Today I took my first solo hike. My sister had to work and everyone I asked was busy. It was such a beautiful day I didn’t mind at all. It was a perfect northwest hike day. I often think about what I’m going to write on the blog as I hike, silently composing if you will. Today I did that more than usual because I didn’t have my sister to talk to. So, here is the actual post I composed while walking:
I do not believe in God. I realize that some people might find that worrisome or sad. I do not. It is the conclusion I have come to after the sum of my life experiences. I am entitled to it as much as anyone else is entitled to their faith. I’m okay with it. While I was hiking today this was on my mind. It was on my mind because of the amazing beauty I experienced on the trail today. If there was a God, I have to believe you would find him in a place like Triple Falls, in a place where you are surrounded by beautiful creations (water, wind, snow, sun, plants, animals, and friendly people). I have to believe that if there were a God he would be far closer to a person in muddy boots on a hiking trail than those who sit in uncomfortable fancy clothes silently judging one another’s level of devotion and monetary contributions. As much as this is a hiking blog, it is also my journey. Nature is amazing. People, on the other had, can be a damn disappointment. On my Facebook page my religion says, “No Church in the Wild.” Admittedly, that is a Kanye West lyric (I like his music. Don’t judge me). It’s true though. There is no church out there, because church isn’t necessary in the wild. You’re a part of everything.
Triple Falls doesn’t look very amazing in my picture above. It could basically be a trickle. I assure you. It is not. It is absolutely incredible. The trail is steep. I was utterly alone the entire way up. On the way down I passed a ton of people, but I got a pretty early start so it was eerily (perfectly) quiet in the woods today. The hike from the Oneonta trail head to the falls is 1.8 miles. Officially it has 650 feet in elevation change, but it felt more like 7000 million feet in elevation change, so I’m not sure that is accurate. There was snow covering the trail in many places, but hikers before me had created dirt covered footprints that kept me safe. The sun was peaking through the whole trip, warming my body and soul. Water trickled from every surface. The forest was alive.
I went a ways past Triple Falls because a lovely bridge (feature) was visible in the distance. I kept going and eventually got close to a burning fire. There was smoke billowing up in the trees and I could smell it… and it creeped me out. I could think of many sketchy reasons to have a fire going in the middle of the trail but I could only think of a few legit ones. I decided I didn’t want to happen upon anyone on my own. My mind is always operating in a horror movie scenario. I turned around. I would guess I hiked just shy of four miles total. It was amazing.
For information about Triple Falls click here.
We have done 30 hikes! How cool is that? We hiked on Monday this week, which I guess is technically the next week, but whatever. It was a rainy stormy day, so we definitely had the rain gear out. It didn’t help much. Beyond the rain, this hike was just crazy wet. I loved it. I can’t imagine hiking it dry now. It wouldn’t be nearly as cool. Eagle Creek has cliff sides that are shear and amazing. They are so high and so dangerous that permanent wires are attached to the walls that you can hold on to as you walk. When it is raining, and there is snowpocalypse snow-melt occurring, water just pours over them. It is really incredible.
We both had our super water resistant hiking boots on and we still got wet. We saw tons of people hiking in just tennis shoes. Quite frankly, that is crazy. Get ready to roll a fresh ankle. We got wet at the same spot. There is a small creek crossing that was roaring due to the snow-melt and we both went in, obviously not on purpose. We are not graceful, my sister and me. She went in on the way up. I went in on the way down. Wet feet are better than painful feet though. Hiking boots are super comfortable.
We have been carrying around our aunt Patti’s ashes for the last 10 hikes or so looking for a place to deposit them. We finally found it. We intended to hike to High Bridge which is an aptly named amazingly high bridge 3.2 miles from the trail head. However, neither of us had ever been to Punchbowl Falls, so we decided it was necessary to take a little side trip. When we saw that amazing Punchbowl, we knew it was where Patti needed to go. I got as close to the water as I could and dumped her in. I was really hoping it wouldn’t be a Big Lebowski moment, because of course that really happens, and it wasn’t. It was lovely. The power of the water as it hits is incredible. It’s a pretty short hike up to Punchbowl. If you like reading the blog but think you aren’t fit enough to keep up with us (which is ridiculous by the way) it would be a good starter hike. It has hills, cliffs, amazing views, and everything a longer hike has, but it is only a couple miles round trip. Do it!
As we rejoined the main trail after Punchbowl, we headed up and up and up. The climb to High Bridge is 840 feet in elevation gain total. It’s really an amazing trail. There were several places where you walk along the cliffs and there are wires to keep you safe. Along those cliffs were unmelted piles of snow which definitely made our navigation cautious and slow. As always, on the uphill my sister powers through and I end up really far behind her. Then she waits. I like to say that my slow and steady is slower and steadier than hers, but really I’m just easily winded.
All told, we probably hiked just short of 7 miles. It was a beautiful rainy day.
For more information about Eagle Creek click here.
In Portland, snow means that you basically cannot travel. Portland does not have enough snow plows, does not have enough de-icer, does not use salt for environmental reasons, and is basically ridiculous. When it snows in Portland, the town shuts down. As a teacher, I get snow days and Portland’s inability to function doesn’t hurt or help me. I feel bad for people who actually have to get around. Once the snow melted and the schools opened back up, the most dangerous place was in Portland. Sandy and Boring and Damascus were safe as houses; my street was basically Government Camp. Sid handled like a champ though. There were no crises.
When you walk in the snow, everything is a hike, especially when it has a layer of ice and top of it and you have to break through. My sister and I decided our best option for a hike when we were both snowed-in separately was to walk to each other and back. We both live in southeast Portland, but I live 47 blocks east and approximately 48 blocks south of her. We plotted our route so that we could actually meet each other and we headed out separately. There was about 4 inches of snow on the ground and it was snowing HARD.
I adjusted by route slightly to make sure I could stop by the liquor store. You have to have priorities when you are going to be snowed in for awhile. My sister adjusted her route as well because her million dollar Sorel boots were hurting her so bad she couldn’t stand walking in them any longer. Funny story, several snow days later I was with the fabulous Becky Curry who was also wearing million dollar Sorel boots and she was also in pain. In summary, those boots suck and you should spend your money elsewhere. They are super cute, but function before fashion has always been my motto. They each had totally different models of the boots and they were both in pain. My sister ended up buying slipper boots and walking home in the soaking wet boots. Her motto is that wet shoes are always better than painful shoes. I tend to agree.
Anyway, we continued to head toward each other in the snow. The hill on 39th at Clinton was the hardest hill I’ve ever walked in my life. I was so winded it was ridiculous. I blame the snow not my lack of fitness. We met up just the slightest bit south of 39th and Hawthorne. I walked 3 miles each way (6 miles total). My sister and Sharock walked 2.4 miles each way (4.8 miles total). It was rough going in the snow and beautiful. We most definitely met both of our normal hike goals: beauty and fitness.
Once we met up we headed into Tom’s Bar on 39th and Division and had hot toddies. It was the perfect way to warm up. On the walk home it was freezing raining like no one’s business. I did some grocery shopping on my way back so I thought my back was going to break by the time I got home. My fancy new backpack (thanks Sharock) and my coat were covered with a layer of ice. Freezing rain is nuts.
We basically just walked a few blocks in town, but it was a great day!