Monday, August 30, 2010

big river, lots'a falls, and lots'a people

7/31 from the fossil beds to Beaverton, Oregon

Heading north from the John Day Fossil Beds area on highway 97 we passed through vast wheat fields with two white peaks of the Cascades on the horizon. We stopped for a few minutes to stretch and listen to the dry rush of wind through the heads of grain, then the road dropped into the Columbia Gorge. We met the river East of The Dalles where the gorge has been partly filled with a wide dam bound lake. It wasn't until we drove West some distance before the gorge turned into the green coated dripping wet valley that we remembered from our first visit to Portland.
We took some time to visit some of the fantastic waterfalls that drop from the basalt cliffs of the gorge. We hiked a bit of a trail passing close enough to a cascade to soak our clothes to the skin with a heavy blasts of mist. I can not recall the name of the one we visited but there are several to choose from along the Historic Columbia River Highway.
Our drive brought us to the gorge on a weekend in the summer and it's a very popular place. Don't let the photo above fool you, the trail was full of damp hikers. We waited for a rare opportunity to take this picture of the bridge in front of the falls. If you want to hike these popular trails in the summer do start out early as the parking gets a bit crazy particularly at Multnomah Falls. The loop trail that climbs the cliffs above Multnomah and some of the smaller falls is well worth braving the small parking lots.
Further along, the highway climbs high above the river to the Vista House. The web is littered with fine photos of the view from this place and it was a bit overcast by the time we were there, so I will stick with the pretty picture above. This was taken on the stairs to the upper floor. The colored glass was casting some swell light that day. From here we drove into Portland to seek out a room for the night. We were a little ahead of schedule and our hosts in Portland would not be expecting us yet. The best deal for the night turned up in Beaverton where we could flop down on the beds and take a break from the long day of driving.

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