Two weeks off from work, you say? Say no more. With my boss going away and not having work for me to do, and my friend Ross coming into Seattle from North Carolina, it was time to take advantage of the free time. This is what we did:
3 days/2 night of backpacking, Henry M. Jackson Wilderness/Glacier Peak Wilderness, Central Cascades, WA
North Fork Skykomish Trail, PCT, Blue Lake High Route, Bald Eagle Trail, Quarts Creek Trail.
This is a perfect, quick 3 day trip. Night one we camped at Dishpan Gap, which didn’t have a reliable watercourse, but it did have reliable VIEWS! We stretched our legs along the PCT to capture a few glimpses of summits in and out of the moving clouds. The first evening we got rain, which was the first I had seen in seemingly months. Day two featured a tough climb up to Blue Lake, which was a spectacular. Upon reaching the lake, the day cleared up. My favorite view of the day, however, came from the top of June Mountain. Eventually, after reaching a dried up pond basin, we lost the trail. After some searching around, we found it, thankfully. The entirety of this trip being in federally designated wilderness areas, sometimes the trail was poorly marked, overgrown, and confusing. Nothing a little patience, a good map, and some instincts couldn’t fix. Night two we camped at Curry Gap, which I absolutely loved. At the junction of the Bald Eagle Trail and Quartz Creek Trail is a gap that has steep walls and thick forest. There are many good campsites. My favorite thing about this trip is how far out we felt. It was quiet, there were no visible roads, and very few people. It felt like true wilderness, and it felt good to get away from the city, both physically and mentally.
Columbia River Gorge, OR
Latourell Falls, Multnomah Falls
How can you got to Portland and NOT go to the Columbia River Gorge? With plans in Portland for the evening, we didn’t have much time. We decided to do just a few touristy things. Latourell Falls was our first stop. It was swamped, but if you decide to take the trail to the upper falls, you can get away from most of the tourists. It is beautiful. We then went for the quick hit at Multnomah Falls. Multnomah Falls felt more like Disney World than a natural feature. It is Oregon’s most photographed place. There were ice cream and coffee stands, and lines and lines of people. With that said, it was cool to see the diverse cross-section of people that went to visit Multnomah. If nothing else, it proves nature’s universality. It is 620 feet tall and features a scenic footbridge.
Even though we just got a short and congested taste, it is clear that the Columbia River Gorge is a national treasure.
We mostly just drank. Go to Cascade Brewing Company. While pricey, it’s unbelievable.
Surfing at Oswald West State Park/Smuggler’s Cove, camping at Nehalem Bay State Park. Stops in Manzanita and Cannon Beach.
I only have two words: Absolutely gorgeous. I fell in love with the Oregon coast. Route 101 runs north and south along the coast. It features countless beaches and beach towns. Our first stop was the beach at Smuggler’s Cove of Oswald West State Park. I was psyched to visit this spot, as it is a famous surf spot in Oregon. This C-shaped cove is sandy bottomed, perfect for romping around in the water and the occasional, or should I say regular, wipe out while surfing. I surfed while my friends Ross and Davis took a hike to Cape Falcon. Following an afternoon at the beach, we stopped in the small town of Manzanita. Manzanita is a very cool town, sitting right on expansive beach. After some frisbee, we ate dinner, and made our way to Nehalem Bay State Park. Nehalem is an excellent RV/car camping site. The campgrounds are set just behind a dune. Cross the dune, however, and you are treated to undeveloped, unspoiled, coastline. Despite there being countless families, cars, and facilities just over the dune, when at the beach at Nehalem State Park you feel at the end of the world and away from civilization. The highlight for me, on our last day, was walking down the spit on an inland trail, spotting harbor seals by the jetty, and the hiking back on the pristine beach.
On the way back to Seattle, we drove back via 101, stopping at Cannon Beach to check out Haystack Rock. Crowded, but beautiful. Then it was fun to drive over the mouth of the Columbia River on the Astoria-Megler Bride, the longest continuous truss bridge in North America!
Keep adventuring, folks!