Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, June 14, 2017

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, June 14, 2017
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, June 14, 2017

Friday, June 17, 2016

Go Take a Hike! - Thurs., June 16, 2016

The Columbia River Gorge Biennial Classic: That's what this weekend is all about...hiking over four days. I signed up for five 10k Volksmarches and one 5k Volksmarch for the weekend (starting Thursday).

Pertinent info on each walk so you can choose your
walk wisely for your level of fitness
All the walk routes are in the boxes in front
and the board behind them gives event info.
Thursday's weather forecast for the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon called for rain after 11:00 a.m. I hit the trail from Multnomah Falls to Wahkeena Falls at 8:40 a.m. under cloudy, threatening skies. The temperature was 49 degrees, perfect for a strenuous hike. 

Since this is a loop hike, we parked our cars at Wahkeena Falls which would be our finish spot. From Wahkeena Falls, we took the Return Trial to Multnomah Falls. 

No matter how many times I hike in the gorge, Multnomah Falls continues to impress with its spectacular grandeur. Multnomah is the highest waterfall (621') in Oregon.

Multnomah Falls
First stop (besides multiple rest stops) will be the viewing platform at the top of the waterfall, and then the walk continues higher and higher past other waterfalls, a spring, and then coming back down through Wahkeena Canyon, past Fairy and Wahkeena Falls. Elevation gain: 1,600'. 

After crossing the Benson Bridge (pictured above), the trail climbs up a series of 11 switchbacks and there is a sign at each one. Even though the morning was chilly, I soon had my coat and hat off because I was sweating at about switchback #4. And, yes, I was counting. 
The view of the Columbia River is awesome
Viewing platform at the top of Multnomah Falls
From here you can look down on the Columbia River,
I-84, the mountains in Washington state, and the parking lot.
Easy part of the trail...flat for a little bit
Middle Dutchmen Falls
Middle Dutchmen Falls
Dutchmen Tunnel - a natural rock overhang

All along the trail the sound of rushing water accompanies your footsteps. It is such a soothing sound. For a long time I was hiking by myself. I took my time and photographed as I went along. This is a strenuous hike, so it wasn't long before hikers starting passing me. 
Weisendanger Falls
Columbine
Weisendanger Falls from the top
Ecola Falls
Tiger lily flowers
Connector trail from Multnomah Falls to
Wahkeena Springs
Cool mossy trees look like they're dancing
From the main trail, we made a short detour to Wahkeena Springs. I had the place to myself. I found a comfortable rock to sit on with a second rock perfect for a footrest. I took off my coat and my hat and settled in to relax for a bit with my trail mix and to listen to the sound of the springs bursting forth from the earth. Five yards above Wahkeena Springs there's nothing but forest and all of a sudden, the water is gushing out from underground. Enough water to make Wahkeena Canyon, Fairy Falls and Wahkeena Falls. (You'll see those in a minute.)
Wahkeena Springs as seen from my
resting spot
Trail mix, footrest rock and hiking poles...
what more could a lady ask for?
Our Volksmarch turn-around sign
No sooner did I get comfortable on my rock, than it started raining; not just a little annoying mist, but full-blown rain. I stowed the trail mix, and put on the coat, hat and backpack. Then I made my way down the trail into Wahkeena Canyon. The canyon is only wide enough for the rushing water and a trail next to it. 

Wahkeena Canyon

Wahkeena Canyon
The trail went steeply down and down. I had glorious sounds, forest scents, and scenes each step of the way. Wait a few minutes and the rain is gone, replaced by a sunny day!

Fairy Falls
Never underestimate the power of water. These Douglas fir trees are 70-100' tall, yet look what the flowing water did; it undercut the roots and bye-bye tree.


What the trail looks like
Lemmons Viewpoint of the Columbia River
(notice how nice the weather is now?)
Upon rounding a corner and taking a few steps down, Wahkeena Falls comes into view. You'll get spray from this waterfall as you pass by.

