I don’t want to admit to exactly how long it’s been since I went on a hike.
So I won’t. I’ll just say that, on Saturday, I went on a hike!! After scouring the various books and websites at my disposal, I found a few options for places I could go. The goal was a fairly short hike, not too much elevation gain, dog friendly, and most importantly… not one of the standard-issue PDX hikes.
I’ve done a lot of the hikes in the gorge, and they’re usually fairly populated… really, anything near Portland with good views seems to get overwhelmed by mid-morning. Finding parking after 8:00 seems to be nearly impossible, but I didn’t quite feel up for getting going that early. My target area was the Gifford Pinchot range, a national park Northeast of Portland, that I never really hear people talking about. I figured that it’d be far enough out that I could escape the crowds and enjoy some quiet time with Ollie.
And man, it payed off.
I parked at 10:30 or so, after having to drive the wrong way on a major interstate after the highway was shut down… without any signage, of course. Seriously – I was on a main highway, in fully-stopped traffic, for 15min. Finally, people started giving up, and driving the wrong direction to take an on-ramp to get off the highway. I tried waiting… but after having my car literally turned off for 15min MORE, I gave up and turned around.
To add insult to injury, when I got off the highway every on-ramp was clearly labeled as “highway closed, no entry”. So they could label those, but couldn’t tell the folks stuck on the road that it was closed.
I still don’t know why they closed it, FYI. But hey – that’s the fun of driving in the Northwest, right?
Anyways, I got to the trailhead around 10:30, and no one was there, and it was awesome. So I hiked, and hiked, and hiked, and had a gloriously quiet and enjoyable time. The forest was empty and mostly-still, Ollie was having fun bounding all over the place, and there was even the tiniest bit of fog to add that ethereal air to the whole thing.
I enjoyed a ton of foxglove (also known as dead-man’s bells, I learned, since they’re poisonous) blooms, and got some gorgeous light through the trees for the parts of the hike that didn’t have the beautiful fog clinging to the trees.
That’s even before the summit. The views off the summit were… well, it was foggy. Supposedly they were amazing, and I could have seen all four cascade volcanoes, but you know what? Quiet and foggy was completely okay with me. I was looking for quiet, and I absolutely found it.