Drift Creek Falls, Jan 31st

The last weekend of January was Val’s company holiday party at the coast. Not wanting to miss the opportunity to do some hiking, she did a bit of research and found this little hike that was conveniently on the way to Lincoln City. So we packed the car with our nice clothes for the party and weekend and took off in our hiking clothes. Getting to the trailhead is somewhat easy as you have to make a turn and drive away from the Salmon River Hwy and continue, for quite a bit, on a very windy road. We thought, as we were driving there that this would be kind of a secluded hike yet we knew there was a hanging bridge. It was a bit puzzling. Then we landed on the trailhead. It was actually really easy to find as the parking area was full. It seems this hike is far better known than what we anticipated. Most people were coming from the coast though. Right from the start we knew it would be an easy stroll on a very well maintained and signed trail. At first it meanders thru rich dense forests descending towards an unseen canyon. You pass several wood bridges and suddenly you come to a turn with a big square post. Thru the trees you make the first tower of the hanging bridge just before realizing that is quite big. The bridge itself is very sturdy and crosses the canyon with the creek running below it. The most impressive thing though is the waterfall you see at an angle behind you to the right. After the bridge, you can take a short trail that descends and turns around ending right in front of the base of the water fall. It’s another nice view with the bridge high above it. In the description we did note that there’s a second trail, the ridge trail. Going up, we took that detour that follows a higher route and then re-joins the main trail. This portion of the trail is as beautiful as the main trail but certainly receives less visitors. Being a short hike and all, it was very rewarding and highly recommended if you happen to be I the area



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Tolinda Ridge, Jan 11th

Winter weather this year in Portland is looking a lot like spring. Lots of rain and relatively mild temperatures. That is making us miss snowshoeing and also being able to do nice hikes. Still, Val and I had to get out and stretch our legs on a trail for a while. Smell the wet ground and see some green. Generally we don’t go to Forest Park because, well, it’s a park but we forget that you can still get pretty far and away from road noises to feel like you are in the forest. Val did some searching and found a very interesting loop connecting several trail in the northeast side of Forest Park. We started our hike from a small and very muddy parking area of Germantown road heading uphill o the Waterline trail. The trail is very easy to follow as it climbs thru dense forests and gets away from civilization and noise. Very soon you feel you’re far from everything. Being a wet day, it took almost no time for us to reach the clouds. At some point we reached the Wildwood trail that traverses the entire park. We didn’t see a lot of people in the area which was nice. At the roughly midpoint, we crossed the Northwest Springville Road and then had to start almost guessing were to turn. This section has a lot of spur trails that can get anyone confused. Our original plan was to take the Hardesty trail and connect then with the ridge trail but we missed the turn. Luckily for us, the wildwood trail crosses the Ridge Trail again further down. We did shorten the loop by missing that turn but the hiked down on the ridge trail back to the lower section. Towards the end, the views open towards the St Johns Bridge that offers some really nice scenery as you return to civilization.
The only bad part is that he trail ends on the side of a bridge without much space. To return to the car, the only option is to walk on the side of the road to the Germantown junction and then follow the road up back to the parking lot.



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Barlow Butte loop, Jan 3rd

Since we still had some fresh snow on the ground we decided not to miss the opportunity for another good snowshoe, and what best route than my classic Barlow Butte to Barlow Ridge loop. Ever since I mapped this loop and was able to connect the back country portion, it became my favorite snowshoe route. It does combine a bit of everything, some good isolated trails, views, back country, decent downhill on soft powder… you name it, this loop has it. And this was no exception even on a cloudy day. The first part of the loop as we climbed towards Barlow Butte was accompanied by grey skies and almost the threat of rain. With the white snow, it made the forest look a bit eerie but different than the eerie look you get in the fall. After chugging for a while, we finally came to the open area just behind Barlow Butte to an incredible no-view of the valley. I say incredible because it was totally different and still amazing as the clouds wouldn’t let you see far hiding what lay beyond. It felt like those fantasy movies where a small boat disappears into the fog. We visited the top of Barlow Butte that was submerged in clouds and then continued south on the ridge line. Clouds were moving fast in front of us giving us magical views. Then we started descending into the valley and due to time and a very short day, I decided to cut off a mile or so from the route and approach the Barlow Ridge trail quicker. That ended up being a lot of fun as we flew down on steep slopes of puffy snow. Once back on the road, we followed it down towards Mineral Jane where we got another amazing view of Mt Hood. The sky was covered I clouds with some small patches of blue that let some sunlight go thru and illuminate the mountain. It almost changed the surface giving it a complete new look. And I still can get tired of this loop of the views.



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White River loop, Jan 1st

It has become a tradition for Val and I to go for a hike on New Year’s Day. Besides having trails almost to yourself – at least for most of the morning – t’s definitely a good way to start a new year. This year we were lucky to get a couple of days of snow showers up in the mountain that added more than just a cou0ple of inches. We missed a lot of snowshoeing last year due to lack of snow and this year, to that point, it was looking even worse. The decision was easy. We grabbed our gear and headed up to the mountain finding a glorious blue sky day with almost no people in the sno-park. We had an idea of what we wanted to do which is a route we’ve done before –with slight variations caused by my navigation. The snow was a bit packed on the valley but still good for snowshoeing. We got a chance to get acclimated to the different walking movements as we approached the big hill that climbs almost straight to the ridge. We considered doing a couple of switchbacks but noticing that snow was not too deep and that we would probably get some good traction, we decided to take the direct approach and climb straight up. It was a lot of fun as long as you were looking up. Looking back down was enough to get make you feel a bit unsafe. But we pushed and soon were on the ridge with clear views of the top of the mountain and the sky lifts out of Timberline. We stopped for a bit to enjoy the view and sip some hot soup before starting our way down. As soon as we did though, the snow got softer and much better. We navigated thru trees making our way down until it got pretty sketchy due to lots of blow down. The going got a bit rough as there was no easy path to avoid all the debris on the snow. At some point we just opted for cutting thru and crossing a small creek to get back on the main trail. On the other side we saw hundreds of people that came after we did also enjoying the snow. It was indeed a good way to start the New Year



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Devil’s rest, Dec 28th

To close the year Val and I decided to revisit a trail that neither of us had done in probably four years. Even though we’ve been to Angle’s rest somewhat recently, none of those times, we continued to Devil’s Rest. Weather was acting up a bit with low hanging clouds and the potential for rain. Most of the hike up to Angel’s rest was quick and easy with no rain. We made a quick stop there to take a picture of us sitting on a rock to send to family and at that very moment we got the first couple of rain drops. Looking back towards the ridge, we could see the clouds coming from bellow and climbing the hill in the same direction we were going. The hike covered so we pushed on. I had vague recollection of the trail and the steeper part towards the top but it was nice to get to one of the most unrewarding destinations in the Gorge. Up there, you just see a small rock pile indicating you’re there and that’s pretty much it. That said, this hike was rewarding but in a completely different way. The moment that we started hiking down from Devil’s rest we started getting some snow flurries. As we walked they got fatter to the point that we saw the trail and trees in front of us start accumulating pretty fast. After having almost no snow last winter we welcomed the fresh snow that fell only for a couple of minutes. At a point in the trail we stopped just to enjoy the moment before continuing down.



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