When it comes to picking a travel destination, shallow as it may sound, I have two mandatory criteria: I must love what I'll see and what I'll eat. Portland, by far, exceeded my criteria and even threw in a bonus - tax free shopping. Makes me wonder why it has taken me so long to visit this beautiful city. Coming from California where the slogan, "Brown is the new Green" is a norm, I was mesmerized by Oregon's lush greenery and raging waterfalls. Bridal Veil Falls, Latourell Falls, Wahkeena Falls and Multnomah Falls can easily be visited in one day. You don't have to hike through the trails to see the waterfalls but I did just so I don't feel too guilty pigging out after (as well as before and in between :)). I made a huge rookie mistake on this trip - I went through the hassle of lugging a tripod around only to realize I forgot to bring the attaching plate for my camera the moment I started to unfold my tripod in front of Bridal Veil Falls. Aargh! So if you happened to be this area around the Memorial Day weekend, I was the girl hunching over on every large rock and every bridge trying to find a steady anchor for my camera. While I'm still painfully sad about my blunder, it doesn't take away my love for the gorgeous waterfalls.
On our second hiking day, we ventured out to Mount Hood to see Ramona Falls, which was just a little more than an hour drive from Portland. I was a little nervous about the hike when I learned that one of the bridge on the trail was destroyed in 2014, so hikers have to cross Sandy River by climbing over fallen logs or rocks. Fortunately, the current wasn't very strong on the day we went so the crossing was a breeze. The trail was around 6.5 miles round-trip, ~1200 ft gradual incline, mostly shaded, and has a lot of beautiful scenery along the way. Of course, the most beautiful scenery was when we got to Ramona Falls. The falls themselves were breathtaking, ethereal, and like nothing I've seen before. My pictures don't them justice but look at them anyway - just know that the live view is exponentially prettier. After spending some time at the falls, we crossed the bridge and decided to take the loop trail back instead of reversing the route we came. This was where things got interesting. Along the way back, we made a wrong turn at the fork and hiked a grueling 3 miles, 4500ft elevation, along the Timberland Trail toward Bald Mountain (all part of the Pacific Crest Trail). The initial part of this trail was incredibly beautiful, full of lush vegetation, trickling river streams, and exotic looking plants. But as we continued to hike uphill, the eeriness of being the sole hikers in this vast forest and exhaustion from the constant climb while racing against the setting sun, made the remainder of the hike less than desirable. By the time we reached the top, I was ready to whip out my celebratory Haribo gummy bears only to discover we were nowhere near the parking lot where we entered. To make matters worse and to our disbelief, we ran into a patch of snow. Snow?!?!? We were in no condition to be stranded. The rest of the hike/run was a blur as we both ran like maniacs down the hill back to Ramona Falls to trace our steps and find that fork we missed. It was past 7pm and every step we made downhill distanced us from daylight even more. What I loved about this trail two hours before, the trees, bushes, moss, started looking very ominous. Neither of us voiced our fear. We just kept running. Fortunately, we made it out safely. Unfortunately, the scary part didn't make it on my camera because, well, fear kind of got in the way. The big lesson here is if something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. We both had reservations along the trail but ignored that voice questioning if we were on the right track. Carrying a map would also help. Doh!
That was too much adrenaline for one trip. The remainder of our time was spent exploring Portland's extensive food scene, sightseeing in the city, and enjoying some tax-free shopping!