Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Maggie and Jeff's Awesome Pacific Northwest Adventure

Ever since Joe and Rachel moved to Oregon I’d been planning to come out and visit. I’d never been farther west than Colorado so this was definitely very exciting. I looked forward to seeing the Columbia River Gorge, the Cascades and the Pacific Coast. When I suggested to Jeff that we go somewhere together this was the first thing that came to mind. We’d spent the last three months planning our trip and daydreaming about the great runs and beautiful sights. Finally the day had come and we were heading west for two weeks. Below are short trip reports for each day. I put up a selection of the best photos and videos. Click on the links below for lots more photos and more details of our trip (There are a lot so if you want the quicker version check out my Best of the Pacific Northwest gallery).

Mount Hood and Hood River

Day 1: Columbia River Gorge, OR

We arrived in Portland, OR early in the afternoon and headed toward Hood River. We got a great view of Mount Hood as we flew over it and couldn’t wait to get our adventure started. Along the way we took the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Highway to do some sight seeing. Within an hour of getting off the plane we were hiking to gorgeous waterfalls and exploring fabulous lush forests. The fantastic green moss covering everything was an amazing and the lush green ferns growing everywhere made it seem more like late spring than winter. I had worried that since we were heading there in late winter that everything would be gray and dreary as it is in MD. Not so! This day also happened to be Jeff’s 30th birthday. What a great way to spend it!!

Vista House, Columbia River GorgeWahkeena Falls
Latourell FallsMultnomah Falls

We arrived in Hood River that evening in time to grab dinner at the Taqueria (best Mexican food I’ve had in a long time, we ate there a lot during our trip) and head to the pool to watch Joe play kayak polo.

Hood River Kayak Polo Gallery

Day 2: Wind River, WA

Jeff, Maggie and Joe

The next day we were eager to get a taste of Pacific Northwest paddling. Rachel suggested the Wind River in Washington as a good warm-up. It turned out to be a great choice. Good water level, fun continuous class III-IV rapids and amazing scenery. We were also blessed with gorgeous sunny weather.

Rachel was unable to paddle for a few days but this did not deter her from being a wonderful hostess. She not only came up with the perfect first day run, let me borrow her Solo and also ran shuttle for us!

Wind River Photo Gallery

After our run Joe and Rachel took us on a quick sight seeing tour (into prime Big Foot country). We checked out the crazy landslide at Rock Creek. Unstable earth around the falls known as the Money Drop had caused the waterfall to change in height. Originally starting at around 80 feet it had dropped to 30 feet as the earth filled in the pool below and rose once again to around 60 feet as the creek eroded through the landslide. It was rather frightening standing on the edge to look over at the drop knowing how unstable the bank was. After snapping a few photos we hurried back up to safer ground.

The Money Drop

Joe close to the edge (too close for my comfort!)

Rock Creek Landslide Photo Gallery

We finished up our day with a trip to view Mount Saint Helens. I’ve always had a fascination with the volcano and it really was a highlight for me to get a personal view.

Mt. Saint Helens Photo Gallery

Day 3: West Fork Hood River, OR

On the third day Joe had to work so we decided on the West Fork of the Hood River just outside town. It was running on the low side and was an easy class II-III run but as Jeff and I had not done much boating in the past few months we were glad for a nice relaxing run to do on our own. The scenery was great and we had a good time. Along the run we came across one portage: A fishladder made up of a series of deadly low head dams. Why anyone would replace what once used to be a 13 foot waterfall with a bunch of drowning machines was beyond us. Since the level was low I decided to go ahead a run a few of the drops on the scrapey left side just for the heck of it.

Rachel played shuttle bunny once again, going above and beyond by stopping at various spots along the run on her way to the takeout to get photos of us coming down. She was so sneaky that there were various places we never even saw her!

Maggie, West Fork Hood River

Jeff, West Fork Hood River
MaggieMaggie at the fishladder
Maggie and JeffSetting out

West Fork Hood River Photo Gallery

That evening we headed into Portland for a little culture. Rachel and I had made plans to take the guys to see Cirque du Soleil for their birthdays (since they were only 2 days apart). The show was amazing!

Day 4: Canyon Creek, WA

Now that we’d gotten a good warm-up Joe took us out to Canyon Creek in Washington. It was a fabulous secluded class IV+ run with incredible scenery and quality whitewater. The rapids started out in a narrow gorge and then opened up to more pool – drop character. We were greeted with a nice surprise of seeing a bald eagle along the run. The bird watched us as we paddled by and did not move from its high perch in the trees. We had a fabulous run, taking our time to get lots of photos. Rachel patiently waited for us at the takeout once again.

