Posts Tagged ‘snow’

Tanner Butte – Columbia River Gorge 2/1/11

Garmin Interactive Map

20.7 mi

Elevation Gain:
5,806 ft

Min / Max Elevation:
78 ft / 4,111 ft

Matt, Dexter, Sadie & I

Tanner Butte had been a hike on my ‘ to hike list’ for along time. Its one of the many higher mileage day hikes in the Columbia River Gorge. I had finally dedicated myself to getting an early enough start to have the opportunity to finish before dark.

The trailhead starts in an awkward spot right off of exit 40 (Bonneville Dam). You can either park at the Wahclella Falls trailhead (just to the right/South as you come off i84) or the Tooth Rock parking lot (just left/East at the fork). Tooth Rock parking is free and is known for access to the Columbia River Gorge Historic Highway that has been converted into a walking / biking path in different sections. Tooth Rock is just West of Eagle Creek (Punch Bowl Falls & Tunnel Falls) and serves as the trailhead for Wauna Viewpoint. We parked at the Wahclella Falls trailhead (requires a NW Forest Pass) .

From the parking lot you walk back (North) towards i84 where the road forks – the hike begins here. The trailhead is halfway decently marked, but beyond this good luck…

Matt and I brought information about the hike; however, it did not completely help as there were many unmarked and obscure roads. We explored a few roads and one finally led us to the top of some ridge dead-ending. Discouraged as we were hiking down we started to plot our itinerary for the rest of the day – possibly hitting up a couple other hikes in the area. We ended up giving it one last shot and found the correct road, which led us to the Tanner Butte Trailhead … finally!

Apparently back in the day you were able to drive to the real Tanner Butte Trailhead. From the get-go the trail is beautiful! It starts with a series of small cascading waterfalls. We had to hike across a small icy creek that required some rock-hoping preplanning to prevent getting wet. My dog Dexter loved walking through the creek hydrating while my brothers dog Sadie is still deathly afraid of water. Sadie would not budge – I had to grab her scruff and pull her across the creek. This didn’t wade well for my feet as they got slightly damp with many more miles to go.

There was a strong East wind that kept the air brisk – chilly brisk that is! Needless to say, I wasn’t willing to bust out my camera much and sacrifice my hands freezing. Much of the hike we stayed in the dense forest somewhat protected from the wicked East wind of the Columbia River Gorge.

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[The Snowy Tanner Butte Trail – Dexter loves to run ahead]

Luckily once we got onto the Tanner Butte trail it was mostly easy to follow. As you can see above the trail clearly cuts through the forest. Sections of the trail we hiked were actually an old road. There was a few areas where it almost got away from us (due to the deceiving snow) that we took loose tree limps and logs to clearly mark  the trail to see on the way back.

The snow level had been at a high elevation for awhile leading up to this trip, but since much of the trail hikes through dense forest the snow is protected from the sun leaving us to hike though it. Most of the way the snow was firm and icy. As the snow melted off the tops of the trees the moisture created divots in the snow – this was definitely wearing on your feet and ankles causing your foot strike changed constantly. Hiking a few miles through this type of terrain slowed us down tremendously. As we reach a vista we felt like we were near the summit, but it was a false summit – a beautiful vantage point though!

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[Mt Hood with Tanner Butte in the near distance]

It was starting to get late in the day so we had to make some difficult decisions. From the ‘false summit’ we decided to give the summit a shot. After a half mile or so the trail disappeared as did our summit fever. The snow had gotten thicker and icier and the forest had grown a few too many trees leaving us to poor visibility. Just a few hundred vertical feet from the summit we decided it was best to not show up in the news and turn around.

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[Mt Adams in the distance]

When hiking you see so many different things – when you are leading vs following or when you are going ‘out’ or coming ‘back.’ As we were hiking ‘back’ we got a glimpse of Mt Adams in the distance.

