Spring is finally here and the weather is only slightly getting better but this weekend it was pretty good and I was going stir crazy. When you get a good weekend weather in March you take advantage of it while you can.
I wanted to get outside and do a hike some place I had never been before. I grabbed my trust hiking guild and found the Deschutes River State Recreation Area. The park follows the Deshutes Rivers for several miles and includes the area where it dumps into the Columbia River. It has your typical outdoor activities like fishing and camping.
I was interested in the hiking and found a decent length trail to Ferry Springs. What my book didn’t show me, nor the map at the park, was the elevation change. First hike of the season and I was not prepared for the hike up the hill. Near the mouth of the Columbia there are several trails that parallel each other. Two are hiking trails and another is an access road so you have options on how difficult a hike you want.
A fire burned through the area and is the dominate feature at the start of the high. It doesn’t matter what trail you take all you see is burnt vegetation and dry dirt. Life is slowly starting to come back with some brushes surviving and trying to grow back. Grass is starting to go in patch and should takeover rather quickly. Another good size was seeing animal tracks in the dirt.
When it comes to getting to Ferry Springs it is at the top of one of the hills. The climb up was more then I was expecting but worth it once you get to the top. Because of land ownership it appears the start of the actual spring is not in the park but just outside it. The better view is just sitting on the hillside looking out towards the value. All across the valley spring was starting to bloom. Just some low grass in places but no flowers yet. I am sure as the season progresses the valley will become abundant with life.
A nice little park that has a really long trail along the lower section of the Deschutes River. They also offer camping which would be nice. I can imagine that sunrise and sunset in the valley along the river is pretty nice.
Sunday was Veterans Day and the weather turned out to be rather nice. For me the afternoon started with a walk north towards the Lloyd Center and quickly changed to a trip out to Washington Park to visit the Vietnam Veterans of Oregon Memorial. It was just a beautiful day and I wanted to be out.
I have a weird relationship with Veterans Day. I am not a vet, never served in the military. My dad was in Vietnam but he never talked about it and I never asked. Through a weird series of events many years ago my dad and I had off and our respective wives were working. The two of us having nothing better to do we went to DC. First stop was the Vietnam Memorial and then we went to the American History Museum.
It was such a great day just hanging out with my dad. He passed away many years ago but I have never forgotten that trip to the city. I wanted to visit the memorial to remember my father. I miss him every day.
What should have been a straight shot train ride got derailed by an accident along the tracks. I just walked past the closed stop and onto the next one. Remember its a beautiful day and I love to walk. Eventually I made it to the park. The memorial is right there when you get off the train and if my understanding is correct this is also the bottom of Forrest Park.
Anyone can put a stone statue some place and call it a memorial. This one was much more than that. It was started by locals wanting to honor those that didn’t make it back from Vietnam. With years of fundraising the organization had the money they needed to start construction.
You walk down this path that leads to a fountain and small plague. Next the path spirals up the hillside. Along the path there are giant marble walls with all the names of the dead and the year they died. When you get to the end you see a list of MIA. Thankfully you can see that some of those names have been taken off. They didn’t make it back alive but they made it home.
I got to the top of the path and just had to take a seat for a while. All these emotions running through me. The lives lost to war, needless war. The lives of all those soldiers still fighting, doing what they think is best to protect America and our allies. And my dad. Greatest man I ever knew. I wouldn’t be who I am today without him and for that I am eternally grateful. I found some peace that afternoon.
Memorials are there for a reason and I was glad I got to the Vietnam Memorial. The weather was good, it was a holiday, and it was a Sunday. Just being there, sitting, thinking, and looking at everything around me. It was a great day. Let us never forget.
The weather had finally started to change and I wanted to get out for a hike before things got to hot. I mentioned this to Tracy and we ended up doing a hike with Ellie to Beacon Rock. I was thinking Silver Falls State Park to the south but because of logistics we decided that was not the best park. I was able to hike this park on my way down to see SCI so it all worked out.
The park is only 40 minutes or so from Vancouver and it is right on the highway. The parking lot and trail head are steps apart. This is a well maintained path that while steep at times, almost everyone can complete this hike. Plenty of railings to hold onto. It is interesting seeing how they engineered the trail and all the barriers. There are even a couple of footpath bridges which are really cool. Lots of bent railing speak to the ever changing mountain.
Nice hike up the side of the mount with a ton of switchbacks. Its the only reasonable way you can get up there otherwise it is to steep. Once at the top you get some great views of the valley below. The time of day we went the sun was bouncing off the water and it was bright as crap. Still an impressive hike to a really close park. Once we climbed down the mount we continued to the day use park and the boat launch along the water.
During the hike we worked up an appetite and headed to Walking Man Brewing in the near by town of Stevenson. I had been here once before many years ago when visiting. It was just like I remember. Some really good beer and creative food which was all very good. The weather was perfect so we sat outside and had lunch on the patio.
A great hike that is rather close to the house. There is another hike close by that goes up another mountain and offers even better views of the valley. I will have to try this trail next time.
Some hikes I randomly stumble across can end up being really good. Another chunk of new hikes I learn about come from recommendations from others or me seeing it online for example. Silver Falls State Park I found from of all places as a Microsoft logon background one day at work. The picture was one of its many beautiful waterfalls with this huge cave cut out behind it. It was so green and looked really peaceful. I don’t remember which waterfall this was but there are several that it could have been. After seeing this picture and knowing it was so close I had to make it down.
