Hike 55 – Old Salmon River Trail

Josh Salmon Rive

 

At CRMS we try very hard to acknowledge and honor each other’s birthdays. The problem with Josh’s birthday is that it comes so early in the school year that we often don’t have anything planned until the last minute. Beginning of the school year brain is a stressed brain. This year though, we didn’t let Josh down. Mostly because he planned his own shindig. We hopped in the Subaru, stopped in Welches for provisions, and spent a lovely late afternoon on the Salmon River with our feet in the water. We even saw a huge salmon. It was a fabulous day. Evidence of its glory is the picture of the birthday boy above. Because I had such a brilliant Friday for Josh’s birthday, when Sunday rolled around I wanted to hike the trail.

My sister was working, of course, so I called my friend Ryan Goldberg. We hit the trail at the first parking lot so that we could get the whole trail. If you struggle with hiking it has a lot of entrances and you could easily shorten the hike. It’s also mostly flat. I injured my knee pretty bad in August. I was really scared I had torn my meniscus again. In fact I was convinced I had torn it again and avoided even going to the doctor for awhile. Flat sounded good for “old swollen joe” which is what I call my knee when it’s acting up. After I finally did visit my doctor, she told me it just has some inflammation. I have to do stretches and ice it. In summary, I’m getting old. Lame. I refuse.

The Old Salmon River Trail is 5 miles round trip. It stays mostly on the river and has some truly lovely bridges (features) built into it. My sister and brother in law placed some of my aunt’s ashes on the trail last time we were there, so it will always be sentimental for me. Especially since yesterday would have been her birthday, she’s on my mind.

The trail was Grimm mossy, much dryer than last time I ventured down it’s winding path, and mostly uneventful until we got close to the end. Some people were camping just off the trail and using the actual trail as their bathroom. Super classy. I wanted to yell at them, but I didn’t want any of the creepy old men to try to fight Ryan. People who use a trail as a bathroom probably aren’t to be reasoned with.

On the way back to the car, we stopped at the same place where we had spent Josh’s birthday. Ryan had carried, unbeknownst to me, beers for both of us in his backpack. We enjoyed them, and I put my feet in the river, again. We also saw a salmon again. It was a really good day.

For information about Salmon River click here.

Hike 54 and 56 – Timothy Lake

On a whim, I decided to hike around Timothy Lake by myself one Sunday. It was the first Sunday in September. It was absolutely lovely. The previous summer, my sister, her husband and I accidentally hiked around Timothy Lake, and we got horribly lost and ended up hiking about 17 miles with no food or water. At the end we were also in the dark and we had no light source. It was a silly misadventure. I was hoping to actually hike around the lake this time and to pinpoint where we had gone so horribly wrong the first time. I figured going in the opposite direction would remedy the situation. I was also feeling like I needed to hike long distances in preparation for my thru hike with Lacey Wroblewski this coming summer. I already mentioned it before, but it’s been awhile. I am hiking the John Muir Trail from Vermillion Valley to Mt. Whitney. I am scared and beyond excited for it, but not at all physically prepared.

Anyway, I decided that adding an extra mile or two was a good idea. I parked on the fire road, instead of in the park, which actually saves money if you don’t have a NW Forest Pass (which I do), but anyway, I hiked in on the PCT. Part of the trail around the lake is the PCT and that’s where I hit it. I headed counter-clockwise around the lake and only passed a few people here and there. In no time, things were looking familiar and beautiful. I went through the crazy North Arm which has water the most beautiful color of green and then I stopped for a snack. I even remember what I ate: freeze dried peas and curried cashews. Best. Snack. Ever. I took off my shoes and dipped my feet in the lake while ants attacked the log I was sitting on. It was so peaceful. Then I put my shoes back on and continued on my way.

The trail is well maintained and easy to follow. Unlike last time I hiked it, it is also well-signed. All of the signs are brand new and lovely. Those signs sure would have been nice when we hiked it the first time!!! Eventually I made it back to where our campsite was when we got lost and was able to see where everything went wrong last time. Honestly, the part we missed was the least exciting part. It just winds through the campgrounds…boring.

