Last year I did this same hike at almost the same time of year in the Deschutes River State Recreation Area. It was a good hike then and it was a good hike now. This time around the weather presented its own set of challenges I didn’t have to face the first time. If you are prepared it’s not a problem but the swings in weather can be huge out in the gorge during the winter months. This day Mother Nature was not happy and she let everyone know it.
We got an early start and left my apartment with coffee in one hand and boots in the other. I was tracking the weather closely the last few days before the hike. It is still winter around here so when it rains in the valley its snowing in the mountains. My poor little car just can’t handle serious winter weather we have here. I was constantly checking to see when it would rain and if that rain could possible turn to snow.
On the way to the park we really lucked out. The weather was pretty nice as far as the entire day was concerned. Nothing really going on weather wise. You could see off in the distance portions of the storms that rolled through earlier in the day but it was pretty calm at the moment. As we headed further into the gorge the wind started picking up but for the most part the rain was abated.
We got to the park and the sun was actually out for a hot minute. We got our shit together and started walking along the river. The park has several trails you can take. One is a fire/service road that is higher up in the valley and the other is right along the water. We walked along the water for a while before the path slowly starts to raise in elevation. Eventually it meets with the service road to continue the journey. At this junction you can choose to head back, continue down the service road or hike up the hills to a spring.
The walk along the river was peaceful despite the poor weather. With the recent rain we noticed the river moving rather swiftly. No major rapids I would say but I still wouldn’t want to be out on the river since I have no idea what I’m doing. We also noticed that nature was really coming back from the fire several years ago. Even from a year ago there was much more vegetation growing. You can still a little fire damage but it is quickly fading away like nothing happened.
Once we got to the junction we had to decide what to do. The last few hundred meters it started to rain. Enough that we put some covers on our packs. Across the river and up the other side of the valley we could see large, dark, ominous clouds rolling over the hill tops. We wanted to hike to the spring but if the weather continue to change we would be caught out. With the weather turning we decided to hedge our bets and head back. It might have been a short hike but mission accomplished even if we didn’t get to the spring on top of the hill.
The walk back was an interesting one. We ran into a fisherman who was crazy like us coming out. He commented on us being out and was shocked to run into others. He didn’t want to watch football and I couldn’t agree more. The weather in front of us was for the most part clear. We even managed to see a rainbow. Behind us things continued to be cloudy but it never really got heavy like we thought it would.
We hung out along the river before starting the drive back to Portland. Here we ate some lunch and enjoyed what we could of the weather. It was getting windy, cloudy and colder the long we stayed. The drive back was a rather scary one. For most of it Jenny was asleep which was good. It was a downpour with very treacherous driving condition. Standing water all over the place, low visibility and a few assholes not heading the warnings. The mental concentration I needed was draining by the time we got back.
Even with the rain it was a great day of hiking and getting out in nature. We both agreed to try and get out hiking more often this year. We did well on the first day of the year and with this hike. Lets see if we can keep it up for the rest of the year. Deschutes River State Recreational Area is a great place to hike, camp, and fish right at the mouth of the Columbia River.