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Aqueous Veil of the Bride

Bridalveil Falls

Bridalveil Falls

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.

Multiple layers of lava rock: Washington

Multiple layers of lava rock: Washington

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.

Just one of many moss covered promontories

Just one of many moss covered promontories

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.

Sand Island in the Columbia

Sand Island in the Columbia

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?

Oregon origami, oh my!

Oregon origami, oh my!

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.

Rooster Rock and Points East

The state park's namesake

The state park’s namesake

Rooster Rock State Park is named for a volcanic plug with an easy if not highly desirable climbing route up its south side. The climb is a standard venture for beginners, which I first did when I was 15 or so. The area may be more famous to Portland residents as the site of a “clothing optional” beach.  But enough about that (awkward!)  I ventured there yesterday not to re-live teenage climbing glory, nor to investigate the nude beach, but to wander the low ridge to the east.  It seemed a perfect barrier between river and highway with potential views of both water and nearby peaks. I wasn’t entirely wrong, but the best part of the trip was walking along the mighty Columbia and eying the ramparts of its famous gorge.

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My stalwart companion Jackie Chan and I hiked east from the parking lot and found ourselves walking along a crazy disc golf course in the woods. It looked very difficult through the trees.  The trail stayed more or less level above the riverbank, but eventually dropped down after a mile or so and we emerged into a long meadow. Soon we arrived at the riverbank.  A family with young kids was playing in the water nearby.  We continued east for solitiude, meandering among sandy spots, grasses, and patches of forest.  Eventually the trail disappeared, and I reached a point where it got very rocky and narrow, so we turned back after checking out the avian wildlife on Sand Island.

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We climbed up a washout spot into a broad meadow, and I found an obvious trail up the edge of it into the forest above.  The forest was pleasant although the highway noise detracted a bit from my enjoyment.  At one point, for half a mile or so, I noticed a lot of horsetails and I found that interesting, as we were on a ridge.  I had thought of them as being confined to swampy areas.  Apparently not.  In a little over an hour total, I was back at my car. This is not a strenuous hike, but it was just the ticket for us on this weekday.  Afterwards, I drove west for a closer look at Rooster Rock itself and its big brother, the much more impressive Crown Point on the south side of the highway–another teenage climbing memory. Today I am content with a hike in the vicinity.

Looking up from the parking lot at Crown Point

Looking up from the parking lot at Crown Point