I stayed in Portland for two nights--kind of a resting up place, since it was the middle of my trip--but I did take an interesting drive while there. Interstate 84 goes along the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge, and has numerous state parks, so I set out early Wednesday morning to explore the numerous attractions along the gorge.
The parks feature some spectacular waterfalls. I had to hike up to a few of them, so I got good exercise, too. It was a four-mile round-trip, and all uphill for the first half. Whew! However, I did it all with frequent stops, and it was well worth the effort.
A babbling brook was running alongside the trail. In some places, there were tree bridges, or rock steps across the stream. The water is spring-fed and very cold, so it kept the air along the path kind of cool too. The vegetation was lush and abundant.
The trail was paved for the first half of the trek, with plenty of switchbacks, but then it became hardscrabble and an ankle twister.
There were two waterfalls along the trail, Wahkeenah Falls, and Fairy Falls. The hike up to the top was 1.8 miles and the ascent was about 800 vertical feet, but it was worth every step.
After hiking to the top and then back down the same trail, I drove over about two miles to the crowning gem of the waterfalls, Multnomah Falls. All three are beautiful, and Multnomah Falls is actually two separate falls, one of 542 feet and the second of 69 feet with a pool between them. It is the second highest waterfall west of the Mississippi, topped only by Yosemite Falls.
After leaving Multnomah Falls, I took the loop road around Mount Hood. It was a much better drive than the one I took the prior day around Mount Rainier up in Washington. And I was able to get up close and personal with the mountain. Route 35 out of Hood River and route 26 near Government Camp provide many views of the mountain. The roads go partway up the sides, too, so the access is much better than at Mount Rainier.
I arrived back at my hotel just in time for an early dinner at one of a chain of restaurants called Shari’s Restaurant. The restaurants are only located in the Northwest, unfortunately for me. The food was good and the prices were very reasonable, less than $10 for an excellent pot roast dinner complete with a free slice of rhubarb pie and a senior discount. I ate at Shari’s three times on this trip and loved the meals every time.