Waterfalls and Windsurfers

Another busy day!  Had an elaborate breakfast at the farm with my airbnb hosts.  Maka made a Georgian rice dish with fresh fruit that is out of this world!

Drove about twenty minutes west to do a big waterfall hike.  If you don’t like pictures of waterfalls, you should probably start scrolling down now — this is one of the slowest hikes I’ve done of late because I stopped every few hundred yards to take another picture of another waterfall.  But first, I should note how excited I was to see a real live Union Pacific train roar by at the start of my hike — the history nerd in me thought that was pretty cool.

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I also tested a few local berries on this hike.  My review is this:  thimbleberries in the Pacific Northwest (not to be confused with those in Hawaii) are some of the most delicious berries around.  Salmonberries are a little bit bitter and should probably be avoided; they’re kind of like eating guavas.

Now onto the waterfalls.  The hike started at Multnomah Falls, Oregon’s highest (and probably most crowded) waterfall:

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Then on up past Dutchman Falls:

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And Welsendanger Falls, which I had all to myself:

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In a rare moment of restraint, I managed to walk by Ecola Falls without taking a picture.  So I photographed these really pretty not-quite-waterfalls instead:

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My favorite waterfall of the trip was Fairy Falls, a tiny but wonderful wedding cake of rocks and water:

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The trail did have two excellent Gorge vistas — here’s one:

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And the trail ended, 5.8 miles later, at Wahkeena falls, which means “most beautiful” in one Native American language.  Unfortunately, it falls down in little tiers, so it’s hard to photograph — but this gives at least some sense of what it looked like.

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I was completely wowed by this hike.  And I can’t help wondering what it would look like in a year with normal rainfall — apparently, it’s been very dry here for the past two summers, and they had very little snow in the mountains this winter.  So much of the area feels drier than it should, and some of the waterfalls are thinner than the norm.  But I still found them incredibly impressive.

My weather has been perfect for pretty much the entire trip.  I’ve had a few warm days, but nothing hotter than about 88 degrees — and as they say, “it’s a dry heat.”  I feel like I’ve really lucked out in this regard.

Spent the afternoon watching the kitesurfers and windsurfers at Hood River Gorge.  Amazing!  First of all, the wind blows so hard that I’m surprised that anyone stays upright (or doesn’t get blown straight to Idaho).  Secondly, it’s so crowded that I don’t know how people make it without running into each other, especially with all of those kite lines in the air everywhere.  At one point, I counted about 20 windsurfers and 60 kitesurfers within view (not counting people who were putting in and taking out).  And finally, the occasional barge goes by (you can see two grain barges being pushed by a tug in the top photo) to add to this obstacle course.  It’s quite a scene.

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I grew fascinated by someone who was riding what’s known as a foil board, which allows your board to ride about a foot and a half above the water (you may have to squint to see it here, but it’s worth squinting).

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I eventually wandered down to the beach, where I learned how to help launch a kite and how to bring one back down to the ground when someone is coming in.  Then I walked over to the “advanced” area and watched super-fast kitesurfers — some of them pros — do tricks on a ramp and a rail.

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Then all of a sudden the wind started to die down, and everyone closed up shop all at once.  It was like watching a line of butterflies walk down the beach (and then like turtles once everyone put their kites down on the grass).

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Ate a very early dinner at a pleasant but unremarkable brewery right by the river, and then had this view of Mt. Hood while driving out of town:

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Took an evening hike at Eagle Creek to Punchbowl Waterfall.  This was a beautiful hike through a steep, deeply forested gorge.  It’s also incredibly popular — it had been so crowded that I hadn’t been able to find parking earlier in the afternoon — and there were still people at the waterfall when I arrived at about 7:30pm.  But I did have a few minutes of this view all to myself, and it seemed simply edenic:

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Such clear water!  I really wanted to swim to the pool at the waterfall’s base, but after testing the waters (literally), I decided that the hypothermia risk wasn’t worth it.

Drove home as the sun was setting over the mountains, which gives them a great glow.  This is the view from the farm:

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Had tea and chatted with my hosts before coming down to my cozy basement apartment to figure out how in the world I’m going to make my suitcase close for my departure tomorrow …

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