Hike 39 – Saddle Mountain


I don’t need a coat. It’s summer. Famous last words. Also, why anyone who has literally lived their entire life in Oregon thinks that April is summer…

Last week my sister and I discussed how very prepared we ALWAYS are for hikes. We bring all sorts of stuff in the car: gloves, hats, multiple coats, etc. This week my sister thought she didn’t need those things. She brought the clothes on her back and a thin long sleeve shirt, “in case she got cold.”

I brought everything because I actually look at weather reports. Yes, it was sunny in Portland, but it wasn’t supposed to remain that way and we were driving basically to the beach.

When we got out of the car it was not that cold. I brought my hat, raincoat,  and gloves in the pack with my Subway. I opted to leave my bigger coat/ski jacket in the car. It totally wasn’t necessary. The hike was easy-peasy compared to last week. Yes, it was uphill, but it was a gradual uphill. We could talk and hike and we weren’t even winded. The forest was incredible and the view was gorgeous from the very beginning.

The hike was only 5.2 miles. It should have been simple, but it was not, for a number of reasons. Reason number one is the 1600 feet of elevation.  That gradual slope that we were so enjoying, it did not last for long. We exited the lovely forest and headed onto the rocks and gravel of the mountain. I suppose when you hike something with mountain in the title, you should expect, you know, a mountain. Lesson learned.

Since the trail turns to gravel with chicken wire/fencing on top of it, it becomes a bit precarious. I did not have any major problems with it, but my sister’s boots could not grip it. It was raining a bit and it turned the trail into danger alley. We had to climb down the steep saddle and then back up and on to the summit. All of this was on the slicker-than-snot gravel/wire trail. We went very slowly.

As we descended into the saddle, it literally started snowing. We were cold, but we assumed we were being babies. No, it was actually freezing. Today at a union meeting, grossly exaggerating was referred to as “Scaifing.” Yes, I’m very hyperbolic. But seriously, it snowed on us. That…was unexpected.

We reached the top, eventually, and it was lovely. Although it was a bit socked in, we could still see the beach and the bay, but not majestic Mt. Hood. I was looking forward to that amazing view. My sister was too cold. We needed to do some gear change up. I stripped off my shirts and gave her my base layer. To get at the base layer I obviously had to remove all of my shirts. I did this in front of two women who thought I was absolutely insane. They scampered away. I then put on my raincoat over my t-shirt and we headed back down. I sure wished my coat wasn’t in the car.

Saddle Mountain is incredible. I would recommend it to anyone. Don’t do it in the rain. I fell hard. It was hilarious. I landed gracefully for once. I was just “resting.” I told the 11 kids who witnessed it that is was slippery “back there” and to “be careful” but really I just rolled my ankle on a rock. I was smooth. They bought it.

For information about Saddle Mountain click here.




Hike 38 – Catherine Creek to Coyote Wall


In all of the “must see” hike lists I’ve read, Coyote Wall is right up  there. I have been waiting for spring. The wildflowers were supposed to be epic. They did not disappoint. We have not done a hike with a lot of elevation in a really long time. We were ready to really challenge ourselves. We did not, however, realize how much of a challenge this particular hike would be. It kicked out butts. But, we vanquished it because…well, frankly, we’re awesome.

Coyote Wall is supposed to have two loops, a long loop and a short loop, but we read in a couple places that both loops were no longer passable, so when I saw the hike from the Catherine Creek Trail Head, I figured it would be perfect. It’s a pretty long drive from home. You take the Hood River Bridge across to Washington and then head east through Bingen to Old Highway 8. There were TONS of cars at the trail head. That gives me mixed emotions. I hate most people, but I also like the idea that people are out getting exercise in the fresh air. It rained very hard all the way to the trail head. As soon as we got out of the car, it stopped raining. We stayed dry the whole hike. As soon as we got back to the car it started pouring. The hiking gods were on our side today 🙂

The hike could not have been more beautiful. It was definitely in my top five. We headed toward Catherine Creek and then took the trail west. The trail west is straight up. It’s about a mile and a half and it climbs a little over 1000 feet. It’s a wide road, made for four wheelers, but it was still really hard. We stopped many many times. But, there were six 18 or so year old dudes behind us, as my sister kept saying, “in the prime of their life” who never caught us. In summary, even though we stopped we’re faster and better than those young-ins.