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[Matt in good spirits]

The decision to turn around or keep trekking is a difficult one to make. Like many, I want to reach my final destination – the summit! However, there are many factors that are considered prior to turning around – time/day light, trail conditions, supplies packed, individual’s fatigue. We probably would have been okay, but didn’t want to risk coming back to the wrath of our significant others for arriving way late 😉

IMG_2624[Munra Point just West of us]

On the way back we took full advantage of the downhill keeping a solid pace. With just a couple miles left the sun started to set behind the might ridges of the Columbia River Gorge. It made for a cool shot of Munra Point and reminded me of how steep of a climb it was!  We arrived back to the car just as it was nearing complete darkness. The dogs fell asleep instantly as they probably put in double the mileage we did!

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Cooper Spur / Tilley Jane Area 1/22/2011

Garmin Interactive Map

3.91 miles

Elevation Gain:
1,401 ft

Min / Max Elevation:
3,803 ft / 5,213 ft

Kristin, Dexter, Myself

Cooper Spur is located on the Eastside of Mt Hood. Cooper Spur is a smaller resort (hotel/cabins) with one ski lift. The last few winters the resort itself hasn’t had the greatest snow winter with having to be closed much of the season. This side of the Mountain is a nice escape as it is much less busy compared to Highway 26 side with Timberline Lodge, Ski Bowl, Summit and Mt Hood Meadows traffic coming from Portland.

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The trailhead is just above Cooper Spur Resort off of the Cloud Cap Road. This trail is popular for snowshoers, cross-country skiers, snowboarders, and climbers. Typically most people hike to the Tilley Jane Cabin area, which is about a 5 mile RT hike. During the winters the conditions beyond Tilley Jane toward Cooper Spur (Top of Spur – 9,000 ft) can be wicked windy. During the summer time the trail is heavily used by hikers as it accesses the Timberline Trail#600 (Loop around Mt Hood).

 

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[Trail is well marked]

This area has changed dramatically over the last few years due to major wildfires. The Gnarl Ridge Fire burnt many acres leaving behind limbless trees. Prior to the fire the forest was dense and cozy feeling – now the terrain is much more open with just burnt trees standing behind. With the help of mother nature the forest’s openness provides much clearer views of the Cascade Mountain Range.

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[Looking into the Valley through the burnt trees]

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[Mt Hood]

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[Mt St Helens]

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[Mt Adams]

Sadly, there wasn’t any fresh powder or really any snow. I had packed our snowshoes thinking we may use them on a few steep parts, but it wasn’t necessary as other hikers had imprinted the trail with their large snowshoe prints creating a stairway to Tilley Jane.

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[Snow Hiking]

I was surprised how little snow there was and how many bare spots lay at 5,000 ft in the dead of winter! It definitely made hiking less tiring minusing out the extra weight of snowshoes on the feet.

 

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[Dex & I]

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[Kristin & Dex]

This is a popular trail for dogs. Most of the dogs (huskies) we saw were more winter-fit compared to our short-haired friend Dexter. Dexter definitely got a workout in sprinting up and down hills investigating the trail ahead. We discovered afterwards that Dexter’s paws were a little raw due to the ‘ice’ so it might be wise to get some booties for these types of conditions in the future…

 

 

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[Cloud Cap Cabin]

We decided to turn back before making it to Tilley Jane due to the sun setting. I tried reassuring Kristin that I had headlamps and it would be doable – needless to say we turned around and headed for Hood River. We hit up Big Horse Brew Pub in Hood River for a quick burger and brew before making the trek back to the city..

Crater Lake! – Crater Lake Trip

 

Crater Lake is just shy of 2,000 feet deep making it the deepest lake in the United States of America and the seventh deepest globally. Crater Lake is kinda a big deal. This area of Oregon receives some of the highest snow levels in the Continental United States (average of 44 feet!), which definitely helps with keeping water levels up!

With the lake itself being at 6,000 plus feet we were definitely expecting to run into a bit of snow in October; however, not 6 inches….

