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.
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.