Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wahkeena-Multnomah Loop

Ked and I finally made it out hiking last Sunday. It's the first time we've managed to make it to the Columbia Gorge all summer, and we felt the trip was long overdue. We headed for our favorite Gorge trail, a 5.4 mile jaunt that loops from Wahkeena Falls up and around to Multnomah falls, and then takes a short hop back to the starting point. If you know the Gorge at all, then you are probably aware that this hike starts out rather steeply (climbing about 1700 feet), levels out for a mile or so at the top, and then plunges back down, following Multnomah Creek past multiple waterfalls until you reach the famous Multnomah Falls Lodge. There is not a smidgen of dull or boring terrain on the whole trek. It's beautiful from the first step, and we chose a gorgeous day to hit the trails. I'm not going to jabber at you much this post. I'll just put up some pictures here to show you how beautiful the Columbia Gorge can be on a sunny day! (Click to enlarge.)

I loved the mist coming off this double falls at the beginning of the Wahkeena trail. So pretty.

I was cheerful, if a bit winded on the trail. It was so good to get out in the woods again--one of my favorite places to be. If I'd known what was coming later that night I might have been less light of heart. As I was heading down to bed (our bedroom is in the basement--very cool on hot summer nights), I fell down the stairs and banged myself up but good. I'm glad the tumble happened after the trip, though, instead of before we headed out. I'm not very happy about the shape I'm in right now, but I'd have been downright grumpy if the fall had preempted the hike!

At the top of the first stretch of switchbacks is this lovely view of the Columbia River. Now tell me that's not worth the climb!!

Oregon is the Beaver State, but I don't think beavers had anything to do with this particular water dam.

Here is Fairy Falls. I fall in love every time I see it.

At the top of the climb, you get a nice level passage that gives you a chance to rest before starting the descent. It takes a whole different set of muscles coming down the hill than it takes getting up, and can be quite the workout, in it's own way. I was glad of the respite.

I have no idea what kind of wildflowers these are. I just think they're pretty.

The trail along Multnomah Creek can get rather close to some very precipitous drop-offs. Good thing Ked is sure-footed! (Unlike me, it appears, if the incident with the stairs is any indication.)

I was still feeling pretty brave at this point. Not sure I'd venture that close to the edge again any time soon, with the tumble being fresh in my head--I'm still gripping the handrail awfully tight when going downstairs!! I'm sure I'll get my gumption back soon enough, but right now I can still hear my head going thump, thump, thump, thump, as it confirmed the existence of gravity the other night. I'm definitely a "keep away from the edge" kind of gal at the moment.

I think this passage is so cool! Ked's asleep right now, or I'd ask him whether this is "columnar jointing." He took a geology class in college that stuck with him pretty well. I've heard him use the term, but confess that I still need him to confirm the application.

Here is Multnomah falls from the east side, away from its famous bridge and lodge. Even without seeing the whole thing you can see some of its height. It's the second-highest year-round waterfall in North America, and draws tourists like crazy. We had the trail largely to ourselves before we got there. I'm not saying it was empty, but we spent an awful lot of time on our own. Once we got near Multnomah Falls, though, it was like making our way through a cattle auction. Unbelievably busy on a very hot summer day.

Here is one of Oregon's famous inverted tripod trees. Hard to miss, if you know what to look for. Okay, do I need to mention the Brooklyn Bridge and various parcels of swampland for sale, or did you catch the fact I was kidding? I just found this tree growth interesting.

After our hike, we ate at Multnomah Falls Lodge, which is a really beautiful old stone building. Good prime rib, too!

Here was the view from our table on the patio. Lovely, isn't it?
With that, I think I'll leave you for the night. It's getting late, and I still have to brave those basement stairs--once I work my nerve up, that is! Hopefully I'll have some more photos from Yellowstone posted soon. The Gorge isn't too bad in the meantime, though, wouldn't you agree?