 

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We approached Crater Lake National Park from Northern end and started to climb in elevation quickly hitting gobs of snow. There were many pull outs, but they were not plowed and I did not want to deal with getting stuck. Unfortunately, Wizard Island and Crater Lake were mostly socked in as new storm systems were moving in. We did get a short glimpse of see Wizard Island before the clouds ate it up.

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[And Wizard Island disappears.. ]

Despite there being 6 inches of snow on the ground and it being October – Fall had not completely came and gone…

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[Life must be tough for this little guy]

We briefly visited the visitors center as it was the only thing open. The Crater Lake Lodge had been boarded up and Winterized just a few days prior. Even though we weren’t blessed with the ‘perfect’ conditions it was nice to not have to pay a park entrance fee, not have to deal with the insane traffic, and it was very cool to see the lake with snow / fall colors!

Bend, Oregon – Crater Lake Trip

After our adventures at Proxy Falls and Dee Wright Observatory we arrived in Bend, Oregon at lunch time. Where else better to go in Bend during lunch time – one of the many breweries of course! We chose the Bend Brewing Company. Great place with good eats and solid brews.

bend brewery

While we were in Bend we also visited the ranger station to get some info on camping in the area. I was dissatisfied with the little info I did get from the person there – they knew nearly nothing about the area. I do have to say that at most visitor centers / ranger stations I’ve been to I have had great experiences. So I proceeded to purchase my NW Forest Pass, grab a few maps and head towards Mt Bachelor along the Cascade Lakes Highway.

From some prior research of the area and hiking up the South Sister a few months earlier we just winged things. The one thing that the ranger was sure of was that we could camp anywhere in this area. Along the Cascade Lakes Highway there are numerous camping areas and hiking trails. It was starting to get dark so we pulled off at one of the first ones we came across – Soda Creek. Things in late October at Soda Creek consisted of us being the only ones around – this is definitely not the case during the summer months!

Garmin Interactive Map of Camping Spot

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[Soda Creek]

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[Animal remains…]

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[First order of business – A Widmer Brrr]

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[Making do with the resources around]

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[Ah yes, warmth!]

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[Light dusting of snow over night]

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[I love my #5 shorts!]

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[Cleaning up  the camp site]

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[Map of Cascade Lakes Highway – Click to enlarge]

We continued South with our next stop at Diamond Lake.

Eagle Creek – Punch Bowl Falls – Tunnel Falls – Wahtum Lake

MAY 7 2010

5,310 Feet
30.02 miles Round Trip
Myself, David, Drew
Eagle Creek Hiking Photos

Route Replay
Hiker Trail Info

Eagle Creek is an extremely popular trail due to the multiple waterfalls, swim areas, and its relatively flat. The trail starts about a half mile or so from the Camp Host area (right of Interstate 84). If you plan on doing a multi-day trip it is wise to park here and tack on the extra mileage because it will give you some peace of mind that your car is relatively safe in this more highly trafficked area.

The trail parallels Eagle Creek most of the way providing you with some great views of the creek, waterfalls, and high cliffs. Eagle Creek flows through a small gorge with high cliffs on either side. Much of the trail was cut into the hillside – hence its unstableness during the winter months.

On hot summer days the general public usually hikes up just 2 miles to Punch Bowl Falls. This is a beautiful waterfall that has become a hot spot for adrenaline seekers. For others it is simply a popular swimming hole. However, in May it seemed as though nobody was willing to test out the mountain cold water.

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[Thrill Seekers jumping off of Punch Bowl Falls]

The High Bridge that crosses over Eagle Creek is at about mile 3 and is another popular out and back day hike. Just another 3 miles down the trail is Tunnel Falls (6miles in). Tunnel Falls is a man made tunnel that moles through the cliff side behind a waterfall. The tunnel was blasted and built back in the 1910s as another attraction along the Historic Columbia River Highway. This is an awesome waterfall that is extremely powerful! This video walk-through does not do it justice, but gives you a glimpse –

[Dave filming Drew and I walking through Tunnel Falls]

For day hikers the journey typical ends here at Tunnel Falls. I always recommend to family and friends to walk another .2 miles up trail to enjoy yet again more waterfalls. Twisty Falls is a cool falls and just above it there is a great lunch spot along the creek.

