Today was a typical lazy Sunday. I only had two errands on my list which took me out west towards Beaverton. Since I was going that far I stopped by the Tualatin Hills Nature Park to get a quick walk around the forest. Never been to this park before and its honestly not that far from my house, about 30 minutes if you take the scenic route.
This is a 222-acher park right in the middle of suburban Portland. As you walk around the trails you are never that far from civilization. The park is right next to the Merlo Rd station on the Max blue line. Makes it super convenient to get to from public transit. When things settle down this is a park I will certainly visit via Max. A good afternoon out.
Its a small park but easy access makes it a great place to visit. You can certainty walk the entire park in an afternoon if you wanted to. Most of the trails are well maintained and by that I mean they are either paved or wooden planks. Saw lots of older people and family’s with young children out enjoying a beautiful day.
Spent a good couple of hours here writing and drawing. There are some benches along the trail which are nice. No open fields to have a picnic in but there at other parks for that. A nice afternoon at the park that you can get to from Max. When I’m out on that side of town it’s a good place to visit.
Oh the winter months here in the pacific northwest. They are cold, rainy and you can go for days without seeing the sun. Honestly it can be depressing so when an opportunity presents itself to camp in winter I was in. Just getting outside for a night with friends and family, sit by the fire, it was something I needed.
Razor clams where in season and low tide coincided with a Saturday night. The Calizon’s were heading up and invited Jenny, I and a few others. I needed out of the house so I was in. Jenny was able to switch around a few things so it worked out that we both could go camping that weekend. Look up at the stars next to a warm fire.
Bobby booked camp sites at Cape Disappointment State Park next to the beach. the spot was large enough that we could pitch our tent and everyone had plenty of space. I couldn’t wait to leave my apartment and get some fresh air. Even better would be the salty ocean air which I rarely get to experience.
We couldn’t leave till early Saturday morning and the park is 2.5 hours away. We got on our way mid afternoon. For part of the trip to the coast it was pouring rain. I had been checking the weather the last week and it was going to be clear. We just had to get past a little rain on the way out but after that it was clear.
Before long we made it to Long Beach and met everyone at a scoop shop in town. I knew Ras and Amanda were coming but I was surprised to see Mark and his daughter. Everyone was sitting outside devouring ice cream when we walked up. We quickly said hello and headed to camp.
That night we got our own spot instead of doubling up with Bobby and Tracy. There were spaces next to everyone and we felt it was the least we could do. We were happy to be there so $30 for the night was a bargain. We quickly put up the tent and joined everyone at the camp fire. We didn’t have it lit but we where getting our chairs gathered for later in the evening.
Low tide was going to be around 6:30pm that night. As the sun started to set we put on our boots and headed down to the beach to hunt razor clams. Soon the sun set over the horizon produced a spectacular light show. As the stars stated to come out we got to digging.
Finding the little buggers is much harder than I expected. I still don’t know what I was looking for but with the help of Jenny I dug up two that night. She was an excellent spotter and I was quick with the shovel. I think collectively we caught 5 or 6 which isn’t that much. We were not going to feast at camp with what we caught that night.
The weather got cold quick when the sun disappeared. Not being very successful we headed back to camp to get a fire going. A fire was starting to sound real appealing. We spent hours that night around the fire cooking all sorts of stuff. Spam in a can in a can as Tyson pointed out. Hot dogs and even some hobo chili. It was awesome just hanging out with everyone by the fire under the stars. This is exactly what Jenny and I needed. Get back to nature for and recharge.
The next morning we packed up and did a hike in the park before heading home. We hiked to North Head Lighthouse which was a good hike. It was an out and back of only a few miles. The lighthouse has been there since 1898 and is still active today. Like all or certainly the majority of lighthouses in America this one is now completely automated.
After the hike we headed to Astoria for some coffee. We lucked out and found Columbia River Coffee Roasters right under the bridge. Standing in line I recognized the coffee bags. Grendel’s serves their coffee at their cafe. My cappuccino that day tasted just like it does at Grendel’s. We hung out here for a bit enjoying the passing scenery.
We squeezed every bit of time together we could that day. By the time we got to Portland we were hungry and I had a gift certificate burning a hole in my pocket. We went to Rams Head for a late lunch. I had a craving for a burger which I am happy to report was satisfied that afternoon.
A really great weekend hanging out with everyone at Cape Disappointment State Park. Sitting in front of the fire with the ocean waves in the back ground, roasting hotdogs looking up at the stars really was what we needed. I look forward to doing this again and simply getting out doors with Jenny more as the weather warms.
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.
Spending a week back in Virginia for work I was excited to get home. There is just something about being back in Virginia that is soul sucking. Midway through the trip I got an email from Jenny. She wanted to go for a hike along the coast and wanted me to come along. I was already starting to miss home so I jumped at the chance to go for a hike with her when I got back. She found a few spots and a tourist information site for Cannon Beach so we were ready as we could be for the adventure in front of us.