I made it back, almost missing a turn again, to the PCT and back to the car. I was really proud of myself for doing a 15 mile hike, but it is totally flat. Now I just needed to add some serious elevation.

Two weeks after I hiked it by myself, I headed back up to Timothy Lake with my friend Ryan Goldberg. We parked kind of by the dam and did all the boring campground stuff first. We also ate Subway from Sandy at the lovely picnic tables before we even started. The hike was still awesome, even though I had just done it, despite my weird hip pain for the second half of it. When we finished up we changed into swimwear and jumped into the lake. It would have been a perfectly lovely day had the air not been too thick to breathe due to the fire raging near the Clackamas River. After our swim we enjoyed some great beers, thanks to Ryan being the best, and headed home.

Both hikes were fabulous. I can’t believe I didn’t know about Timothy Lake until I was 34 years old.

For information about Timothy Lake click here.

Hike 53 – Enid Lake

I honestly have no answer, no reason at all, for why it has taken me so long to write this. I also don’t know why I haven’t been hiking. It’s not like I have less time now. My sister works basically every weekend, so I have definitely lost my hiking buddy, but is that really an excuse? I don’t think so. Hiking is my happy place. I was talking to my friend Jeremy about it last night, in fact. I love it and I hate it. I love it because it is so good for my soul, and I hate it because it is so hard on my body. I love it more, and in the long run so does my body. So again, why haven’t I been hiking? I don’t know. I’m broken in some way. I’ve been spending most of my time lying around watching tv. Today and yesterday, I literally watched the entire first season of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Yeah, broken. I’m not going to settle for broken though, so I’m updating the page and I’m getting back at it.

In August, shortly after my last post,  my sister and I did go on a hike. We headed up Highway 26 to the Enid Lake hike. It begins on the Pioneer Bridle Trail. The trail starts right on Highway 26. It’s very near the pull out for chaining up when it’s snowing. What I didn’t realize, because I didn’t read the entire description, is that it pretty much hugs the highway the entire route. Do not like. It was lovely, don’t get me wrong, but there is something about not being able to hear cars and other people that is so soothing. Add to it, that when we hiked this route it was when they were blasting on the highway so there were tons of workers and machinery everywhere…very un-zen.

There were some fabulous things about the hike. Notably, the delicious huckleberries that were in full bloom brightened up the hike quite a bit. We ate so many that we felt a little sick. We also got to take a nifty tunnel. It was strange. Somebody had spray-painted the word BATS all over it and then there were pictures of both baseball bats and bats, you know the flying things. Somebody had a lot of time on their hands.

The hike was 9.5 miles round trip and 1570 feet in elevation. I didn’t really look that up ahead of time. My sister did not appreciate it. She was looking forward to a chill hike because she was in the middle of wedding planning and just wanted a break. Oops. Many complaints were had. As I’ve mentioned before, I enjoy it when she complains. It’s amusing to me. It was so long ago, I’m having trouble remembering what we talked about. However, I do remember that I had just had “active-shooter” training at school. Although that sounds terrifying, it was actually empowering. I learned take-downs. You better believe I used a tree in the woods as a doorway and took Jessie down. I had to show her what I learned, right? I did it slow, like half speed. She was fine.

When we finally arrived at Enid Lake. It did not impress. Enid Lake is not so much a lake as it is a small pond and/or swamp. As far as 9+ mile hikes too close to the highway go, it was definitely underwhelming. We laughed, heartily, at it’s pathetic-ness. Then we headed back.

The thing about this hike is, it wasn’t that good, but it was still so much better than how I spend my time on any other day. Hiking is always good. Even when it’s bad, it’s good. Even when it’s a stupid swamp by the highway, it’s better than most things. Get out there. Find yourself. I know I need to . . . again.

