy it! We are so lucky to live in a place where that is a priority and we can afford to do so.

Finally I reached Upper Latourell Falls.

This picture doesn’t do it justice! It was pounding! There was a lot of water coming off of it, a mist reaching me even though I was still quite a ways back. Maybe this video will help: Upper Latourell Falls from Stephanie Roberts on Vimeo.

It’s all downhill from here…

More pretty flowers.

Finally I came to a rest stop with a view of the Columbia River and a nice bench for sittin’ and thinkin’.

Continuing down the trail, I came to this crazy tree!

And I saw a snail, which I guess isn’t too exciting, except we just don’t really have snails in the Portland area, I have hardly ever seen snails just hanging around. We got SLUGS, oh boy do we ever, but not snails.

Thank you, Mr Talbot!

Then the trail went back to the Historic Highway, and it was a short walk back to the parking area.

This was a really nice, easy hike, and the waterfall was totally worth it. I’m so glad I stopped to check it out!


Hiking to Steigerwald Wildlife Refuge


Sunday I headed out with a few friends to walk on the Washougal Dike Trail. It starts at Steamboat Landing (note: there are no steamboats anymore!) and goes to Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge. It was a bright sunny morning, and the Columbia River looked pretty and blue. I’m glad it gave us a little taste of that before returning to March’s standard—issue grey.



As we walked along the Dike we enjoyed the cottonwood trees that lined the river.



Steigerwald looks a lot like Ridgefield, and it’s probably closer to our new home, so I guess we should get used to coming out here.



This shot of the ducks with Mt Hood in the background was my favorite shot of the day.



I was a little partial to these leaning cottonwoods too.





We saw evidence of wildlife other than just the feathered kind.



Soon we came to the end of the road…


Time to head back.




On the way back we stopped at Cottonwood Beach for lunch before continuing towards town. We saw (though I did not get pictures of) several people horseback riding on the beach.



The sky was overcast and grey as we trudged back to the car. It was six miles all together, not a bad distance for a first hike of spring. It was nice and flat, just to get us in the mood for hiking again! It was very windy the whole way! But a nice walk with friends all the same.



Letterboxing and dog walking

I had a great day, but I didn’t take any pictures. What’s a blog post without pictures, right? Well, I’ll tell you about it anyway…

I got up and got right to my chores, then went to the hairdresser and got a long-overdue haircut. While I was there I got some gloomy news about how bad the economy is for them right now. I’m tired of hearing how bad it is for everyone. Wish I had better news to share myself.

Then I came home and worked in the garden. I tore out the overgrown lettuce last week, and today I put down compost to get those areas ready for planting my winter garden. Cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli starts are growing in little pots on the back porch, ready for their new digs. It’s always nice to make progress in the garden. I also picked up a glass window to be the top of my cold frame, so I need to get that built soon. Winter lettuce needs to go in in September to get it’s growing done before the days get too short.

Then we went Letterboxing. I have put off letterboxing for a long time because I didn’t have a homemade stamp and wasn’t keen on making one. I finally carved one out of an eraser, a little dog paw print. So I finally picked up an ink pad for it, and printed out a couple local letterboxes and we went and found them. No problem, found 3 out of 3 – I won’t expect that all the time! To my surprise, when I checked the log almost everyone had stamped it with professionally made stamps! Well heck, I should have just bought a cute stamp ages ago and got busy looking! Well, anyway, it was fun. I miss Geocaching, but since we don’t have a GPS anymore, this will do for now. Looks like there are lots of Letterboxes in our area to find.

Came home, had a late lunch, saw Dave off to a meeting in town, and then I rounded up the eskies for a little walk at the park. We walked down the road to the secret entrance to the horse trail. Then we followed the horse trail up past group camp. There were campers there, singing songs, and Navi didn’t like it. She kept stopping to look around and growling at the sound, since she couldn’t see the campers! We left that park at the group camp entrance, came back down the road and then took the abandoned railroad tracks back to the house. Along the way a lady sitting on her back porch near the tracks chatted us up and complemented me on how pretty the pooches were 🙂 They behaved pretty well on their walk. I have them on a Y adapter, and most of the time Barclay was walking next to me with his half of the Y hanging loose, and Navi was pulling ahead. I need to work on her loose leash walking skills, then the two of them will be a joy to walk!

Then we played some fetch, the dogs took a dip in the pond, and finally everyone has worn down. Dog nap time! Now we just need Dave to get home with the pizza, maybe watch some Doctor Who, and life will be perfect.