Kelly Butte in the Middle of the City

Jackie a having a stroll on Kelly Butte

Jackie sniffing the green world

The more I look, the more oases I find scattered around the city.   Here’s another:  Kelly Butte in Southeast Portland.  Jackie and I took a jaunt up there a few days ago.  The hiking is fairly limited, but it was nice to get into a greenspace for a brief period.  I saw no other people, and the weather was perfect.  It seemed like a nice spot for a picnic.  Perhaps another time.

Looking back whence we came

Looking back whence we came

Indian Point in the Columbia River Gorge

I am not always a view seeking hiker, but when I am, I go to the Columbia River Gorge for quick views.  Indian Point is best accessed from the Gorton Creek Trail a few miles east of Cascade Locks. It involves almost 3000 feet of elevation gain, so it’s a good workout, but the mileage is only 8 miles round trip, meaning it’s only a half day affair.

The hike through a Douglas Fir forest is pleasant but unexceptional. There are no significant views or landmarks as the path steadily climbs.  Just less than four miles uphill, I was ready for a view.  An unofficial spur trail leads downhill to Indian Point.  This is where things start getting good, although it is definitely not for inexperienced hikers. The trail drops steeply, but not for long, and then it winds out to a narrow talus ridge with a rocky point capping the end.  The point is comprised of shattered loose basalt.  Jackie Chan and I opted to hang out in rocks below and enjoy the views.  It was gorgeous and serene.

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Looking upstream a bit toward Wind Mountain and Dog Mountain was spectacular. In the distance to the north, Mt. Adams looked huge. I could have stayed there forever. When I heard a couple people descending from the main trail, I knew it was time to go.

On the descent, I looped back via the Nick Eaton Ridge trail.  It offered some nice steep meadows with views towards Mount Hood. Other than that, it was not graded as well, and I slipped on some steep gravelly terrain. By then, I just wanted to get back to the car. And so I did. Mission accomplished. I was pleased to find yet another hidden gem in the Columbia River Gorge. Indian Point is a keeper.  As I headed back towards the Portland metro area, I felt rejuvenated by my hike.

Feeling Lucky

Wide open spaces call my name.

Wide open spaces call my name, and I respond… 

Sometimes, the daily grind can get almost anyone down. However, when I slow down and take a look around, I do feel lucky.  I have more responsibilities now, and my adventures are usually on a smaller scale, yet joy always rises from my gut when I find real beauty close to home.  Recently, my wife, pup, and I discovered a park in Clackamas close to neighborhoods with baseball fields, a rose garden, picnic areas, and multiple patches of nature to cherish.  It was a pleasant surprise, and a nice spot to stroll in the late afternoon. We just need to get out and find those places.

Another pretty Oregon creek, and so close to home, too!

Another pretty Oregon creek, and so close to home, too!


Aldrich Butte: Hiking, History, and a Waterfall Too

During World War II, military gun emplacements were constructed atop Aldrich Butte in the Columbia Gorge.  The thinking was to defend Bonneville Dam below. Luckily, the guns were never needed (Fun fact: Oregon was the one continental state bombed in WW II).  Concrete remnants of the fortifications are still on top of the butte.

Aldrich Butte makes for a great short hike that can be modified with the addition of a hike to Cedar Falls and a loop trail return.   The trailhead is a wide spot in a power line access road near the Bonneville Hot Springs resort.   Soon the trail ducks into the trees on an old rocky road.  The grade is casual, the mossy trees are spectacular in spots.  After a bit less than a mile, a junction is reached at what passes for a lake at Carpenter Lake.  It looks like a meadow but I assume it is rather boggy.  The trail to the summit cuts back to the left and heads uphill more dramatically to a modest but very pleasant summit.  I made it up in about 45 minutes. (My drive was longer than that) Concrete footings, presumably for the gun emplacements, are all over the place.  I had to wonder how many similar spots were built up during the war years along the coasts of the U.S.

This was my only day off this week, so I took my time to relax in the sun on top, enjoying the views of the Gorge.  Despite seven or eight other vehicles at the trailhead, I saw no other hikers.  Perhaps they were ninja hikers, or Special Forces troops testing new camouflage.  It worked!  I enjoyed my peaceful time.  On the way down, I opted to take a variation loop back to the car.  This was on an unimproved trail, included a side trip to Cedar Falls, the path to which was slightly sketchy.  The side trail is very steep in spots, and there is no signage at all.  If you have any navigational qualms, don’t do it.  The falls were a secret little treasure.  It is not a long way from a road, but this is not a roll-out-of-your-car-and-gawk waterfall. I half walked, half slid my way down a hard dusty trail hundreds of feet into the lush drainage to see the pristine cascade.  I may have grumbled a bit at the return climb. I was dripping with sweat by the time I was back on the loop trail.  Soon enough, the climbing stopped, and I easily made my way back to my vehicle.  Maybe next time I will tackle the faint trail to Cedar Mountain above the falls.

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Afternoon Walk by Meldrum Bar

The summer heat seemed like it would never go when I went for  a walk to explore Meldrum Bar Park a week ago.  I found remote control racers, pretty woods, and more great river shoreline, here with access for boaters.

