On the map, it’s called Dead Lake. This seemed a bit morbid, and now it’s part of Fallen Leaf Park, so people are calling it Fallen Leaf Lake. Either way, the lake just outside Camas, Washington is a pretty place, just a hop and a skip from the myriad trails near Lacamas Lake, about which I’ve previously written. I visited there two nights ago for a wedding. What a lovely spot, among the trees above the shoreline. I wish I had a better photo, but the light was already failing as clouds and a setting sun conspired. The wedding was wonderful, and I’d like to return when I’m not in clothes I want to keep clean. Until then, check out the lunar eclipse late tonight–and hike on!
It was a crazy weekend. For starters, family from California were here for a quick visit. There was also a lot of hullabaloo over a new light rail line opening in Milwaukie. I missed much of the party because I worked on Saturday. Luckily, the festivities continued into the evening, when we walked on the Trolley Trail, which parallels the light rail line. A gentleman from the Milwaukie Historical Society gave a guided tour of the features along the way. That included artwork, infrastructure, and a Giant Sequoia. It was a nice walk on a trail usually populated by joggers and cyclists.
In addition to a hectic Saturday, we were also booked Sunday for a good cause. After breakfast, my wife and I picked up our son and headed to the Portland International Raceway to take part in the annual Alzheimer’s Walk to Remember along with Denise’s sister and brother in law, their daughter, and her stepdad. This event is a great cause we are proud to attend. Our team, AKA the Jackie Chan Champions, raised hundreds of dollars to help find a cure for the disease or minimize costs for caregivers. The weather was almost perfect. The walk around the 1.9 mile racetrack was accompanied by a zydeco band at the grandstands and a bagpiper who apparently walked the whole route. Some folks were pretty wiped out at the end, but very peppy cheerleaders motivated everyone at the end. This is a great event.
After walking both weekend days, I walked some more at work yesterday to deliver mail.I have to admit, I was a bit tuckered last night. We learned a few things about local history, did our part in fighting a disease, and played games late into Sunday night with family. I didn’t walk anywhere today. Life is good.
I first noticed Tomlike Mountain on a backpacking trip decades ago. For a modest peak in the northern Oregon Cascades, it was wild-looking. For some reason, I skipped Tomlike on my way to Benson Plateau. I found great views elsewhere but always wondered what I’d missed. On Labor Day of 2015, I found out. Yes, it was worth the wait–and the drive.
A long hike up Herman Creek or some other point 45 miles or so from Portland would make the climb a solid twenty mile round trip. My gray hairs would need an extra day to recover from that. No thanks. A longer drive to Wahtum Lake cut the hike by more than half. It seemed a no brainer, so packed a bag and headed for Hood River. When I finally got to the trailhead, a few clouds hung overhead, and the brush in the lower elevations was still wet. I had to hope the clouds would clear. The walking was easy, as the trail arced around Wahtum Lake to meet with the PCT. I found no hikers until I neared the Tomlike herdpath peeled off of the Herman Creek Trail.
Shortly after departing the main trail, the forest started opening up, the surface vegetation diversified, and the trail got rougher. This is not an official path, but it is relatively easy to follow. There is some thick brush, a few dead end spurs, and some rocky patches. It’s exactly the kind of hiking I enjoy–especially when the views started getting sublime. Herman Creek’s large canyon dropped away to the right, with the tiny puddle of Mud Lake at its base and rockslides scarring the canyon walls. As I climbed, I got a few views towards the summit, but it was a long and winding path to get there.
The views continued astonishing me when I was fully above treeline. I enjoyed views in all directions, gawking back at Mount Hood’s majesty as well as tracing with my eye the route I’d followed years before to Chinidere Mountain and the obvious pancake spot of Benson Plateau along the mighty PCT. To the north, over the shoulder of a far ridge, the impressive mass of Mount Adams loomed in a fresh white coat of snow. I continued climbing, huffing and puffing just a bit. Tomlike Mountain’s summit was quiet and calm. I’d thought I’d need my jacket, but I remained in shirtsleeves. I contemplate the massive drop off to the west that felt like the escarpment on a much larger peak.
