Aug 092011
 
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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.


Stats:
Time: 66 minutes
Calories Burned:  607

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:

Trees:

Bubbling Brooks:

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.


Hike Stats:
Time: 3:39
Calories Burned: 1121
Distance: 7 Miles! 

It was almost dinner time so we headed over to Apizza Scholl’s for dinner. We were all famished!


I ordered a beer (Anchor Steam I think) and since we’d just hiked 7 miles and I had no food in my stomach the beer hit me like a ton of bricks.


Talk about tipsy. We ordered two pizzas: the capicola with margherita and a sausage and peppers with the pig n’ pineapple.


I may have devoured three slices without evening thinking about it. :) But that’s okay because I burned almost 1800 calories!!!! Unexpectedly!


We went home completely exhausted but satiated from pizza.

QUESTION: What’s a hiking mishap you’ve experienced?

 

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Jul 062011
 
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Our plans for the 4th of July were pretty low-key. I met my friend Robyn at the gym to do a workout Monday morning. I did a quickie 15 minute warm up jog on the treadmill (my bruised butt hurt from Sunday’s fall!) and then Robyn and I focused on upper body weights and abs. It was a really good workout after a very active weekend.

Gym Stats:
Time: 1:18
Calories Burned: 506


After the workout Robyn and I went to Panera Bread for lunch. I like Panera because their calorie information is readily available and everything is pretty low in calories! I ordered a cup of the French Onion Soup (250 calories) and half a ham and swiss sandwich (290 calories).


It was delicious and filling. Then Michael and I decided to go for a hike. It was 82 degrees, sunny and gorgeous out. We drove out to The Gorge to do Wahkeena Falls.


The Gorge was incredibly crowded–which was to be expected on such a nice day and a holiday. Wahkeena Falls connects to Multnomah Falls. It’s a very strenuous, uphill hike. The first half mile of switchbacks are steep but paved. I think that lures non-hikers into a sense that they can do the hike easily. It’s not an easy hike at all.


Our goal was to hike Wahkeena Falls to Larch Mountain. I’ve always wanted to do Larch Mountain but have never made it. One way is to hike up Multnomah Falls and then it connects to Larch Mountain at the top. All the times I’ve tried to do that I always had to turn around once I got to the top. Either I was tired, or the person I was with couldn’t do more.


After the Falls the trail is no longer paved. It turns into a very rocky, dirt trail that is just as steep as Multnomah Falls.


I personally think Wahkeena Falls is nicer than Multnomah Falls. You can get a lot closer to the actual falls on this hike and it’s less crowded.

The other great thing about Wahkeena Falls Trail is that you’re hiking alongside a lot of waterfalls. There is always something pretty to look at for most of this hike.


Most of this hike is covered under trees and shade. It was about 10 degrees cooler than Portland but it felt really nice! 75 degrees is a good hiking temperature when you’re in the shade. I was wearing my new UnderArmor boy shorts underwear and it worked great! It wicked all the moisture and kept me cool. I also wore a wicking workout shirt. Another brilliant idea on my part. We stopped for protein bars and G2 half way up the steep hike.


The hike was quiet and lovely. But there were a few other people on the trail (it always baffles me how people can do such strenuous, rocky, steep hikes in flip flops!).


There were a lot of waterfalls along the creek. It was a nice hike up the mountain. Eventually the trail left the steep switchbacks and headed into the old growth forest.


The path was shaded and less rocky. The ground was softer too. The trail leveled out for about half a mile. Doesn’t Michael look great? He’s down 16 pounds from the Four Hour Body Diet! I am so proud of his hard work.

Then we got to an opening in the forest with a bunch of other paths and signs. I’ve done this hike once before by myself. The last time I continued on to Devil’s Rest Hike which is even steeper but it’s very desolate. Not many hikers were on the path that far out. The views are nice from the peak of Devil’s Rest. We planned on checking out either Larch Mountain or Devil’s Rest but it was getting late in the day so we decided to turn back after hiking 3 miles.


We stopped to rest for a few minutes. Then we had a decision to make: go back the way we came or take the Vista Point loop back to the Wahkeena Trail.


Vista Point Trail is how I went the last time I did the hike and it was an even steeper descent than the regular Wahkeena Trail. I opted to return the way we came.


The descent back down the trail was a HARD one! I know my quads will be screaming after that. It was a nice, cool hike down the trail. We were stopped a few times by different hikers asking how far it was to the top. Sadly, they weren’t happy when we told them there was no top and the trail never really ended! Some people chose to turn around, which is too bad because there are so many nice things to see further up the trail!


The hike was fantastic! The weather was perfect, our bodies held up (miraculous after biking 38 miles!) and I was glad we got to enjoy the nice weather on the holiday.

Hike Stats:
Time: 2:19
Calories Burned: 693
Distance: 6 miles


Dinner after the hike: grillin’ up bratwursts, zucchini, drinkin’ a beer and enjoying some ice cream. A great way to end a three day weekend if you ask me!

QUESTION: What’s the longest (or hardest) hike you’ve done?

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