Sunday, July 4, 2010

Curious Gorge...

I have officially been in the State of Washington for two months now and finally starting to expand my horizons. Since I arrived in May, my focus has been on work and paddling as much as possible. I know there are many other things to explore in the Columbia River Gorge aside from the awesome whitewater. So, with a little motivation from a group of friends from Minnesota, I began to explore some of the hikes & waterfalls that I have heard so much about.

Eagle Creek is a well-known hike whose reputation far exceeds the Gorge. As you can see from the photo, it's breathtaking canyon walls are one of the many reasons this hike is so famous. If the mossy green walls aren't enough to lure you onto this hike, perhaps the notorious Punch Bowl Falls will! This is just one of the many waterfalls that you will see if you complete the 6+ mile hike through Eagle Creek.

Another famous waterfall, Falls Creek Falls, got the best of my curiosity as well. This 3 tier, 220+ foot waterfall provided quite the adventure trying to arrive at it. After dropping some friends off to paddle a nearby river, Nora, Chris & I started our journey to explore this phenomenal waterfall.

We started up the trail (supposed to be 2 miles) around 5:30 pm. We thought we would surely beat the crew off the river, little did we know what we were in for! We were all caught up in the tall, mossy tree scenery which followed along the creek. Seeing as we all love whitewater, we were imagining what it would be like if you were able to kayak it. After walking for over an hour, we started to wonder if we took a wrong turn. We turned back to go on another trail we had seen a short while back. After hiking an intense trail up the side of a mountain we were wondering if we would actually reach our destination. Just when we were about to give up, Chris wandered off to find a scenic overlook which gave us a sneak peak of the waterfall. We decided it was time to indulge in a well-deserved beverage and enjoy the view.

As the darkness started to set in, we decided to keep hiking until our drinks were gone and then we would turn back. I think we all will be forever thankful of this decision. Just as we finished our drinks, we stumbled upon the most gorgeous waterfall ever, Falls Creek Falls. We got to stand 6 inches away from the top of the 1st tier of the 220+foot waterfall. Words cannot describe an experience like this. After recomposing ourselves, we started our glorious hike down, right next to the waterfall on a root ladder stopping at each tier to take photos.

With the sun already set behind the horizon, it was time to hike out... and quick! We ended up running about 2 miles in the semi-dark trying to make it out on time. I strategically chose a nice soft dirt spot on the trail to trip on a rock and take a HUGE digger. I felt like a kid sliding head first into home plate. Nora arrived just in time to see me completely laid out on the ground. No injuries, just a little bruised knee as a friendly reminder of what happens when rocks jump up and trip you!

If you plan to visit the Columbia River Gorge, I would highly recommend a book by Scott Cook, Curious Gorge.

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