IMG_9408 [Twisty Falls]

Twisty Falls was the furthest I had hiked up until this trip. I have 2 beefs with the Eagle Creek Trail – How crowded it gets and how rocky the trail is. When it is really crowded on this trail it can definitely ruin your hiking experience. Many sections of this trail are along cliffs with not-so-wide trail, which makes it difficult pass by others. The other small annoyance is how rocky the trail is. It may sound petty, but when you log some decent mileage on this trail your feet will definitely let you know!

We left on a Friday afternoon and avoided most of the crowds. Beyond Tunnel Falls we saw just 5 people (over the course of 6 miles). The section after Tunnel Falls is absolutely amazing with many more waterfalls. As you start to gain elevation the trail improves from sharp rock to soft undergrowth – making things much easier on the feet and knees.

Our start time was 1:16pm. Our plan was to make it up to Wahtum Lake and camp there. Then the following day based on weather conditions we would hopefully do a loop up to Chinidere Point – Benson Plateau – and down Ruckel Creek. I was well aware that snow levels were low and that our trip could be altered, but I was excited to just get out on the trail and was cool with playing things by ear.

Passing people early on we were asked about our trip. This older guy told us a few stories about “when he was younger” and how him and his buddies hiked all over the area. Then he proceeded to tell us that it would be a long shot for us to make it up to Wahtum Lake that night. This nonetheless motivate the hell out of us. I knew it might be close, but was definitely optimistic with how we were holding up so far pace wise.

From Twisty Falls the trail continues to follow the creek for just another mile or so then shoots up into the dense forest gaining some decent elevation. At about 2100ft (Inspiration Point) you get a decent glimpse of how vast the Columbia River Gorge Forest is. Beyond Inspiration Point we were welcomed with small sections of snow. At first it was kind of fun – then it became annoying – then we were completely done with it and never wanted to see it again.

IMG_9452 [Dave and Drew at Inspiration Point looking onward]

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[Dave struggling in the soft deep snow – Drew plotting a much smarter route to avoid being eaten up by the deep cold snow]

Despite the deep snow and us probably being somewhat ill-equipped for such conditions we pushed on and finally made it to Wahtum Lake. However, this was the scene when we arrived…

DSCN0505[Me taking a break from the snow in a mud puddle – also contemplating this as a camping spot]

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[Wahtum Lake snow covered in all]

Once we arrived to Wahtum Lake we achieved are goal, but definitely needed a place to eat, get warm, and sleep and Wahtum Lake was definitely not it! After strategizing about possible alternative routes – we finally came to our senses after starring off into the obis and seeing snow everywhere. It was decided to turn around and head back down below the snow level. We plowed through the snow in a quarter of the time it took us to hike up. We quickly hiked down and could feel the temperature increase as we dropped in elevation. It got dark fast in the trees so we had to bust out our headlamps to find camp.

Hiking up we saw many great camping spots. This trail is highly used by boy scout groups and is well-maintained with good signage and plentiful campsites near the trail.  We pulled off at the first decent looking camp spot. Time was of the essence as the little day light we did have was fading fast. We quickly unpacked and started setting up the tent, cooking dinner, and gathering firewood.

Lucky for us it was rather warm once we hiked down below the snow level. We had a few solid attempts at building a fire with water-logged wood, but in the end it was a failure. However, it was definitely entertaining to see who could get the fire to sustain itself the longest.

DSCN0513 [Dave’s 2 man tent ended up having to fit 3 men – it all worked out okay in the end..]

We awoke to a cold morning. With our subpar fire starting skills and the wet wood we decided to get on the trail right away. We hiked a few miles down to another great camping spot and cooked up some piping hot oatmeal – delicious!