For information about Enid Lake click here.

My Journey

If you’ve followed our 52 hikes, you know that this isn’t just about hiking. The hiking and the writing were also about me figuring out my life. I needed something to keep me going after a significant heart break and you know what, it did.

So, here are some of my thoughts on the journey. The next post will be hike 53. I won’t bore you.

1. I have lost 67 pounds since last summer. I’m not done yet.

2. I have lost 43 inches total off of my body since last summer. I’m not done yet.

3. I have gone down 5 clothing sizes since last summer.

4. I have re-discovered how absolutely amazing my two best friends are. Rich Simons and Becky Curry are the kindest most sincere people I have ever had the privilege to meet.  Without them I wouldn’t have survived. I mean that.

5. I realize that my ex was not the right person for me, and I am hopeful that someday I will find the right person.

6. I want to have children someday. That was off the table before. Now it’s not. That’s exciting.

7. Remington and I are the best of friends. Remington hugs can cure the worst of bad moods.

8. I have the best family on this planet of earth. Don’t even try to deny it.

9. My body is capable of incredible things. I’m going to continue to push to keep it healthy and amazing.

10. I love so many people. I can’t even begin to list you all. In the past year, I have rediscovered what friendship means and how friends treat one another. One of my favorite people is 15. One of my favorite people is 62. I wouldn’t trade either of them for anything. You fill my heart with love everyday. I thank you all. I hope you know who you are because I tell you.

Hike 52 – Timberline to Mt. Hood Meadows

Today we finished our hiking journey! Can you believe it? I can’t. It’s incredible. In the past year we have done 52 hikes. Remember, before this time, I had done two hikes ever….in my entire life. I enjoyed them, I did, but not like this. Hiking is my thing. I adore it. I made plans last week with the beautiful Lacey Wroblewski to hike 162.5 miles of the John Muir Trail next summer. That is happening. I have a lot of training to do, especially since the baby elevation on today’s hike nearly killed me and I will be up much, much higher on the JMT, but I’m doing it. That is actually, really happening.

I read about the hike from Timberline to Meadows last summer. I didn’t think we could handle it. Then I decided to save it. I knew it was going to be our last hike for a long time now. I wanted our last to be epic. It was!

We drove up to Timberline, a place we’ve both been many times as we learned to ski there, and hit the trail. It starts right behind the lodge. The first section is also the Pacific Crest Trail. I love seeing PCT hikers because they make me happy. My friend Jeremy Wedell just finished an over 400 mile section of the PCT last Monday. Amazing!

We knew going in it was going to be a butt kicker. It’s a 9 mile hike with 2320 feet of elevation gain, but that’s not why we knew it would be hard. It’s a saddle hike. You hike down then up both ways. We get really tired on the second half of our hikes and ending with ascents is really really hard, especially for me. You gotta go out with a bang though, right?

We started our descent into White River Canyon and it could not have been more epic. We had NO idea how beautiful this hike was going to be. We have never seen anything like it. Besides the constant, up-close view of majestic Mt. Hood, there were so many gorgeous wildflowers in bloom. It was by far the most beautiful display of color we have seen in our adventures. As we descended we had many conversations about how this ascent wouldn’t be too bad. It wasn’t super steep….famous last words.

As we worked our way into the canyon, we knew we had a river crossing ahead of us. Neither of us had ever done a river crossing before and I think secretly we were both freaking out a little bit. I was hoping that it was low since we have had so little water in Oregon. I also, aloud, gave us permission to not cross it and head back. It would still have been an amazing 4 mile hike.

When we eventually got down to the river, we knew we could do it, and we would probably stay dry! We had to cross it three times because the water braids its way through the valley. As we were scouting our first crossing, the bank crumbled beneath Jessie. In a moment of shear brilliance, she grabbed my arm with all her strength. Both of her feet went in but her body did not. We were able to stop her. Wet feet suck. When we talked about it later she said, “It might have been refreshing. Who knows?” That girl, I’ll tell ya.