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Now the rain and gray have returned, and the autumn colors are rising in treetops.    I was definitely ready for the change.

Portland’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s

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It’s my birthday weekend.  After a great brunch today with family and friends, I got in some walking.  Not a remote alpine hike, exactly, but it was a walk for a great cause.  Alzheimer’s Disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.  Due to the complexities of the misunderstood disease, it is the most expensive of all disease. 

Every year there are walks to end Alzheimer’s, and this year my wife and I got involved through a new friend.  Thousands of people did the 2.9 mile walk in today’s heat at Portland International Raceway in North Portland.  It was almost too hot for walking on a paved racetrack, but the cause was important and the company was good, so we were pleased to be involved.  It was a bit strange walking around a curving track where cars scream by at 100 mph. We were glad to reach the end, where many volunteers applauded the racewalkers and a band played some great bayou blues.

For more information, check out the Alzheimer’s organization website.  

Ross Island Kayak and Stroll

Ross Island sits in the middle of a river in the middle of the largest city in Oregon.  Knowing a company has long dredged the island for sand and gravel, I’d never before considered it as an outdoor adventure destination. Yet walking part of its shore after a short kayak trip, I found plenty picturesque scenery evoking 19th century landscape artists. Paddling from Sellwood Park in our inflatable kayak did not take us too long, but onshore, it quickly assumed the guise of an older, more natural world.  We opted to leave the kayak and walk around the eastern short, not understanding how large the island is, and we were wearing only water shoes on our feet.  

After rounding a corner, we navigated among exposed gravelly shoals along a channel between Ross Island and East Island.  In a couple months, the water level will likely preclude walking there. As it was, the shallow water and gravel made for unique walking.  Eventually, we passed a few boats anchored in the deeper parts of the channel. They appeared to be residential in nature.  Someone called out about needing to go shopping.  I wondered how they survived long term.

Meanwhile, paddle-boarders and kayakers meandered along the channel toward the point at which Ross Island opens into a large bay where the dredging still occurs.  There is much industrial machinery on the east side of the bay.   We tried to find a path into the heart of the island to cut back to our staring point but it was too brushy.  There were walls of blackberry bushes

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twenty feet high.  Truly, this was a good little adventure.  Next time, we will kayak further up the west side and check that out. Our kayak trip upstream was a little tougher, especially because we had developed a slow leak in the kayak.  I’d brought the pump and had to keep re-inflating.  That effort added to the adventure, but we were glad to be done.


Finding Lost Lake Butte

I first visited Lost Lake when I was about 14.  My family hiked partway around the lake and found camped along the shore in our four person Eureka tent.  It is a fading memory of which I am fond.  I have been back to the lake a few times in recent years.  A flat trail circumnavigates the water in about three miles.  Somehow I had never climbed Lost Lake Butte, directly east of the lake.  I rectified that situation last Sunday. The two mile hike starts by meandering past the campground, then starts climbing in earnest.  There is no flat section of the trail, but it is mostly moderate climbing,  In two miles, the path gains 1400 feet.  There are few views along the way as you climb through pleasant forest, but there are nice ones on top, mostly to the east and north.  Even on a partly cloudy day, Mount Hood dominated the scene, but looking down the valley towards Hood River was also pretty.  The trail is hardly bucket list worthy, but if you are visiting the area, try combining the hike with a kayaking trip, or simply camping at Lost Lake, or just hanging out at the little lodge.


Three Views From Hoyt Arboretum

A couple days ago I walked part of what is known as the 4T Trail.  The name refers to  four modes of transportation by which travelers can experience a loop around the city: trail, tram, trolley, and train. 

Looking back to where I started.  The bump with radio tower is Council Crest.

Looking back to where I started. The bump with radio tower is Council Crest.

I started at a high point in Council Crest Park, and walked on a trail to the Hoyt Arboretum, where the famed Wildwood Trail begins.  It is also right next to the train leaving the Oregon Zoo, where one could continue a loop to downtown Portland. I simply wanted to walk, not ride around Portland by mechanized transport.  That might be nice on a another day. 

Walking up a sunny slope on the Maple Trail

Walking up a sunny slope on the Maple Trail

Once I arrived at the Arboretum, I tacked on a  loop through on the Wildwood and Maple trails. The diversity of tree species are amazing, and views are great too.

I found irony in the extensive graffiti on a fence separating the Arboretum and an upscale neighborhood

I found irony in the extensive graffiti on a fence separating the lovely Arboretum and an upscale neighborhood. 

The trail is relatively easy, but I found myself dripping with sweat by the time I finished my uphill return to Council Crest.  It was a well spent two hours of urban hiking, complete with a graffiti, oriental cherry trees, and a freeway crossing.  Not too shabby.


Walking Along The Willamette

Jackie Chan and I got out for a quick two park double walk this afternoon. Here is a section of sand along the Willamette looking downstream. It feels very serene until you hear the hoots and hollers from the small amusement park next door, Oaks Park. Regardless, the combination of trails and beach make for a nice spot to walk.Sellwood jack


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