October 13, 2013.
Today Aaron and I played tourists in the Columbia River Gorge. Well, I played tour guide and he played tourist. Although he was born and raised in Oregon, he hadn’t spent much time up here. Since I’d lived in Portland for several years I had lots of local knowledge about the trails and hotspots here. We took our cameras and goofy smiles and headed out to see the sights.
A low layer of clouds covered the upper reaches of the rocky cliffs on either side of the Columbia River. We had this weird peekaboo view of the blue water from the road. We took the historic highway to Crown Point, our first stop. As we waited for the clouds to lift, we admired the workmanship of the building up there.
Next up, Latourell Falls. This was a tall waterfall: 249 feet to be exact. It was kind of hard to process. A viewing area provided an angle to see the falls, dropping off a cliff in the distance. Pretty cool. We casually walked the remainder of the 2.3 mile loop (you have to hike barely a quarter mile to get to the viewpoint) to enjoy some time in the rainforest. There were green ferns and mosses everywhere. Autumn colors framed the trail. And there were hardly any people here.
Our travels took us back to the car, up the road and to Bridal Veil Falls Viewpoint. Here, a short sign led to the falls. I think this was a new one for me. By now the cloud layer had dissipated and we could see the entire river plus the dramatic cliffs on the other side. It was now early afternoon and the crowds were starting to pack in. We had just a couple more stops.
We squeezed the car into a packed parking area for Wahkeena Falls and blasted up the trail to see the waterfall and leave. Then, finally, Multnomah Falls (of course). We stopped long enough to take a picture, do some people-watching and grab a snack from the snack bar. I was thoroughly peopled-out and ready for the journey home.
The Gorge is a favorite place to take visitors, even visitors from other parts of the state. You can do a lot in a short period of time and it’s geared towards accommodating tourists. But I’ll be happy to take a break from this area again. A long break. Back to hiking in places no one’s heard of and no one goes.