Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Northwest...Washington and Oregon!

I cruised into Hood River just after dark wishing I could see more of the Gorge.  I had spotty cell reception on this trip and directions that told me to go a mile exactly from a gas station and I'd find the private drive to Lori's.  No problem...I've had worse directions and still found my way, in the dark.  Lori gathered her gear and we set off to find the boys at our home base camp at Trout Lake.  I had recommended to Lori to take the job at Wet Planet leaving all she knew in Minnesota for the unknown.  As an avid "mother hen" I was anxious to see how she was doing.

She was doing fantastic!   We went to the The Trout Lake Country Inn for breakfast and I walked into my past.  The building is ancient with all the original woodwork.  The front had a small bar area and tables with a comfortable sofa area and TV. The back was the old style dance hall with a classic stage. In the olden days I was told there used to be bath tubs lined up for the locals to come and buy a bath.  The decor was antique everyday items.  My favorite item is the picture of the Duke, John Wayne,  hanging on the wall.  The front porch was just how I remember the porch on our old farm house was.  Memories blew through my mind like the cool evening winds I recalled rocking on that porch. Lori and I schemed our first day together...heehee!
Scott on Husum Falls

  First off was paddling the White Salmon. Lori is truly blessed to have this stream as her home river.  Everything from class II to V.  What a beautiful training ground.   We then went to the Wind River and dropped three of our group off there and then Lori, Chris and I went to do the hike into Falls Creek Falls. Walking in the northwest woods is like walking in a fantasy world. Emerald greens and rustic colors so rich it's hard to believe they're real.  The hike was long and we had almost given up finding the falls when we came out on an overlook and saw the falls down below us.  We cracked our celebratory beers, took some photos and wondered why our path didn't take us to the bottom like the guide book said it would.  Darkness was on it's way and it was a long hike out.  We decided to finish our beers as we walked further on the path to see if it went to the top of the falls.  Sure enough just as I was finishing my beer we arrived at the top of the most magnificent, three tier falls you could imagine.  Standing at the top was breathtaking! The guide book mentioned a root ladder along the side of the falls you could use to climb up.  We started down climbing the root ladder.  With each level the falls revealed more!  Wow!  This is THE BEST part yet!  Down climb some more...No no!  THIS is the best view yet.  The beauty and immensity of the falls is humbling!  I found myself trying to capture the complete aura in one photo but was unable to fit so much into my lens. There are so many hikes they recommend out in the Gorge area...I recommend this be your first. We took lots of photos and then with dark almost upon us, headed back out.  Personally I love trail running downhill.  It was over two miles to the car and we trail ran most of it until it was too dark to see the roots and rocks on the trail.  We ended the day hooking back up with the Wind river group at the bar for dinner. Great start for our Washington/Oregon trip!
Chris and Lori Falls Creek Trail
Falls Creek
Me on the overlook
First Tier of Falls Creek Falls
Second Tier Falls Creek Falls
Third Tier Falls Creek Falls
Awesome hiking crew!

  Day two started with breakfast at my favorite inn.  An early morning run on the White Salmon.  Then we all went for a group paddle on the Clakamas River in Oregon.  A friendly playboat run just outside of Portland. This river was just pure fun!  We followed with a group hike to Punchbowl Falls on Eagle Creek.  Some of our group deemed it to be runnable and made plans for the next day to huck it.  We finished the evening with dinner at the Full Sail Brewery.  Awesome stout beer and an awesome day two!
Below Punch Bowl Falls on Eagle Creek
Punch Bowl Falls on Eagle Creek

  Day three, Lori had to go back to work so we did an early morning bomb run of the White Salmon only starting higher up on the run.  Afterward the group scattered to do separate adventures. I wanted some alone time in Hood River just hanging out, getting my bike fixed and taking in the neighborhood.  Some of the others went to huck Punchbowl Falls and Oggie went hiking with his Uncle and Brian waited for his friend, Eric, at the campsite.   On my way back from town I stopped to drop some lunch off with Lori.  She heard there was going to be an ender contest at Top Drop that evening.  Wow!  We need to get one of these started here in the Midwest!  The rules were your boat had to be nine or more feet long.  You get three minutes to see what you can do in the hole and with each move the crowd shouts out a number from  1 to 10.  A score keeper does his or her best to average the score.  Sound like fun?  You bet it was!

Ironic that day four was the Fourth of July!  By this time Brian's friend Eric had joined us and our group did another paddle on the White Salmon.  Lori had to work but begged off early in the afternoon so our core hiking group consisting of Lori, Chris and I could hike Sleeping Beauty.  A small mountain (by comparison) from which on a clear day you can see Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood and Mt. St Helen's.  It was clear when we started but after hiking to the top we were just in some light clouds that obscured the view.  Still we were able to look down at an incredible sight!  We celebrated this hike with an awesome stout!

Back at camp Chris was talking about going with me when I left in the morning so we could do the Lochsa River on the way home.  Chris was fired up to hit this river and I was curious.  I loved the Payette and was having thoughts of going back to it and doing one last big water playboat run on my way home.  Chris assured me that the Lochsa was big water and you can do it in a playboat. We were on the road at 5:30am headed east.  Just because you're headed home doesn't mean the adventure is over.
Kiters in Hood River.  Maybe I should have brought a kite or two.

I really need to apologize for the lack of abundant river photos.  My Optio took a dive off my truck and I hadn't replaced it before the trip.  I used my SLR camera for these shots so if you click on the photo it will enlarge and I truly hope you enjoy them.  I have since replaced my Optio and I promise you I will go back there next year and shoot up the rivers. I have some helmet cam that I will be editing as soon as I find a bit of time.

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