DSCN0523 [Love oatmeal in the morning!]

IMG_9519 [Nearby creek – used it to clean our dishes]

After breakfast the sun started to come out a bit warming up the densely cool forest. With doing an out and back hike instead of our planned loop things were a bit more relaxing. We didn’t have to worry about time and were able to take in the sights a bit more as our pace was much less rigorous going down. We came across a few early risers who had similar plans as ours. We shared our experience and talked out some possible alternative routes due to snow levels.

We reenergized at one of my favorite spots on the way back – Twisty Falls. Took the boots off, ate some food, and took in some vitamin d.

The sun and blue skies brought out the crowds. Once we turned the corner to Tunnel Falls we started to see more and more people. It was nice as all of the traffic was headed up trail.

We took a couple more short breaks just off the trail to give the feet a break from the sharp rocky trail. I finally learned how to use the ‘macro’ feature on my camera.

IMG_9539 [testing out my camera features]

This was a solid backpacking trip. I would recommend it most especially to the beginner backpacker (in ideal conditions) as it is relatively flat, just 30 miles and has amazing views (waterfalls, riverside hiking, valley views, etc). If you wanted to cut down on the mileage you also could drive up to Wahtum Lake and hike down through Eagle Creek.

Horsetail Falls – Rock of Ages – Bell Creek – Franklin Ridge – Triple Falls

Distance: RT 17 miles
Duration: 6 hours 15 minutes
Party: Casey and Myself
Horsetail Falls – Rock of Ages – Bell Creek – Franklin Ridge – Triple Falls Photos

Casey was home from Graduate School on spring break so we had decided to mark up another adventure with a hike in the Columbia River Gorge. It has become tradition to do an ‘extreme adventure’ in hopes of only topping our last one. Just a few of our hiking adventures have included Dog Mountain, Larch Mountain, Mount Defiance, Cooper Spur, and the Timberline Trail among others. Most of these hikes turn into extreme epic-ness just because we end up hiking up then trail running down at an ungodly pace that can only be good for a few things – screwed up knees and a time to brag about later.

We started the hike from the Horsetail Falls trailhead. From there I decided to take him up the strenuous climb to Rock of Ages. This climb begins at the corner before you reach Ponytail Falls/Upper Horsetail Falls and shoots up the hillside above the falls. I always enjoy taking the quick offshoot trail to a spot atop Horsetail Falls. Here you can stretch a bit to prepare yourself for the real burn ahead and take in the beauty of the falls with the Columbia River Gorge in the background.

Upon reaching Rock of Ages we snapped a few Christmas card worthy pictures before the strong Eastern Gorge winds blew us off the cliff. Just beyond Rock of Ages there is one other great vista view before topping out at between 3,700 -4,000 feet. I like to call this vantage point spot ridge rock – I feel like Lewis, Clark and even Sacagawea would appreciate the name. From “Ridge Rock” we enjoyed the views after the long strenuous climb, but didn’t stick around long fearing the sweat on our backs would turn cold and our muscles would tighten up. From the “Ridge Rock” the steepness of the trail mellowed out and we were well over half way before reaching the Horsetail Creek trail Juncture.

The Horsetail Creek Trail heads both East and West. If you go East on the trail you’ll hike to Nesmith Point (3,872 ft). We hiked West to come upon another trail juncture – Bell Creek/Oneonota Creek Trail Juncture. Notice both trail signs show both trails eventually leading to the Oneonta trail.


The shorter Oneonta trail route (2.3 mi) traverses down a series of steep switchbacks to the Oneonta Creek. The longer route to the Oneonta trail is scenic as it wines through what felt like an old growth forest with small creeks flowing freely and meadows seemingly untouched – a beautiful area that I will definitely have to come back to explore. Below is a picture of moss being divided by a trail occupied by avid hikes and wildlife alike. 

