Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.

Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.
Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

2S2G* - Mosier Tunnels - Day 7, Thurs., June 19

I am excited about today's 13K (8 mi) Volksmarch to the Mosier Tunnels. In 1921, the original Columbia River Highway was routed along the cliffs, and twin tunnels were blasted to take the roadway through a high, rocky blockade. Because of numerous rockfalls and accidents, in 1954 a new road was built closer to the Columbia River. The tunnels were abandoned, fell into disrepair, were neglected, then filled with rubble and forgotten. The tunnels were locked off to make them inaccessible because of a high danger of falling rock from the cliffs above. Over the years, trees grew in the old road bed.

Fast forward to the mid-1990s when the decision was made to re-open the tunnels for tourist use. First, the rubble had to be removed and the tunnels made safe from rock falling from above. The solution could have been to reinforce the tunnels from within but that wasn't good enough. Sooooo, a unique catchment structure was built to catch rocks falling from above. The structure is designed to catch rocks (up to 5,000 pounds falling 200') and not let them bounce off the edge and down the mountain. I remember reading all about this in The Oregonian when we lived in Portland, but I supplemented my memory with an article from Portland Hiker's Field Guide.

Trail under the Catchment Structure.
I feel pretty safe here!
Twin Tunnels Catchment Structure
But let me back up. We arrived at Cascade Locks Marine Park where the Columbia River Volkssport Club staffs the registration, start, finish, and lunch for the 13 walks and one bike event this weekend. We plan to do seven of the 13 walks in four days.

We signed up and paid for all seven walks this morning and we will do the walks at our leisure. Today we will do the Mosier Tunnels 13K walk and the 5K Cascade Locks Town walk.

After we signed in, we headed out to Hood River where we started our walk at the Senator Mark O. Hatfield West Trailhead of the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail. The path was paved all the way so we had a nice level walking surface along with shade and sunshine, ups and downs. Fauna consisted of big leaf maple, Douglas fir, wildflowers and lots of poison oak (which we avoided like the plague!). We did the 13K in three hours. Wow, we're so proud of ourselves.

Samuel Hill had a great quote: "Tourists want three things: a good road to drive on, something worthwhile to see and something worthwhile to eat..."

The Columbia Gorge Historic Highway helped develop road-building skills in our nation. With the curves and loops shown below, steep terrain could be traversed in a manner that cars could travel upon it.

How the highway was made, a precursor of modern roads.
 The paving techniques in the 1920s were born of necessity.

Here's where we walked...
Susan photographing the eastern end of the Columbia River Gorge.

The Senator Mark O. Hatfield West Trail
Gorgeous views of the Columbia River Gorge and I-84
Geology of Washington state (across the Columbia River)
Eighteen Mile Island in the Columbia Gorge.

Mosier Twin Tunnels
Susan M. at an adit (opening) in the tunnel wall.
Me goofing off at the adit.
Looking east from the viewpoint at Twin Tunnels Overlook
Susan M. ahead in the tunnels.
These grow all over the cliffs.
At the end of our 13K walk, we went back to the Marine Park and had our Volksmarch record books stamped. We paid $3.00 for the hot dog lunch provided by the club which included hot dog with all the fixin's, chips, Famous Amos Chocolate Chip cookies and a drink. Upon finishing lunch, we started the 5K Cascade Locks Town walk.

Susan M. fighting off the mountain lion
Sacajawea sculpture. She's pointing the way to the ocean.
Sternwheeler under Bridge of the Gods. On the docks,
people are fishing for salmon and shad, catching them too!
Sternwheeler Columbia Gorge on a tour.
The Columbia Gorge around Cascade Locks and Hood River is a premiere windsurfing spot. Today's stiff beeze brought out a number of windsurfers. People come from all over the world to windsurf here.
Windsurfers on the Columbia River at Cascade Locks
After walking past the marina and circling Thunder Island, we headed into town, walked to an art gallery (that was closed), then circled back and had ice cream at the local drive in.

View of the gorge from Thunder Island in Cascade Locks
This studio crafted the Sacajawea sculpture.
Too bad they were closed.
We went back to the start point, our record books were stamped and we headed back to our hotel.

One of the things I wanted to mention about today were some sights and flavors we experienced. Walking the Mosier Twin Tunnels Trail we had the sweet scent of the Douglas fir trees. Thimble berries were just ripening along the Tunnels Trail. Susan M. and I each found one ripe berry. They taste a little like raspberries. On Thunder Island, we walked on clover which filled the air with a wonderful perfume.

Back at the hotel, we decided to do a Walmart run to pick up a few items. Susan M. had lime potato chips for dinner and I walked over to Taco Bell and brought back three tacos for myself. She didn't want anything. We each had one of mom's chocolate chip cookies for dessert. So good!

Time now for me to check email and play Scrabble, then get some sleep.

Travel Bug feeling stiff from all the walking. Tomorrow, we conquer two 10K waterfall hikes.

Over and out.

* 2S2G - Two Susans to Go


  1. I'm sure enjoying following your walks. I'm looking forward to the falls ones tomorrow. I've also enjoyed the lime potato chips. Better head for the scrabble board. :)

    1. Hey Betty! You've been having some adventures of your own this summer. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. That brings back memories of the three months we spent volunteering at Bonneville Lock and Dam. Forgot how pretty it is around there!

    1. Where did you park your RV while you were there? We saw a couple of RVs practically under the freeway at the fish hatchery. Is that where you stayed? I bet you had lots of wind no matter where you were staying (and train sounds!).


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