|Allison, heading towards Saddle Mountain's cloudy summit|
Oregon Coast Range, Oregon
~6.1 miles, ~1630 feet elevation gain
Everything is so green. I haven't been hiking since March. Time for the pony to keep up with the thoroughbred. [GRIN].
|The color of spring in the Coast Range|
Allison is actually a great hiking partner. Although she has a ground-eating stride capable of leaving me in the dust, she possesses a chill, flexible personality that makes for a good trail buddy. Her amazingly cute little side kick (insert Oscar, trail wonder dog here) doesn't hurt either. She also happens to be a wealth of trail, wildflower and edibles information. On this particular day, heading up the Saddle Mountain trail in a thick cloud, I actually wasn't too far behind her thanks to the plethora of tiny wildflower details and plant details dotting the mossy, exposed ridges of the peak and the occasional, but well-placed, salmonberry.
I won't go into too much detail about the trail since there is more than enough info written about Saddle Mountain. At 3,287' it's the tallest peak in the Oregon Coast range. Some rare species of flora call it home. Depending on what guide book you consult, the trail is between 4 and 6ish miles with a steep, final grind on exposed slopes to the finish (my legs are going with Douglas Lorain's mileage estimation). I haven't hiked Saddle Mountain in years, and the trail has been extensively rehabbed since I was last there, which makes for (somewhat) better traction. Shrouded in cloud, busting out in all colors of mossy green, it made me feel like I should have been running around like a Braveheart extra. A good day.
|the car is waaaaay down there|
FALLS CREEK FALLS
Wind River/Columbia Gorge Recreation Area, Washington
~6.3 miles, ~1150 feet elevation gain
|first beargrass of the season|
I've never been to Falls Creek Falls. I've heard of it, just never been, and I couldn't tell you why. Maybe because it's exactly the kind of hike I suspected it would be, and most days, I'm just not interested in putting up with the sea of humanity that tends to flock towards easy waterfall hikes.
All that said, it is a phenomenally beautiful waterfall.
|Where me and everyone else ended up on Saturday|
Andy and I arrived to a trailhead with at least thirty cars in the lot on a warm, bluebird, Saturday morning. We had taken our time lazing about and as such, arrived at peak hiking hour.
That said, Andy and I found some surprising solitude by completing the loop clockwise and getting the least scenic part of the (optional) loop out of the way first. I'm betting most people do this trail as an out-and-back, which makes sense since the trail actually leading directly to the falls is hella more beautiful than the forested ridge walk we took in.
I suspect Falls Creek Falls is a great winter/early season trail or one to start really early or really late (if you want to avoid crowds). It's a great hike for out-of-towners, kids, or people who need a short, easily accessible, really grandiose waterfall without much mileage or elevation gain. For myself, I think it's a winter stomping ground kinda place.