Sunday, June 21, 2009

Pacifc Northwest 2009

Me running last drop of Thor's Playroom, Opal Creek, OR

It’s official. I am in love with Hood River. No doubt about it. Jeff and I spent a fabulous 3 weeks in Oregon in May, 2/3 of it in The Hood. May is an amazing month in the Pacific Northwest. We had warm sunny weather for most of our trip (barely a cloud in the sky for the last 2 weeks) but still plenty of water. With so much to do out there we split our time between boating, hiking, caving, beach combing, and generally enjoying the wonders of the region. After a couple of days of paddling and hiking the Columbia Gorge we headed out to the Oregon Coast and made our way down into California to see the Redwoods. From there we headed back north stopping at Crater Lake.

Paddling Highlights:

I didn’t do much difficult paddling on this trip. Not having paddled much this year do to a broken foot I didn’t feel in shape for any epic adventures. Nonetheless I got on some old favorites and a few new runs as well:

Upper East Fork, Hood River: With good water this year, the East Fork was a wild, adrenaline packed ride. Some have likened it to a miniature version of the North Fork Payette. Not having run it I’ll have to take their word for it. Sweet run (despite some hideous wood).

Me on the Upper East Fork, Hood River

West Fork, Hood River: Great fun with good water!

Hood River, Dee to Tucker: This run was surprisingly more exciting than I expected! Besides, what’s better than having a pie store at the takeout? The Huckleberry Peach pie was our favorite!

Joe and Jeff on the Hood

Opal Creek: The level was low but the scenery was spectacular and still had some fun rapids. Also the clearest water I’ve ever seen!

Joe with Thor's Hammer
Eddy checking out Thor's Playroom

Joe running "Big Fluffy"

Maggie, Joe, and Rachel hiking in

Wind River: Awesome run, for us East coasters: reminds me of a combination of the Upper Gauley and Upper Yough

Middle White Salmon: It was too high to run the Farmlands or the Truss this year unfortunately but that meant there was good water in the Middle. Awesome relaxing run, full of big fun waves.

Unfortunately not many boating photos from this trip. Most of the runs were fast and continuous with not much time to stop.

Me running bottom of Maytag

Hiking Highlights:

Hood River Mountain: This was our favorite hike. Just 10 minutes outside of town, Hood River Mtn provides some of the most spectacular views with very little effort. We did this one about four times. An easy 30 minute hike brings you out to a gorgeous meadow full of lupine, balsamroot (a small sunflower like plant) and Indian paintbrush. The Wildflowers were just spectacular. From here you also get amazing views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams and on a clear day Mt. St. Helens and even Mt. Rainier in the distance.

Me amongst the wildflowers on Hood River Mountain

Dog Mountain: This is another fabulous hike on the Washington side. Seven miles round trip once again provided fields of spectacular wildflowers, views of the Columbia River, Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens. I felt a little like I should have had a dog along, most people on this hike did!

Gorge view from Dog Mountain

Ape Cave: Ape Cave lies at the base of Mt. St. Helens and is the longest lave cave in the Western Hemisphere. The longer chamber is approximately 1.4 miles long and the hike requires some scrambling over boulders, scaling an 8 foot wall. No lighting is available in the cave so you have to carry your own. Temperatures are in the 40s and the above ground trail is still packed with snow.

Eagle Creek: A fantastic hike that takes you past the fabled Metlako and Punchbowl Falls as well as Tunnel Falls.

Me at Punchbowl Falls, Eagle Creek

Misc. Gorge Hikes: Louterell Falls, Multnomah Falls, Horsetail and Ponytail Falls.

Redwoods Hikes: We did a few short hikes in the Redwoods parks. Waking thru the old growth forests was just amazing. The trees tower overhead, seeming to have to end as they reach up to the sky.

Me with some little trees

Oregon Coastal Hikes: We did several great hikes along the Oregon Coast. Cape Perpetua had some fantastic old growth forest hikes, the Oregon Dunes had beautiful white sands, and no coastal trip could be complete without plenty of Tide Pool fun!

Rouge River: On our way to Crater Lake we stopped to check out the Natural Bridge on the Rouge and the Rouge Gorge. The Natural Bridge is actually a lava tube thru which the river flows. At low flows the whole river disappears underground. We arrived to find quite high flow with a good portion of the water flowing over the top of the tube. The massive outflow of the lava cave was impressive.

Crater Lake: Even in mid May Crater Lake is packed with snow. We arrived to find only the first mile of the Rim Drive open. Nonetheless it afforded a spectacular view of Wizard Island, the Lake, and its deep blue waters.

Crater Lake

check out the full galleries with tons of great moments from the trip:

Pacific Northwest 2009 Galleries

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