Two years ago, I discovered a wonderful surprise hidden deep in the forests of the Columbia River Gorge.
There's a short trail where colorful Christmas ornaments dangle from tree branches. Bright seasonal decorations blend in with moss and ferns. My friends and I did a bit of detective work and successfully located this place of year-round Christmas cheer. I shared photos and stories from this trip on my blog and it became a wildly popular post (which has been getting a huge amount of hits lately. Not sure if there's a resurgence in interest, or the Russian spammers are at it again....)
After our first visit to the Ornament Trail, my friends and I agreed a trek to this place should become a yearly tradition. However, last December I was laid up with a bum foot, and hiking anywhere was out of the question.
|Holiday cheer in the forest|
But this December, foot now healed, I was raring to revisit this magical place (and hang a few shiny baubles of my own!)
Sadly, my friends bailed on the hike - they wanted to wait until there was snow on the ground. And rain was forecast for the entire weekend I was planning to go.
I came close to staying home. Mulling around the house until late morning, my hubby finally noted the clearing skies and encouraged me to just hop in the car and go. He said I'd be much happier if I did.
So, with hubby's urging, I grabbed camera and hiking boots, deciding to take advantage of the afternoon weather window. Although a few brief showers speckled my car on the drive, by the time I pulled into Multnomah Falls parking lot, things had dried up.
|A nutcracker in the moss|
It was 11:30. With sundown around 4, I knew I had only a few short hours to hike the 8 miles to the Ornament trail and back. No photo stops for me - the big camera got packed away in my fanny pack and I told myself it couldn't come out until I'd arrived.
I practically galloped along the paved path leading up Multnomah Falls. Dodging crowds of tourists, I reached the top in record time. Transitioning to the dirt of the Larch Mountain trail, I left this sea of humanity behind. The higher I climbed, the quieter the woods became. Which was just fine with me.
|Cookie cutters add a splash of whimsy|
Although the day was wet and cold, I was met with an unexpected surprise - snow and ice on the trail! Although slippery, it was kind of fun to walk through. Really set the mood for this holiday-inspired hike.
Although slightly worried I wouldn't remember the exact location, an old gps waypoint led me right to the spot. The entrance marked only by a couple of small ornaments, I was happy for the guidance. To the untrained eye, it would've been easy to miss.
But once I started down this trail, the magic began! Only a few yards from it's beginning, the forest opened up to several trees brimming with colorful Christmas decor. Such a wonderful surprise, hidden deep in the forest! I had a jolly time snapping photos of all the lovely decorations.
|Old, weather-beaten ornament still hanging on|
The Ornament Trail is located near the Trails Club Lodge. I'm not sure the origin of this wonderful path, but I suspect it was created by club members. The exact location is kept a secret. Discovery is part of the fun of visiting this place. And, as far as I know, anyone can add an ornament to the collection.
Which was part of today's mission. I carried a box of tiny colorful Christmas balls to leave dangling in the forest. It was fun finding places to hang this new batch of decorations. Hopefully, they'll still be attached to the trees when I visit next year.
After a half hour of decorating and photographing, it was time to head back. I didn't want to be stuck in the forest after dark. Luckily, the return trip is all downhill. I put the pedal to the metal and made record time, arriving back at my car by 3:30. Not only did I beat the darkness, I also barely escaped the next round of rainstorms, which hit as I drove home.
|Adding a few ornaments of my own!|
So glad I got out for a return visit to this wonderful trail. I had the place to myself (unusual this time of year) and even enjoyed a bonus snowy winter landscape.
Driving home, humming Christmas carols, I realized a trip to the Ornament Trail had made me much happier. My hubby, like always, was right!
Merry Christmas to all my readers!
Sharing with: Photo Friday