Sunday, July 5, 2015

Multnomah Basin

(Still playing catch-up, this latest adventure took place in early May)

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.

Waterfall photographer

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.

Triple Falls

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.

Lunch spot

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.

Trail junction

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.

Photo op

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.

Bleeding heart

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.

Weisendanger Falls

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


  1. Glad you survived John's 'ten mile hike'! It does sound like a great hike if you can handle the miles.

  2. its great that your foot held up. the ponytail falls video is great.

    beautiful scenery all around.

  3. Linda, your photos are absolutely breathtaking, and I am so glad you took a video of the falls! I love that sound! :)

  4. Well this was a beautiful walk I shared whilst eating my breakfast. I think I'll go for a snooze now.

  5. Linda Boy that was a hike and a half! It is dangerous to not know how farunderestimat a hike is as some people could just not manage it as happened with me one day when the leader totally underestimated the lenght of it. However iloos a lovely place to hime, gorgeous trees and wild flowers. Loved the 2 videos adn the fabulous waterfall.

  6. Love all your captures, especially of the many falls. Long hike!
    Great post, Linda!

  7. Hello Linda, 10 plus miles that is some hike. I love the triple falls. It is a gorgeous forest with a lot of waterfalls. The wildflowers are lovely. Beautiful series of photos. Have a happy week!

  8. Whew! I am exhausted and my morning is just beginning! What a day you had with your friends. The beauty from beginning to end sure did make that whole trek worthwhile!

  9. Hi! Nice hiking . The triple falls photo is very interesting. I can see two people in the falls area. It's nice the couple came back from the falls. There are similar corydalis flowers in our country too. I hope you will recover your foot soon. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Such a fun...and long!...hike. And wonderful images, too!

  11. I would loved to have joined you on this hike - fabulous photos!

  12. Thank goodness the scenery was pretty much of time to distract you from the unexpected length! We have gotten to the point where we prefer to keep our mileage under 10's a body preservation tactic, hopefully our knees will last longer if we baby them a little!

    You sure can get a variety of falls on any hike through the Gorge! Gorgeous!

  13. Wow! I am so impressed. You are definitely back in the saddle, so to speak. Love your beautiful pictures, Linda. Thank you! :-)

  14. Very nice- this one showed up on my list ???

  15. Great waterfalls. Looks like the banks of the Columbia River is the place to be.

  16. Loved that triple waterfall. Long walk but such scenery and wild flowers. Glad both your foot and bladder withstood the 15 miles!

  17. I did only a small portion of this hike (beyond ponytail) because it was raining. I really enjoyed your photos and am glad I didn't have to cover the distance. Beautiful wildflower shots!

  18. Oh what a fun hike. Just this weekend I was telling the hubby it's time to go back to Multnomah and maybe this time we could stay in the area and hike.

    Worth a Thousand Words

  19. That's a beautiful hike, but a bit long for me!

  20. What a superb hike that was. So glad your foot stood (and other bodily functions) stood up to the test. I loved the videos and photos.

  21. Lovely shots of the falls.

  22. What a gorgeous world. The giant trees are a treasure. Tom The Backroads Traveller

  23. Great hike! I would have camped overnight and made it a two day hike! We live 14 miles from town and I cannot imagine hiking all the way there! Sounds like your foot must be all healed up! :)

  24. wow, I want to go that trail. So beautiful and so much to discover. Loved every image you share :)

  25. Well, your photos are wonderful, Linda, and I LOVE your positive attitude. I think I might have been a bit grumpier than you were, though. You are such a good sport!

  26. Your beautiful photos really make me miss spring!!! Loved the old growth and GREEN!! Loved the wildflowers of spring too:)
    Blessings, Aimee

  27. Every time I visit I feel like I have been on a hike myself. Beautiful!

  28. lovely shots and glad you finally got to stop for lunch! This is such a stunning area!

  29. You waited for a bathgeroom? I've gotten so spoiled peeong in the woods I feel put out when driving and having to wait for a gas station! ;-)


Don't be shy! Please leave a comment.