It’s Thanksgiving week, which means I’m compelled to reflect on the past year and consider the most wonderful events I’ve experienced. With some recent life changes, I’m reminded of the importance to stay true to yourself and focus on what makes you happiest. For me, that includes hiking a mountain, laughing and enjoying beers with friends, traveling to new (and old) favorite cities, and, of course, cooking up a storm. Below are a few photo representations of my most thankful 2014 moments:
Frozen waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge
Great Blue Heron at Greenlake, Seattle, WA
Tom, Dick and Harry
Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier
Mt. Hood from Coyote Wall
On the way to Goat Lake
Hood to Coast
Chia seed fruit cobbler
Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe
Sausage and Veggie pasta in creamy tomato vodka cream sauce
See what white speck on the right side? Yup, it’s a mountain goat! Goat Rocks Wilderness, Gifford Pinchot National Park
I have wanted for years to see frozen waterfalls, and Portland’s early winter finally afforded me the opportunity to see some beauties. The Columbia River Gorge has over 100 waterfalls, and many of them freeze over during the cold snaps. This excursion takes us to the E Columbia River Historic Highway to view Horsetail Falls, Ponytail Falls, Multnomah Falls and Bridal Veil Falls.
Distance and Difficulty: Total of 3 miles across all the waterfalls, with the longest stretch being 1 mile round trip. Easy.
Elevation Gain: up to 350 feet gain
Directions: From I-84E, take exit 28 at Bridal Veil and turn right onto the Historic Highway. Drive for about 4 miles until you see the Bridal Veil parking lot. After you’ve enjoyed the Falls, head back east on the Historic Highway and stop at the various waterfalls (you’ll see them all the way down). Choose the falls I’ve noted, or go even further down toward Ainsworth to Elowah and McCord Falls, Latourell Falls, or Lancaster Falls.
Tip: I strongly recommend cramp-ons for this kind of a trek. The snow is very packed, so snowshoes aren’t necessary, but regular hiking shoes don’t offer the right amount of traction. I immediately picked up a pair from REI after NOT having cramp-ons and am very excited to test them out.
There’s something special about the first hike of Fall. The air is cooler, filled with the smell of retired leaves and dampness, and the multi-color visual display is heart-warming. I celebrated the new season with a simple hike to the Gorge’s Elowah Falls. This destination is a gem – far from the Multnomah Falls crowds, and simple for the whole family, no matter what age.
Manta Ray Dive (Kona, Hawaii) – Photo credit: Hawaii Oceanic
Mountain Biking (Hood River, OR)
With one of the hottest summers on record, I found myself extra incentivized to find ways to cool down and enjoy outdoor time. Hiking is a standard practice for me, but I also expanded my horizons and added mountain biking (a first!), stand up paddleboarding and a Wildlife Safari to my summertime activity.
Write ups are still in the works for some of these adventures, so in the meantime, enjoy this little gallery of my hiking, biking, and paddling over the past three months.
The Columbia River Gorge is chock full of hikes at various skill levels, and one of the harder ascents I’ve just added under my belt is on Washington’s south side of the Bridge of the Gods. Seven miles from the bridge is the more famous Beacon Rock – a towering boulder with striking views of the Gorge (and a portion of the distance you will usually have to hike to get the same views). Directly across from the Beacon parking lot is a sign for campgrounds and access to Hamilton Mountain. Luckily this hike could easily be split into three lengths and difficulty levels: 3.2 miles (medium), 6 miles (difficult), 9 miles (more difficult). Having done the whole thing, I might opt for the 6 miler next time, but it’s still worth all the work.
I had the privilege of working with Travel Oregon many years ago for their summer awareness campaign, and was delighted to see this year’s focus is on the “7 Wonders of Oregon“. The Coast, the Gorge, the Mountain, the Hills, the Rock, the Wallowas and the Lake all have stunning highlights in this series, but the feature on Oneonta Gorge was particularly moving for me. I’m looking forward to experiencing Oneonta first hand when the weather reaches its peak heat wave, and will make sure to tell you all about it.
P.S. If this video doesn’t motivate you to “get out there”, then I can’t help you.
I love the Columbia River Gorge. It’s incredibly beautiful and only a short drive from Portland. On weekends like two weeks ago, I just want to get away from the city and breathe in the cool, clean air and vistas. Most of my hikes have been on the Oregon side of the river, like Angel’s Rest and Wahkeena Falls, but this edition takes place just east of White Salmon, Washington at Coyote Wall.