Hike 59 – Wahclella Falls

Like I mentioned in the previous post, I did not hike for four months. Beyond being slightly traumatized, I re-injured my back and my knee. I tore my meniscus in 2003 and I herniated a disc in my back in 2013. I had surgery on  both at the time. Both injuries had returned. I went to the gym and worked with a trainer. I went to physical therapy every other week. I started getting acupuncture regularly. At present, I still have a herniated disc. I still have a torn meniscus, and I have added a torn meniscus in my other knee. Acupuncture, activity, and collagen in my coffee keep me comfortable. I don’t even take Advil. My sister’s theory is that I’m just super resistant to pain. Maybe I inherited that from my mom. She’s one crazy tough chick.

As summer break set in, I was spending a lot of time at the river. I swam in the Clackamas and the Salmon over 50 times in 2015. Cold water and no-impact are miracle-workers for injuries. However, when the wonder-mom, Becky Curry, called to see if I wanted to hike Wahclella with the Curry Crew, I was in. I figured my first hike should be slow and cute. It did not disappoint.

We packed lunches to eat at the falls and we headed out. Wahclella is the perfect hike for beginners or kiddos. It is one mile each way, with negligible elevation gain, and a lot of pay off. Plus, the Curry Crew had hiked it before, so I was basically with experts.

It was slow going, but it was a beautiful day. We stopped frequently to enjoy nature and for the girls to claim this rock or this tangle of trees “my house.” We spent a lot of time looking at these houses and then upgrading around the next bend. When we reached the falls it was incredible. The sun was shining and sparkling in rainbows as the mist hit the air. There were a lot of people there, but not enough to make it crowded.

While we ate our food and chatted, crazy people jumped into the water and swam around. It was not warm enough for that. I contemplated it, because I’m a bit of a dare devil, truth be told, especially about water, but I had no swim suit and a slow walk back in wet pants sounded like no fun at all. Instead, I took off my boots and socks and soaked my feet with the giggling girls. It was heavenly.

Eventually we had had enough waterfall time and we headed back. As we walked on one of the steeper portions of the trail a snake came slithering down right in front of us. Small “screams” and back-stepping toward the cliff were the result, but we all survived.

It was an incredible day and I can’t wait to do it again.

For information about Wahclella Falls click here.

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Hike 58 – Eagle Creek to Camp Smokey

 

 

It has taken me a ridiculous amount of time to write about this hike, for many many reasons. I did this hike almost a year ago, last spring break. It broke my spirit a little bit, but I’m over it now and that’s why it is time to write about it.

As I mentioned in many earlier blog posts, the goal for last summer was hiking the JMT with the one and only Lacey Wroblewski (and her mama). After Spring Break, those plans changed. The experience just really sullied everything hiking for me. It’s okay though, my sister and I intend to keep hiking and do a PCT adventure next summer.

Eagle Creek is beautiful. I have hiked it many times, but never with the intention to camp or multi-day hike, so this was a new adventure. I had my brand-new awesome tent and light-weight sleeping bag. The new fantastic backpack that Sharock Bruce Hannah, Esq bought for me held lots of supplies borrowed from the extraordinary Jerbear Wedell. I was ready. It was a bit rainy, but when isn’t it in Oregon, right?

The first part of Eagle Creek I have hiked numerous times. It is always amazing and beautiful and you better believe it was packed for Spring Break. It is also sentimental because my sister and I deposited our Aunt Patti’s ashes in Punchbowl Falls. Lacey had planned the hike and I knew eventually we were taking a cut-off trail that I had never hiked before and that it was steep. Oh my goodness, understatement of the century.

My sister and I have hiked lots of steep stuff. This definitely rivaled that. It was not the steepest thing I have ever hiked, but it was steepest for the longest. It was hard, but the views were incredible and it was beyond worth it. We crossed several creeks, we rested and ate Snickers bars, and we went over and under so many downed trees it was almost a joke as we came to another one across the path. With my back injury, it is very hard for me to go under a downed tree. It made for some interesting acrobatics to be sure.

Eventually we reached Camp Smokey. It was triumphant. Lacey filtered gallons of fresh water for us. We cooked dinner (freeze-dried deliciousness), we drank whiskey, we sent up our tents, and we turned in early.

For the first few hours or so I slept soundly, then the nightmare began. I cannot explain what happened because I don’t really know, but if I had to guess I would say the worst case of food poisoning ever. From about 10 pm to when I finally crawled out of my tent the next morning, I threw up over 20 times. I ended up digging a hole right next to my tent so I could just lean out and barf when I needed to, every half hour or so. I don’t recall ever barfing so much in one night before, except maybe when I had mono in high school.

When I did get out of my tent to go to the bathroom. I walked about 30 feet from camp and had trouble getting back. Finishing the hike, up to Wahtum Lake and around to Tunnel Falls was not an option for me. I had to go back. Unfortunately, I did not have a map. Because I had no calories in my body and was running on no fuel, my brain could not function. The only way to get back was down the crazy steep Eagle-Benson trail we had hiked up the day before.

