hiking in Oregon

Angel’s Rest

Saturday after getting back from Arizona Michael and I went for a hike. We decided to go out to the Gorge. We hadn’t hiked out there in awhile. With no real plan I suggested we choose the hike based on whichever lot had a parking spot available. It turned out to be Wahkeena Falls. Wahkeena Falls is a really nice hike. There are several gorgeous waterfalls and it’s about a 35 minute drive from Portland to get there. The parking lot is pretty big but it fills up fast, especially in nice weather, so get there early if you can. We got lucky.

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It’s been a long time since we’ve hiked this trail. I’d say 2 years? Maybe more? I’d forgotten how hard it is. Both Michael and I were really feeling it as we climbed. The trail starts out with steep, paved switchbacks and climbs for about 1/2 mile. Then it turns into rock and dirt path. You pass by the first waterfall and walk near it on a bridge.

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There is a cool spray from the falls as you hike by it.

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Then the trail climbs again. Your heart will be pounding. It’s a popular trail but not as congested as Multnomah Falls is. After the switchbacks it levels out for a short time. There is a viewpoint and then the trail turns into the forest.

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Here you will hike alongside a fast moving creek and you’ll see more mini waterfalls along the way. Cross a small footbridge over the water and you start climbing again. This time it’s on larger rocks.

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It was a gorgeous day out! It was near the 80’s in Portland that Saturday but The Gorge is typically a little bit cooler. It was around 72 degrees. Sometimes the forest area was pretty dense and you didn’t need sunglasses; then you’d come to an open area and be blinded by the rays. Another little waterfall:

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Bella was doing pretty well. I was a little nervous she’d be anxious on such a popular trail and bark at everyone but she didn’t. She was really good. Perhaps maybe there were SO many people she didn’t know who to bark at. πŸ˜‰ She was doing well on the trail, too, even though it was pretty strenuous in places.

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The next part of the trail was more steep switchbacks but this part is pretty tricky. For some reason the ground is slippery here no matter what season you hike in. Even if it’s been dry and there’s no rain, it’s slippery. And rocky.Β After that part of the trail we came to another waterfall. I always see photographers with their tripods set up here for photos.

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I’m not sure what Falls that is. Right by this one you cross another footbridge and then climb the trail again. (All in all we did about 1600 feet elevation on this hike.)

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We stopped at the crossroads for our lunches. I’d packed us sandwiches and crackers and we chilled in the shade while we ate. After lunch we decided to take the fork to Angel’s Rest. I hiked Angel’s Rest like a hundred years ago and don’t remember much of it. I don’t think I ever got to this part of it. Usually when we did Wahkeena Falls in the past we always went the other direction at the fork in the trail.

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It was cool to go a different route this time. We went by another little brook and the trail turned into soft ground and pine needles, which was nice.

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There were also TONS of wildflowers everywhere:

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If anyone knows what these flowers are, please tell me. They are so pretty!

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We hiked a little ways up the Angel’s Rest Trail and then I wanted to turn around. The plan wasn’t to do the entire thing and honestly I was little worried about the downhill climb. It was so steep and strenuous I worried that it would be too much on my knees. We turned back down and it was a good decision because we were both feeling a little sore and achy.

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The climb down was a hard one but we made it. We stopped at the mid-way point viewpoint before heading back down the rest of the way. We did 4.22 miles in a little over 2 hours (with about 15 minutes for lunch). Here are the stats:

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It felt good to sit down when we got to the car! Later that night I took a hot bath with epsom salts and then wore my compression tights. I knew I was going to be sore! Bella was super tired:

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Napping with her new toy. πŸ™‚

Sunday Hike and New Boots!

With Michael being gone in Seattle for a few days, me being sick and just having a ton of plans lately, it was nice when Sunday finally arrived and we could sleep in (which was amazing after being up so late for Faith No more) and then spend the day tromping through the woods. It was such a nice day, nearly 80 degrees! We packed up the car, grabbed lunch on the way from Potbelly and drove about 45 minutes to LL Stubb Stewart Park.

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It’s towards the beach but still fairly close to Portland. Years ago when we were training for something–maybe Reach the Beach–we drove out to the Banks-Vernonia Trail and did some biking. The trail connects to Stubb Stewart Park but we never actually checked out the park. We arrived about lunch time. For lunch I had the “skinny” turkey breast and swiss sandwich. It was the first time I’ve been to PotbellyΒ and it was pretty good (a nice change from Subway) and what was nice was that they had the calorie count on their menus. My lunch was around 400 calories + 140 for the chips.

