Thursday July 11th 2019
I waited long enough this morning for the cloud layer to climb the top of the gorge walls before heading out to tour the Multnomah Falls. It would have been nice if I could have waited for the sun to make an appearance, but Tuesday’s drive by the falls proved the fall’s popularity. I needed to get there before the parking lot filled and the trail got too busy.
The big parking lot in the median of Interstate 84 was close to full by ten this morning and the smaller lot on the Historic Columbia River Gorge Highway was overflowing. I had plenty of company on the trails. Ultimately all of the people contributed to my turning around on the trail to the top of the falls. The mile plus long trail from the road up to the top of the falls was very congested. The eleven plus paved switchbacks that make up the trail were slippery from recently being in the clouds. Trying to navigate around the large groups of people that stop in the middle of the narrow paths with steep drop offs was a challenge. When you throw in the little kids barely old enough to walk wandering among the people and dogs on leach, it’s a disaster waiting to happen.
I was a little over halfway up the switchbacks when I had to wait for a group of about ten with tired kids and dogs sitting in the middle of the trail to move. There was a group above them on the trail trying to come down and the group I was in trying to pass going up hill. I decided it wasn’t worth the effort. I turned around. The part of the trail I took was the best part. I saw the waterfall from the base, the bridge that crosses between the upper and lower falls and again from the end of the second major switchback. The trail above that point doesn’t get near the falls again until the top.
Later in the day I drove back up the gorge to the Hood River area. In Hood River the terrain is starting to change into a drier climate. There are fewer trees and the grasslands are brown in color. From my drive in on Monday, I know that it gets even more desert like at The Dalles near the east end of the Columbia River Gorge.
I’m moving on tomorrow to an area south of Portland. With a little luck, I’ll be able to stop in this area again in the fall. I would like to see the Salmon running and possible some color in the trees along the sides of the gorge.