The last day Michael’s dad and stepmom, G and G, were in Portland visiting we decided to drive up to Mount Hood and do an easy hike. The night before Michael and I did some research on which Mount Hood hike would be the best for everyone’s abilities–relatively short (less than 5 miles) and not steep. We narrowed it down from three options to one: Ramona Falls.
I’ve heard for years that Ramona Falls is a fantastic hike. I’ve never done any summertime hiking on Mount Hood because it’s all about a 90 minute drive from Portland. When there’s tons of hiking to do within 30 minutes it’s hard to justify a 3 hour road trip.
Backing up…that morning I set my alarm for an early time so I could go for a quick run before the hike. The website we consulted said that Ramona Falls was EASY and about 3 miles. I knew that a 3 mile easy hike would be nothing for me (especially with non hikers that don’t really walk at the same speed as I do) so I went for a quick 40 minute run on track near the house, followed with a short weight session in my living room (while watching Law & Order).
Little did I know that that was going to be a big mistake.
We picked up G and G and stopped at Zupan’s (kinda like Whole Foods) for sandwiches to pack with us on the hike. The idea being that we’d stroll on an even, easy trail for a mile or so and stop for lunch. The drive up to Mount Hood was nice and quiet. We found the turn off for Lolo Pass–a road I’ve never taken when going up to Hood–and followed the scenic road to the trailhead for Ramona Falls Hike.
We parked and set out on the trail, no idea what we were in for.
We hiked along the rapid river on a very flat, sandy trail that wound around the river and through the trees. I didn’t have a GPS on me but I’d estimate we walked about a mile before the trail veered down into the river basin where we crossed the rapids to the other side.
The views in this hike were gorgeous. Mount Hood:
Totally scenic and worth a visit. IF you are prepared for it. Across the river we hiked through the forest through some gentle hills that really weren’t that big of a deal.
In my mind I thought this trail was 4.4 miles total, and a loop. The website I had consulted stated as such. As we trekked along, enjoying the sunshine and cool air under the blanket of trees, I didn’t really notice that the hike was pretty long.
Before I knew it we’d hiked for about an hour and 45 minutes or so. We decided to sit on a log next to the creek for lunch and we enjoyed our sandwiches. I got the Italian sandwich at the Zupan’s deli and it was delicious. Spicy salamis, peppers, cheese and olive oil on a crunchy french bread. The sandwich was tasty and hit the spot. I was also really grateful to be sitting because around that time my knees started to hurt.
I’ve never had knee pain while hiking. This was definitely a first and it proceeded to get worse throughout the hike. I don’t know if it was the hike or if it was the run that morning, or if it was the combination of both, but it was awful. In fact, even my left knee hurt–which was weird because I’ve never had issues with the left. After lunch we headed back up the trail, thinking the waterfalls were just up the trail a bit.
We passed some people on the trail but not an extreme amount. Everyone raved about the waterfalls. We kept on. And on. And on. And finally we all kind of wondered, “I thought this was a 4 mile loop?” Seriously. How could we have gotten it so wrong?
We crossed some cute bridges.
We went up the trail, passed some babbling brooks, and kept on.
And kept on. Finally, my knees were screaming at me and Michael’s dad was commenting that the hike would never end. We stopped hiking to discuss what to do: turn around and head back? Keep going? Go a little further and see if there’s a map or people who know how much further? I decided to go up the trail just round the corner and see if I could see anything either way. I turned the corner and Ramona Falls came into view. We’d almost turned around literally feet away from the waterfall.
I’d like to say that the waterfalls were totally worth it but I was in pain and we had no idea how much longer the hike was. It was hard to relax and just take it all in. We hung out at the waterfalls for a bit and some other hikes were coming from the other directions so I asked them about how many miles. They had no idea so I asked how long they’d been hiking since the parking lot. About an hour. Okay, so clearly we were more than half way through the loop by the time we got to the Falls.
Plus, according to one hiker it would be all downhill for us. We continued on the trail and it was mostly downhill the rest of the hike back. It was pretty but at that point all I was thinking about was my aching body. My hips. My feet. My toes. My knees. And I suddenly realized that hiking downhill was MORE painful for my knees. It was awful.
I was so ready to be back at the car where I could take off my hiking boots and rest my knees and feet! Michael and I don’t even do 7 mile hikes!! We’re in great shape and we stick to the 5 mile or so hikes.
A little over an hour later we made it back to the car. I consulted my print out and it said clearly “4.4 mile loop”. What the heck?! Later when we got home I looked online and Ramona Falls plus the loop is 7.0 miles long. I guess the website I consulted beforehand did not include the trail from the parking lot to the loop in their mileage?! Not sure.
It was almost dinner time so we headed over to Apizza Scholl’s for dinner. We were all famished!
QUESTION: What’s a hiking mishap you’ve experienced?