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Freedom from Tyranny and Inconvenience

Wednesday, July 04, 2007
I hereby declare that hiking in the Columbia Gorge is Airwolf. I mean, I chose to spend my national holiday hiking, and I chose to do the Wahkeena Falls/Multnomah Falls loop. (Yes, I've done something similar before.) It is perhaps one of my favorite hikes of all times; too bad it's only about 5.5 miles long.

I arrived at the Multnomah Falls trailhead at about 1:00 in the afternoon. I'd have been there sooner, but parking was a nightmare. (The main lot was backed up onto the freeway, so I went past it and came back to the falls on the Historic Columbia River Highway.) Pulling off a minor miracle in terms of parallel parking, I left my car right next to the Multnomah Falls Lodge and took the trail to the base of Wahkeena Falls, where I turned uphill.

Even on a warm day, this hike is perfect. The path climbs next to water most of the way up; that cool, damp breeze blasting down while you're hiking is a godsend. After passing the main falls, I climbed up to Lemmon's Viewpoint to admire the Columbia Gorge, then continued up with the trail, admiring the beauty. Perhaps the best part of this trail is the contrast with Multnomah Falls; instead of one big drop you get to see a bunch of smaller waterfalls up close!

One of the many falls as you climb
Approaching the top of the Gorge, I turned left to head over to the Multnomah Falls trail. The climb is steep through that part and there's no water nearby to keep it cool, but the foliage is lush and the sounds of the freeway below have finally diminished to nothing.

Turning back downhill
Eventually that trail hooks up with the Multnomah Falls trail and I turned downhill. Lots of people climb to the top of Multnomah Falls, then turn around. They're missing out; the best part is even higher as the trail (less crowded) passes several smaller waterfalls and there's plenty of opportunities to admire the natural beauty up close.

Reaching the main, popular trail is almost a letdown. It's strange to see so many people huffing and puffing their way to the top, but at least they're doing it. The paved trail is easier to go down and I made good time getting to the bottom, taking a moment to appreciate the attraction.

Multnomah Falls
This is freedom, right here. Being out there... life doesn't get better than that, ever. (At least, not that I can imagine.) Just me and the world for a little while - that's where I was, that's where I want to be.

Oh, I also stopped off at a BBQ in Vancouver (yum!) and saw a friend downtown on my way back. No, I didn't blow anything up; fireworks just aren't doing it for me these days (though as I write this, I can still hear a lot of people setting them off outside.)

Happy 4th of July everyone; I hope yours was as good as mine.


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