"Could I have this dance for the rest of my life?" - Anne Murray

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Columbia River Gorge

Before I leap into the gorge,  ; )  I need to revisit the Oregon coast for just a moment to share this little fellow.

Is he adorable or what? He looks just like a little ivory carving of a seal. He was amongst his friends lounging around near Yaquina Head, OR. We spent a dark and cold afternoon tide pooling there and I didn't get a lot of pictures I liked, except this one.

And while I'm on the subject of wildlife, I have to just mention my once in a lifetime sighting of................
a mountain lion! I didn't get a picture, but I'll remember it always. Kona and I were exploring the Gifford-Pinchot Forest near Mt. St. Helens. It was a very overcast day so we were focusing just on what was in front of our noses, poking around in the woods and taking pictures of lichens and such. We were basically the only people on the back roads in the area because all the roads leading up to Mt. St. Helens were still closed with snow. We had seen many elk in the woods and crossing the road, and thought that was pretty special. We stopped often and got out to take pictures. So as we're driving along, a mountain lion just calmly loped across the road about 75 yards ahead of us. The moment was only about 5 seconds long, but it was a beautiful one.  What I remember most was his long gently curling tail as he left the road and disappeared into the woods.  I just never think about mountain lions in the green, wet, deep woods environment, but I guess they follow where the prey are, and if there are elk, it makes sense there would be mountain lions too.

Okay, now on to our drive along the Columbia River Gorge from Portland to Hood River, OR and then back on the Washington side. Beautiful day, gorgeous scenery. Rick, Kona and I spent a lot of time at various waterfalls that empty into the Columbia River, each with their own little gorge. Our first was Latourell Falls.

Then we took a hike at Wahkeena Falls.

The top of Wahkeena Falls:

The trail starts just next to the base of the large falls as I recall,

and then zig-zags up a very steep ascent to the stream that feeds the falls. My memory of the exact sequence may be a little sketchy, but Northwest Hiker is a great website that describes many hikes in the area, including this one.

This is the initial ascent:

Then the switch backs:

A moss covered retaining wall along the switch backs:

Once above the main falls the trail follows the moss, wildflower and fern lined stream,

and passes other smaller falls.

And finished our falls tour at the famous Multnomah Falls, which was really crowded.

Lunched at Celilo's in Hood River,

and caught a perfect view of Mt. Hood from Panorama Point County Park before we headed home.

Tomorrow we hope to visit Mt. Saint Helens National Monument.

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