Joe running Big FallsJoe and Jeff at Big Falls
Joe running The Hammering Spot
Maggie running Champagne
How to run Thrasher: by MaggieHow NOT to run Thrasher: by Jeff

Jeff and Joe
Maggie and Joe
How to run Thrasher Prelude: by JeffHow NOT to run Thrasher Prelude: by Maggie
Maggie running slotVolcano
Jeff and the bald eagle (top right corner)

Lake paddle

Maggie running Thrasher

Jeff running Big Falls

Canyon Creek Photo Gallery

Day 5: White Salmon River, Farmlands Section, WA

Finally we were getting on the Pacific Northwest classic: the White Salmon River. We started off on the Farmlands section. Driving to the put in you wouldn’t imagine that you were about to drop into a gorged canyon. The White Salmon winds its way through flat fields but nonetheless has plenty of gradient as it drops deep into the ground. We had yet another atypically sunny day (we really had fabulous luck with weather on this trip!) and a wonderful run with lots of fun drops, long narrow rapids and incredible scenery. The hike out was tough, involving roping boats out and a steep scramble up a muddy dirt wall. I was rather concerned about how I was going to get back in there to run the Truss Section the next day.

Mount Adams

Farmlands put in

Farmlands gorge

Joe and Jeff
Jeff at Doorbell
Scouting Lava FallsJoe and Jeff

Day 6: White Salmon River, Green Truss Section, WA

The Green Truss section of the White Salmon of was at the top of my must do list for this trip. To alleviate my fear of heights I packed my climbing harness and belay device and had Jeff lower me in at the takeout. I was nervous enough doing this and was not about to free climb down to the put in. This worked out well. The run was just as, if not even more beautiful than the Farmlands section. The weather remained quite beautiful and the run was awesome. Jeff and I watched Joe run Big Brother who of course made it look easy but both decided it was not a drop for us. We all portaged BZ Falls.

Lowering boatsGreen Truss bridge
Zig ZagJoe at Lower Zig Zag
Jeff and Maggie at BZ FallsMaggie running Little Brother
Joe on Big BrotherJeff at the put in

Maggie at Green Truss put in

Joe running Big Brother

Joe running Double Drop

Truss Photo Gallery

Day 7: White Salmon River, Middle Section, WA

The next day Jeff decided to take a break and took over shuttle bunny duties for Rachel (who was finally able to paddle again). I felt up to an easy paddle so I joined Rachel and her friends for a relaxing run on the Middle Salmon. I decided to give Joe’s Magnum a try on this run for a little variety.

Maggie and RachelMaggie running Hussum Falls

Middle White Salmon Photo Gallery

After the run we headed back to Oregon for a hike up Eagle Creek to see Metlako and Punchbowl Falls. The trail followed high above the creek which flowed through a deep narrow gorge. We had a great time checking out the flowers and other plants of the surrounding forest as well as the falls themselves. I had some hopes of getting to run Punchbowl Falls, a clean 30 foot drop. But the two mile hike in quickly lowered my motivation especially since getting back down would require portaging xx ft Metlako (which I have no aspirations of every running) or else hiking back out on the trail. Perhaps one day when I have more time I’ll make this expedition happen.

Maggie on the trail

Maggie at Punchbowl Falls

Punchbowl Falls
Jeff rock hopingMore moss
Jeff and Maggie

Jeff and Maggie at Metlako Falls
Metlako Falls

Punchbowl Falls
PrettyMetlako Falls, photo by Jeff

Day 8: Cannon Beach, OR

After six straight days of paddling even I needed a break. So Jeff and I headed to the Oregon Coast. Neither of us had seen the Pacific and looked forward to something new. We drove out to the mouth of the Columbia and headed south along the Pacific Coast Highway. We spent our first night in Cannon Beach at a lovely bed and breakfast. We spent the afternoon exploring the beaches and incredible trees in the coastal forests and enjoyed a nice meal at a seaside restaurant. We got a great close up view of the world’s third tallest monolith, Haystack Rock just off of Cannon Beach. There was a high surf advisory that day so we got to see huge crashing waves. It was really beautiful.

Mouth of the Columbia at Astoria
High surf

Maggie at Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach at high tide

Cool tree
Black sand beach
Coastal rocksAnother cool tree

Cannon Beach Photo Gallery

Day 9: Oregon Coast

The next morning we woke up to gorgeous sunny weather and low tide. This was extremely exciting as this meant we would be able to explore some tide pools. We hurried out to the beach and were joyously surprised to find an amazing abundance of big starfish, sea anemones, muscles and other sea critters. We spent several hours playing in the tide pools around Haystack Rock. That afternoon we headed down the coast stopping along various beaches and viewpoints. More typical Pacific Northwest weather had finally caught up to us and we were faced with periods of showers and bitter winds. We made the best of it nonetheless and saw many incredible sights

Haystack Rock
Octopus Tree

Maggie with starfish
Tide pool starfish

Haystack Rock Tide Pools
Devil's Punchbowl
Oregon CoastCormorant

Haystack Rock Tide Pools Photo Gallery

Oregon Coast Photo Gallery

Day 10: Newport, OR

We arrived in Newport in the evening and headed to the historic bay front. As we sat in the car making hotel reservations I heard a familiar barking. Sea lions!! We excitedly grabbed our cameras and headed for the pier to check out the majestic creatures basking there.

