Punch Bowl Falls Hike in the Columbia River Gorge
My last day in Oregon my daughter and I spent an afternoon hiking in the Columbia River Gorge. We stopped off at Multnomah Falls and then did an easy four mile round-trip hike to Punchbowl Falls. Usually I would choose a longer, more challenging hike, but I was still sore from Sunday’s half marathon in Eugene and needed something tame.
After two days of rain and temperatures cold enough to keep me curled up on the sofa under a down blanket, the day of our hike was dry and somewhat sunny. I was amazed you could leave your house in Portland, hit the freeway, and be on a secluded forest trail within thirty minutes.
The freeway runs right along the Columbia River–the same river that took Lewis and Clark to their final destination, the Pacific Ocean. Even though we were on a major highway the scenery was lush and green, and there were numerous waterfalls cascading off the sides of the gorge. I think we must have seen close to twenty waterfalls the entire day.
We made a quick stop at Multnomah Falls. Lovely.
After that, it was a very short drive to the Punchbowl Falls trail head. I was surprised that you have to pay to park, but I suppose the trail can get crowded on the weekends being so close to a major city like Portland. On a Wednesday afternoon, we only saw three other people on the trail.
I don’t believe I’ve ever seen so many different shades of green in one space. I loved the moss growing on the trees.
I have a potted fern on my front porch. It’s always shriveled and dried up. It doesn’t like living in Texas. Now I know why. They grow wild here in Oregon.
The trail parallels Eagle Creek the entire way.
We saw several of these guys on the path. The forest was so moist and mossy, it must be paradise for a slug.
I’m always amazed at how tall the trees are in Oregon. I can only imagine how tall the old growth forest was before the settlers arrived.
I was glad I wore my raincoat when the trail took us through a small waterfall.
There were many varieties of wildflowers, including the delicate Columbine, which tends to grow on the sides of wet cliffs and along the banks of shady rivers, lakes, and streams.
A small spur off the side of the trail leads to Metlako Falls. Apparently it’s been a very rainy spring, even for Oregon, and the waterfalls are extra spectacular this year.
After an easy two mile hike, which included some scrambling over a small stream, we reached Punchbowl Falls. I’m sure it’s named as such due to the round basin the waterfall spills into. I know people must jump off the cliffs into the pool because there was a sign warning us not to.
After the hike, we drove on part of the old highway along the Columbia River to find Bridal Veil Falls. For some strange reason we found the bridge named after the waterfall, but not the waterfall itself.
My specialty is missing what’s right in front of my face, and apparently I’ve passed the trait on to my daughter.
We decided to console ourselves with post hike beers at McMenamin’s Edgefield. It was a great way to celebrate a fantastic hike and my last day in Oregon with my truly wonderful daughter. Though I hate that she lives so far away, she’s chosen a great place for me to visit!
Portland, Oregon: A City I Could Love
After running the Eugene Half Marathon, I spent a few days visiting my daughter and her fiance in Portland. Despite the cold, rainy weather, Portland is a city I could definitely learn to love.
I did almost no sightseeing in the city itself, mainly because I had just run a half marathon and my legs were a little trashed. And did I mention it was cold and rainy? We’re talking 40’s and 50’s, which is like winter for this Texan.
While in Portland, we had dinner one night at a fantastic Thai restaurant called PaaDee on Burnside. It was, hands down, the best Thai food I’ve ever eaten. I loved it so much I even took my friend Hari there for lunch the very next day before he flew back home to Dallas. We even took pictures of our food–it was that good.
One afternoon my daughter and I walked (I hobbled) up to Mt Tabor. I can’t believe there are such beautiful places in a city the size of Portland.
One thing I love about Oregon is the incredibly tall trees. They make our Texas trees look like bushes.
Right in the middle of the city, next to parking lots, are these huge trees. I almost got rear ended looking at the trees.
11 random observations about Portland:
- It seems to be a young city. Maybe it’s because I spent most of my time with my daughter and her friends, but everyone seemed to be young.
- The houses are fantastic. Historic, full of character, charming. These are houses I could live in.