When we finally stopped climbing, we were at a beautiful vista that was the first of many amazing gorge views. The trail crossed a field full of multi-colored wildflowers. There were several trails branching off in all directions. None of them had any markings, of course, because even the Washington side of the gorge is impossible to negotiate unless you already know where you are going. The trail across the field was very thin, made for mountain bikes, and we did see a few. It would be really fun to ride. Then we crossed several creeks and made our way through the one non-arid area which had moss growing all over it. We emerged onto another grassy field, another view, and some truly amazing trees, including – I swear- the whomping willow. It was terrifying.

We tried to follow the directions we had, but they were so vague and there were so many trails that we did get a little lost. Eventually we made it to Coyote Wall, but not until after doing some extra descending, which of course lead to more ascending on the way back. The hike is 8.2 miles and 1750 feet in elevation change. We got back to Sid in just shy of four hours.

All the way down the hill we wanted sparkling water so bad it was all we could talk about. I drank most of my water on the way to Hood River and we ran out as we hit the summit on the way back. At work, everyone drinks sparkling soda with a little flavor (the best is from Safeway). We call it Kanable soda because it was the-one-and-only Josh Kanable who started the trend. My sister calls it “fizzy bubbla.” That is way weirder than Kanable soda. We were talking about all the flavors we like. We often talk about food on our hikes. We decided on mandarin as our favorite. It tastes like Orange Crush. It’s delicious. You should try it.

When we were lost we kept saying that every rock we saw was Coyote Wall. All-told we saw Coyote Wall 13 times. Yay!

For more information about Coyote Wall click here.


Hike 37 – Salmon River West

Every Friday I leave school at 2:30. All other days I stay until at least 3:30, sometimes later depending on what I’m working on. But Fridays, oh Fridays, I can’t wait to leave. I generally head to a super, secret, stealth location to get a beer with friends. It’s a good way to start the weekend. Recently, any and all forms of alcohol in even the most minute amounts give me a raging headache. It’s probably not the worst thing in the world. Anyway, my sister texted me on Thursday night and said, “Hey, we should hike tomorrow when you get off work.” It seemed like a good substitute. Although, I wish all my friends were with us.

We headed to Salmon River, again, and finished off the trifecta. We can’t go there again. There are only three hikes and we have now done all of them. It’s 20 minutes from my work and there are two Subways on the way. It’s pretty perfect. Now that the snow is melting, we can go to a lot more majestic Mt. Hood hikes pretty quickly from my work, so I’m excited for that.

Of the three Salmon River hikes, this one was by far my favorite. It’s an awesome 7.8 miles and only 950 feet of elevation. It is a truly beautiful hike and the dappled sunlight only made it even more incredible. The light was amazing. It was shining in the most interesting ways and highlighting different aspects of the world around us. The hike starts along the river, which is lovely, meanders through a moss-covered wood, also lovely, and then heads up to a vista. The views are stellar.

We saw so many people on the trail today. It’s something we have to become accustomed to again. During the winter, we often only saw one or two other people. Today we saw about 40. I find it very encouraging that so many people are out in the world getting fit and enjoying the outdoors. I also want them out of my way 🙂

We are planning another hike to the dis-used railroad in the Tillamook National Forest. My sister says a “boy” needs to come with us because “that place is scary.” I was telling her about this second “trail” and its cool features, including a couple tunnels, when she explained to me that “everyone knows that tunnels have bears and axe murderers in them.” Apparently they work in cahoots. The bears can take people down and then the axe murderer can help with dismemberment or vice-versa. She then clarified that not all axe murderers are cannibals, but “most are.”

