Thursday, August 9, 2012

Pacific Northwest - Day 5

The next morning we woke up a little early and took our time getting ready to meet the group, which of course meant that we were rushing at the end anyway!  We had camped at the campsite above the Eagle Creek trail head, so we just had to drive down the hill to meet the group.  I would guess that there was somewhere between 20 and 30 people on the hike, but I could be completely wrong.  It was my first time doing a large group hike and it was a lot of fun.

We hiked up the Eagle Creek Trail a couple of miles along a path that was right on the edge of the hill.  It was a very cool hike but not too hard since we were with a large group and there was a time limit so that we could make it too lunch.  About 2 miles up the trail we all stopped at a pebble river bed where there were a couple of waterfalls and pools.  It was a really beautiful trail and if we hadn't been with a group, Janda and I would have loved to hike up further.  You can apparently go to other waterfalls, some of which you can hike behind.  Sounded cool.

This particular hike was chosen by the groom who had hiked it in the past.  The reason that he chose this trail and this waterfall was that one can jump off the top of the waterfall into the pool below.  I, of course, did not jump.  I can swim but I'm not big on tall dives.  It takes me 5 minutes to get up the courage to jump off a 3 foot rock at Flatrocks!  Anyhow, Janda, of course, did jump off.  It was chilly as every other morning had been and the water was a little cold, but he couldn't resist.  When he hit the water, he discovered that it was actually a lot cold, but luckily we had the hike back to the car to warm up.

Some of the group on the Eagle Creek trail

The trail was lovely- as with every other trail we saw, it was green and mossy

Some parts were right on the edge of the hill

The waterfall

The pebble river bed

There was a second waterfall right around the corner

Of course he's going to do it- but from where?

The highest point he can find of course

It would have been a perfect 10 except for that splash

We got back to the parking lot and then started off to the Full Sail Brewery for lunch.  Janda and I were following the bus, which was very interesting.  We had to follow it into a weigh station!  We got to Hood River a little after noon and the whole group had lunch at the Brewery.  We were lucky enough to sit with the bride and groom, who Janda used to coach, and another of their friends who worked with Janda also.  It was great to catch up and here what everyone had been doing- since that's hard to do at the wedding.  The food and beer at the Brewery were excellent.  I had a burger and Janda had a pulled pork sandwich, which kept us full for at least 8 hours.

After lunch the bus went back to Portland and we took advantage of having our own car to check out hood River more and then drive out to Mount Hood.  Hood River was the place to be if you were interested in water sports.  We walked down to the Columbia River to watch people windsurfing, kitesurfing, jet skiing and more.  The water must have been cold though, b/c everyone was wearing wetsuits.

We then headed out towards Mount Hood, not to climb up, but to get a good view.  The road we took was lovely and we spent a half and hour or so driving by orchards and vineyards.  We popped into a ranger station to take some pictures and the ranger told us about a scenic route to get great views of not only Mount Hood, but also Mount Adams and Mount Rainier.  It was about 10 miles of country road and then about 10 of dirt road.  Even though we were driving a crappy Hyundai Elantra (which I specifically tried not to get!), we figured we could make it.

Mount Hood from the ranger station

The 10 miles of country road were no problem.  It was windy and hilly and apparently I was driving too slow b/c some Suburu flew by us.  The 10 miles of dirt road, on the other hand, were white knuckle the whole way.  The road was narrow and had major divets and going up the drop-off was on the right, so right on our shoulder.  I was going pretty slow at this point- I don't think that I broke 25mph the whole way.  All I could think of was the car hurtling off the cliffs.  I was a nervous wreck, but luckily we didn't really come upon any other cars.  That Suburu though, did come back down while we were still going up.  I don't know how much they appreciated the views.  The good news is that we made it.  The only thing damaged were my nerves- so much so that I refused to drive down, which annoyingly wasn't half as scary b/c we didn't have to drive on the edge.

The views from the top were phenomenal and totally worth the drive- just don't take an Elantra if you go!  There was a house at the top that a local mountaineering club uses and from which any rescues on Mount Hood are staged.  The views of Mount Hood and Mount Adams were great, sadly it was too hazy to really see Mount Rainier.  There had been a fire recently on that road, so everything was sparse except the wild flowers which were all over.  

Wildflowers everywhere

Most of the trees looked like this one

Mount Hood

 Mount Adams in the distance

After we made it down safely, we drove back to Portland via Washington and checked into our hotel.  It was pretty late at this point and after our showers we had a little trouble finding dinner.  Luckily we found a pizza place right before closing time and grabbed a half price pizza to bring back to the hotel.  We scarfed it down while watching the Opening Ceremonies of the Olypmics and then promptly fell asleep.

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