|Angels Rest nearing the viewpoint|
I'm more of a country girl. I love wide open spaces, exercise, and being outdoors. I suggested hiking. We opted to be a little crazy and go hiking, even though the weather looked really sketchy and unpredictable.
Kelly and I only had five hours total to get to our destination, hike, and get home. The mouth of the Columbia River Gorge is about a forty-five minute drive from our house and almost every hike has some form of scenic overlook or lush waterfall. Even when it's pouring, the forest is dense enough that you don't get totally drenched.
We dug out my hiking book 60 Hikes with 60 Miles - Portland by Paul Gerald and selected the Angels Rest-Devils Rest hike, an iconic hike that many Portlander makes. Located at the mouth of the Columbia River Gorge it was the closest option in the Gorge and it boasted a "spectacular lookout point above the Columbia River." It was rated Moderate in difficulty level due to "altitude gain and a little rock scrambling at the top." The distance was perfect for what we needed - 4.6 miles round trip - long enough to be worth the effort, but short enough that we could meander our way to the top and still get home in time to get our kids off the bus.
The night before we hiked I called Kelly and walked her through what to wear and what to pack. We agreed that even if it was raining we would still go adventuring together. Kelly showed up the next morning so covered in layers I wondered if she'd be able to move. We giggled at how much fun we knew we were going to have and then piled into my car to head out.
We were so busy chatting it up on the way to our destination that we drove right past the VERY obvious parking lot for the trailhead. Several miles down the road, we realized our error and turned around. Eventually we got to the trailhead and started hiking. Most of the trails in Oregon are uphill and/or at elevation with often uneven trail surfaces. Even though I run frequently, I usually find myself huffing and puffing at the start of a hike until I find my rhythm.
Kelly and I found our cadence and took our time climbing the 2.3 miles uphill to the lookout. We stopped for multiple pictures (and had some misadventures with the self timer) and laughed at how often the weather changed. We started in sunshine and hiked into rain, sleet, and snow. On the way down, we hiked back through all those weather systems. We were adding and removing layers every few steps and having a blast doing it.
The trail was really rocky in the first half mile or so. It actually hurt the bottom of our feet to walk on all the rocks. But eventually it switched to a smoother surface that was easier on our feet. The trail was definitely a steep climb. However, I would argue that anyone - regardless of their fitness level - could make it to the top if they allowed themselves enough time to traverse it slowly. The view from the top was stunning, even with the constantly shifting stormy weather. I can see why so many Portlanders make this trek. There were some pretty significant drop offs surrounding the viewpoint. When we take the kids on this hike, we will definitely give them the "Obey or probable death" talk before we start.
Here are some pictures from our adventure. Don't they make you want to grab your shoes and get hiking?
|this little bridge was darling at near the start of the hike|
|halfway up. There was a great view but without a tripod, I was at the mercy of a tree stump for the self-timer.|
|I love my camera|
|Kelly was saying, "Watch out. It's slippery" just as I slipped and fell right into her arms. DUH!|
|HOLY SMOKES! This is incredible!|
|I've lived in Oregon for five years now and I still can't believe I get to live in such an incredible place.|
|Kelly didn't like the sharp drop offs at the top and stuck more to this rocky area|
|this woman is such a blessing to me!|
|we ate our picnic lunch here - trying to shove food around our gloved (and frozen) fingers.|
And here's the Story Portrait: This is Kelly McLearn. I have had the privilege of journeying through life with her for almost five years. She was one of my first friends when we moved to Oregon. Neither of us knew how much we needed each other. Kelly radiates Jesus. She models to me what gentleness and gracious words look like on a day-in and day-out basis. She loves fiercely and serves others with everything she has and then some. She's also a really amazing cook. I've learned boatloads from being in her kitchen. Beautiful inside and out - this is my friend Kelly and I love her!
Thanks Kell for a wonderfully fun day. And happy hiking to all my local friends!