Hiking in the Gorge

Sunday is usually the day I get up and do laundry, because the only other time I have to do it is while the kids are sleeping.  They probably don't care, but laundry at bedtime bugs the hell out of me, so I try not to do it.  Today, however, was going to be different.  I got up and decided I was going to go get a book to read, and then come home and have breakfast and do laundry.  If you knew me, you may have thought my middle name was "Emery", but it's actually "Daring."

Off I went to the bookstore.  Drove right through Beaverton.  Turn on Burnside and drove right through Portland.  Stopped to help a guy push his truck out of the road, and then kept driving right through Troutdale to where Stark turns into "The Historic Hwy".  I seemed to have missed the bookstore, but no matter because I soon arived at a sign that says "narrow windy road next 15 miles".  I was a bit sad I wasn't on my bike, but I like driving too, so not too disappointed.   I naively assumed that the second word meant "the road twists and turns a lot", and while that was true, it also meant "the wind shear is insane on this road."  Between that and all the rocks and stuff on the roads, I was really glad to have four wheels by the time I got to the bottom.

About a quarter of the way down from the heights I came to this strange little round building.   Don't know what it was, or why it's there, but if you've driven up the Columbia from Portland, you've seen it.  It's out on the tip of this bluff, and the view is to die for.  Of course, it was blowing and raining so hard it was difficult to see much detail, but whatever.

At the bottom of the hill I came to a little parking lot with a sign that said Latourelle Falls, and I figured I'd go look.  So off I set in the wind and rain with my motorcycle jacket, a baseball cap, some nice light colored pants, and my exceptionally stylish ripped skateboarder shoes.  You'd have thought I was going to a bookstore or something.  The trail up and around was magnificent, and while well kept, obviously not well travelled.  The falls were quite impressive, and happened upon a couple sharing a kiss at the bottom.  On the way down (the other side), I found the Dr. Seuss tree, and then it was off along the History Hwy again.

Next wide spot (that wasn't someone's house) was Bridal Veil Falls.  Much shorter trail there, and the falls were shorter, but just as impressive in their own way.  Larger water volume, and some nice rock formations for the water to play with.

The last spot I drove to was Wahkeena Falls (perhaps 3 miles from the first).  The map there indicated that after climbing up you could circle around to come down on Multnomah Falls from above, and that seemed like a good plan to avoid driving any more.  This hike was the best.  Took about three and a half hours, I'd wager (compared with perhaps an hour and half for the other two), and elevation gain like you wouldn't believe.  Aside from the two main falls (Wahkeena and Multnomah), there were countless little falls along both creeks, along with some really cool rock formations.  I also found a lot of snow, which surprised me since it hasn't been that cold of late, but between elevation and tree cover to dense for the sun to penetrate there was quite a lot on the ground in places.

For the day I figured about 5 hours of hiking, probably 8-10 miles total, and what felt like about the same in elevation change.  Not true, of course, but hard to judge.  I'd guess the high point was probably 1500-1800 feet above the fall bases (2.5-3 times Multnomah Falls' height).  Someone probably knows.  Like one of those people who procure a map and hiking boots and pack some water and snacks before wondering off into the woods for a few hours.  ;)

A glorious day, to be sure, even with the wind and rain.  Well prepared I was not, but my "default" garb of my winter motorcycle jacket, a nice wool baseball cap, and some lightly insulated gloves served admirably to keep me dry and comfortable.  Even my skater kicks did well enough to keep my feet dry and happy, despite providing virtually zero traction when it got slippery.  My knees had more than their fill of going downhill at the end, but I survived.  I'll be walking gingerly down the stairs for a few days, but hopefully no more.

But it wasn't over yet.  By this time, as you might imagine, I was a bit hungry and thirsty since I was still waiting to have breakfast while I did my laundry.  There was a water fountain at the bottom of Multnomah falls, which addressed the latter, but not the former.  So I did was any self-respecting person would do: called a couple friends I hadn't seen in a while and went to Chang's where we gorged ourselves  And then to Krispy Kreme, because it's there.  And now I'm home, and I'm doing laundry while the kids (and soon to be me) sleep.

7 responses to “Hiking in the Gorge”


    Where are the photos. FREDTERP

  2. Dodo

    What a perfect day!!! Good for you.

  3. Dodo

    Is 5:45 early?!? I try to be on a similar schedule as Jerry. And I love a quiet house EARLY in the morning.

  4. Chris Phillips

    I can't believe that you called Crown Point the "strange little round building". Some people…
    Here are some photos for people who haven't been there.

    Also, the restaurant at the bottom of Multnomah Falls is a great place to get breakfast during the week. We always call ahead and arrange for a table right next to the awesome old wood fireplace. Man, I'm getting the warm-fuzzies just thinking about it.

    Falls link: http://www.multnomahfallslodge.com/MF%20breakfast.htm