Liralen Li (liralen) wrote,
Liralen Li

Memorial Day and a Mountain Climb - May 25

This was the last day of most people's weekend. None of the other kids were out of school, yet, other than Jet, so most of them had to go back to end of the school year stuff, like finals and parties and graduations. Various people were leaving at various times, so Isabel mostly stayed at the house to have one last chance talking with them, and to say her good-byes and thanks to everyone that came to celebrate her birthday.

There were two major hikes during the day, and we decided on doing just the one to Multnomah Falls. It was fairly nearby, and it's the tallest falls in Oregon, and is a two tiered beauty. In the afternoon another group went to Trillium Lake, a relatively flat hike, but I was too tired to do it, and we just stayed at the house instead.

The Falls and the first bridge
Multnomah Falls is a two-tiered falls, with the first smaller falls bridged by a stone bridge built in 1914, called Benson Bridge, built by the same guy that built the old highway, Simon Benson. It's less than a quarter mile from the lodge. Nearly everyone makes it to that bridge, and when we got there it was packed with tourists like us, taking pictures, posing, and getting gently sprayed by the mists from the falling water.

The top of the falls is 627 feet up, but the trail is more than 700 feet up as it goes up and over a crest to the side of the falls in order to go down to where the head of the falls actually are.

Of course, everyone that came along wanted to go to the top, so up we went!

Switch Backs
The trail is about 2.2 miles and gains 700 feet of altitude, and it does it mainly via switchbacks. Lots and lots of switchbacks. The ones at the foot of the incline are longer, of course, than those at the top.

I kept up at first, just staying up with most of our group, but then I stopped to take a blurry picture of a golden, native trillium. I got passed by a very large family that were moving quite slowly. I stayed behind them for a little while and realized that the people I'd come with were moving much much more quickly, so I carefully and politely started to pass the various members of the family.

One of the larger, male members at the head of the group was going really really slowly at one point, and blocking most of the path. So I bided my time until the path widened enough to safely let me get by, and I just jumped for it, and practically ran past him. And I heard him say, "Well, if you're going to be that way..." with a kind of breathless exasperation.

I pretty much lost my breath catching up with everyone. With a third of my lung capacity missing, it's always a little harder to do the long climbs than I like. I really don't have the kind of endurance I want, but this was also at a lower altitude, so it was entirely doable. It's just that I have to work harder for it, as my doctor says. He's pretty sure I'd have real trouble climbing a 14'er, but he was also pretty wry about the fact that there are a lot of people with their full lung capacity that would have trouble with one of those anyway.

From the Top
I made it. With the tail group. The younger (20-something) crowd went on to do the 1600 foot gain loop to see Wahkeena falls on the loop trail. But the rest of us had fun taking some time at the top of the falls watching the water flow down.

There was a small glade up there, and another 100 foot drop before the big one. The trail went up above that, and then came down to a platform that allowed us to take this picture. You had to stand against the rail on the platform and hold your camera over the water to get the shot, but... it was fun. *laughs*

I love the tiny parking lot at the bottom, there. Perspective.

Then we headed down, and it was just a lot easier than going up. *laughs* Usually my knees really hate the downs, but the rest of my body was so grateful to not be working quite so hard this way that it felt really good.

Inna Tree
One the way down from the bridge to the Lodge, there was this hollowed log. On the way up, it had been filled with kids already, but on the way down, I pointed it out to Joanne's boy and Jet. Jet, lately, has been feeling 'too big', and he really liked the fact that he could still fit in here. The two of them were very patient with us about posing in there.

After coming down, I realized that the Lodge had a restaurant, a snack bar, a gift shop, an information center, and, amusingly enough for the Northwest, an espresso bar. John and I got hot espresso drinks, and I got one square of walnut chocolate fudge. I figured I'd earned the calories. *laughs* I shared it with anyone that wanted some, including Jet, who enjoyed his very much. There were light, easy lunches at the snack bar, and while we waited for the long loop hikers, it was nice to just sit and be still.

They didn't take that much longer, and we all had a group picture on the bridge.

All of Us @ Multnomah Falls
This was taken by David Squires' camera in the hands of a very nice lady who happened to be there, and who was quite willing to pull the trigger. I love that she got the falls in with everyone there.

We drove back to the house, and all kind of found various bits of lunch (mostly quesadillas from last night's tortillas and cheese) and showered as we were able. Jet moved from the "kid" house (as previously noted most of the "kids" were in their mid to late 20's) into the main house and our room. The main house was the only one that was rented for this last night, so as people left, others moved in, and people filtered out as their flights left or people could take them back to Portland for their flights.

Flying a Kite
Isabel wanted to go for a walk, so Joanne, her boy, and we decided to go to the park while Paul and Isabel walked from the main house down to the town and waterfront. John had packed our rainbow box kite, and we hadn't really had a great wind to fly it in.

The wind today wasn't that much better. Still gusty, strong sometimes, and sometimes completely dead. But John kept trying and getting the kite up into the air when the wind was good and letting it fell when it died. The park was beautiful. Grassy, with clmbing, swinging, and whirling equipment galore, and Joanne was able to nap a bit while her boy got to run around and be active.

It was a lovely, lazy way to spend the afternoon. We tried to find any sort of bar or brew pub for dinner, but all the ones we went into had waits of more than 45 minutes. Unluckily, we started looking when we were actually hungry, so instead of waiting, we just went back to the house. Joanne had a blast making all kinds of potluck from all the leftovers that were still in the fridge and we happily ate them.

Jet was so happy that we could actually go to sleep relatively early. He hadn't been to bed until 2 the first night, 1 the second, and he had really had a hard time getting up in the morning. He likes his 9 pm summer bedtime, so was really missing his sleep. I can't say that I was much better off, and we had a really early start to get to our plane on time. We had to go around 5:45 am, to get all the way back to Portland and to the airport for our flight. So we made sure to say good-bye to those that weren't going to get up so early, and then went to sleep with our alarms set.

Dawn on the Columbia
David and Anne got up early to say good-bye to Aeran, as she was going with us because she had the same flight anyway. And on the way I got to see the sun rise behind us, and what the light did to the mountains, trees, water, and mist all around us. It was amazing.

The flight home was no problem. The bus was there, even after John, Jet, and I got our checked luggage, and we made it to the Table Mesa Park And Ride. Aeran was getting a rental car while hers was still in the shop and Enterprise came to pick us all up from the bus stop. They dropped us off at our mechanic's and the Passat was all ready to go with a shiny new ignition switch and shiny new keys for it. *laughs* So we got home in good time, ate our traditional dinner of Noodles and Company to celebrate getting home, and unloaded everything so that we could do laundry on Wednesday so we could pack again to leave at 4:45 in the morning for the airport to go to New York City.

It was a really amazingly fun trip, and it was so good to see everyone again; but I'll also admit that I was still ached from the climb up the falls, and was a little worried about how much more tired I was going to be traveling again on such short notice.
Tags: family, travel, walking

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