My sister and I are dog fans. There were tons of cutiepants dogs on the trail today. I want a puppy someday. Remington would eat a puppy, so it will be awhile…or maybe forever because Remington is an immortal vampire pig.

On the way back down, we kept rolling our ankles. My sister rolled righty like 50 times. I rolled lefty about 10 times. We yearned for Matt Smallwood’s ankles. My friend Matt Smallwood is physiologically incapable of rolling his ankles. It’s his super power, and on the downhill I want it desperately.

For information about Salmon River West click here.

Hike 36 – Washington Park Loop

Spring is finally here. Things are blooming. We can’t wait for the wild-flower hikes in our near future. Spring is much better for hiking than winter.

I’ve had a hard week. Despite my efforts to distance myself from my ex there are just too many people in this world that we both love. There are too many ways in which I accidentally get information about his life that I don’t want. It upsets me. It shouldn’t after a year, but it does. I’ve learned over this experience that sometimes you just have to feel what you feel and wait it out. Right now what I feel is hate. So so much hate. Hate is a waste. It sucks the energy out of you. I am fully aware of this. I am fully aware that indifference would be much healthier. I’m not there yet. I hate him, so much. I can’t help it. In time, it will morph into indifference. I often wish I had a time machine. Maybe I”ll order one off the interwebs like Napoleon Dynamite. This was a hate-filled week. The hike today was able to lessen that, as it always does.

My parents are retired (lucky!). Last week on one of their many adventures they went up to Washington Park. They mentioned the numerous trails there and I decided to check it out. I had no idea that part of the 30 miles of Wildwood Trail went all the way up to the zoo. That is a crazy trail. We parked at the zoo and headed toward Pittock Mansion on the Wildwood Trail. We hiked a total of 6+ miles and did about 800 feet of elevation. Like most southwest Portland trails, there were a lot of ravines and hills, that means lots of uphill on the way in and lots of uphill on the way out. My sister hates that. The hike was seriously lovely though.

Because we started at the zoo, we did a lot of talking about zoos and aquariums. For a long time now, both my sister and I have been strongly philosophically opposed to both. Many of my friends have children and I’ve thought that maybe when I have children I will change my mind. After talking to my sister today though, sharing some stories and some info, we have decided we will never give money to a zoo or aquarium. We just cannot support them. We do not believe in their work. It would probably require a longer conversation to explain.

After leaving the zoo parking lot, we headed into the Hoyt Arboretum. The variety of trees is unreal. There were trilliums everywhere, glowing white and bright pink. We walked through Hemlock, Spruce, and Redwoods. As we continued north we also walked around the Japanese Gardens. We did not go in, but from above we could see most of the main features. It looked amazing today. Eventually, after a lot of climbing, we reached the Pittock Mansion and could see the entirety of Portland. We didn’t stay long. This was our second hike that ended at Pittock.

On our way back we took a loop up the Creek Trail and hit another section of the Hoyt Arboretum. It’s truly amazing that we have such cool places in our city. When we crested the hill above the zoo we were right above the Vietnam Memorial. Neither of us could remember having walked through it before, so we headed toward it. It really is an amazing memorial. I learned a lot today just reading its many monuments. When we were standing in the 1968-1969 section there was another woman there. She was looking for her husband and couldn’t find him even though she knew he was there. I looked for a minute and found him.  She was incredibly grateful. She explained that she had loved him since she was 16. It was so sweet. We talked to her for about 10 minutes about the Vietnam War and how it is so sad that we can’t learn from our mistakes as a nation.

We left the memorial and headed back to the car. All around, it was a really awesome day. I love hike suggestions that work out. As we were driving back toward home we took the Fremont Bridge. My sister loves driving on and around the Fremont bridge because she claims that its many entrances and exits “look like the future.” This was our conversation:

Her: It’s the future!

Me: It smells like a fart (because it did).

Her: Yeah, the future smells bad.


For information about Washington Park click here.