Dry Creek Falls

Sunny Day Adventures

Saturday morning I woke up bright and early (aka 8:30am) and made a breakfast of scrambled eggs with spicy pork sausage and fried polenta with a lot of spicy sauce. It was really good and only around 400 calories. Plus coffee. It was a nice day out and we planned on going for a hike. I’m slightly disturbed by the abnormally nice weather here in Portland. Usually the rain starts in February and goes through June. I really hope this doesn’t mean we won’t get a summer….Anyways, here was breakfast:

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Bella gets SUPER EXCITED when she realizes we are going for a hike. We start getting the gear together and she starts spazzing out, whimpering, jumping, whining, running between the rooms where Michael and I are in. Total spaz. We made a stop at Subway to get lunch to go and then hit the road for a day hike in the Gorge! It was a gorgeous, warm-ish day (55 degrees) but a little on the windy side. We drove about 45 minutes east towards the Bridge of the Gods and decided to hike Dry Creek Falls. We’ve done it a few times but this time was the longest distance we did on this hike.

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I like this trail a lot because it’s rarely ever crowded. It’s a good workout without being too brutally hard you’re miserable and it’s through old growth forest that shields the bitter cold winds of the Gorge. The parking lot right by the Bridge of the Gods is a pay lot, but if you drive one block away and drive through the neighborhood there’s parking under the bridge for free right by the trailhead. FYI.

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We walked on the soft ground padded with pine needles and moss and the trail snaked through the thick trees that made the forest seem dark. There were breaks in the trees where we got to enjoy some of the sunshine. It was warm enough that a jacket wasn’t needed. I had a moisture-wicking t-shirt and a sweater on and that was good.  We came across a few different groups of hikers and everyone was really nice, plus all the people with dogs off leash put them on a leash when they saw us! What a nice change. Also, Bella did SUPER great on the hike. No barking at strangers or dogs, she just seemed a little excited and curious.

We got to a fork in the trail where the falls are and a bridge. This is as far as we’d ever gone on this hike. We skipped the Falls this time because I remember it being kind of small and anticlimactic. Instead, we decided to cross the bridge and go further up the trail.

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Bella tends to be afraid of bridges. She panics and refuses to cross the bridge. I went first and we walked single-line across the short and narrow bridge. She was a little freaked out but made it across ok! It’s so funny what she’s afraid of. Bridges. Vaccuums. The mop…Silly pup.

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We got across the bridge and stopped for lunch. We shared a Subway sandwich and drank some water in the sunshine and hung out next to the creek and bridge. It was a nice view for lunch. We’d hiked about 45 minutes so far at this point.

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After lunch we continued up the trail. It was quiet and dim, no one else on this part of the trail. We hiked through the forest and the trail was pretty level at this point. The first part of the trail is strenuous and gets your heart pounding but this part was pretty easy. Bella stopped to sniff every single fern in the forest and we passed by acres of moss covered trees and mushrooms and furry forest creatures, which thankfully Bella wasn’t too interested in.

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We hiked for awhile and then came to a clearing and a boulder field. The trail was beginning to get a bit rocky here and I stumbled a lot. I think I was starting to get tired and even though we’d eaten lunch mid-hike, I don’t think I fueled properly for the amount of hiking we did. I was starting to feel like I was close to hitting the wall. My body felt okay at this point but I was tired.

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There was a bit of a view of the river, Washington state, trees and sunshine from the top of the boulder field.

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We stopped along the narrow trail to let some other people pass by on the trail before we continued on. Bella was doing ok but I was a little worried about her footing on the boulder field. The trail was ok but the rocks were pretty big. *I* was struggling with it!

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The boulder field was still cool.  We kept hiking up the trail and it was going deeper into the forest. Michael joked that we were almost to Canada. It was part of the Pacific Crest Trail, which goes from Canada to Mexico, so in theory we COULD have kept going…But I was definitely getting tired and was ready to turn around.

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It was such a pretty day and a nice hike but it was definitely time to turn around. In fact, we probably should have turned around about a mile before here. I was feeling lethargic and while my body felt ok (knees, etc), I was stumbling on the rocks on the trail. It was difficult in places to get the right footing and when I start stumbling I know I’m getting tired. I had some water and we continued on.

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While there aren’t that many viewpoints, it really is a pretty hike. We trekked down the trail and then got to the bridge. Bella crossed it like a champ, no fear this time, and we continued down the trail. Thankfully it was mostly downhill.

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We FINALLY got back to the car.  The last 3/4 miles were hard for me. My knees were starting to feel sore and I was really, really tired. Bella was doing okay, though, so that was good.

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We got back to the car and Michael checked our mileage. We did 6.16 miles! That was the longest hike we’ve done in a long time! It was roughly 1 mile longer than I would have wanted, but despite the fatigue, I enjoyed the day. Here are my calories:

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767 Calories burned! Bella fell asleep in the car immediately. I would have fallen asleep had Michael not poked me periodically to keep me awake. 😛 We got home, I gave Bella a bath, I also took a bath with epsom salts to try and relax my cranky knees and shins, and then Michael got started on dinner. Dinner was BBQ ribs and Brussels Sprouts. YUM! It might have been the best ribs Michael has done to date and I LOVE Brussels sprouts, so it was pretty much the perfect meal after a strenuous hike.

