A walk from the historic washington highway 14, near cape horn. Off into the woods of the northwest. A late start but not too long a drive to get out of Portland and into the Columbia River Gorge.
The woods have mossy trees and a quiet damp atmosphere, but not wet. Many trees seems to be rotting away, some faller sprout mushrooms. Winter makes skeletons of the trees’ once leafy branches. And in amongst them a few giants stand. I believe they are Douglas Fir’s, but that’s based on a picture of the branches way up high. The needles seem longer than 1/2 inch so thats points away from Hemlock.
View point from the edge of ridge, the trees below cleared to allow an unobstructed view. The Gorge spreads below us, the cliffs of the oregon side directly across. A lone island of rock sits with the mighty river swirling around it. Just below the clouds the snowy Larch Mountain sits. We proceed through the trees, up the trail – a path of soft darkness. Sofia leads the way often, running, sniffing and eager. Gary, Mary, and I converse and follow at an easy pace.
We emerge up top on the hills above the Columbia River. A farm here, and also another large tree. This one solitary, almost planted looking. But tall, with wonderful clouds behind to show it’s majesty. Curious the smooth bark at it’s base. Worn smooth? or torn off by someone? The deeply furrowed bark is as impressive as its girth and height.
There is an overlook just before the farm, where one sees the road wind up the gorge, and sees the river spread out below. It is a nice overlook, a well constructed circle of stone where one can sit and which is handicap accessible, a nice place for portraits. Just below Mary explored, and it looked like she was walking on the tree tops as she looked over what appeared to be the edge of a mighty cliff, but probably was just a steep hillside. As we cross the fields adams looms up white in the distance, catching some of the evening light. We continue a bit further, but soon turn back. As the light goes into the clouds and the temperature drops. Over the fields we again see a falcon wheeling, hovering low to the ground looking for mice, able to quickly turn and snatch, silent its wings.
Descending the trail, past the giants and the viewpoints we cross back under highway 14 and down a bit to another overlook, and waterfall. Such an expanse the Columbia River Gorge, hard to take in. And on that steep cliff in the steely light the trees look so frail and scraggly. Like the witch’s thorn hedges. So day is done, gone the sun. Into the car and home again.
For those interested in the walk there is a pull off on Highway 14, west of cape horn, on the river side, near a pedestrian underpass. Park here and this and can be done as a 6ish mile loop or an out and back, either to the tops as we did or towards the river. Enjoy!