As always, I was supremely content while sitting on that summit. THe views, the air, the earth beneath me all seemed so right. I had to get up for work at six a.m. the following day. There were bills to pay and chores to complete. For a few hours, however, not a bit of that mattered. The world was wild and beautiful and I was close to its essence. The movement of muscle, bone and tendon over mountain terrain is still invigorating even as it fatigues me more than in decades past. Tomlike Mountain charged my batteries for the week. This was a very satisfying hike.
Descending a minor peak can be boring, especially when one is tired. That’s one reason I took a variation, the Anthill Trail, to return to my vehicle. Thankfully I was rewarded with a couple final wonderful photos opportunities. This is definitely an area to explore, with several other minor peaks nearby. For now, however, it’s back to work.
The power of nature is everywhere. Last week, before my wife and I wrapped up a brief but fantastic beach trip, we saw that power on display. While dining at a great restaurant overlooking the shore, Tidal Raves, we noticed people walking out on a rocky point. Occasional massive waves crashed onto the point, and the hikers disappeared. We both thought the hikers may have been a bit short of brain cells. It looked like an amazing spot, enhanced by the potential danger of big waves. So of course I wanted to go out there too.
After finishing our tasty meal, we found an nearby access trail, and we wandered along the shore. Denise was still recovering from a heel injury, so it was tough for her to attempt such a walk on uneven ground. Ultimately, she stayed on a grassy shelf above while I clambered out on the rocks, feeling at home.
As I headed to the end of the point, the surface became very irregular. It seemed to be some kind of volcanic rock. I definitely had to watch my step. I skirted a steep drop off and crossed a gap in the rock where wave surges came through, then clambered onto high ground to wave gawk. In moments, I was mesmerized. Such power, such beauty. Even as I wanted to move about, I could not turn my back on the waves. Not every wave was spectacular, but there was a large one on a regular basis. A human being on the rocks seemed inconsequential.
Other people were also watching the ocean further up the cliffs that resembled a bluff, and I sauntered that way after leaving the point. Denise and I looked for whales but did not see any. As we walked back to our car, a man and woman said they had seen multiple humpbacks slightly to the north. It was good day on the Oregon coast.
After work the other day, I met my wife and took a stroll in Portland’s Westmoreland Park. It has evolved a bit in recent years, with more paths and cultivation of gardens interspersed with ball fields and duck ponds. We discovered a long curving boardwalk and inspected a marshy area that was drying up. Oregon has finally received some rain, but we are still way behind in annual precipitation. Thankfully, the trees, shrubs, and grasses remain lovely. We consider ourselves lucky to have such a wonderful park close to home.
My wife and I were very lucky to get what was basically a free trip to the beach. The weather finally turned, so we hoped the rain would help firefighters with the many fires in the American West. Alas, the precipitation was relatively modest, but that meant our beach trip was more pleasant than expected. After romantic walks on the beach in Newport, we visited Yaquina Head. While Denise stayed in the visitor center, I strolled up Salal Hill and checked out Cobble Beach below. Great spots. I think we visited the area more than a decade ago. This was a great rediscovery, and well worth the time.
This morning the wife and I took a casual stroll along the riverbank with our pup. While I was gawking at an osprey way up in a tree, I didn’t see the Great Blue Heron standing in the mouth of the creek. We are lucky to have lots of both birds in our area. The heron, I learned, weighs less than ten pounds despite a massive frame. Apparently this is due to hollow bones, like all birds. And it if looks slow, don’t tell the fish. It strikes fast when it’s going for food. I was able to get fairly close before the bird spooked, doing a graceful flight out over the river, then a return swing up the creek drainage. Quite a treat for a Sunday morning stroll.
