Hike 28 – Oneonta Trail (Horsetail Falls and Ponytail Falls)

Oneonta Trail

My sister has to work on Sunday again and apparently every Sunday for the foreseeable future. I guess when you politely explain to your scheduling manager that you have had Sunday off for 5 years, what she hears is that you want to work every Sunday for the rest of your life and have split days off. Hmmmm.

So, on Wednesday, we headed to the Oneonta trail head in search of Triple Falls. Both Jeremy Wedell and SteveZ told me it was a great hike and worth seeing so I wanted to see it. We had our second tag-a-long. Woohoo! My sister, the one and only, amazing Luke Strecker, and I hit the trail in the late afternoon. I didn’t have directions with me. I usually bring them, but this time I did not. So stupid. The trails in the gorge are so poorly marked it’s ridiculous. They are marked, periodically, but the markings make little to no sense. It might as well say red, green, and blue with arrows. No wonder so many people get lost in the gorge.

We headed up some beautiful switchbacks into the forest. It was raining, but not hard. Much like Lacey, Luke is a fabulous photographer, so we have lots of photos documenting the gorgeous scenery. I even brought my umbrella to keep his camera dry. It had never been opened before. Oregonians don’t use umbrellas. I bought it when I went to New Orleans.

We reached our first trail split and it had a ┬ánumber of signs with arrows. None of them said Triple Falls, of course. We headed toward Horsetail Falls. We reached the falls and crossed a bridge that had a printed, wet, held-down-by-a-rock paper that basically said, “This bridge is falling down. Only one person at a time should cross it.” Totally safe.

After we crossed the bridge and scoped out Horsetail Falls, we headed up some switchbacks toward Ponytail Falls. Ponytail Falls is one of the neato falls that you can walk behind. My sister and I decided it would be the perfect place to live in the event of a zombie apocalypse. We even picked out where our tents would go and the defenses that would be required to survive. Dibs.

After quite a bit more distance in that direction we realized we were hiking to nowhere and turned around. By the time we got back to the trail junction that would actually take us to Triple Falls, it was dark and we headed back to the car instead. My sister has this really irrational fear of getting stuck in the dark, so I try to appease her. Plus, I can go back there another day and see it ­čÖé

My knee is still pretty messed up from falling last week. As we headed back down the steep switchbacks, my sister and Luke were a mile ahead of me. Either Luke makes her go faster or I’m really really slow with this knee injury. I also suppose it could be a combination of the two. It was a lovely rainy day in the gorge and the falls and forests were beautiful.

For information about Triple Falls click here.


Hike 27 – Salmon River Butte Hike

Salmon River

We had to hike on Thursday this week. My sister had to work all day on Sunday and she does next week too. It’s almost as if the scheduler at Costco is doing it out of spite at this point. I had intended to hike with her on Thursday and then again with Josh Kanable and Jeremy Wedell on Sunday, but unfortunately it didn’t work out that way.

My sister met me at work at 2:30 on Thursday. My students leave at 2:20 so I thought I could run out and we could immediately head up the mountain with as much light as possible. Unfortunately not one but two sets of parents came to see me after school so our start was a little later than we intended. We were heading up to Salmon River to do the quick 5 mile 200 feet in elevation gain hike, but that didn’t work out either.

When I told Josh Kanable that we were heading up to Salmon River he suggested an alternate route. We parked at Salmon Butte and headed up. There was quite a bit more than 200 feet in elevation change in this hike, but we were okay with it. It was a sunny, beautiful January day and the air was cold and healing. As we walked parallel to the river we crossed multiple springs making their way to the river. Some were crossable by strategically placed rocks, others required fancy footwork including balancing on a piece of firewood. We stayed dry though.

As we headed up we were looking for a rock that signified an offshoot trail, following Josh’s directions to amazing waterfalls. After hiking for quite some time we realized we had obviously missed it. We decided to keep heading up until it started to get dark and then maybe hit the trail Josh suggested on the way back down (if we could find it). We headed through beautiful forest until my sister got freaked out about getting stuck in the dark and then we headed back down. I have no idea how many miles or how much elevation we did. Doesn’t matter. It was lovely.

On the way back down we did indeed find the rock and the trail behind it. We were supposed to head in about a half mile and then head up the river toward the falls. We walked about three hundred feet down the steep trail and then I stepped wrong on a root and fell, hard. I heard my knee pop and I hit the ground. It hurt bad enough that I had a picture of my sister hiking to the car, driving to the highway, and calling 911. I definitely imagined them finding me in the dark and being one of “those” hikers on the news. I rested on the ground for a minute and then tried to stand up. My knee, the troublesome area, held my weight. We made our way back to the car and had Subway in Sandy.

