Marchesi Winery

Vision Quest

Another sunny weekend! On Saturday Michael and I got up early-ish and then drove east into the Gorge. The sun was out, the sky was perfectly blue without a cloud in the sky and the Columbia River was simply gorgeous–shimmering and calm. The perfect day for a hike. I picked the Lake Gillette Hike which starts at the Bonneville Dam Trailhead on the Washington side. It’s a quick jaunt across the river on The Bridge of the Gods and then about a mile up the road.

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The trailhead was really nice, complete with a bathroom (always a plus). The trail was well marked and easy to find. The trail was fairly steep at the start but it leveled out once we got up the trail and went around the bend. According to the guide book, the trail “Tamanous” was a Native American word that meant “Vision Quest.” That was in the back of my mind as we trekked through the forest. I definitely envisioned what it would be like to go on a vision quest through the dark forest, through the bare hills and down to the lake. There have been many times in my life that I wanted to do a Vision Quest and I even researched it–read every book out there on the topic. It fascinates me.

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There was a break in the forest and we could see the Columbia River from way up there. I had no idea we were so high up! I could see the highway down below and there was a barge floating down the river. The temperatures were warming up and I took off my jacket at this point. I was wearing compression tights under my pants for the hike (in hopes to lessen some soreness and as an experiment to see if that made a difference with my knees). I was slightly toasty.

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The trail started to go downhill a bit and then deeper into the forest. We came to a fork in the road and the trail split off. There was part of the Pacific Crest Trail to the right (via Bridge of the Gods) and then Lake Gillette to the left. We went left. When I saw that sign I wondered how all those hikers do the entire Pacific Crest Trail (thinking of the book “Wild“) and how they don’t get lost! There are SO many trails out there, not always well marked.

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The trail was pretty easy and for the most part it wasn’t steep. I was happy about that because last weekend’s hike was a little too strenuous for my knees. We could see the lake through the trees, but not very clearly.

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The trail left the forest and wound through a clear-cut area. There wasn’t any shade and the sun was hot. This part of the trail wasn’t exactly scenic, but it was pretty flat. Once we got through this area and back in the shade, we stopped for a water break. Bella was thirsty! (Me too!)

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We used this hike to try and work on Bella’s training. For the most part she did well. The trail was pretty wind-y and several times we turned a corner and almost ran into other hikers. I think being startled like that agitated Bella. So she wasn’t on her best behavior. She did bark at some other hikers. Towards the end of the hike we realized that feeding her treats while other hikers walked past us worked well and she wouldn’t bark.

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The hike ended up being a little bit longer than I wanted to do. I am still wanting to take it easy on my knees and I know super steep and long hikes aggravate that. We got back to the car just around the 2 hour mark! We did 4 miles! After the hike we drove the 30 minutes or so to Hood River for lunch.

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For lunch I suggested the Sixth Street Bistro. We went there last year for dinner and thoroughly enjoyed the food. This visit was no different. Perhaps the 4 miles and 740 calories burned had something to do with it, but the food was AMAZING! Yes, I am a 4 year old. I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich.

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It was provolone and cheddar cheese on sourdough bread. It was gooey and mild and rich. The salad was outstanding. Just as good as I remembered it. I got the vinaigrette feta dressing.  Michael got a turkey, bacon and avocado sandwich on gluten free bread with a salad with bleu cheese dressing.

After the late lunch we stopped at Marchesi Vineyards. It’s one of my favorite wineries in Hood River. We shared a wine flight that was five samples. The place was packed! There were so many people out trying to soak up the sunshine. The first taste was the Pinot Grigio, which we bought a bottle of.

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It’s a delicious, dry wine. Not sweet at all. The second bottle we came home with was the Barbera. It was a toss up between that one and the Sangiovese.

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We’ve talked about joining their wine club for awhile now but decided to wait until after the wedding to decide. Years ago we belonged to a wine club in Hood River and twice a year we got a case of their wine. It was great! You save a little bit of money by doing something like that.

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I have to say, it was probably the perfect day. Sunshine, warm weather, hiking, good food and wine? Sign me up! I cannot wait until summer!

Well, We Made that Harder Than it Had to Be…

Last I left off on yesterday’s post, I’d done a quickie workout of weights at the gym before my boyfriend and I were going to drive out to the Gorge. Had I known how my day was GOING to pan out, I would have skipped the gym…

Michael and I started our sunny Saturday with a wine tasting in Hood River. I had a Groupon for a tasting for two that included a meat and cheese plate at one of our favorite wineries in the gorge. It was a lovely drive out the Gorge and every hiking spot we passed was full. It seemed that everyone in Portland had the same idea as us. We arrived at Cathedral Ridge Winery and it was hopping.

