Hiding from Rain in the Rocks

RB9

Yesterday was gray and damp, and I didn’t have any great ambitions for a hike.  Instead, I opted to explore an area where I used to rock climb on the flank of Portland’s Rocky Butte. As documented last year, a trail scales the butte in conjunction with the road, but I had no intention of climbing to the open summit with the cyclists and viewseeking drivers.   I parked near the upper end of the trail and dropped into the forest as the trail cut through a gap in the crags.

The path flattens as it nears the noisy I-205, and I was somewhat surprised to see a number of tents dotting the area.  A makeshift branch fence surrounded one camp.   A pickup bedliner was used as a roof by another.  How things change.  The city is known to have a homeless problem, like many other cities.  But for whom is it really a problem?   These people live from hand to mouth in areas developers can’t yet touch and make massive profits.  There is more trash in the woods than there used to be, but even when I came here to top rope routes in high school, there was graffiti and the occasional smashed beer bottle or three.   I continued walking, wishing there were easy answers.

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The cliffs are often dirty and covered in moss and the like, yet there are stretches that are very pretty, where there are climbs like Bird of Paradise, White Rabbit, and Blackberry Jam, that seemed like testpieces when I was 18. After navigating the slippery, mossy boulders beneath the crags, I found all of those climbs and more.  Good memories. Climbers still use the butte, but probably not as much with the advent of indoor gyms and the development of the climbs in other nearby areas.  Rain spattered the area as I wandered, but beneath the trees, it barely affected me.  I only had to be exceedingly careful as I clambered over the rocks.  Very slick going. Urban hiking can be a mixed bag.  After seeing the homeless camps, and thinking about the twists and turns of my own life, I found myself with plenty to think about as I hiked back up hill to the car.  It may have been just what I needed.

 

 

 

About Josh Baker

"The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.” ― John Muir

Posted on March 28, 2016, in Climbing, Flora and Fauna, General Hiking, hiking, Memories, Outdoors, Photography, Rocky terrain, Scrambling, Uncategorized, Urban Hiking and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I once camped for a week in forest park back in the late nineties. it was quite sublime to wake up to birdsong at dawn and then walk through the woods and suddenly be in the middle of a large city.

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