We got a super early start on Sunday, meeting at my house at 7am. The night before I saw the New Mastersounds at the Wonder Ballroom so I was pretty tired. The drive out to the beach was only 1.5 hours and it was actually a pretty good one. The fog was super dense around town and as we headed up into the mountains. Half the trip we couldn’t see 100 yards in front of us which was cool.
Jenny picked the trail heading to the summit of Neahkahnie Mt in Oswald West State Park. I think round trip it was about 6 miles. I was more concerned about the elevation change then the distance. Looking at the trail map the lower section of the trail was all switch backs. They only use those when the grade is steep. Ugh. In the end it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought. I had no problem keeping up with Jenny that morning as we hiked up the mountain.
Along the coast the fog was already gone but that didn’t mean the trail wasn’t beautiful. Going up we didn’t run into anyone. On occasion we would stop to look at nature and I always noticed how quiet it was. Lower elevations you could hear the cars from the highway but this quickly faded away till we eventually only heard the rustling of the trees.
The view from the summit once we made it was amazing. From the top we had a perfect look down the coast line as far as the eye could see. We could also see a little into the ocean from the vantage point and of course a good view of Neahkahnie. We were shocked at the number of people at the summit but after spending some time I understand why. We just hung out eating the lunch we brought, enjoying the view.
The trip down was pretty easy compared to going up. We ran into way more people hiking up as we came down. Getting that early start was really paying off. The parking lot was full with people were having trouble finding spots by the time we got back to the car. We cleaned up a little and decided to head to Cannon Beach for lunch. We decided on Pelican Brewing for a well deserved beer and food.
I have been to their brewery in Pacific City and I was impressed. The food was creative and both the food and beer were good. This being the flag ship brewpub it was also well appointed. No parking to speak of but the architecture more than made up for it. Lots of exposed wood beams, open and airy is how I would describe the feeling. Huge vaulted ceiling, concrete floors and wood tables all over the place. Bar area is pretty big with lots of bar stool seating. You have a decent view of some large brewing equipment. You also get a nice view of the kitchen and all the activity that is going on there.
After some good food and a well deserved beer we headed down to the water for a walk. It was only early October but the weather was already pretty cold. It was mostly the wind that made it so cold. We didn’t even bother getting our feet wet as it will be way to cold. Lots of other people out that afternoon enjoying the beach which was nice.
A great time along the cost when I got back into town. Trips like this remind me all the time why I enjoy living out here in Portland so much. In less then two hours I an get to the beach and have a change of pace. The same distance the other direction I can be at 10,000′ in the mountains. The view from the summit was amazing, the beer was cold and the walk along the beach magical.
The weather was finally starting to turn hot during the late afternoon hours. Its weird but for me when the weather gets like this I just want to get out and do something. The early morning hours are still very cool and if you go up into the mountains, its cooler yet. I can beat the heat naturally for a while and get out side to enjoy nature at the same time. This time around I just didn’t have enough time to research a place so I went back to Silver Falls State Park which I have been to before.
This park checked all the boxes that I wanted in a hike that weekend. Its a good hour and a half drive from the city. It is also pretty deep into the boondocks so a nice quite drive down two lane roads for the most part. Not so many mountains along the drive but you do get some good driving through the forest. It was also a place I was familiar for so plenty of parking and hikes of various lengths. I could do 10 miles and see all the falls with all the crowds of people or go on a shorter hikes and avoid the crowds.
The drive down was pretty easy, its just far. Getting into the park turned into a cluster. It was a beautiful day so the entrance was smashed with people. A ranger was asking everyone what they where doing and directing them to a specific lot depending on what activity you where doing. The F lot was for hiking and a little deeper into the park.
From here I headed north to the Upper North Falls which I am pretty certain I skipped last time. When you do the loop trail you skip this place since it is an out and back. I mostly didn’t want to fight all the crowds that would be along the trail so decided on this hike which worked out. It was still a little busy till I got the North Falls and from there it died almost completely.
Once I finally got to the water falls there were only a few people hanging out. I spent probably 45 minutes at the falls and the entire time no more then 10 people where around. Most wondering over the rocks, some along the waters edge, some didn’t move much past the end of the trail.
The waterfall itself is pretty impressive. Not as good as some of the others in the park but it was serene. I sat on some rocks not far from the base of the pool. The canyon trees where tall enough to provide shade so I could enjoy the sight and sound of the waterfall without roasting alive. It also allowed me to rest and cool down. I took the time to do some writing to family. I love being in beautiful spots like this and writing letters.
The Upper North Falls hit the spot that weekend. I got a good drive in, a decent length hike an lots of natural beauty. You throw in some peace and quite and it was a perfect afternoon. Even when its warm outside, in the shade its generally comfortable. Its great weather for getting out into the mountains and hiking.