This bridge is 1/2 mile from my car!
Wahkeena Falls from the parking lot.
Wow! When I returned to the parking lot it was filled to overflowing with people waiting for spots. I took my time and changed from my hiking boots into my Skecher Airs for walking and comfort.

I was really hungry after 6.2 miles of heavy-duty hiking. Back at the Port of Cascade Locks, the HQ for our Gorge Hiking Weekend, they offer a $3 lunch of a fresh-grilled hot dog, chips, Famous Amos Cookies and a drink. I got there as fast as I could.

As I was waiting in line for my lunch, I was right behind Carol and Dennis, the secretary and treasurer of the Menehune Marchers Volksmarch Club which I used to belong to when we lived in Hawaii. Small world! We had lunch together and they introduced me to other friends of theirs. Before I knew it, I had four new friends. They invited me to do the 10K Starvation Creek Falls walk after lunch. This walk was rated easy which was much needed after the morning hike.
Columbia River Gorge
I rode with Dennis and Carol to the walk start point. From where we parked the cars, it was a one-mile walk, on a mostly level, wide paved path, to Starvation Creek Falls. The sun was glistening on the falls and we were all in awe of how pretty it was.

Starvation Creek Falls
 Everyone photographing and appreciating Starvation Creek Falls.


Starvation Creek Falls
Columbia River Gorge
We then returned on the same trail and were heading into a campground. An official-looking gentleman pulled up in his truck, got out and said, "I have something for all of you." OK, bring it on. Turns out his name is Kevin Price and he's the Region Manager for Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. He gave each of us a commemorative pin of the Columbia Gorge State Parks with a picture of the Vista House on it. We were all delighted. Volksmarchers like to collect souvenir pins, in addition to the pins and badges we earn by walking.

Before he drove off, I told him he picked a good group to stop because we were from all over. Diana is from Canberra, Australia; Marietta is from Alabama; Dennis and Carol are from Hawaii and I'm from Texas. He was so happy.

Diana, Gary, me, Kevin, Dennis and Carol
Our group was so thrilled, that Dennis ran back to the car and got a little clip-on koala from Australia to give to him.
Kevin with his clip-on koala on his pocket
Diana, Marietta, Kevin, Dennis, Carol
We then walked through a campground to a very small waterfall which was another turn-around point. From there they had us walk through someone's camp site. We had to explain to the people that they would probably be having a number of people visit them throughout the weekend. They were good-humored about it. They said, "Do any of them cook and clean?"
Very small waterfall (more like rapids!)
Our next destination on the walk was Viento State Park Campground. We walked on the roads through the campground out to the Columbia River.

Columbia River looking west
and looking east
We saw this little rental trailer that they're touting
as a tiny home.
From the campground, we walked back to the car. Dennis and Carol dropped me off at my car and we all continued back to our respective lodgings for the night. Tomorrow morning we will all meet at the Falls Creek Falls trailhead.

On the way home, I ran into massive traffic jams, but still made it back to mom's at 5:32 p.m. I had told her I thought I'd be home at 5:30. Pretty darned close with all that traffic to contend with.

Mom and Jan had made baked potatoes which we cut up and served with chili. We also had a tomato and cucumber salad with Italian dressing. I was so full I couldn't eat it all so I saved some for lunch another day. And then they had raspberry shortcake for dessert. I had to wait a while before I could eat that. Instead of shortcake or a biscuit, they serve the berries on a heated blueberry-walnut muffin. Mmmmmmm! Thank you Mom and Jan for a delicious dinner.

Are you tired yet? I am, and this was only Day 1 of a four-day hiking weekend!

Tomorrow Falls Creek Falls and Fantail Falls. Must. Get. Sleep!








2 comments:

  1. Yes, I am tired. What a full, glorious day. You are so much like us in the way you don't let the rain spoil enjoying the beauty of God's country. Awesome.

    ReplyDelete
  2. That sounds so amazingly fun. AND the pictures are beautiful. That does sound very ambitious though, to do so many walks over 4 days. While I log 25 miles a week, it is on even terrain and without any type of a pack. Not sure that I could do that. Your fitness level must be amazing.
    I am seriously impressed.

    ReplyDelete

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