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The hike was good. It was a really nice day and the weather was near perfect. Would have been even more perfect had it been shorts and t-shirt weather. I iced my grumpy knees Saturday night and relaxed with some episodes of Gilmore Girls. All in all it was a good day!

Maiden Voyage

The day after Thanksgiving I slept in and skipped the shopping! I’m not a huge fan of Black Friday anyways so I didn’t feel like I was missing out. Instead, Michael and I took Bella for her first hike!

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It was a nice fall day–chilly but dry with blue skies and some clouds mixed in. We drove about 40 minutes east into the Gorge to Cascade Locks, right by The Bridge of the Gods. We wanted to hike Dry Creek Falls again. A year and a half ago we went hiking on this trail and totally got lost. We took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up wandering around old logging roads. We never found the Falls and to be honest, it’s BUGGED me ever since that we missed the trail head to the Falls.

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I suggested we give it another try. The elevation gain is practically non-existent and it’s a pretty easy trail (which is good for my knees). While I haven’t had any issues with my knees lately, I didn’t want to press it.

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We did the first part of the hike, just like last time. Bella was okay to start with. She was pulling a lot on the leash but as we went along she got a lot better at that. I walked first–partly to be on mushroom patrol to keep Bella away from them, and partly to be the “pack leader.” This helped a little with her pulling. She walked behind me and Michael was in charge of her leash at the back.

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There was a little bit of mud in places but for the most part the trail was dry and easy to walk on. Bella was doing a great job! She plodded along and seemed to like her new adventure. The only downside was that she barked at everyone we passed on the trail. She didn’t do it aggressively, it was definitely out of fear, because she’d cower behind Michael as she was barking at the strangers. Thankfully there weren’t a TON of people on the trail. Just some families here and there.

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The first part of the trail has a decent uphill climb. It was enough to get our hearts pounding, my heart rate got up to 150, and then we reached the clearing–aka the place we took the wrong turn last time! We stopped for a water break and gave Bella some water. She lapped it up. She seemed to be doing okay, didn’t seem tired or anything and still liking hiking.

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I saw where the trail picked back up. Now it seems SO OBVIOUS. I don’t know how we missed it the last time. I was very happy we found the trail and satisfied my curiosity. Now it won’t bug me anymore. This is where the trail picked up again:

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I’m telling you, it’s hard to see! Anyways. We got the rest of the trail and it wound through old growth forest on the Pacific Crest Trail. It was quiet–no animals in the woods, or if they were there they were hiding, and very few people on the trail. The trail started to go downward and all of a sudden we could hear water.

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We came to another fork in the road. There was a very fast-moving creek with a bridge that continue on the Pacific Crest Trail. Bella had to explore a little:

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She didn’t seem scared of the water. Then we had a decision to make. The falls were another 1/2 mile up the hill, or we could turn back. For some reason my sense of time and distance was off that day. It had felt like we hadn’t hiked that much and it seemed silly to turn around when we were so close to the waterfalls. We decided to hoof it up the hill to the falls.

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I’m glad we did. We FINALLY saw the falls! And it was really pretty.

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MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!! There was no one out there but us. We’d made it to the Falls and it was so pretty. The green moss clung to the cliffside, the water looked very, very cold, and it was just the perfect spot to rest. We took a break and had more water. There was a big fire-pit nearby that I imagine hikers doing the Pacific Crest Trail use and it made me think about what kind of accomplishment that was. I’m so impressed with the hikers that start in Mexico and go all the way to Canada on the PCT. (I might we a little bit excited about the new Reese Witherspoon movie based on the book “Wild”.)

Time for the photo-ops!

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It was time to head back. It was pretty cold out there. My fingers were freezing, even in gloves. Bella seemed to be doing okay but overprotective momma in me started to worry. Having seen the sign that spelled out just how far we hiked–I worried we did too much. Too much for Bella’s first hike and too much for my knees after almost zero hiking this summer!

We just lost track of time while we were out there. That’s the danger of “easy” trails–you don’t notice the lapse of time or energy. I kept checking on Bella and she seemed okay. She wasn’t showing any signs of fatigue other than the fact that she wasn’t pulling on the leash anymore. She seemed pretty chill on the hike back to the car.

We did see a lot of mushrooms out there on the trail, but they were ones I’d never seen before. I MUST have some mushroom hunters in my audience, does anyone know what this kind is:

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There were tons of these black mushrooms along the trail and they were humongous. I don’t know about you, but they just screamed “I’M POISONOUS” to me. Bella was great at not eating things in the forest! We got back to the car and Bella was probably ecstatic to be back in the car. My sentiments exactly.

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Michael turned the heat on (and the seat warmers) and the two of us ate our lunches before heading back to Portland. It was a really great hike and I was feeling so good!

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Woot! 722 calories burned! That’s a lot, especially for a hike that doesn’t have a lot of elevation. We ended up doing 5.2 miles total. That was about 2 miles more than I had planned on doing, but in the end it worked it alright. Bella was good, my knees were good, that’s all that mattered. It was a nice way to spend the day.

We got home and cleaned up. Michael built a fire in the fireplace and then started making dinner. More great news! Michael fixed the oven! YEAH!!!! After almost 2 months of not having an oven, it now works. To test it out we made his famous Mac n’ Cheese. We added some spicy sausage to it for some protein and pigged out.

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Damn I love that stuff! We settled in on the couch to watch a movie (Wolverine 2–not very good) and Bella was snoring louder than I’ve ever heard her snore. She was one pooped pooch!