Ho hum, another waterfall run. The Bridalveil exit off Highway 84 eastbound signals the beginning of the Columbia River Gorge. It offers immediate access to the old highway and a high density of mountain and waterfall hikes. Bridalveil Falls had escaped my attention until recently. A short downhill hike takes one to a viewpoint of the falls pouring into a pretty little canyon and a babbling stream. For some reason, I only took a few similar photos. Oh well. Nice spot.
Back at the trailhead, a mostly paved path leads to bluffs overlooking the Columbia River. I realized I’d seen the railings on the these bluffs from the highway, but never knew how to access them. Now I know.
For some reason, I took a lot more photos on this casual walk than when I saw the waterfall. Across the river, there is a cool perspective on the volcanic layer cake of the Washington side. It’s funny to realize a railroad and highway are squeezed in there.
Great views are in abundance, especially to the west, with Sand Island in the river and Crown Point looming in the background. Both of those spots I had seen recently from a different perspective on my Rooster Rock venture. This was a nice visual cross reference.
The views are more open than most in the Gorge, and with little effort expended, so that was a treat. An origami mobile hanging from a tree at one viewpoint prompted curiosity. Who would have gone to such efforts and why?
Both paths at Bridalveil offer great walks for those who don’t want to put forth a great deal of effort, yet still want some great views. For an introduction to the west end of the Gorge, one could hardly do better.
The Columbia Gorge seems to have enough gorgeous waterfalls to satisfy any aquaphile. I keep finding new ones, and this week was no exception as I visited two new falls for me, including one not too many folks approach: Mist Falls. It’s not far from the tourist destination of Multnomah Falls, and it’s one of the highest falls in Oregon, yet there is no official trail climbing there. The trailhead is little more than a short pullout just west of Wahkeena Falls. A minute up the trail, where it still feels like a trail, one comes to the brink of a creek. Across the creek is a stone chimney, the last remnant of the aged Multnomah Lodge.
From there, what passes for a trail is really more of what I would call a talus thrash. The slope is steep and the footing is anything but solid. It would have been a good place for trekking poles, but knowing it was relatively short, I wasn’t worried. IN fact, in less than ten minutes, I came around a moss encrusted rocky shoulder and got my first glimpse of the falls. There has been very little precipitation in Western Oregon for a coupe months, so I was hardly surprised to see the falls looking rather thin. The water drops in two stages, the first a long dramatic and misty airborne plunge from a cliff, the second a lower angled cascade in the center of a broad rocky bowl.
I scrabbled up a steep shoulder on the left side of the falls where I was able to look back and see a bit of the Gorge but not as much as I’d hoped. The depth of the falls was clearly visible here, as were some of the geologic layers, columnar basalt wedged between more chaotic forms of erstwhile lava. The bowl itself was dramatic and looked ripe for exploration with the right equipment. A dark inset to the right of the falls was particularly intriguing to me, but the rock was steep enough that I didn’t want to venture up there solo without more preparation. If it’s a cave with Neolithic paintings or pottery fragments, their discovery will have to wait for another day.
The hike up to Mist Falls was short but challenging, and the little amphitheater was well worth exploring. This is good adventurous trek to appease adrenaline junkies bored by casual looks at roadside falls. While not for inexperienced hikers, mountain goats would surely love this hike.
I’ve been here before. We’ve all been here before. Running out of new spots nearby, I revisited an old track and tried to focus differently, to see new pleasures in familiar spaces. The dry conditions certainly did their part to give me a different perspective. Marquam Nature Park is a sizeable greenspace in the hills of Southwest Portland, and I find it a great unsung spot to head outdoors.
As documented on this site, I have hiked from the part to the heights of Council Crest multiple times, but as it was quite warm this go around, I decided to make a loop lower in the trees, expending modest amounts of energy. It was a pleasant way to spend forty five minutes. I was surprised to see leaves already changing color, as well as creek beds completely dry. For a Sunday, few people seemed to be out compared to the crowds I’d seen recently at the Arboretum or in Forest Park. It’s nice to hike on a sunny day, and I know it’s August, but I hope we get some real precipitation soon. It’s disconcerting to see our world seemingly drying up. This too shall pass. It better.