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Gallivanting in the Columbia Gorge

DSCN4012As I have attempted to demonstrate in previous posts, the Columbia River Gorge is a pretty awesome place to play in the outdoors.  Today I took a tour of the Washington side with my wife and our faithful pup.  We began at the lower end of the Cape Horn area, where we walked through fern and moss draped trees to eyeball a beautiful cascade right below the rock and mortar protected outlook.  Good start.

After meandering past further road views from the Cape Horn area, we stopped at the St. Cloud recreational site, a pleasant surprise set in an old orchard on the bank of the Columbia River.   We walked through the orchard and down to the water for some close up views of the famous river.  Such views!

As we left, Jackie trotted by a great old log that seemed to me to have a leonine face on its end.   Soon, we drove by the famous Beacon Rock but didn’t dally long, then paused briefly at an historic marker pullout which referred to the Lewis and Clark expedition coming through the area.  A landslide 500 years ago came down from the area near Table Mountain and dumped debris in the river here. The spot also offered a unique view of Cascade Locks, where Cheryl Strayed ended her PCT hike (shameless attempt for search hits), and I was disappointed to learn that Char Burger is no more.


Through the trees and across the Columbia at a narrow spot to Cascade Locks

Stevenson was next on the agenda.  This is a cute small town on its way to being a real destination.  It has good restaurants, a brewpub, some cute shops, and lots of waterfront.   Retirement spot, anyone?   Following Denise’s good instincts, we headed for the waterfront, and wandered by a restaurant and walked down a trail below a lodge.  Nice place to visit.  If only we had some spare cash for real estate investments…


When we left Stevenson I briefly contemplated a hike up Wind Mountain, but thought better of it.  Too chilly.   Go east, (not so) young man!  Coyote Wall was calling me.  So we headed to the area popular with mountain bikers and hikers alike.  The start may have been the best part in more ways than one.   The old road was easy walking, and within five minutes saw two bald eagles relaxing on a snag.  It was the best view I’ve ever had of an eagle.

Once we ventured off the road onto a rocky muddy trail, the landscape changed a lot.  The hills undulate, and there are cool rock formations.  I was slightly surprised that the area was quite green, but it is January.  The temperature plunged as cloud cover came in, and we decided to turn back, since we still had a long drive home.   It was a great day of walking and sightseeing with the fam.




Cape Horn of Plenty

The Columbia Gorge from Cape Horn

The Columbia Gorge from Cape Horn

This is a sequel hike.  I came up here last winter, but a prime time summer day is a different experience, especially when it’s with four other people.   we came late in the day, and just blasted (okay, we walked steadily) up to the first few viewpoints.   We encountered a woman wondering if we’d seen a friend of hers.  He had just taken off running.   First rule of hiking club: don’t leave your buddies.  Second rule of hiking club:  don’t ridicule those hikers who make foolish decisions.  We found the guy later.  All was well.   Third rule of hiking club:  don’t scare the heck out of your friends by leaning way too close to the edge of a cliff.    Ah, what the heck.

Cape HOrn views

Denise, Jackie Chan, and friends at a dusty viewpoint over the Columbia River

We decided to turn around where there was a no trespassing sign that hadn’t been there in the winter. It would have been along walk to another pretty view and we were short on time. Still, a couple killer viewpoints and some good exercise with good company is about as good as life gets in my book.   That and high quality chocolate ice cream.