How do I describe my trek through Multnomah Basin? This was a hike bookended by waterfalls, with a bunch of gorgeous old-growth forest sandwiched in between.
Oh - and I discovered my friend John needs to brush up on his distance measuring skills.
|At the trailhead, ready to go!|
John and most of his hiking buddies are retired, which means they can hit the trail during the week, when us poor employed folks have to work. But this time one of his hikes coincided with my scheduled Friday off. John was planning a loop in the around Multnomah Basin, in the Columbia River Gorge, a trek he described as "10+ miles."
Heck, having just done 7 tough miles up and down Dog Mountain the prior weekend, I figured my foot could handle 10. I emailed John back and told him I was in.
That Friday John and I were joined by Jon, Dorene, and Debbie. Because our route would start and end at different trailheads, we left Jon's pickup at Multnomah Falls and carpooled down the road to the Horsetail Falls trailhead. Recovering from an injury, Debbie only planned to accompany us partway.
|Walking behind Ponytail falls|
For those of you familiar with the Gorge our route was roughly this: Begin at Horsetail Falls, take the Gorge trail to Triple Falls, continue up Franklin Ridge, then take a series of trails west until intersecting with the Larch Mountain trail. Follow the Larch Mtn trail down to the base of Multnomah Falls, where Jon's truck awaited.
The great thing about starting at Horsetail Falls was not only did we see a lovely waterfall right at the trailhead, it's a short quarter mile stroll to the next cascade - Ponytail Falls. And the trail goes right behind this one, providing fantastic views from all angles. I even broke out my GoPro camera and shot a video so my readers could experience it too.
|Far-reaching Gorge view|
After lots of photos at Ponytail Falls, my group climbed to a grand viewpoint. The Columbia River and walls of the Gorge spread out before us. Everything was a vivid shade of springtime green. More photo ops!
|On the bridge over Oneonta Gorge|
Then it was down, across a bridge spanning Oneonta Gorge. Oneonta Falls gurgled nearby, but the light was lousy for photographs, so I continued on.
We took a break at the viewpoint overlooking Triple Falls. One of my fave Gorge waterfalls, I tried to get a few shots, despite the crummy midday light. We noticed a couple of men had climbed down to the very top of the falls. (Can you see them in the photo above?) Hmmm.....those rocks are sometimes slippery....not something I would ever try. Much to our relief, those two daredevils crawled back to the trail without any mishaps.
Above Triple Falls, our trail paralleled a lovely rushing creek. Green things of all varieties grew in abundance here - ferns, moss, leafy shrubs - and colorful tube-like Corydalis flowers.
|Photographer John in action|
The blooms were everywhere! Of course this stopped John and I in our tracks as the cameras came out. I'd never seen such a high concentration of these types of flowers. Not only in abundance, the Corydalis also bloomed in different colors besides it's normal pink. I captured a white and purple variety that was most lovely.
|Lovely two-tone Corydalis|
Beyond the flower fields, we bid Debbie goodbye, crossed the creek on a single log bridge, and began the long, boring slog up Franklin Ridge.
|One of many log bridges|
This was the toughest part of the hike. The path was steep, there wasn't anything interesting to see, and it was past noon. My stomach grumbled, but John promised a lunch break once we reached the ridgetop.
We climbed for what seemed like an eternity. My belly was complaining, and my attitude began taking a nosedive. Well past one, I caught up with Jon as we reached a dense forest. I asked Jon if this was our lunch spot and he replied "I'm making it one." We both joked about being "hangry" - hungry and grumpy - and agreed we were overdue for a refueling. John and Dorene caught up soon, and we all enjoyed a well-earned lunch break.
|Fallen tree in the trail|
Nearly to the junction of the Franklin Ridge Trail, after lunch John led us to our next segment (the name of which escapes me). This path was a beauty, rambling through impressive old growth woods. Tons of huge Douglas firs lined the trail. We marveled at the size of these giants. One of the humongous trees had blown down right on the trail, and we ended up walking on top of it.
|Trilliums were plentiful!|
It was here I noticed the woods were packed with blooming trilliums. So pretty! I stopped for a couple photos of their dreamy, white petals.
