2007 Road Trip Adventures – Day 25

PORTLAND and MT HOOD – from flowers to ski slopes

Wednesday – a change of pace again today – I am spending the day with Tyler’s parents Chris and Paul.  They have planned an interesting day starting at the Portland Gardens.  We leave home about 10am – the weather is again lovely with clear blue skies and we start our journey.

Arriving at the gardens we see all the roses in bloom.  These gardens are used as an International Rose Test area and the blooms and perfumes are magnificent. The gardens are immaculately kept and there is also an area of about 5 acres that is dedicated to a traditional Japanese Garden.

At the top of the garden there are lovely views towards Portland and just sitting here with the perfume drifting about is such a relaxing experience.  We stay here for about half an hour and then we hit the road for our drive to Mt Hood. 

The highway is incredible and we stop on the way so that we can get some good distance photos of the mountain where places are still covered with snow.  Our stop is located at Laurel Hill which is on part of the historic Oregon Trail.  How those pioneers ever got here is beyond me.

HISTORY LESSON : Mount Hood, called Wy’east by the native Multnomah tribe is located about 80 km east-southeast of Portland on the border between Clackamas and Hood River counties. The height assigned to Mount Hood’s snow-covered peak has varied over its history. 

It is approximately 3,450 metres high. The peak is home to twelve glaciers and is the highest point in Oregon.  Mount Hood is considered the Oregon volcano most likely to erupt (now there’s a pleasant thought) though based on its history, an explosive eruption is unlikely, however it is still characterized as ‘potentially active’, but the mountain is informally considered dormant.  Sounds like an each way bet so let’s hope it stays dormant for today at least!

When we arrive at the mountain, the car park is at the bottom of a hill and we have to walk up to Timberline Lodge. This is easier said than done as due to the elevation the air is thinner up here and breathing can be a little hard. This could also be put down to not being as fit as I once was! Arriving at the lodge there is a plaque out the front that reads ‘Dedicated September 28, 1937 by Franklin D. Roosevelt’.

Through the front doors, we are confronted with an immense fireplace and chimney in centre of the room.  I would imagine that it would be roaring in Winter.   The lodge has an elevation of 1,820 metres and the elevation to Mt Hood is 3,500 metres. In Winter the snow depth average at Timberline is about 6.5 metres.  That’s a lot of snow.

Walking back down to the car (which is much easier than going up) we get some good views of the mountain and there are even people skiing on what little snow there is up there.

Driving back down the mountain we stop at Panorama Point Park. The views from here over the valley where there are lots of fruit farms are lovely. Everything is green and alive but when Winter arrives it will all be covered with snow I should imagine.

On our journey home along the Columbia River Gorge we stop at Horsetail Falls which is just down the road from Multnomah Falls.

Horsetail Falls has a total height of 55 metres and is so named because the shape resembles a horse’s tail.  It is so cool in the shade of the mountains and every now and again we get a spray of water on the face which is quite refreshing.

Our next stop is Wahkeena Falls.  It is a 73 metre waterfall and translated from the Native American it means ‘most beautiful’.  It doesn’t just plunge over the rocks and down into the ground but cascades over lots of levels to create more little waterfalls.

We now head to Vista House.  Built between 1916-1918 as a memorial to Oregon pioneers, it is built from Alaskan Marble and was used as a comfort station for those travelling on the Historic Columbia River Highway and also an observatory. The octagonal structure towers 230 metres above the Columbia River and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Standing outside it is very windy and down on the river there are windsurfers skimming along.  Climbing to the top of the house, the views of the Columbia River from here are wonderful.  The Columbia River is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. The river rises in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia, Canada flows northwest and then south into the U.S. state of Washington, then turns west to form most of the border between Washington and the state of Oregon before emptying into the Pacific Ocean. The river is 2,000 km long, and its largest tributary is the Snake River (remember our 1000 Springs Tour?)

 We arrive back home in the late afternoon after having spent a most enjoyable day seeing some of this State’s most picturesque places.  I would really love to do the hiking tours of the Multnomah region – I would also love to see this area in Winter.  Oh well, more things to add to the list.

Highlight of the day : the waterfalls and the beautiful Columbia River

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