The trail continued to meander through the highly dense forest crossing streams. Portions of the trail were snow-covered, which definitely made it difficult to keep the feet completely dry. We saw the occasional paw/hoof print – we were fortunate enough to not come accross anything too big! The terrain was great with rolling trails on a soft pine coated – mossy surface. During our 3.3 mile detour to Oneonta we came across another couple of trail junctures – both accessing the Larch Mt trail. The first trail juncture was just a mere 2 miles from the summit of Larch Mountain, which was tempting to veer off track for some views atop on the clear sunny day. The second juncture splits connecting to either Larch Mountain trail (much further away from summit) or to Franklin Ridge. We split towards Franklin Ridge.

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I have hiked on the Franklin Ridge a few times, but I have one vivid memory that sticks out…. Franklin Ridge is a steep ascent and descent. On this particular day Brian and myself were ascending the ridge on one of Portland’s hot summer days with a heat blast aroud 90+ with strong humidity. I regularly carry plenty of liquids – usually my 3 liter reservoir and an extra water bottle (for extra water and to use when purifying water). In most parts of the Columbia River Gorge there is plenty of water to be found; however, Franklin Ridge is one of the areas of little to no water.

We were well over half way from the top of the ridge when came upon 2 women who started their trek from Multnomah Falls. They were in their early twenties, carrying just one empty water bottle each in their hand (less than 24 ounces, which was probably sweated out of them during the hike up to Multnomah Falls). They explained the direction they were heading and how they planed on hiking the loop (Multnomah falls – Franklin Ridge – Triple Falls – Horsetail Falls – then back on the Columbia River Gorge trail, which parallels the old highway). Their ghostly white faces displayed signs of fatigue, exhaustion and dehydration. We immediately filled up their empty water bottles and let them drink most of our liquids. Once refreshed and rejuvenated they admitted they were feeling much better. We explained that not far after descending the ridge there were some great spots to jump into the water to cool off. And off they went…. Hydrated and all.

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Starting from the top of Franklin Ridge descending to the bottom to the Oneonta trail definitely requires some trekking poles as the knees were starting to ache. The trail is literally cut into the hillside with steady but steep switchbacks zigzagging down, down, down. The winter snow covers the hillside, which makes it nearly impassable leaving no trace of the trail. With all of the snow this area can recieve throughout a strong winter the ground can be extremely unstable with all of the melt off. We came across many down trees, rock slides, and washed out portions of the trail.

The evidence of the pure strength of Mother Nature is absolutely amazing. A huge reminder of Mother Nature’s power in the Portland area is the year of 1996. The Portland area (mountains included) received high quantities of snow. Spring came fast and was the catalyst for the great floods of 96. In addition to the flooding there were multiple landslides including one that completely picked up a house and slid it down the hillside intact. The house still stands as a structure today and can be seen just East of the Ainsworth State Park exit off of Interstate 84.

From the Oneonta trail juncture it was a long 1.5 miles or so until we hit the triple falls. Just above the falls is a brand spanking new bridge that was helicopter in replacing the old one that was washed out recently. The new bridge is place a tad up the river more and higher above the raging river then the last. At Triple Falls we secured a lunch spot and enjoyed the view and copious amounts of food. After a short break it was difficult to lace the shoes up, put on the pack and get back on the trail. We both dreaded the the section of rocky switchbacks down to the bridge overlooking Oneonta Gorge as the knees were a bit sore at this point. Crossing the bridge we begin the ascent up to Ponytail Falls / Upper Horsetail Falls – it was nice to switch up the muscles being used as the legs embraced the uphill as it had been so long since the climb to Rock of Ages and beyond.

No matter how many times I see Ponytail Falls / Upper Horsetail Falls I am always taken aback. Climbing up to Rock of Ages you gain an entirely different perspective and appreciation for the pure vertical feet to the top of the falls. As we hiked to, behind, and past the falls we reminisced about the start of the hike, at what point the burn began, and the incredible soreness we felt then. The last .5 mile down from the falls we sped down the trail in attempt to get through Portland before traffic hit.

