Monday, July 11, 2016

Multnomah Falls/Wahkeena Falls Loop


Back to my weekly hiking trip, I decided to do the Multnomah Falls - Wahkeena Falls Loop.  That is 5 miles and 1600ft elevation gain, so not as bad as Tom, Dick, and Harry a couple weeks ago. Oh wait, it's a mile shorter, and only 100ft less elevation - that probably means it's about the same or worse. Well, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right?

Last time I hiked to the top of Multnomah, when I came home all my friends said I should have kept going! Well, I wasn't quite up to it that time, but this time I am a bit lighter and a lot stronger, so I was up for it. First I had to sit in traffic on the old highway for half an hour just to get to the parking lot, then weave my way through approximately one billion tourists speaking every language you could imagine, I love to see all these people coming to see what we can drive out here and enjoy anytime. 





Luckily the farther you go, the fewer people there are. Some people never go past the lower viewing platform. Many more stop at Benson Bridge. A few more head on up the switchbacks, but it definitely thins out at that point. I was stopping to rest halfway up and chatted with a nice Pakistani couple where were also catching their breath. They were discussing if they could make it up all 11 switchbacks, and I told them the last few switchbacks go downhill - and he translated that for his wife and she seemed relieved :) Indeed, 9 is the last uphill switchback, then you go over the top and back downhill the next couple to the river at the top of the waterfall. 

This time I didn't even go check out the top-of-the-falls viewing platform, instead I headed upriver. I chatted with some folks coming from that direction to confirm I was going the right way. In this picture, the trail hugs the rock wall to the right.



Then you come to Dutchman Falls, which was a nice little waterfall, with water roaring past on this day, making a cool spot to sit for a few minutes and relax after the long hike up. 



Pretty view back down Multnomah Creek in the direction I came. The trail hugs the rock wall to the left in this shot.



The trail goes under this cool basalt overhang called Dutchman's Tunnel. Oregon Hiker's site says this trail was built in 1915!




My favorite shot of the trip. Heck, my favorite shot of the summer so far! Weisendanger Falls. I had to wait a few minutes for the small crowd to clear, but that was the end of crowds on this journey. After this it was just passing by single hikers here and there along the way.



The trail passed right by the top of Ecola Falls, but I only got this peek-a-boo look at it, since I didn't want to go sliding down the muddy bank to get a better view. 



This whole walk is just ridiculously pretty. It's like something out of a fairy tale.



Things were a little confusing here. I KNOW I don't want to go to Larch Mountain, and I am already on #441, but what I'm looking for at the junction is #420. Luckily someone added the note on the bottom to help me out - Wahkeena Falls -> Thataway. That was my guess, but I've heard of people getting lost up here, and since I was alone I really wanted to be sure!



Pretty, peaceful walk.




Why can't someone pay me to do this?

The camera is level in this next shot, to show how steep the hill behind the sign is - VERY steep!



This is what I'm looking for. Definitely on the right trail, and finally heading back downhill. That was a long climb up. 



I saw these cool Indian Pipe plants. I only saw this one little patch of them on the whole walk. They survive on fungus that survive on trees. What a cool adaptation!



Now I guess I'm following Wahkeena Creek back down.



This beauty is Fairy Falls. It is a lovely cascade of water. 



There was a Japanese family I kept passing and then they would pass me, so I asked them to take my picture. I wasn't sure if they spoke English because I heard them talking to each other in Japanese, but they spoke perfect English, of course! So here I am in front of Fairy Falls (it's only 20ft high).



And..my last shot of Wahkeena Creek before my camera battery died! 



After this I came to Lemmon's Viewpoint, named after a firefighter who died fighting fires in the area. Beautiful little overlook of the Gorge, and a nice place to rest up a little. 

I guess I should have shot a pic of Wahkeena Falls with my phone, but I didn't think of it. I sat on a bench and loosened up my boots for a few minutes (my toes were complaining from the long downhill), then crossed the little bridge that goes right in front of Wahkeena and the water makes a delightful spray on a hot day. Then at the bottom I just had to follow a half mile trail that followed the Old Highway back to Multnomah Falls, and my waiting car. It was a great hike, and the most waterfalls I'd ever seen on one hike! I'm glad my friends told me to go back and do it!

I'll have to go back and get pics of Wahkeena Falls sometime.

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