We enjoyed a fabulous seafood dinner at a local fish market restaurant and enjoyed chatting with the chef as we watched our food being cooked from our seats at the bar. Newport turned out to be a very charming fishing town with much to see and do.

Newport pierCrab traps

Sea Lions

Newport marina

Sea Lions

Sea Lions
Bacon wrapped tuna steakSand dunes

Newport Photo Gallery

The next morning we headed for the beach at Seal Rocks State Park to check out more tide pools. It was a cold rainy day so we donned waterproof pants and jackets. Despite the wet conditions we had a fabulous time playing in the tide pools looking at critters. The sea creatures here were similar to those at Cannon Beach. Lots of starfish and sea anemones. However the pools here were deeper so the anemones were a lot bigger and we were also able to find some awesome purple sea urchins.

When the rain became to heavy to keep our cameras out we put them away and pulled out the waterproof ones. Although we were getting rather cold and wet we had a great time taking underwater photos of the tide pools:

As we were getting ready to leave Jeff pointed out to a rock a short ways from the shore exclaiming : “It IS a seal!”. Sure enough a gray harbor seal had sat up, making its presence more obvious. When we’d first arrived we’d both looked at the rock and the first though that had come to mind was: “Seals!”. But upon further examination we’d both decided that was just wishful thinking and that it was actually just a piece of gray driftwood. We’d gone about our tide pool fun and not given it a second though. Now though it was clear that there was indeed a seal sitting next to the log. Oh wait! No it was actually three seals all lined up!! We both had a good laugh and happily took photos of our “seal log”.

Pink anemone

Green anemone
StarfishSea urchin
Awesome tide pool critters

Jeff: very wet, but very happy
The "log", aka harbor seals
Sea urchin

Seal Rocks Tide Pools Photo Gallery

Having gotten thoroughly cold and wet we decided we’d had enough outdoor fun for one day so we headed to the Oregon Coast Aquarium. We got to view more exciting critters including more starfish, anemones, sea urchins, as well as various aquatic birds, sea otters, sharks and other wildlife. It was a wonderful way to finish off our trip to the coast.

"Passages of the Deep"

Giant octopus "Passages of the Deep"

Oregon Coast Aquarium Photo Gallery

Day 11: East Fork Hood River, OR

After three days at the coast we returned to Hood River to find that the mountains had gotten some fresh snow. Not wanting to miss a powder day, Joe and Rachel headed off to Mount Hood for some skiing. Meanwhile Jeff and I stopped at a snow park for some kayak sledding. We took turns hiking our boats up the hill. It was great fun (though somewhat scary as the hill was quite steep and sent you flying fast!). The Magnum proved to make the best kayak sled, going much faster than the Micro. After a few runs each we took some time to play in the snow.

Getting some air

Rolling snowballs is hard work!

Powder day
Jeff airborne
MaggieSnow angel fun

The biggest snowman i've built since I was ten!
Now this is what I call steep creeking!
Snow pack at Mount Hood
Jeff carving a turn

Jeff kayak sledding at Mount Hood

Kayak Sledding Photo Gallery

After we had our fill of kayak sledding we met back up with Joe and Rachel for a run on the East Fork of the Hood River. The put in required trudging through knee-deep snow but the fresh sprinkling on the trees made for another beautiful run. This was a narrow boulder garden style run with continuous class IV drops. The level was a touch on the low side making some of the drops rather manky and reminiscent of West Virginia creeks (making us look around for groves of rhododendron). I was somewhat fearful of pinning or pitoning throughout the run but luckily it went fine with no major incident. We did have to portage one very large and heinous looking log jam and got a fresh layer of snow sprinkled on us along the way.

East Fork Hood

Joe and Jeff snowy

East Fork Hood River Photo Gallery

Day 12: East Fork Lewis River, WA

For our last day of paddling Joe and Rachel picked out the East Fork of the Lewis River in Washington. It was a low stress class III-IV run with some nice waterfalls and as usual gorgeous scenery. The trip was made more exiting by the five (yes five!!!) swims taken by the person we met up with. Nonetheless it was a great final run.

Joe and MaggieJeff running Horseshoe Falls
Maggie running Sunset FallsMaggie and Joe
Rachel in a sticky holeRachel running Sunset Falls
ScoutingI didn't realize this was going to be a fishing trip

East Fork Lewis Photo Gallery

Day 13: Goodbye to the Pacific Northwest

On the way home from the Lewis, our last paddling day of the trip, we saw an amazing rainbow. The Pacific Northwest's way of reminding us to come back soon. We sure will!!

Hood River Photo Gallery

It was a wonderful two weeks of boating and sightseeing. Thanks so much to Joe and Rachel for giving us a place to stay, showing us great places and taking us down awesome rivers. Special thanks to Rachel for being the best shuttle bunny EVER!!! We can’t wait to go back!

Sunset over the Columbia River Gorge

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

hit counter code
low cost web hosting

Locations of visitors to this page