That was two days ago. I was feeling a lot better today. I was going to go on a hike tomorrow even though any sort of twisting still causes a shooting pain. I was putting something in a low drawer and I squatted down to look into the drawer. It turns out that, unbeknownst to me, I cannot squat with this particular injury. I fell to the floor writhing in pain and it was like the injury had just happened again. I’m going to rest and ice and hope that it gets better.

Despite the fall, it really was a great hike and a wonderful way to spend a Thursday afternoon. It is at least partially my fault because I forgot to take my hiking boots. Live and learn.

For information about the Salmon River Hike click here.

Hike 26 – Forest Park – Wildwood Trail – Germantown to FL #15

Forest Park Wildwood

We had every intention of hiking Triple Falls today. After my post last week I got a few texts from SteveZ about his favorites and I was all set to head out there today and finally deposit Aunt Patti’s ashes somewhere worthy. There were a few snags in the plan. I went out with Lacey and Becky last night and had way too much fun, so I woke up late. My sister is sick with a cold that I am slowly spreading to every single person I know and eventually across the world, maybe universe (insert sinister laughter). ┬áShe took Theraflu (which she calls night time tea) and also slept in late, through her alarm even. Since the evil Costco scheduler has yet to stop ruining our Sundays, we had to be done by 2:30 again. Needless to say, we didn’t have time for Triple Falls, but we are totally looking forward to hiking it in the future. Thanks SteveZ!

When I finally got to my sister’s house, I was pretty defeated. I had no idea where to hike today. She suggested Forest Park. We still have so many trails in Forest Park that we haven’t hiked yet. I know Wildwood alone is 30 miles, so we made it happen. We entered the trail on Germantown and hiked until we needed to head back to get my sister to work on time. After some highly advanced math (adding and subtracting) I have calculated that we did 7.5 miles out and back. The trail is truly beautiful and as it works its way through peaks and valleys the scenery changes dramatically. We saw a lot of runners. We were also almost killed by a horse-sized dog. It was truly frightening. When your dog is that big, leashes people!

It was pretty muddy on the trail considering the tiny amount of water we have received in the Pacific Northwest this year. I would have welcomed even more water and mud if it meant there was snow on the mountain. Come on snow. Come on.

As usual we talked of many things as we headed up and down and up and back down again meandering through the forest. We made a decision. We are both going to learn more about Tesla. He was just so cool. When we are done reading about him, we are going to build a Tesla coil. Why? Because we want to have a Tesla coil. Who doesn’t really? This was our train of thought:

1. I told my sister about Bill Murray and RZA and GZA walking into a bar and bar-tending one night. No matter what anyone ordered, they were served tequila shots. Hilarious, right?

2. Then we started talking about how Bill Murray and RZA and GZA must be friends because they were also together in the same segment of the movie Coffee and Cigarettes.

3. Then we started talking about Jack White wheeling around a Tesla Coil in a Radio Flyer wagon in the same movie.

4. Then we talked about Tesla for basically the rest of the hike.

Unlike Leif Erickson Drive, Wildwood Trail is actually a trail. If you’re going to hike in Forest Park, I recommend it. It’s my favorite in the park thus far. Despite the mud, it was pretty and an excellent day (there was even sun). Next week…something on majestic Mt. Hood. We are going to hike on Thursday because despite telling the scheduling lady time and time again that Sunday has been her day off for like a million years, my sister has to work next week again and this time all day. I’m starting to think that lady is ruining our fun intentionally. Knock it off, lady (I would normally call her something else, but I don’t want to offend anyone’s delicate sensibilities).

For information about Wildwood Trail click here.

Hike 25 – Salmon Creek Greenway

Salmon Creek

Who knew there were so many cool greenway paths in and around Portland? Probably someone, but not me. Each time my sister has to work on a Sunday (by the way terrible scheduling person at Costco, knock it off, she’s supposed to have Sundays off for Pete’s sake), we look for something close and not too challenging. There are a lot of good, long-ish, urban “hikes” that suit our purposes. We get to see interesting habitats and new neighborhoods. She has to work next weekend too, so I’m sure we won’t go anywhere amazing. We’ve actually been carrying around some of my aunt’s ashes to deposit somewhere beautiful, but we’ve yet to find the right place yet (except for when we forgot them in the car at Falls Creek Falls). I want to get back out in the wilderness soon. Cooperate weather. Cooperate evil Costco scheduler. Also, if you’ve ever done an amazing hike, I would welcome suggestions. I’m talking to you Josh Kanable, Jeremy Wedell, and SteveZ.

