Tag Archives: state park

A park run by a state government, usually much smaller than national parks or a wildlife refuge.

Back to Deschutes River

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 storm was rolling through behind us.

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.

Ahead we could see a beautiful rainbow.

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.

Summit of Neahkahnie Mt. October 2019

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.

I like the mural and you get a good view of the kitchen too. Wood everywhere and a huge ceiling.

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.

Silver Falls State Park July 2019

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.

Upper North Falls

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.

Deschutes River State Recreation Area March 2019

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.

Deschutes River

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 Trip to Remember

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.

Its a nice bowl with a spiral that walks around. Really well designed.

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.

The MIA from Vietnam.

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.