The Great Pacific Northwest

It was already dark when we crossed the 4.1 mile Astoria-Megler Bridge into Oregon. The section of the bridge closest to Oregon is much higher than the rest, allowing large ships to pass beneath the span. As we drove only a few feet above the Columbia River toward the Oregon side, this gave the illusion of a near vertical ascent to the peak, the taillights of cars climbing the impossible road. As we got closer it became clear that the grade, while steep, was not as impressive as it seemed. We continued down US 101 to Cannon Beach. Unfortunately there weren’t any free campsites nearby, so we boondocked at a historic marker on the side of the road. Shortly after we settled into our not-so-comfortable front seat sleeping arrangement, another group drove in and set up their hammocks nearby.

It was a very chilly morning, so we got up early and drove to Cannon Beach. The cold sea air felt great, and Porter had a massive beach to play on, though she still managed to get herself into trouble.

Haystack Rock

Cannon Beach

We headed inland toward Portland. Through lush forests, over old bridges and misty rivers, listening to Glenn Jones’ haunting acoustic guitar.

We really only had a day in Portland, so we went for an amazing long run in Forest Park, explored a little collection of vegan shops, bought a book at Powell’s, drank some beers at a dog-friendly brewpub, and went to a restaurant for dinner that ended up being really underwhelming (it happens). That night we camped in the Columbia River Gorge.

Waterfalls, waterfalls, and more waterfalls! Becca is not as much of a fan of waterfalls as I am, so we only got to see a small fraction of the Columbia River Gorge’s waterfalls and gorges. We arrived at the very touristy Multnomah Falls early, which made it pretty pleasant. Unfortunately we were suckered into hiking to the top of the cascade, which wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that they tell you how many switchbacks are remaining (very demoralizing). It’s also paved, which is probably for those who don’t have adequate footwear. Or wheelchair accessibility. I like to imagine someone pushing a wheelchair up 19 switchbacks with 700 feet of elevation gain.

Multnomah Falls

Next up was Oneonta Gorge, which features a beautiful waterfall less than half a mile from the parking lot. The only tricky thing is that one has to basically hike up a river. We made our way to the start of the gorge, where huge amounts of wood and debris have formed a logjam. Becca was not interested in continuing (the prospect of wading through freezing cold waist-deep water to see another waterfall was not very attractive), and Porter gave crossing the slippery logs her best, but ended up falling through the cracks into deep, cold, floatsam-filled water, and promptly gave up. I soldiered on alone, the moss-covered walls of the gorge closing in behind me as the water got deeper and deeper. I even had the waterfall to myself for a few minutes, and took the opportunity for a very cold, if not cathartic dip.

Oneonta gorge

Oneonta Falls

The fun never stops, so we hopped back in the car and drove a few hours into the wilderness of Oregon. Went for a late afternoon swim (Porter tried to cross the river at the worst possible place and quickly became familiar with rapids), and had a lovely dinner of ramen noodles and broccoli by our next trailhead. As darkness fell we hiked down the trail a bit and found a nice mossy spot for the tent, high above Opal Creek.

The next morning we ran along the Opal Creek Trail to Jawbone Flats, home of the Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center, which promotes “conservation through educational experiences in wilderness.” On our way to Jawbone Flats we saw a mine shaft and old mining equipment, which was very cool.

Opal Creek

Mine cart

Mine tracks

We spent the rest of the day hiking along a section of the PCT to Russell Lake, which sits at the foot of Mount Jefferson, a stratovolcano in the Cascade Volcanic Arc. We set up camp, had a delicious dinner of spicy ramen (are you beginning to see a pattern?), while Porter sprinted through the fields and clumps of pine. She even found herself a nice bone. At night the clouds rolled in, and the wind shook the tent.

PCT Northbound

Camping at Jefferson

Though it was still cloudy in the morning, we were treated to a glorious dawn as the sun cast a muted light over the landscape. I wanted to get a clear shot of Jefferson, so we explored the surrounding trails as the clouds burned away.

Jefferson dawn

Yellow leaves

Jefferson in the clouds

Russell Lake reflection

The next few days were spent in southern Oregon while we waited for the dog meds to arrive. Porter met some new dog friends, we camped on a ski mountain, ran up a ski mountain, and climbed Pilot Rock. From our campsite on Mount Ashland, we could see Mount Shasta. California was coming.

Golden trees

Mt. Shasta

The Great Pacific Northwest