Once we crossed the river, we started our first ascent. It was very steep switchbacks. I had a lot of trouble with hyper-ventilating. I have breathing issues. I always have. I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time in ENT doctors offices and sometimes just have to succumb to some gross mouth-breathing. It’s just the way I’m made. When I’m in higher elevations, it is exacerbated. I definitely struggled up the multiple switchbacks.

Eventually you emerge from the forest at the meadow. Holy cow. You can’t even imagine it. My pics do not do it justice. It is so incredibly beautiful. It took our breath away. We continued to wind on mostly flat mud trails through small streams to our stopping point, the junction with Umbrella Falls.

There were black flies everywhere  on this side of the river. However, there were fewer on the gravel road just in the distance. We sat in the shade and enjoyed our lunch. Then we headed back.

The downhill part was easy peasy. On our second crossing of the river, of course,  we noticed piles of rocks that marked the easy crossing points. This made the journey much less of an adventure and much more normal. Then we started our second ascent. It kicked my ass. I could only walk like 300 feet at a time before I had to stop and rest. Not only was I hyperventilating, but I was also dizzy and nauseous. My sister was very patient with a pace I started calling shamble pace. We were climbing in sand the whole ascent which increases the difficulty. I was shambling. It wasn’t even real steps, but I kept going. Two awesome lady PCT hikers passed us (we almost never get passed anymore) and the second one said, “Hiking in sand is no joke, huh?” Eventually we made it though. I think I was really really dehydrated. We stopped in Govy and got Gatorade on the way home. I felt so much better.

Today we spent a lot of time talking about how my body doesn’t work right. It was not interesting conversation. The highlight was definitely my sister singing almost the whole hike. We have a new fear of what we call “nature.” This basically means we don’t want to see a bear again. As we were descending into the canyon the first time, we spooked a giant bird and its quick departure made us both jump. We sometimes don’t talk when we are hiking. She decided the best way to resolve this problem, the problem of sneaking up on nature, was to sing to nature. She made up all sorts of songs as we walked. I wish I had some lyrics, but they were kind of like the song in that apocalypse episode of Family Guy with Randy Newman. One time when she was far ahead of me on a steep trail, I saw her jump and she said loudly, “Hello, Nature.” It was really funny.

We finished. We’re done. So what’s next for us? People always ask what are you going to do when you reach 52. We have spent a lot of time talking about this. We decided we need to hike. We just need to. So next… we will do hike 53. Stay tuned, or not. We really don’t care 🙂

Ok, we kind of do.

For information about the Timberline to Mt. Hood Meadows hike click here.

Hike 51 – Cascade Head

For many years of my life, I spent countless hours relaxing, eating, and generally enjoying the company of people with a beach house on Lincoln Beach. Lincoln Beach is a little community in between Lincoln City and Depoe Bay that basically only has a grocery store and espresso place. Regardless, I have oodles of good memories. The beach house in which we stayed was home to one of my favorite things: journals. It had piles and piles of journals from when the family first bought the home. Everyone who stayed there knew the drill. You write about your visit. If you’re snazzy, Joey and Sus, you draw pictures about your visit too and make everyone smile. Usually, the first thing I did when we arrived for our stay was sit down and read the journals until I reached our last entry. I loved those damn books. Often, in the many entries I read, people would mention hiking Cascade Head. As such, when I started this hiking adventure, I wanted to do it. I knew nothing about the hike. Wow! It did not disappoint.

Beach hikes are difficult because you first have to drive all that way. My sister, Sharock Bruce Hannah, Esq, and I woke up very early, hopped into White Fang (my sister’s car – a boat of a Taurus that we all love), and headed for Lincoln City. I’ve driven the route so many times it was like second nature. We listened to Sharock’s music for awhile. It was the soundtrack from Guardians of the Galaxy. We had seen it two days before. If you haven’t seen that movie, by the way, you’re missing out. Some of you may know my aversion to talking animals. A talking animal STARS in the film and I still love it. That’s saying something. Sharock is rarely allowed control of the music, because although he picks really good songs, he plays them over and over and over and over again. Bad boy. We switched over to Pandora and continued our journey.