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That was our view for lunch. We got a map of the park. There were like 20 miles of hiking trails, mountain biking trails, horse-riding trails and there was also a disc golf course! Plus there was camping options and cabins for rent:

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I REALLY want to go back there this summer and stay there for a weekend. It was such a cool park. There were parts of it that weren’t finished, but it was still a great day exploring. We took the map with us and sort of consulted it but really just wandered. The trails were all connected and you could go a zillion different directions.

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There were some wildflowers blooming but most of it was just greenery.

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I wish I could really detail which trails we explored but I really have no idea. We took so many turns and twists there’s no way I could really remember. At least we didn’t get lost! We parked at the Hilltop Lot (which had really nice bathrooms and picnic areas, covered and not covered) and did a trail near that parking lot. It was pretty easy and mostly downhill and our heart rates never really got over than 100. Then we took this trail:

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The Matchcutter’s Lane was STEEP. Both of us felt REALLY out of shape. And we kind of are. It’s been a few weeks since we’ve been hiking. I’ve been taking it easy in the gym due to my latest injury, so I was really feeling the climb! We found ourselves back where we started, at Hilltop Parking. We’d made a giant circle and it was actually perfect timing because we needed to refill our water bottles and Bella was panting a LOT so we decided to take a 15 minute break in the shade for her to cool down and drink a ton of water.

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And have treats. After the break we decided to try and do the other side of the park, across the “street” from where we parked.

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This part of the trail was mostly covered and it was park of the disc golf course and the mountain biking course. There a few bikers out on the trail, and there seemed to be a designated area with lots of cool things for mountain bikers to do (like wooden bridges and ramps and stuff).

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On this hike I got to test out my new boots on lots of different grounds: pavement, gravel, dirt, soft padded forest covered in pine needles, rocks and mud. They worked great! Generally speaking if you get new boots you shouldn’t do TOO many miles when you are first trying them out. Our plan was to do about 4 miles. 3-4 miles is good for a first time outing. But we ended up doing a little bit more than that, more details to come.

This hiking trip was a bunch of firsts for Bella! First, she discovered what a SNAKE was.

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Thank goodness Bella didn’t really SEE it and didn’t seem bothered. πŸ™‚ Second, she discovered what HORSES were. πŸ˜€

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We came across some horses on the trail and Bella was more than slightly freaked out. I think *I* was more freaked out. We stepped off the trail and let them pass and I warned the people that Bella might bark at them. I worried that she’d bark and spook the horses but she was good! She seemed terrified and cowered behind Michael and didn’t bark. They passed us on the trail and we continued on.

Supposedly there was a “viewpoint” and even though I was pretty done hiking at this point, I agreed to keep going. I should have said no because it added about 1.5 miles to our trip and that was a little too much for a first time in my new boots. And yeah, the viewpoint wasn’t much. So…

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After the (lack of) viewpoint, we turned around and went back down the trail.

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I was hitting the wall. My feet were starting to hurt–not really pain from the boots (I don’t think) but more fatigue. I was starting to drag but we had like 1 mile left to get back to the parking lot. We hiked through dense forest and then all of a sudden I heard the THUMP THUMP THUMP of horse shoes. I heard the horse before I saw it. It was trotting up the trail behind us.

I shouted “HORSE!” And Michael scrambled off the trail, pulling Bella into the bushes. Thankfully the lady on the horse saw us and slowed down. She apologized for scaring us and she didn’t scare us, just more like…made us urgent. LOL I wanted to get Bella away from the horse in case she freaked out. So we waited on the side of the trail for them to gallop up the trail.

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Bella was super freaked out, but again didn’t bark. So that was good. (On a side note, I love horses and as a kid I used to go to horseback riding camp and LOVED it. I really want to go riding again soon.)

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We got back to the car and I was so grateful to take off my boots and thick wool socks, put on some flip flops and change my sweaty shirt into a tank top. Felt immediately better! We ended up hiking 5.85 miles! About a mile and a half longer than I had planned on doing, but I’m glad we did it!

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I burned a LOT of calories too! 893 calories for 2.5 hours of hiking.

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We started to drive back to Portland and for awhile we were stuck in the “everyone returning to Portland from the beach” traffic (suck) but it wasn’t too bad, honestly. We were both hot, tired, sweaty, sticky and thirsty. So of course we stopped at DQ for a refreshing beverage. I got a Pina Colada Orange Julius smoothie and it was DIVINE!

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Bella zonked out in the backseat of the car for the entire ride back to Portland.

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What a good day!