Tales from the Columbia Gorge ~

Last weekend hubs and I met up with 600+ fellow walking enthusiasts and set out to explore some of the most gorgeous trails in the spectacular Columbia River Gorge.  As I was planning today’s blog post thought it might be fun to share few tales from the Columbia Gorge…

The weather gods were on our side.

The clouds parted, the rain stopped and just when we needed it, the sun appeared.  But not too much.  A little light cloud cover kept us from melting as we officially kicked off our walking season and our first multi-day Volksport walking adventure – the Columbia River Gorge Biennial Classic.  And what an event it was!  These folks have their planning honed to a science.  Thirteen walks, one bike ride, lots of great information, a hot dog lunch and a dinner cruise on the Sternwheeler.  There was truly something for everyone and the little town of Cascade Locks was packed to capacity.  We opted for a room at the Skamania Lodge on the Washington side of the river which added daily crossings of the Bridge of the Gods to our weekend adventure.  Hubs and I met up with other walking friends at Skamania on Friday afternoon and set out on our first walk – an easy stroll into the town of Stevenson for a close up look at the wind and kite surfers.  This area of the gorge is the windsurfing capital of the world and when you stand on the end of a pier in 25+ mile an hour winds and watch these dare devils fly across the choppy water, you see why.

There is always something interesting going on at Skamania Lodge and Friday evening we sat out on the lawn in Adirondack chairs, glasses of a tasty chilled Spanish white in hand and enjoyed a fascinating birds of prey show (so up close and personal that one flew over my head and riffled my hair).

Skamania Lodge - always something going on

Skamania Lodge – always something going on

 

Saturday morning was our big walking day and we chose to hike the Multnomah Falls to Wahkeena Falls loop.  Rated a 3B by AVA.  We had no idea what 3B meant but hubs figured it was moderate as the walks range from 1A to 5C.  Let me say right here that moderate has taken on a whole new meaning!  It started innocently enough.  A little uphill climb to the stunning bridge view just below Multnomah Falls.

Looking down on Multnomah Falls

Looking down on Multnomah Falls

Then up, and up some more for 11 marked zig-zags.  Hearts pumping, thighs screaming No! we went up a little more…and then a little more.columbiagorgewalk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, we’re on standing on a ledge looking down on the falls.  But wait, there’s more. We left the paved trail and then the packed dirt trail behind and continued up on a very narrow trail composed of tiny jagged granite.  One side dropped 1000 feet and the other side went straight up and I’m clutching ferns for balance.  And stopping to take photos (and catch my breath).  We walked through ancient growth forests, past cascading waterfalls, forded a few streams and were totally awe-struck at the magnificence of Mother Nature.

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Then we started down.  And down.  And it was just as hard as the up.  I saw my life flash in front of me for a brief moment when my feet lost traction on some slippery rocks and I started to slide, but I clutched a branch and all was saved.

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Almost back to civilization.

Almost back to civilization.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We slowly wound our way back down to the Old Columbia River Highway where we had started our trek 3 1/2 hours earlier.  It was mid-day at Multnomah Falls, one of the region’s biggest natural attractions and on this beautiful first weekend of summer, the place was packed with tourists so we limped to the car as fast as our wobbly old legs would go and headed back to the hot tubs at Skamania.

Ahhhhhh.

Ahhhhhh.

 

 

 

 

That evening, we celebrated hubs’ birthday one more time with a delicious dinner and some of the tastiest cheap wine I’ve had in a long time at a hidden gem of a restaurant, Henni’s Kitchen and Bar, tucked away about 30 minutes further up the gorge in White Salmon.  We enjoyed a specatular sunset drive along the might Columbia arriving at our “home” in time for a nightcap and an early visit with our comfortable beds.

I’d like to tell you that we hiked again on Sunday, but I can’t.  My butt muscles hurt, my quads hurt, my calves were like two sticks and nothing more than a short stroll to loosen things up was going to happen on the walking front. A rousing game on the hotel’s 18 hold putting course and a leisurely drive home completed our weekend walking adventure in the Columbia Gorge.

We picked up lots of brochures for upcoming Volkswalks all over the world.  We’ll be trying a few up near Port Townsend Washington soon.  We love exploring the world at 3 miles per hour.

See you on the trail.

Cheers!

Nancy

 

A Hearty High-Five for Volkssport Walking

Sometimes we walk alone…

Selfie at the Volkswalk

Selfie at the Volkswalk

And that’s what I did this weekend. While hubs was winging his way to sunny Florida, I was invited to participate in an AVA sponsored 10k walk. The sun was bright and it was a balmy 45 degrees so I joined a group of 100+ hearty souls for the Pre-Super Bowl Walk sponsored by the Columbia River Volkssport walking club. This walk was very easy and rated 1A. There is a rating system that goes all the way to 5. This event was well organized, the volunteers were friendly and helpful.  I wasn’t looking for credit stamps so I walked for free.  I haven’t investigated how the whole IVV/AVA system works yet, but there are clubs and walks all over the the world.  Members have books and get stamped for each walk they compete.  I think it’s $3.00 if you are going for stamps and I’m here to tell you that there was lots of stamping going on. Most people came with a walking buddy or two, but there were lots of single walkers too. It was an easy-going, friendly group. The average age was somewhere mid-50’s.  Lots of gray hair, but these folks were fit and energetic and many well into their 70’s were passing me on the street.

I’ve been thinking about doing one of these walks for a long time and I am so glad I finally found one that fit my schedule.  Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. doesn’t work if you are still chained to the office.   I wonder how long it will take after I finally retire to not think I have to cram all my fun activities into the weekend.

Hubs doesn’t know it yet, but I’ve already signed us up for another Volkswalk.  This one is on February 15.  It’s called The Heartbreaker Walk. And the route is sure to get the old heart muscle pumping.  It’s 11km and rated a 3C – for the hills and stairs.

I also picked up a flyer for the Columbia River Gorge Biennial Classic – 13 walks and 1 bike – June 19-22, 2014.  Walks range from 5km to 25km, rated 1A to 4C (straight up?).  What a great way to enjoy a weekend in the beauty of the gorge.  In addition to all of the walking, this is also a social weekend with picnics, potlucks, a buffet dinner and a cruise on the Sternwheeler.  And, it’s hub’s birthday weekend. Happy Birthday, honey! bg-splash

Sound interesting?  Click here to find out more about the IVV (International Volkssport) and the AVA (American Volkssport) associations, their walks and all of the other non-competitive events they sponsor worldwide.

Then lace up your shoes and get going.  If you want to walk in the Portland area and need a walking buddy, call me.

See you on the road (or the trail),

Nancy