hiking with a dog

Playing Hooky

After a recent burst of summer-y weather, I vowed that the next day it was sunny and warm I’d take a vacation day and enjoy it. With the wedding and stuff I have been saving my vacation days but I had enough to spare one. I ended up taking off Monday to extend my weekend. I had nothing planned other than enjoying 0% chance of rain and the possible temperature of 74 degrees.

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I packed a backpack and water and Bella and I were off to play in the sunshine! I got an iced coffee, we filled up the gas tank and then drove to East Portland for a hike. I decided to do Powell Butte Park. I’d heard of the park before but had never been. I decided Monday was a good day! I didn’t want to drive all the way out to the Gorge for a hike and I’m glad I gave this local hike a try. I’d like to do it again with Michael.

They are doing construction at the park so the visitor parking lot is closed. I parked at the bowling alley across the street from the entrance road and Bella and I hoofed it up the steep road to the park. The hardest part of the hike was the first 1/2 mile trek TO the park!

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The park was pretty empty. We came across a few other people with dogs and Bella did a great job! She didn’t bark at any of the strangers except for one. The park is under massive construction. Not sure what all they are doing but I did see parts of the park were closed for habitat restoration. There were also tons of newly planted trees.

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The park is supposedly popular with cyclists, hikers and horseback riders. I saw evidence of horses on the trail but didn’t see any horses on our hike. The summit of the park was pretty barren; there were some trees but mostly it was just views of the surrounding mountains. It was a gorgeous lookout from the top!

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The sun was out, the skies were perfectly blue and it was warm out there. Bella and I hiked on the Wildhorse Trail and then it hooked up to the Orchard Trail. The path started to lead downhill and wound into some trees. The hike turned into a more typical Oregon hike–through old growth forests.

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The only sound was the breeze through the trees and the birds hiding in the branches. It was very peaceful. I followed the forested trail downhill for awhile and decided to turn around. I’m glad I did. We’d hiked a lot longer than I had expected. The trail was deceptive–it didn’t seem very far.

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It was a pretty warm day and most of the hike was out in the open. The sun felt really nice. We stopped many times for water breaks. We turned around and headed back the same way we came. I loved seeing the mountains! I found a map after the hike that showed all the trails. I’m not sure which ones are under construction but I was impressed with how big the park was!

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I’ve hiked on my own many times before. I’m always aware of what’s going on around me, pay attention to other people on the trail, and just be smart. I liked having Bella with me! We got back to the car and had more water before heading home.  We did about 4.25 miles total. It was such a nice way to spend a day off!

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When I got home Bella fell asleep on the couch (snoring) while I cleaned up and had lunch. Lunch was leftover cashew chicken from the weekend and it really hit the spot. I’d worked up an appetite!

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I ran a few errands–one being a trip through the car wash! My poor car hasn’t been washed in months. And Bella got the exciting experience of going through a carwash. I posted a video of it on my instagram if you’re so inclined to check it out. After a day in the sunshine, Bella and I finally sat down to relax a little. She fell asleep and snored on the couch. 😉

When Michael got home I gave him his birthday present and made dinner. Even though we’d had Italian for his “official” birthday dinner, we ended up having Italian again! I opened a jar of my homemade marinara sauce made entirely from the tomatoes, rosemary, onions and basil from last year’s garden. I cooked some Trader Joe’s pesto tortellini, browned some turkey into the sauce and opened a bottle of red.

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For dessert I tried something I saw on Pinterest. You take the crescent roll dough, roll some Rollos into it, bake it and it’s all melty and gooey on the inside. For about 180 calories, it’s a nice treat! It was a little weird but tasty. Kind of reminded me of the croissants that have chocolate baked on the inside.

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We watched Game of Thrones and ended the day. It was such a nice day off!

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!