I started at the western side of the park near South Falls Day Use area. The map was a little confusing but I ended up taking the Rim Trail all the way to the North Falls and then cut across the North Fork Silver Creek to the Canyon Trail. This I took all the way down the creek till I got to the South Falls which was the final stop before the parking lot. Not knowing any better, taking this route ended up being a good starting point and direction around the loop.
The Rim Trail follows a bike path and the road for most of the its journey north. You are up on the ridge with only a few break out views. Unfortunately you can’t see much of the valley below. At one spot you can hear the waterfall below but not actual see it. There are no waterfalls or much besides the forest on this part of the trail. After a couple of miles the first stop is North Falls which for me were the best waterfall in the park. It had the largest and deepest cave cut out of any of the waterfalls. It is not the tallest but still all around the most impressive of the bunch in my opinion.
The North Falls are the first good stop on the trail. Because of how things are so cut out in the cave there is a raised seating area along the back wall. This is where I took the opportunity to have lunch. Even though there were a dozen people in the cave all I could hear was the water splashing down below. The cave took that sound and amplified it, drowning out all the conversations. I really felt close to nature sitting there with all my senses going crazy.
From the North Falls you head into the valley and walk along the North Fork Silver Creek for several miles. It was already a nice day but on the Rim Trail it was easily 10 degrees hotter then along the water. This was a nice change of pace with the cooler temperatures. This is certainly a moderate hike. No serious climbs but it certainly goes up and down quite a lot. Its also a very busy trail so that adds to the effort getting around everyone. Nice thing is this trail is mostly covered. I would say 90-95% of the hike is in the shade which is awesome.
As I headed down the Canyon Trail this is where the meat of the waterfalls are, which makes sense. It really is just one after the other. Some are more impressive then others. For instance there are at least three of the waterfalls with huge cave cutouts behind the falls and trail behind them. First time I have walked behind a waterfall and it was pretty cool seeing it from that perspective. To me the North Falls was still the best one. It was the first one I saw and the best in the park.
I started hiking at 10:30 and if anything I should have gotten there just a little earlier. The timing worked out really well for getting to Eugene and seeing String Cheese Incident. Not so good for having a quite trail or day use area. Along the Canyon Trail the closer I got to the South Falls Day Use area the more people I started running into going the opposite direction. Its not an easy hike and is over 7 miles so not a short one either. I just didn’t expect this many people out on the trail. But then again it was a really nice weekend and this is probably one of the busiest parks in the system. They actually had volunteers at major intersections helping hikers who were lost or didn’t have a map. I found it shocking all these inexperienced and unprepared people hiking this trail.
This is a great day hike trip activity. 1.5 hours from Portland, 3.5-4 hour loop hike and at the end you can picnic in the park. Then another 1.5 hours home before the sunsets with plenty of time to relax with a movie. This first time I did the Trail of Ten Falls to knock if off my list but looking at the map there are plenty of other trails to explorer at Silver Falls State Park.
When my brother and I were young my dad would take us on these weekend excursions to Civil War battlefields. Never really sure if this was a hobby of his or just something he thought would be cool to do with his two sons. For whatever reason we went to many battle fields over the years and it stuck with me. Not so much the love of the Civil War but the love of traveling and getting the most out of a vacation. A vacation should be relaxing but it can also be educational as well. These trips I think help sparked my curiosity and love of learning.
When I was traveling down to Asheville for The New Mastersounds and beer I found a few spots on the side of the road that looked interesting. One of them was the Virginia Museum of the Civil War in New Market. When I finally got around to checking out their website I noticed they had their annual reenactment later in May. I asked my brother initially on Mother’s Day if he wanted to go. I thought it would be something cool to do with him and the kids. He initially said no but by late in the week he was on board but keeping the kids at home.
The park had activities all day but we only cared about the reenactment which was happening at 1 in the open field. Almost on the dot we hear the loud boom of the cannons signaling the start of the battle. It was really cool how they played it all out. They stated way off to the left of the field and battled initially with little forces right in the middle of the tall grass. The battle progressed just like they would have in the real battle, just on a smaller scale.
Different phases of the battle raged around the structures, the orchard, open field and tree line. Eventually the Confederates charge the Union line breaking it and winning the battle. This is certainly over simplified but the end result is the same. It was really cool seeing all the people firing the guns and acting in real life what could have happened all those years ago.
All in all it was a solid hour of reenacting which was great. With the black powder guns and the humidity in the air the smoke would just hang covering the field of battle. I can’t imagine a humid summer day wearing a heavy wool uniform with thousands of guns firing. In the end the VMI cadets make a valiant charge to capture a Union artillery battlement.
It was a long drive out the museum so after the battle we didn’t stay long. We went up to the museum for a few minutes to walk around. Saw part of a documentary about the battle while we cooled off. We were so tired from standing outside and me double so because of the previous late night before.
As an adult I have never been in to reenactments. Seeing one now not much has changed from when I was a kid. Now the crowds are smaller and I think the participants are becoming older and fewer. If you haven’t been, I recommend going at least once before they themselves fade away into history.