Yesterday Justin and I checked out Wahkeena Falls in the Columbia Gorge area. The trail was moderately difficult and beautiful. Besides the last mile being packed with tourists coming to see the falls, the trail was speckled with waterfalls of all sizes and fairly quiet. Beautiful and a great trail to take OR guests on to get a feel of the area.Read More
This past weekend Justin and I went on a 2 1/2 day backpacking trip through the Columbia Gorge area. We headed out after Justin was out of work on Friday and started hiking in around dusk. We took a phenomenal trail called “Eagle Creek” and hiked about 4 miles the first night. The scenery was unbelievable!! There was green moss everywhere which made it feel like a soft jungle, waterfall after waterfall, fierce rivers, amazing trail passes and huge wise trees with root systems so incredible it sometimes felt as though the ground was made up solely of their roots.
Many times the trail narrowed to about 3 feet wide while leading us along the side of cliffs. This part was a little scary! Luckily the path had steel wire for you to hang onto as a railing while passing the dangerous spots. However, while walking on the cliffs you often had to walk under small waterfalls to stay on the trail. At the beginning of the hike we thought this was great but by the time night fell, it wasn’t so much fun walking on the sides of cliffs and getting showered by freezing water. Definitely a better trail during the day!
At one point along the trail we saw a deer. On flat ground I would have thought it was nice to see a deer, but I was actually pretty scared of it!. The path we were walking on was on the side of an extremely steep mountain…too steep for a deer to be able to stop very quickly when coming down the mountain toward us! Both the deer and Justin and I wanted to be on the trail–that was a problem. I felt like we were playing a game of chicken–wondering who was going to make their first move. We finally got around her and went on our way.
While getting dinner ready at Tenas Camp, where we stayed for the night I felt something funky on my shoulder. I pulled off my fleece to find Ahhhahhhh…a TICK!! Yuck and Yikes!! Those things are like mini beetle/scorpion/octopi! After freaking out a little, Justin calmly took it out with a pair of tweezers.
It’s funny, when they say “camp” it really just means…”we made a small clearing on level ground we found on the side of the cliff you were just climbing on” It was just what we needed! It was warm enough that we got to sleep with just the screen of the tent between us and the stars and the sound of the rushing waterfalls in the background. It was beautiful!!
The next morning we woke up bright and early and headed to a trail called “Trail 434″ aka “Crazy Trail.” This is a trail that is hardly maintained and not listed on 3 of the four maps we have…if that tells you anything!
Not long after taking the “Crazy Trail” path that led STRAIGHT UP we came upon a wide, fierce, white rapped river. No big deal, we’ll just go around it right? WRONG!! We were supposed to cross that silly thing! Justin ended up going across with his pack, coming back across to get my pack from me and bringing that to the other side. You might be thinking, “If Justin just went back and forth a couple times, why couldn’t you do it?” Well if you were thinking that, you don’t know me! Justin has long legs apposed to my stubby ones and let’s not forget…I’m a scaredy cat! I didn’t want to fall in the freezing water and have to walk in wet boots and clothes all day! Anyway, after much hesitation, I crossed the river successfully. Well, partly successfully…I got ANOTHER tick in the process–this time on my stomach. Again, Justin came to my rescue and got the creature out of me.
After the river incident the trail just kept climbing up and up and up! The majority of the trail was no wider than both of my feet side by side. It was as if somebody climbed up the mountain with a bag of pebbles, laid a little Hansel and Gretel trail and said, “I name this the Crazy Trail.”
Most of the trail involved scaling the side of cliffs and weaving in and out of enchanted-like forests. Don’t get me wrong, it was absolutely incredible but definitely scary at times. We noticed when we got home that we didn’t have any pictures that captured the scary cliff sides, but that’s because it was way too dangerous to be doing anything but concentrating on the tiny path in front of you.
We hiked about 6.5 miles, about 4 of that being completely up hill, to 4,000ft where we reached “Hunters Camp.” We were very relieved to get to a camp at the top of the hill because by that time, we had run out of water! We were a sight for sore eyes at the top. Our feet and legs were so glad we were able to rest for the night. By this time we were pretty sore. –FYI…there were obviously no bathrooms on the trail…you know what that means…eek!
In the morning after a delicious breakfast cooked by Chef Justin, we started out down the Ruckle Creek Trail towards the car. Today the trail was straight down hill! I was relieved we were going down hill rather than up hill but as it turns out…down hill was just as challenging. For one thing, when you start falling, it’s harder to catch yourself and another thing is, we rarely use the muscles it takes to go down hill I soon found out! Again, the views on the way down were phenomenal!! Although, I think I enjoyed the scenery of the trail just as much as the outlooks. It was so mysterious.
4.9 miles, 3 blisters, 4 inflamed feet, and 4 sore legs later, we were down the mountain! About a mile before finishing the trail loop we also learned, thanks to some passing hikers, that the shinny red and green plants we thought were poison oak and were avoiding all weekend weren’t in fact poison at all. That plant was called Oregon Holly. It was the innocent looking little green plants along the forest floor that were the poison oak. Something to remember for next time! Great adventure!! –Our muscles are still recovering!Read More