When we reached Lincoln City, we stopped at the Safeway for some snacks. I ate about a gallon of trail mix. My sister ate ridiculous pastries. Sharock had bread, and meat, and cheese. We were ready to head north, it’s seriously like 5 minutes, and get hiking. We reached the trail head, which is in Knight Park, and hit the trail.

It was kinda weird at first. It wound its way on and off the road, with some cool bridges (there are super neato bridges “features” throughout the hike) in the forest just off the road, and then we hit the actual trail and the steps from hell. The hike starts, after your road winding, with 200 billion steps. If you hike, you may know about steps. They suck!!!! It is so much easier, more pleasurable, and just preferable to walk up a steep hill than it is to do steps. They are awful. But, eventually, we vanquished the steps. Sharock was at the top waiting for us, of course. As we continued, the views were breathtaking. I adore the Oregon coast. It feels like home. I spent so many of my childhood vacations at the beach visiting my grandma and papa, who lived in Bay City (my papa passed away in 2003,but my grandma now lives in Gresham), that it’s just a comforting place for me. The salty air and crazy wind, it’s like a giant hug.

The bottom part of the hike, besides the steps, is pretty level and winding. Then when you reach the viewpoints you head up and up and up. The total hike is 6.8 miles and 1,310 feet in elevation gain. It was really steep in some parts, nothing we couldn’t handle though. We stopped at the viewpoint at the top, enjoying the 360 view. Then we continued on the forest path to the upper trailhead. We heard these really gross fat people talking about how, “They couldn’t believe that stupid idiots actually walked up to the viewpoint from the bottom instead of just coming from the top. Why would anyone do that?” Um, because we don’t want to look like you….

The downhill was rough on our knees but we all survived. Our talk was mostly of wedding plans. It’s only two short months before Jessie and Sharock become husband and wife. I am so excited and happy for them. We also talked about the physics behind “jet propulsion” which is what we call farting while hiking. I’ll spare you the details.

After the hike we went to Mo’s, of course, and it was brilliant. Thanks, Oregon, for being our home.

For information about Cascade Head click here.

 

Hike 50 – Cape Horn Loop

In the summer, it is much easier to hike after work. There is so much daylight. My sister drove out to Troutdale and met me after summer camp. We were on the way to our hike before 4. We avoided the northbound I205 traffic by taking Airport Way and headed quickly east on Highway 14. We were hiking by 4:45, not bad considering.

Cape Horn is technically the gorge hike that is closest to the metro. It may seem surprising that we haven’t done it yet, but there are protected bird habitats along the trail and portions of it are closed much of the year. If I’m going to do a loop, it want to do the whole thing. That’s the entire point of a loop. Look up the closures BEFORE you go. It’s worth it. I promise.

In the Portland Hiker’s Field Guide, the description of this hike is extremely detailed. The author explains that he included so much description due to poor signage. That was not our experience. In fact, we have never seen a better signed trail. The trail is incredibly clear and easy as pie to follow. You can do the whole loop with no directions and you’ll be just fine. You head across the parking lot and follow the signs up. There are a few switchbacks. This is the “difficult” portion of the trail, but honestly, this is one of the easier trails we have ever hiked. Officially, it is somewhere between 6.8 and 7.5 (differing sources) long and 1630 feet in elevation change. I did not feel 1630 feet in gain. It was definitely disguised through gentle switchbacks and lots of alternating downhill.

There are amazing, amazing gorge views all along the trail. There are six separate viewpoints and they are all worth a look. There were a ton of berries in bloom and everything smelled like them. None of the berries were edible though. My sister told me specifically not to eat them. I figured they would taste like burning. It was another instance of her giving me advice that is not necessary though. I wonder what she thinks is going on in my mind.