Although I enjoyed our trek through these gorgeous woods, I was beginning to look forward to the next junction. We'd reach the Larch Mountain Trail, and from there, it would be an easy downhill cruise to our ending point at the Multnomah Trailhead. Or so I thought.
|Dorene hugging a big tree|
Once we reached the junction, however, John suggested we hike an additional half mile in the other direction. There was a lovely alpine meadow below Larch Mountain that he really wanted to visit. Although starting to tire, and not really wanting any more climbing, I nonetheless agreed to follow John up the trail.
|The meadow below Larch Mountain|
After a short climb, and bushwhack through the forest, we popped out into a wide meadow. Larch Mountain rose at one end. It was a lovely, lush grassland, and the views were nice. Although not thrilled at first, now that I was here, I had to admit seeing this beautiful place was worth the extra mileage.
Now for that downhill! After climbing all day, I was more than ready to descend. But, the trail wasn't cooperating. It roller-coastered, diving down to cross many creeks, and then back up the other bank. John described this portion as "undulating." We started teasing John about his choice of words - saying we were going to start a "John's hiker dictionary."
|Gazing in wonder at a huge tree|
Checking my gps, the day's total mileage at that point was nearing ten. Soon we came upon a signed trail junction. Although by then, I knew we'd eclipse the 10 miles John had estimated, I wasn't quite prepared for what it read. The sign indicated 4.8 miles before we'd reach the bottom of Multnomah Falls. Uh, John, I think you underestimated the mileage by just a touch....
|Still 4.8 miles to go!|
Boy, did we give John a hard time about that! We teased him about using "John miles" instead of regular miles. (In John's defense, he did say the hike would be 10 plus miles. He just didn't define how far the "plus" would be)
|Waiting for the boys|
I hoped my foot would withstand a nearly 15 mile hike. Of course, at this point, there was nothing I could do but keep walking.
|Following lovely Multnomah Creek|
Soon, the trail stopped it's erratic ups and downs, and settled into a continuous descent. Although the miles didn't pass nearly fast enough, I finally began to see some familiar terrain. Having hiked a portion of the Larch Mountain trail in December 2013, it was nice to recognize landmarks. That meant the trailhead was getting much closer.
My friends and I came upon the place where a side creek flows into Multnomah Creek. A very gorgeous place, I used the remaining battery power in my GoPro to capture a quick video.
About two miles from our destination, we again entered the "flower zone." Pink bleeding hearts and more lush bushes of Corydalis lined our path. We passed by a couple of unnamed gushing waterfalls.
Although these final two miles were some of the most spectacular scenery of the day, by then I was tired and foot-sore. That, and nature was calling in a most urgent way.
|Beautiful mossy forest|
By this point, our trail was following Multnomah Creek. The surrounding steep terrain was either straight down to the creek, or straight up on the canyon walls. There was absolutely no place to duck off and "take care of business." And, the closer we came to Multnomah Falls, the more people we encountered on the trail. Knowing there was a restroom at Multnomah Falls Lodge, I decided to wait. I thought I could hold it until then.
|Gorgeous green Multnomah Creek|
The final mile and half was a blur. I hurried by Weisendanger Falls, only snapping a couple of quick shots. Surging ahead of my companions, I marched down the switchbacks leading to Multnomah Falls. By then I had to pee so bad I didn't even bother to stop for photos of the Gorge's grand cascade. Not only did I reach the facilities in time, (whew!) I was also able to purchase a bottle of water from the concessionaire seconds before it closed for the day.
Total mileage for the day (from my gps anyway) ended up at 14.8 miles. A new distance record on my rebuilt foot. Despite some expected soreness (it was almost 15 miles after all) my foot did remarkable. I actually didn't feel too bad!
So.....the moral of this story is, take whatever milage John quotes with a grain of salt. But go anyway, because John always picks the most amazing places to hike. You won't be sorry.
Thanks John for a wonderful day!
Sharing with: Our World Tuesday