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