Thursday, June 13, 2013

McCall Nature Preserve Hike

I know this post is SUPER late, but I'm trying to write a review of all the hikes we take so we have a record to look back on.  For you Midwesterner's, this is more bait to tempt you to come out for a visit.
summit of McCall Point
On March 30th, our family tackled hike number nine in our 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles - Portland book: McCall Nature Preserve.  I ran the Wheatfield Half Marathon that morning in the beautiful country outside The Dalles.  It seemed sacrilegious to be in the Gorge and not go for a hike, so I asked Curt if he and the kids would meet me after the race.  

We wanted to choose a route that wasn't too long or too challenging given the fact that I was hiking on tired legs and our youngest participant was seven years old.  McCall Nature Preserve was recommended to us by my Mom and Terry as easy-ish with beautiful views.  We liked that the five miles were broken into two smaller hikes:  three miles to McCall Point and two miles on the Plateau. It allowed for us to bail out after the first three miles if the weather was bad or if the whining outweighed the fun factor.

We were blessed with the nicest day of the spring.  Unseasonably warm, temps topped out over 70 degrees with full sun and blue skies - a rarity during Oregon's typically rainy and gray springs.  What a fun and unexpected gift.

The hike to McCall Point was rated "moderate" because the first 1.5 miles were all uphill.  The path was pretty steep and all dirt.  Had it been rainy, we would have been walking through thick, slippery mud.  We all felt the burn in our legs but we made it to the top one small step at a time. 

Things we loved about the McCall Point hike were the vastly differing habitats.  We started in the parking lot with a sweeping scenic overlook of the Columbia River Gorge and dizzying views of the hairpin turns on the road below.  
Grizzly Adams

hairpin turns

I am IN LOVE with this photo.  Alli needed a gentle word and soft touch.  Curt knew it and took the time to give her exactly what she needed in the moment.  Tender and unposed, this is a moment to remember.
We hiked into a berm of trees and newly blossoming wildflowers.  It felt a bit like we were hiking through Narnia and the kids entertained themselves by pretending to be the characters in the book.
hikers on the trail
This is where the Narnia play began
The berm led out into an open space along the edge of a meadow.  Eventually the trail wound back into a clump of "old growth oak trees" (I stole this from the hiking book - I never would have known they were oaks) and up to the summit of McCall Point.
heading back into the old growth area
We also loved that when we started the hike, we could just barely make out the tip of Mt. Adams across the river on the Washington side.  As we hiked, the mountain grew and grew, finally coming into full view in the meadow at the summit.
Mt. Adams
When we turned around, Mt. Hood was directly behind us in all her glory!  A total surprise since she had been covered by foothills until we reached the summit.
kids with Mt. Hood in the background

Mt. Hood
We spent at least an hour in the meadow at the summit soaking in the view, taking pictures, eating snacks, and refereeing arguments (<- just keeping it real).  
C-R-A-Z-Y  F-U-N
Once the kids decided to play a game, Curt and I (and Paige) relaxed in the meadow, breathing deeply the scent of spring and the Great Outdoors.  
this photo is another keeper.  Paige just snuggled right up on Curt and they rested for quite a while like this.
the hills are alive...
The wildflowers were just starting to bloom and we both commented on how amazing the meadow would look had we waited a few weeks to tackle this hike.
The Plateau hike was less impressive with its view but WAY easier, a big bonus since we had to bribe the kids with candy to get them to agree to another two miles of hiking.  The trail was flat and wound along a big plateau overlooking the awe-inspiring Columbia River Gorge.  
taking in the view
We stopped to splash in one of the pretty little ponds and sat on the edge of the trail watching the train on the Washington side of the Gorge fly along the river's edge and through the mountain tunnels.
pretty little pond
train and Lisle, Washington
Bathrooms were hard to come by - there weren't any at either of the trailheads - but there's always the Hide Behind a Tree method which we all employed as one time or another throughout the day.

The kids selected their over-priced Reward Candy at the local store in the thriving metropolis of Moiser, Oregon (population 433) and used the porta-potty across the street for a final potty stop before heading home.

McCall Nature Preserve was definitely worth the drive and a perfect hike for a family.  I highly recommend it.

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