I am looking forward to the next adventure in light of the homecoming of the college buds. I can only imagine something much longer, steeper, and dangerous….

Larch Mountain – Columbia River Gorge

Reminiscing…

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Now that we are in the Holiday season I find myself with even less time to get out and play. So to “get my blog on” this week I decided it would be best served by reminiscing about one of my favorite hikes in the Columbia River Gorge – the almighty Larch Mountain.

Larch Mt is one of my favorite hikes in the Columbia River Gorge due to its close proximity to the city and diversity of scenery along the trail. This hike can be done a few different ways –

Popular Starting Points: Larch Mountain

Multnomah Falls*

Horsetail Falls

Angel’s Rest

These are a couple of my favorite approaches. Multnomah Falls is definitely the shortest amongst all. However, Multnomah Falls (15 miles RT) is usually crowded and makes for a longer hike having to weave in and out of the numerous people making the “short” hike to the top of the falls. The “short hike” to the top is a far too common misconception amongst tourist as well as many Portland Metro Goers. Despite people even being able to visually see where the top viewpoint (noting the elevation gain) and seeing the mileage marker sign of 1 mile at the trailhead.

*A side note* – I have hiked up this trail passing women walking in high heals, pregnant women, people that were pulling up their 16 year old son in a wagon, morbidly obese people who look like they are going to collapse out of exhaustion, and many other misfits – but hey, at least they are out there right? Multnomah Falls recently has updated the one mile climb up with signage on each switchback to show what # of switchback you are on and the distance to go so people can decide if they still feel its worth it…

The trail follows up Multnomah creek most of the way up providing for beautiful views of multiple waterfalls and vistas. At the top – Sheppards Point 4,050 ft – views of Mt Hood, Mt Adams, Mt St Helens, Mt Rainer… on a clear day.

The first and last 2 miles are the most strenuous. Generally speaking – in the Columbia River Gorge, the first mile of most trails are steep and strenuous climbing to the top of the ridge of the gorge.

Just beyond the top of Multnomah Falls the trail traffic slows. The trail parallels Multnomah Creek for most of the way as it continues a slow but steady incline up to Sheppards Point. There are many waterfalls ranging in size – each very unique in their own way.

Three bridges cross over Multnomah Creek as the trail winds through the rugged hills up to Larch Mountain. Shortly after the third bridge crossing there is an open rock clearing. At this point it begins to steadily become steeper.

The next big trail juncture is 2 miles from Sheppards Point. The last 2 miles of the trail climb through a highly dense forested area with little visibility of the surrounding area making it difficult to navigate in the dark or when snow is on the ground.

I have gotten out of some sticky situations by understanding the topography of the area. I have hiked this trail in June on an 80+ degree day and 2.5 miles from Sheppards Point we hit snow. By knowing the topography of the area I knew it would be more efficient to stay along the ridgeline rather than following up the trail through the dense snowy forest. Many people have gotten lost in this area by coming into similar situations – the dense forest turns people around and disables their sense of direction completely.

I will be the first to say I have been lost. I actually like to phrase it more like “I was temporarily misguided.” I believe that being lost in somewhat of a controlled environment (comfortable weather; within close proximity of civilization; readily prepared – food, first aid kit, emergency blanket, etc) only strengthens your abilities to navigate and survive in more extreme situations. In some of my experiences of being lost people have the tendency to make irrational decisions that can potentially be damaging. It is absolutely quintessential to think clearly through each decision and action taken.

For all day hikes I go prepared with –

  • Day pack
  • Water (water treatment – iodine tablets)
  • Food (energy bars, trail mix, candy, etc)
  • First Aid (athletic tape, alcohol pads, pain reliever)
  • Clothes (Layers, rain jacket, fleece, gloves, beanie hat)
  • Knife
  • Whistle
  • Emergency Blanket
  • Headlamp
  • Fire (matches/lighter)

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Happy Hiking!