The Salmon Creek Greenway is in Vancouver, surprisingly along Salmon Creek (mind blown). We got a late start because my sister is house hunting and we had to be done so that she could get to work by 2:30. I ended up having to drive her to work because we got done too late. She also rushed into a Subway in Vancouver and got a sandwich while I waited to drive quickly away. No Subway for me. I had pizza.

The greenway starts in Salmon Creek Park which is super easy to find and get to. Then you follow the paved trail along a wetland. There is the rushing (in winter) creek and many ponds full of ducks and herons. We got within five feet of a giant heron and it didn’t move a muscle. I took a picture, but it didn’t turn out. The greenway was full of all sorts. There was one lady talking to herself both times that we passed her and I imagined she was reciting Hail Mary’s like in Don Jon (see it if you haven’t). My sister’s calf muscle has really been bothering her and even on this paved, flat trail it was hurting her. I hope that stops soon.

Clark County is working on restoring the salmon habitat in the creek so there are a ton of planting projects in the works along the trail. I like that. Bring nature back! The trail is 6.2 miles out and back and it has one tiny, maybe 10 foot, hill. We saw a foursome skateboarding the trail. That is the second pack of skateboarders we’ve seen in two weeks. I like it. The lone girl, who didn’t know what she was doing, was wearing a helmet. Hooray for not being too cool to save your brains!

I can’t remember what we talked about. I remember we laughed really hard. I also remember saying that I read the Failblog every day because every day it makes me laugh aloud. Everyone needs to laugh more. It’s good for you…and your abs!

It was a pretty trail. I recommend it. Pavement hurts me. I yearn for dirt and rocks and silence. Soon.

For information about the Salmon Creek Greenway Trail click here.

Hike 24 – Mosier Twin Tunnels

MosierFor whatever reason, I didn’t get around to writing this right away which is a darn shame because I can’t ever remember all the details when I wait longer than a couple hours. Oh well.

I do remember that my sister and I played Sid Hoffman or Sid Frenchman. It’s a heck of a game. If you’d like to see how it’s played you can watch this silly Strongbad email. You can even play the game if you click on “that game” at the end of the email.

As I’ve mentioned before, people often ask to join my sister and me on our hikes. We are totally open to people joining us. Lots of people have asked, but no one has ever actually come with us…until now. The one and only, wonderful and beautiful Lacey Wroblewski hiked with us today. I got to know Lacey because she is besties with one of my favorite people in the entire world: the magnificent, the glorious, the extraordinary “Doctor” Becky Curry. It was awesome to have a tag-a-long.

We met at my sister’s house, as usual, except we met at a set time instead of “whenever we wake up.” I was late, of course. This is a new thing for me. I have been on time to everything I’ve ever done basically my entire life until about three months ago. I’m not sure exactly what happened three months ago, but timeliness is no longer one of my priorities. Sorry world.

The ladies hopped in my car, we stopped at Subway (of course), and blasting the best of Bjork we headed east on 84. I didn’t really look at the exact mileage and the hike was quite a bit further away than most of the ones we have done recently. It was a bit of a drive. The trail head is basically in Hood River. You take the exit and drive just a little over a mile to the parking lot. We paid our fee and got to it.

It was so so so so cold. We did not expect it. Lacey, who is an amazing photographer, brought her fancy-pants camera along and took brilliant pictures. My sister and I mostly just died of cold. It was so cold. Because we were in the shade of the gorge, it basically never got warm. There was a layer of frost that coated the ground and all of the amazing desert plant life as we walked shivering in the shade. After a couple miles, the paved trail hits the trail’s main feature, the two tunnels. They are amazing, a mixture of rock and wood, nature and man. Lacey took incredible pictures of them.

After we made our way through the tunnels, which were much warmer due to lack of wind, we were starting to realize we would never be warm.  Just when we were giving up hope, we rounded a corner and there it was, a sunny patch! We got in really close to the rocks to avoid the wind and sat in the glorious sun scarfing our Subway in near silence. The warmth and food were so good. We were energized.

We kept heading east and finished the in part of the hike in no time. We were worried about the way back, heading back into the shade, but it wasn’t bad. It really wasn’t. There were a lot of people out on the trail. It was a great hike with great company.

For information about the Mosier Twin Tunnels Hike click here.