At a little less than half way through the hike, you cross through a tunnel to the other side of Highway 14 and you head down, down, down, down, down. It scared me. I was worried about ending with some huge ascent. It was lovely though. I would NEVER recommend going the other way. It would be a “hell of a journey,” as my friend Jeremy would say. On this bottom portion, you cross amazing scree fields and huge boulders. There are a variety of bridges and waterfalls. It is truly lovely. You get close enough to the river that it almost seems like you could jump in. Only at a closer look do you realize you are still quite high above it.

After some gentle ascent and even more descent, you wind your way through to a road. Then you walk up a “gentle incline” to the trail head. My sister said it is not a gentle incline, but it really is compared to the trail down. For those who dislike road walking, it kind of sucks to walk 1.3 miles on a road to end a hike. It is a totally remote road with two houses on it and we didn’t see another living soul, but still.  The only other criticism I have is the proximity to Highway 14. You never quite get far enough away from it that you don’t hear it. I dislike that. My sister explained to me that it wasn’t a highway but a roaring river or babbling brook. Then she started singing the imagination song from Wonder Showzen. I would link it, but I can’t find it. I would need some high powered liquid imagination to believe that, Jessie, and we don’t have any.

We have never hiked so late in the evening before. It was quite pleasant. The light was waning and the temperature was perfect. We saw a ton of super cutie-pants doggies too. Gotta love the doggies. We were very hungry by the end and eagerly awaiting the pizza we had vowed to get after the hike. We normally get pizza at Mississippi Pizza, because they have the gluten free goodness, but that is so far away. My phone died so my sister did a quick search and we headed toward Flying Pie. It did not disappoint. I was a wreck because my phone was dead and I was supposed to hang out with someone. That same someone totally ditched me that night and then dumped me the next morning, so I immensely regret rushing through dinner and fretting and not giving my sister my full attention. I suck. Lesson learned. There are some people in your life who are worth your time. Give it to them, dammit.

For information about the Cape Horn Loop click here.

 

Hike 49 – Vista Ridge to Perry Lake

We got an early start. We left my house at 8am. We stopped at Fred Meyer for snacks and headed east. We drove FOREVER. Then we finally reached the trail head. It didn’t seem like an entirely horrible drive because of good company and excellent music. I just really wanted to be out of the car. It’s not a long hike, 6.5 miles with 1000 feet of elevation, but there is a lot of bang for your buck. From the parking lot, you head up, but it’s only a slight incline. At the map, you go left from the actual Vista Ridge trail to a newly restored old Vista Ridge Trail.

As you climb there are some beautiful viewpoints of majestic Mt. Hood. We stopped several times to check it out. Then the attack began. I can’t even begin to describe the attack. It’s especially hard to talk about right at this minute since I am currently suffering the unbearable consequences. I’m not really sure if we even noticed when the swarm arrived. It was one bite. Then another. We swatted them away and prattled on. Then there was a realization. An infinite amount of mosquitoes were destroying us. My sister had bug spray on and still got a couple of bites. Alex and I did not. Between us, I would estimate we have around 7,000 mosquito bites. They are EVERYWHERE. Both of us started to develop gigantic lumps covering every inch of exposed skin. For whatever reason, they were particularly keen on our shoulders. So so so many mosquitoes.

Eventually we reached a beautiful, flat marshy area. That seemed to be their origin. We wanted to stop and take in the sites, but it wasn’t possible. We had to get away. It was difficult to keep from running. We did walk very fast though. Eventually we reached the summit of our hike and at that point there was wind. Wind means fewer mosquitoes. They definitely weren’t gone, but they were bearable at least. We started to descend toward Perry Lake and the number of blood-suckers went drastically up. I wanted to keep going but Jessie and Alex were not having it. We headed back the way we came, about a half mile from our planned final destination, and walked on a spur trail to Owl Point. Owl Point was incredible. We had lake views and mountain views and sat atop a scree field drinking water and eating our various snacks. It was incredible. There is a geocache there. We added to the journal. I warned of the mosquitoes, but by the time the poor bastards read it, it will be too late.

