Guess what the inevitable side effect of route finding in the mountains is? You might hit an avalanche, a land slide or a deer, that’s for sure. But you could also hit a dead end, a closed road, a sign that sends you back the way you came – that’s what happened to us today.
We didn’t want to take the interstate, because all you see there are other cars and concrete barriers. So we started making our way south towards Oregon using the winding highways and roads in the Cascade mountains. Partly also because regardless of the rainy forecast we were still hoping to get a glimpse of Mt Rainier or the volcanic Mt Saint Helens. But the clouds didn’t give up and we were bound to look at more earthly things than snow-coned mountain tops like rivers and dams and small towns and each other (especially when singing along to duets on our playlist).
In the middle of it all we decided to stop at a ranger station and get a better map. That’s when we heard the bad news – there is no going forward, only back, a 80 km loop for us. Tough luck, but as the saying goes – it doesn’t matter if you fall, it matters if you get back up and try again!
Our sweet “home” parking for a good night sleep. After seeing Hobo Inn’s train houses we might do our next trip with a private train!
Checking out dams and Bridge of the Gods on our way around Columbia river valley
The beauty of a roadtrip is to have breakfast in a new spot every morning, in rain or sunshine
Through the never-ending rain we made our way to the Columbia River Valley aka the Gorge. The enormous valley was created by huge amounts of water from the melting ice after the last ice-age. They say there were several times when massive floods with water deeper than 100m eroded all of the soil and softer rock.
A cool example of this is the Beacon Rock – a former core of a volcano that was stripped of its surroundings, leaving only the rock of frozen lava standing on the river bank. We would have climbed the landmark, but the trail was closed, honestly!
Also populating the cool-list are the small riverside towns with their wide streets, brick buildings and greenery. And a lot of them have wineries or breweries making them even cooler. After failing mountaineering for the day we decided to try out the hard work of a beer critic in the Mill Works pub&brewery in Camas, WA. There was an interesting milk-stout, but a kolsch with a hint of banana and a berry cider topped our list.
Stevenson is an other gorgeous town with a superb newly renovated waterfront area, including a long pier, that actually docks cruise ships in the summer. Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center is just outside town, holding artifacts and telling stories from the history of the area. We found it to be a good place to escape from the rain and be educated at the same time!
What’s remarkable, is that the river between Stevenson and Hood River is considered as a premier wind-surfing area. You wouldn’t guess by looking at the map, but the Gorge acts as a massive wind-tunnel.
Anyway, we crossed over to the Oregon side and started heading back towards the coast. We found it it to be really different from the Washington side. The old highway 30 is packed with waterfalls and viewpoints. Multnomah Falls is the most famous with its two falls and a bridge crossing over in the middle. 300 m in total height just adds to the beauty. We took the small hike to the top and found it to be pretty strenuous with its 11 switchbacks and steep climb. That didn’t stop many of the families with little kids or little dogs. Oregon truly is a outdoorsy state!
After a few more waterfalls and views of the valley it was time to set our sails for Portland, the biggest city of Oregon.