Saturday, February 28, 2009

Wauna Point

While I was tempted to stay home and work on projects, I jumped at the chance to go hiking with the Adventurous Young Mazamas in the Columbia River Gorge.  The wind at our gathering point was daunting, but we thew caution to the wind and headed west to the trailhead.  Our goal was Wanua Point, on the Oregon side of the gorge.  Typically this hike is done as an out and back, but the hike leader made this a more interesting loop by following an abandoned trail up a steep forested ridge. 
Having a blast ascending the trail less travelled...

As we ascended there were views of the Bridge of the Gods and Mt Adams.  This portion of the trail was the highlight for me.  Up on Tanner Butte we found Wauna Point and descended down a steep snow slope.

...and then descending down to Wauna Point.

At this point there was a good 6 to 8 inches of snow at our feet.  We carefully made our way out to the Diving Board, which has a dizzying, commanding view of Bonneville Dam and the surrounding Columbia River Gorge.  We were surprised how little wind there was out on the point.

Out on Wauna Point aka The Diving Board.  Swimming trunks are not recommended.  Kevin Clark photo.

After lunch we hiked back up to Tanner Butte and sought out the Tanner Butte trail.  The hike leader had done his homework as his GPS lead us to a set of footprints heading in the right direction.  We did it!  We descended down past several waterfalls back towards the trailhead.  Since we had made such good time, we hiked down the Gorge Trail to Eagle Creek and returned via the Tooth Rock Viaduct. 

We really lucked out with the wind.  Returning home I read reports from fellow Mazamas getting blown about at Table Mountain and Devil's Rest.

Returning home I cleaned up and then biked out to Mago Hunt Theater at the University of Portland.  There I joined some friends at saw the play Fuddy Meers.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy 150th Birthday Oregon!

To mark Oregon's sesquicentennial, I though I would post some of my photos from around the state.  Believe me, I have not yet even scratched the surface of what my home state has to offer.

Mt. Hood from Tom, Dick, and Harry Mountain.

Umpqua Dunes, Oregon Dunes Recreation Area.  This place is incredible.  Hello Jamiee and Roger!

Looking north from Middle Sister summit.  North Sister is in the foreground.  In the distance is Mt. Washington, Three Finger Jack, Mt. Jefferson, and (barely) Mt. Hood.  Hi Ginny!

Erath Vineyards, Dundee.  Hi Jen! 

Oregon Coast from Neahkahnie Mountain.  Hi Tom and Carol!

Painted Hills in John Day National Monument

Monkey Face and the Crooked River in Smith Rocks State Park

Tunnel Falls at Eagle Creek.  Hi Keith and Susan!

Umpqua Lighthouse

Anroid Lake from Pete's Point, Wallowa Mountains

Blue Basin, John  Day National Monument

Steins Pillar, Ochoco Mountains

Eagle Cap, Wallowa Mountains

Columbia River Gorge from Crown Point

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Nesika Lodge

Even though most of my outdoor activities are with just the Mazamas, it is refreshing from time to time to see what other organizations offer.  This weekend provided such an opportunity with a joint activity of the Adventurous Young Mazamas and the Trails Club of Oregon.  While the Mazamas have their lodge at Government Camp, the Trails Club of Oregon has Tyee Lodge at Government Camp as well as Nesika Lodge on the rim of the Columbia River Gorge.  This weekend I spent the night at the latter.

Who needs the Elevator Shaft, we got Wahkeena Falls in the background

We assembled at the Multnomah Falls Lodge parking lot, splitting into three groups.  One hiked up via the strenuous Elevator Shaft while another hiked along the Multnomah Falls trail.  The group that I was with took the long, scenic route passing by Wakhneena and Fairy Falls.  The weather was sunny and we had a pleasant walk through the woods.  At one point we saw our fellow hikers hiking above the Elevator Shaft.

At the Nesika Lodge Gate

Nesika Lodge consists of the main lodge plus two dormitory buildings.  After relaxing in the sun we took a short hike to Big Cougar Rock and climbed up this 4th class scramble to soak in the view of the Columbia Gorge.  The snowfall has been tame compared to the previous year as there was not a whole lot of snow on the hills across the gorge.

Nesika Lodge

Back at the Lodge we assembled a potluck dinner.  My Quinoa salad was one of two that were offered.  Despite my dislike of beets, I sampled both of the beet salads.  At one point of the evening we ventured outside, away from the cozy fireplace, to another stellar viewpoint of the gorge.  It was not necessary to have our flashlights one because the moon was incredibly bright.

It was a easy Sunday morning by Mazama standards.  Our Trails Club host didn't even set his alarm for getting up to start preparing the pancake breakfast.  We cleaned up, locked up the lodge, and set out back to the trailhead.

Our return hike did not turn out to be a routine hike back to the trailhead.  Near Weisendanger Falls (the name of this cascade should have tipped us off) we had a near miss with some rockfall.  I was at the bottom of this zigzagging portion of the trail when the hikers above us started yelling, warning us of rockfall.  As I yelled to alert others I saw a large rock bouncing down the hill.  It dislodged another rock that flew within inches of Keith, who was standing near me.  I cannot remember if that rock went by before or after I hit the deck.  Thankfully no one was hit and the hikers above us were able to safely descend.  We learned from them that the rockfall was spontaneous, not triggered by hikers.

You don't have to be mountain climbing to get rockfall.  Kevin Clark photo

Looking back at this near miss, I observed two things that the hike leader had done well.  First, he had noticed the potential for rockfall and had the front of the group waiting for the everyone else in a safe location.  Second, he promptly cleared everyone out of the danger zone, then focused on getting the rest of our party safely down.