Trusting the Ascent up Multnomah and Wahkeena Falls

It was the Sunday after a crazy convention with a bunch of sober friends of mine in Portland, Oregon; last Sunday, in fact! Many of my friends were tired from raging all weekend: I was, too. But I also had it set in my mind to journey out to Multnomah Falls for a hike. After all, I didn’t wear my waterproof hiking boots all weekend (part of which was spent in a suit) to look cool and I wasn’t about to risk leaving a beautiful state without exploring.

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Well, maybe I was trying to look at least a little cool 🙂 I was in Portland, after all. Plus, my soul resonated with the city in a magnificent way and the guy sitting next to me on my flight from Los Angeles told me that I looked like I was from Portland. Score! I’ve been telling myself for a while now, that I need to move up North. How far now, that is the question.

Let’s track back a little, shall we? Earlier in the weekend, I had the opportunity to try various varieties of Mexican cuisine. Nothing fancy, of course, but I needed to check out the hot sauce and salsa selection. My buddy, who picked me up from the airport, took me to this hole in the wall out in what looked like the wilderness. I loved the scenery and loved the restaurant from the moment I walked in.

There was a salsa bar in the back, and the menu looked like something out of Southern California. My tastebuds were at home! The spicy, orange salsa, mixed with Tapatio®, hit the spot. Nothing too spicy, but tasty nonetheless.

A couple days later, we went to Pine State Biscuits. I was off put at first by the fried chicken (I tend to stay gluten free), but I managed with grits, hash browns and steak. So bomb! To top it all off, they had an assortment of spicy hot sauces! I tried one with a habañero kick to it that sent the dish to my level of spice.

I thoroughly enjoy the flavor of habañero pepper sauces. The smokiness, matched with the zing takes things to the next level. Most people consider it unbearably hot, but it is more of a base flavor to me. If you’re ever in Portland, go out and try Pine State!

I digress, let’s go back to the hike; the healthier side of things! I managed to get three of my friends to drive me out to the trailhead to the falls, which took a lot of effort in itself. Once we got on the road, however, we were all in awe of the beauty surrounding us just South of the Washington border. Plus, it only took us about 20 minutes to drive there!

We got to the falls, and excitement filled my body. The clouds, the mist, the waterfalls, and the whole vibe took me and my friends to a whole new realm. My plan was to hike the 5 mile loop, and catch a cab back to the airport so that my friends could make the earlier flight. I almost convinced them to move their flights back, but no cigar.

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The trail we took can be found at the following URL:

Multnomah / Wahkeena Loop

We made it up the paved trail about a quarter mile to get a closer view of the falls before my friends had to turn back. The most spiritual moment of the trip was when I decided to flip a rock, asking for God’s will. If it landed heads, I hiked the loop. Tails, I went back with friends. The rock landed on heads, and I continued on. My friends were amazing and dropped my bags off at the hotel before they left.

I had no water, no raincoat, and no flashlight, but I trusted the journey and charged forth. The first part of the trail, continuing up the paved road was pretty, but I was excited for the rugged terrain that lied ahead. As I reached the top of Multnomah Falls, I entered a small, muddy valley with lush foliage, snow, and beauty abounding.

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The falls were astounding in themselves, and there was a perfect ledge to rest and stand over them on. There were a few other people on the trail, much more prepared than I, and they seemed nice and helpful; for the most part.

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Pushing onward, I began walking alongside the creek that was gushing alongside me. I had never seen so much water in my life along a trail and I kept being reaffirmed that I made the right decision. The natural beauty was soothing and the fear of new terrain kept the adrenaline pumping, especially in snow.

As the ascent up the mountain grew steeper, I crossed more streams, came across more waterfalls, and traversed rocky terrain. Confidence in my boots was boosted when I realized how much grip I had and how awesome it felt to walk straight through a stream while my feet stayed dry.

Mist and rain were in the air, and I couldn’t tell if I was sweating profusely, or just soaked in the rain, but it felt nice. It felt like I could live here. I felt like I COULD indeed do a hike in winter weather like would be encountered on the Pacific Crest Trail. I felt awesome and my soul was alive!

This brings me back to a discussion I had earlier in the weekend with a new friend from Sonoma County. I hopped in the trunk of her car to go out to dinner Friday, and she told me of her adventures through Moab, Utah. She also told me about rock climbing and long distance backpacking. I was told to face my fears and do the things I want with my life. Fuck what others think! I am very grateful for that interaction and am learning to take it to heart.

The trail kept climbing, and I continued following the web guide I found online. I started getting nervous because the snow was getting thicker, the sky was getting darker, and I was in and out of cell reception. But I pushed on! The moral of my life lately has been to just keep pushing on!

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I trudged through the slush, continually gaining more and more confidence in my boots. I was weary of Salomon hiking boots because the first pair dug into my heel, but after breaking in the new boots, all is well! Check them out on REI at:

Salomon Quest 4D II GTX

I passed by a couple groups and asked them worriedly to ensure I was on the right track. Luckily I was, and finally I reached the turnoff down the mountain toward Wahkeena falls. It was a snowy, slushy journey, but oh so cool! And, in a moment of cell service, I saw another group of friends check in at the falls on Facebook©! I called them, and they were willing to pick me up at the other end.

The best part was walking through the shaded creek down the switchbacks, catching the waterfall at every turn. At one point, the waterfall turned into the trail. I was walking through the water to progress down the trail. Other points had small, wooden, foot-bridges. It was a very unique experience, to say the least!

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At the end of it all, I reached another paved road for the final descent. The rain was coming down harder at this point, so I started running down the trail with grip in tow. This trip was a great experience and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I hope that you can get out and enjoy the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.  I know I will be going back for sure!

As always, I appreciate you reading and hope you remember to take a hike and spice up your life!

-Doug

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