- It seems to be trendy to dress like a Victorian. We saw a few guys dressed in bowler hats, bow ties, and old fashioned pants. Interesting. I expected to see a lot of granola types, but this I didn’t expect.
- The homeless people have cell phones. I saw quite a few walking around town talking and texting on their phones. And there are a lot of homeless people in Portland.
- The bridges are scary to drive across. I’m not afraid of heights, but driving across the Willamette River on the freeway bridge made me feel like the girl in Clueless who accidentally gets on the freeway.
- You see a lot of old, beat up cars in Portland. You rarely see old cars in Dallas. People there pride themselves on their new, expensive, immaculately clean cars. I liked seeing the old cars still out there, being put to use.
- Recycling is serious business, and the city even picks up compostable items.
- People drive more courteously than they do in Dallas. I never had anyone tailgate, or cut me off, or drive aggressively.
- Cars and bikes share the roads. The cyclists actually stop at red lights and stop signs. They even wait until the light turns green. Road signs and signals seem to be optional in Dallas (and that goes for cars, as well).
- Everyone expects changing weather and brief rain showers. They dress in layers and carry umbrellas. But they still talk about the weather all the time.
- I could work for Nike. The Nike world headquarters in Beaverton is an awesome space. The buildings are surrounded by trees and various running paths, trails, and tracks. Everyone going into the building was dressed very casually in jeans, t-shirts, and running shoes–Nikes, of course.
I loved visiting Portland, and could definitely see myself living there one day. Even with all the chilly, rainy days, I suspect I would eventually adjust and learn to layer up. When the temperatures start hitting the 100’s down here in Texas in a few weeks, I’m going to remember there are cooler, more habitable places in America–like Portland.
Channeling My Funky for Portland
Tomorrow I’m jet bound to Portland, Oregon! I’m running the Eugene Half-Marathon on Sunday, but the best part is that my daughter and her fiance live in Portland, so I’m making a week of it.
My bags are packed, training is under my belt, and I’m ready to go.
I’ve only been to Portland twice, both times very briefly. Once was en route to Seaside and Astoria to meet some runners at the end of the Hood to Coast Relay, and another time for a wedding.
As I told someone when I was there, “These are my people.” I feel at home in Oregon. My mom even told me afterwards that I was probably conceived there, so I guess it is a true homecoming when I visit.
I’m having to live some of my unrealized dreams through my daughter, who’s worked as a park ranger in Yellowstone, a geologist in Jackson Hole, and now lives in Portland. I guess all those summer road trips out west to the national parks influenced my daughter more than I thought they would.
Dallas should reach a high of 90 degrees today, so it’s a good time to head north. When I called Dominique to ask what kind of clothes to pack, I was told to “bring a little of everything” and to dress “funky.”
Just what I wanted to hear. I’m the type who packs everything but the kitchen sink, but funky? I’m anything but.
Are Converse sneakers considered funky? Maybe they are if you’re my age.
For a race, it’s pretty easy to pack. All the sacred running items go in the carry-on, to avoid having to scramble for race gear at the last minute if the checked bag gets lost.
Now that I have a Kindle I’m traveling much lighter. I usually pack three or four books, and buy three or four more when I get to wherever I’m going–and keep my fingers crossed when they weigh my luggage.
But I rarely have (or make) time to do much reading anyway when I travel. Too much to see! Too much to do! Too many adventures to be had!
About thirty of my running friends and acquaintances are traveling to Eugene to run the race, though most are running the marathon. I would be running it as well if I hadn’t lost a full month of training back in February after a trip to the ER, then a pulled calf muscle, and then a stomach virus.
Sometimes you have to be realistic and scale back. I’m looking forward to running “just” the half marathon.
And if you’re a runner, or you saw the movie (actually, there were two), then you know about Steve Prefontaine. Eugene is where he lived, trained, and was killed in a car accident. The race finishes on Hayward Field where he trained.
After running with Dean Karnazes last Friday, it’s kind of like meeting two running heroes in one week.
So here’s to sunny skies in Oregon, a smooth, uneventful flight, fleet feet and lots of laughs with friends, precious time with my lovely daughter–and most of all, to running. Funky or not, here I come.