After our brief respite, we headed back down with mixed emotions. We  knew we had to go back through the dreaded marsh. On cue, they started to descend upon us. It was too much for Alex. He put on my rain coat despite the rising temperatures. I think it probably saved him. They really thought he was delicious. It was really bad, but eventually they thinned out at least, and we did make it back to Sid and the safety of “indoors.” My sister killed a mosquito in the car.

Our discussion today, as usual, was of many things: Alex’s trip to the Grand Canyon with his family, our three remaining hikes, and Jessie’s engagement! Yep, that happened. On Saturday night, in front of his family and ours, Sharock asked Jessie to marry him. It was lovely. I get a new brother-in-law. Very cool.

There are a lot of hikes from the Vista Ridge trail head. I would like to do more. I will never hike without bug repellent again.

For information about Vista Ridge to Perry Lake click here.

Hike 48 – Dog Mountain

Hikes have difficulty ratings. They are generally easy, moderate, or difficult. In the 47 hikes we have done up until now we have never done an easy hike and we have never done a difficult hike. My friend, Jeremy Wedell, has been telling me about the glory of Dog Mountain since before I started hiking. It’s by far his favorite and he assured me that my sister and I could handle it. I was skeptical. It is a difficult hike. It’s just shy of 7 miles long and has 2800 feet of elevation gain. Many of the steepest sections are on loose gravel and I am just so damn clumsy. We only had 5 hikes left. It was time to put on our big girl pants and just do it.

Why we always decide to do the hardest hikes right after a super party-filled night, I will never understand. I guess, really, it’s good for us. But seriously, the first couple miles I thought I was going to die. We had tons of fun on the 4th. We ate terrible food and didn’t get enough sleep. Dog Mountain starts steep and it stays steep throughout. There are a few flattish sections that offer a slight respite, but for the most part you are headed up and and up and up.

The only thing more amazing than the difficulty of the hike is the beauty, particularly at the top. As you struggle up the steepest portion you have yet to climb on slipping and sliding gravel and stones, you are simultaneously crossing the most beautiful meadow I have ever encountered. We just caught the end of the wildflower bloom. I can’t even imagine what it looks like in May/June. The wind just howls across this meadow portion, which I’m sure makes it super scary if it’s wet. Luckily our weather was perfect.

We definitely took note of the fact that about 85% of the hikers were female. There were many groups of women headed up the difficult trail and loving it. Girl Power! When we finally got to the top, after two hours, we could see majestic Mt. Hood peaking over the top of the gorge. It was beautiful. We sat down for a moment, appreciated the view and then headed back down the way we came up. There are several different routes and choices on the hike. We liked the “less difficult” trail, not because we’re weak, because it is more scenic and offers spectacular views.

We saw a lot of wild life on the hike. I saw the biggest snake I have ever seen not in a zoo. It really freaked me out. I am no snake fan. But that paled in comparison to what happened as we neared the end of our hike. Although Dog Mountain is a well-traveled and populated hike, we found ourselves alone in a heavily wooded portion of the trail. I heard a crashing sound in the distance and looked toward it. I told my sister to stop moving because a black bear was SPRINTING through the forest about 50 feet away from us. It crossed the trail right in front of us and stopped. We just stayed still and hoped it wouldn’t come toward us. After what seemed like an eternity, but was actually more like 10 seconds, it kept running in to the forest in the same direction it was running before. We very quickly and very quietly continued down the trail looking behind us the whole way. My sister said, “There is too much nature on this trail.” We also researched what you should do in the event of a bear attack. If it’s a black bear, which it was, you’re supposed to fight it. I’m really glad it didn’t attack us.

Much like every other steep descent that we’ve made, I fell multiple times. My clumsiness is that of legend. At least this time I didn’t break my toe, or screw up my knee, or bleed anywhere. It’s just a scrape and some dirt. We made it back to Sid with a four hour round trip. It was totally worth every minute.

