Nobody wants to drive four and a half hours to hike a two mile trail, no matter how cool it is. This is why I had to research what other good hikes there are at the Columbia River Gorge, because Beacon Rock was just not going to be enough. (our previous day's hike, and the post before this one) There are no shortage of options for sure, but according to most "Eagle Creek Trail" is the place to go.
|The Gorge Trail went right behind our campsite.|
It wasn't quite as picturesque, unless your into
the concentration camp look.
|Well, darn...there goes that idea.|
|A great place to camp...just be prepared to listen|
to the hwy and train all night.
In the morning we parked at the obvious lot just down from the campground and started walking to the trailhead. (An extra half mile. That, plus the quarter mile to and from Punch Bowl falls pushed the total mileage to 13.5) We didn't realize there was another parking lot at the trailhead, but it was pretty full so it didn't matter.
This hike is everything everyone says it is and more. There is no way pictures can do it justice. One reason we decided not to backpack was I thought our only option to stop would be the camp that is 7.5 miles in, (called "seven and a half mile camp"...so creative) but we passed many other awesome looking sites along the creek.
|One of our favorites. Awesome rock bench, right?|
|Do you see little me?|
When it was time to leave (it took us about 5 hours to get there, which is ridiculous I know. There is just so much gawking and photo ops; this is not a hike to be done quickly) we decided Debbie would go ahead and I would catch up. She had need to get to a place where she could safely venture off trail (we won't go into detail) and she is just SO much faster. I understood the situation to be, "I need to stop at the first place I can and then I will wait for you". So after 15 minutes or so of hiking at my much slower gait I reached a place where someone could do whatever business they needed to do. But there was no Debbie.
|The tunnel behind the falls|
I'm not going to go into all my mind games. I'll just say that after hiking for 45 minutes and not finding Debbie, I had decided the only answer was she fell off a cliff. You can laugh, and I understand...but look at this picture of her taking a selfie and tell me I was being unreasonable.
I had just caught up to a couple of guys and was asking them to quickly run ahead and call 911 (I recall the phrase "you need to calm down" coming up) when I realized Debbie was just ahead waiting for me. "I've been sitting here a half an hour!" she tells me with exasperation. I wanted to strangle her and hug her at the same time. I didn't scream, "What the hell were you thinking!" like I did to my kid on the Boulder River hike, but I did let her know how very confused I was that she would be so far down the trail. "No...I said I would go ahead UNTIL I needed to stop" she argued. Communication is a bitch. But she was alive; and I was really, REALLY glad about that.
|Debbie tempting fate again. Okay,|
I made her pose.
|Holy drippyness! This is a very moist hike|
even on a nice day
#34) Car camping can be a GREAT option. Don't feel you need to backpack if you don't have to.
#35) Even though everyone knows you shouldn't separate, the fact is sometimes you will. (poor Debbie says it actually hurts her legs to go as slow as me!) Just make sure you have a very clear understanding of where you will meet, or how often the faster hiker will stop to wait, and how long they will wait before they come looking for you.
#36) If your using a "You Go Girl" to pee (I finally bought a new one; this one's pink!) you need to take wind direction into consideration. (I'm sure any boy would say "duh!", but this education is new to us girls)
And lastly, not really a hiking lesson, but very important nonetheless:
#37) Don't wait until you think someone is dead before you appreciate just how much you love them.