Our tasting was good but felt rushed. It was busy and noisy and rather difficult to enjoy the tasting but the wine was good and we ended up leaving with a bottle. We tried the Halbtrocken (tasted like candy and strawberries), the Necessity Red (supposed to taste like a Jolly Rancher but it wasn’t overly sweet), Bordheaux Red (dirty, strong and bold), the Cabernet Sauvignon (tasted like berries) and the Syrah (tasted like leather, pepper and black licorice).

We sat outside in the sun for a bit before heading over to one more winery to do a tasting. This time we went to Marchesi Vineyards. It was one we had never been to before and I really liked it a lot. The place was quiet and inviting and while it was crowded, it was bigger so people weren’t feeling cramped in like sheep.

The staff at Marchesi was super friendly and fun too. They gave us a complimentary meat and cheese plate as well. They even cut the salami right in front of us with a huge meat slicer.

Marchesi was a different kind of winery, using Italian varietals that reminded the owner of his home in Italy.

Michael and I both loved the first two wines we tried at Marchesi. I ended up buying a bottle of the Pinot Grigio because I loved it so much. The Pinot Grigio was a crisp, cool white that tasted like peaches and honey. The other wine we both loved was the Dolcetto–a fruity red wine. I also liked that Marchesi was much more generous with their pours than Cathedral Ridge.

After chilling out for a bit, we headed back to Cascade Locks to go on the hike we planned on doing. It was Dry Creek Falls Hike (trailhead directions here). It was supposed to be a moderate hike with a beautiful waterfall as the payoff. I wrote down the directions for the hike and thought we were good.

It was a hot day and we brought four water bottles with us (probably not enough). The trail is part of the Pacific Crest Trail. It started at the Bridge of the Gods and wound through old growth forest on soft, easy to walk on trail.

The trail ended and we were supposed to take a dirt road up a hill and then pick up the trail on an old road following the powerlines.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a distance associated with the old road following the powerlines. The instructions said the trail would be easy to find but somehow we missed it. We were walking up and down, up and down those super steep roads following the powerlines, eventually finding ourselves way off the trail.

The hills were steep and I knew I’d feel that hike in my calves the next day (which I did! And still feeling! Ouch!). We were so far from the trail that we felt discouraged. Three out of the four water bottles had been drunk and we were the only ones out there on the hills that seemed to go on forever. Michael was teasing me that it was too early to switch into “survival mode” when I mentioned that I was glad I had my water purifying tablets in my backpack just incase. I was just so thirsty and my mouth was parched, which made it hard to swallow.

When we found ourselves on a dirt road that looked like a giant pickup truck had driven through there, with empty Milwaukee’s Best cans scattered in the weeds and I was humming the banjo music from Deliverance, I decided we were giving up on the hike and going back. Where the hell had we missed the trail?

It was hot but the sun was starting to cool a bit and it wasn’t as hot and sweaty as we made our way back to the main trail. We kept our eyes open for this elusive trail and *maybe* found it? Not sure, we decided to head back to the car.

We most definitely went at least a mile or two out of our way on the trail and never did see the beautiful waterfalls. If you want to see what this hike SHOULD have looked like, check out this guy’s hike report. Oh well, next time perhaps. I had no intention of doing such a long, strenuous hike–especially since I’d done a workout that morning. In my mind, I thought we would do a leisurely hour long hike and call it good. Boy did we make the whole thing harder than it had to be!

Hike Stats:
Time: 2:06
Calories Burned: 867 (but 1379 total burned for the day) 
Mileage: God Only Knows!

We drove back to Portland and looked for somewhere to eat dinner. We we both exhausted, sweaty and ready to eat all of the food in the world. Since everyone in Portland seemed to be out, all the restaurants we tried to go to were packed full. We ended up settling on the Bridgeport Alehouse on SE Hawthorne. It wasn’t as crowded and we got a seat outside immediately!

Michael and I enjoyed a Hop Czar Imperial IPA with a lovely frothy topping as the sun began to set over Hawthorne. A nice, cool breeze picked up and made the evening much more comfortable.

Michael ordered the burger. He said it wasn’t that good. He ordered it medium and it came well-done (which is often how it comes in restaurants, unfortunately) and the spicy mustard it was supposed to come with wasn’t on it.

I ordered the pulled pork sandwich. I was craving a sandwich but nothing on the menu appealed to me for some reason. I guess I was just in that “I’m too hungry to make a decision” zone. I’ll be honest: the pulled pork sandwich was WEIRD. Instead of BBQ sauce it came with a sweet, tangy Asian sauce and slaw on top. The flavors were really, really bizarre. But I’ll admit, I started to warm up to it’s strangeness as I continued to eat.

I’m disappointed that our hike was a bust and we didn’t get to see the waterfalls. I’d do the hike again with more detailed instructions, but maybe not for awhile. I’m a little bitter right now. 🙂 All in all, it was a fantastic day with intense fitness, good wine and a fulfilling dinner. Here’s to summer! Cheers!

QUESTION: What is your worst hiking experience?