Lacey and her mom continued on the hike. I sat down and cried for a long, long time. Then I drank some water, ate a bite of peanut butter and tried to hike back. The first part was uphill, barely, it took me FOREVER. After about 20 minutes I barfed up all the water and the peanut butter. I wiped my mouth and drank more water. Then I continued on.

You don’t need all the gory details, but it took me nine hours to get down. I fell a lot. I barfed a lot. I cried a lot. I screamed a lot. When I hit the Eagle Creek trail and saw other people, I sat down in the middle of the trail and cried. They were tears of joy. I was not going to die alone on a mountain. It was a good moment. I had been alone for about 5 hours at that point. I was so out of it I had convinced myself I would never see another human being again. Several strangers helped me, carrying my pack varying distances. I continued drinking water and barfing it back up the entire time. I sat down on the trail when I could go no further, which was frequently. I got a lot of help.

When I eventually got to my car, I threw my backpack on the ground, crumbled into a pile on the rainy ground and sobbed. A guy walked up and said, “Are you okay?” I said, “Yes, now I am. Thanks for asking.”

I got up. I unlocked the car. I called my mom to tell her she didn’t need to feed Remington because I was coming home a day early. I drove to a gas station and bought Gatorade. I drank it slowly and then had to pull over on the side of Highway 84 to barf it all up. I barfed for three days. I didn’t hike for four months after that.

So, that was my Spring Break hike to Camp Smokey. I’m over it. Hiking is still amazing. The adventure continues.

For information about Eagle Creek to Camp Smokey click here.

Hike 57 – Wahkeena-Multnomah Loop

Wahkeena Pano

Last year my sister and I hiked Wahkeena Falls in the fall. It was one of our favorite hikes, by far. I can’t even begin to explain how incredibly beautiful it was. My sister really wanted to hike it again this year, but she just couldn’t fit it in around wedding planning, so I did it solo. It was still pretty darn cool.

Recently one of my friends posted a picture of her hiking view from Angel’s Rest on Instagram. It was a really pretty picture, and I liked it. The ex, who also follows her, commented “best hike in the gorge.” False. If you never go on hikes in the gorge and that’s the one that you always do, then yes, you might think it’s “the best.” But really, it is not. That is quite frankly naivete. Wahkeena is a far superior hike to Angel’s Rest, as is Hamilton Mountain, Coyote Wall, and a couple others. Angel’s Rest is pretty in a few spots (on the scree field and when you get to the top) but it’s mostly a view-less hell of switchbacks. The other hikes listed here are far superior. I dislike when “know-nothing-know-it-alls” speak as experts from a perspective of ignorance. I am an expert now. I know. Thanks 52 hikes in 52 weeks.

The Wahkeena Loop does have one problem, the Multnomah Falls part sucks big time (Like Tommy Tomasino – that’s a The Sixth Sense reference). The Wahkeena side is incredible. It’s mostly uphill, but it stays next to a raging creek/river and has numerous waterfalls and bridges. In the fall, coupled with the leaves, it’s breathtaking. The entire hike is 4.9 miles with 1600 feet of elevation change, but it’s entirely uphill one way and entirely downhill the other. It’s nice to have that triumphant moment when you’re half done and have reached the top. That happens at a crazy intersection of several trails that is poorly signed. Luckily, I remembered the correct trail to take. And here’s the best thing, the most beautiful part of the hike is on the downhill side toward Multnomah Falls.

The falls above Multnomah are so much more than Multnomah itself, because you can actually get close and experience them. There are many and they are powerful and cold. Even though it was October and far too cold to swim, I found a swimming hole and desperately wanted to jump in. The water was so clear and I just have this thing about water. I put my feet in, but stopped there because I still had a long way to go. In retrospect, I should have jumped in. I wish I would have.

Like last time I hiked the loop, when I reached the paved portion of the Multnomah Falls trail it was just a huge disappointment. It was crowded with people who don’t like hiking and have no trail etiquette. I was beyond frustrated. Next time I do this hike I’m going to hike to the top of Multnomah and then go back over to Wahkeena. I’ll just avoid the insanity all together. When I got down to the return trail, it was closed. I had to walk back on the road and the drivers were really really rude. It just cemented my plan to never go that way again.

I started the day with a migraine. That’s why I went hiking. Sometimes I have migraines for three or four days straight, especially in this last year. Nothing makes them go away. Nothing even dulls them. But, every single time I hike with a migraine, by the time the hike is done, it is gone. As I was descending Multnomah, my head still hurt. I thought the magic was gone, but when I got to the car I was fine. Hiking cures what ails you, physically and emotionally. I’m so fortunate to know that.

For information about the Wahkeena-Multnomah Loop click here.

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.