For information about Dog Mountain click here.

Hike 47 – Oxbow Park Loop

Friday was not a very pretty day in Oregon. Although it’s officially summer, someone didn’t get the memo. For those of you who are from Portland, everyone knows that it isn’t really summer in Portland until July 5. I have some very beautiful hikes in mind that I want to do this summer. I do NOT want to do them in the gray rain. As such, I decided to look for something new and different.

I have noticed in the many times that my sister and I go swimming at Oxbow that there are several hiking trails around so I looked it up. It turns out there is a complicated path of trails that wind together and eventually take you through all of the areas in the park. They are alphabetically labeled A through O and if you follow them at the end you have seen everything. Unfortunately, following them requires some rather intricate navigation and I did not read carefully. When we paid our fee at the gate the woman asked us if we wanted a map. Of course I said no. Oops.

We found A really easily and nestled Sid into the plant life. I actually took a pretty great picture because I mention our trusty steed quite frequently, but I never give him any photo cred. Pics or it didn’t happen, right? Anyway, we headed down A, which led to B and we thought we were doing awesome. That is until the trail just ended. Then I went back and read the hike description (which I always save in the notes on my phone in case there is no service) and we had totally screwed it up. We needed to cross the road and hit C like 2 miles back. We walked back on the road and looked for B so that we could do it right. We figured we would just backtrack a little. Then, we couldn’t find B and we were all the way back at A. We got back to Sid and we thought about just calling it quits but we had only hiked for an hour, so we trudged on. There was a mama and two baby deer right by Sid. The mama wanted to eat our faces because we were too close to  her babies. We scampered away. We like our faces.

Sooooo, we started the exact same hike over again. The second our feet hit the trail is started to pour down rain, just soaking us. My sister did not bring rain gear, because “it’s summer.” In solidarity, I left mine in the car against my better judgement. This time when we hit B we followed the directions. This side of the hike was WAY better. It had awesome views of the river and amazing plant life including the creepy alien plant life pictured above. There was no one in Oxbow Park. It was a ghost town.

We continued to follow the trail hoping we weren’t missing some crucial turning point again, because quite frankly the directions were garbage, until we hit the boat ramp. Then I did look up the directions and they led us into oblivion. By that time we were done with directions and really regretting not taking that damn map, but oh well. We got fitness and beauty, our always overarching goals. We saw deer. We saw “baby bunnies” which is what my sister kept calling chipmunks, for some reason. There were almost-ripe raspberries and LOTS of nettles. Pro tip – do not wear shorts on this hike.

My sister and I know rivers. We have spent a lot of time on them. The Sandy is wicked right now. It is still cold and brown and churning. Wait until it’s green. Brown equals snow-melt equals hypothermia death.  Officially this hike is 7.9 miles and only 600 feet in elevation change. It is basically flat and totally kiddo friendly. I have no idea how much we hiked because when the trail disappeared into nothingness we just walked back to Sid on the road…again. Hikes have names: in and out, loop, lollipop loop. We decided our hike was boob shaped. My sister called it a tata hike. I’m on board with that label. Oxbow Park is kind of amazing and well worth the $5 entrance fee.

Conversation-wise, I spent a really long time telling my sister about the last episode of season 2 of Orange is the New Black and how satisfying it was. If you’ve seen it, you know. The thing about Jessie and me, and to a certain extent our mama, is that we don’t care about spoilers. We love storytelling so much that we can hear an entire intricate plot and still want to see it or read it for ourselves. We have a policy that it doesn’t matter at all to totally ruin a movie, book, or show by exposing the most twisted plot. It’s just how we roll. I have to work very hard to tell people about things without giving too much info because of that.

We have five hikes left; there are three that I know I want to do. We are definitely open to suggestions for our last few hikes!

For information about the Oxbow Park Loop Hike click here.