Posts Tagged With: hiking

Uphill Both Ways – Latourell Falls, Oregon

Family at Latourell Falls

Brandy, Josh, and Anden at Latourell Falls

One Saturday recently we went to Oregon with my daughter, Brandy, and her family (son Anden, boyfriend Jason). We intended to go on a hike around Multnomah Falls. We didn’t think to check any website to see what might be going on that day. Apparently it was the 100th anniversary of the building of the Benson Bridge that crosses over the lower Multnomah Falls. How many visitors show up when it’s the 100th anniversary of this iconic bridge? Hundreds, maybe thousands. How many parking spots are there are Multnomah Falls for these hundreds, maybe thousands of people? Much less than that.

Now, I will say that I’m glad the falls gets so many visitors, but sad it was on the day we decided to go. So we headed west on the Historic Columbia River Highway hoping to find someplace else to hike and then suddenly we see a parking spot with a sign that said “Latourell Falls” and there were a couple of parking spots! We needed two, so we grabbed them. We saw a walkway heading downhill that looked like it went to the lower falls, the one we could see from the road, and so we headed down it. It was a nice, short walk, and the falls were beautiful! It was a short walk back to the parking lot, short enough it just gave us a taste of hiking and we wanted to go more.

Let's all take pictures! (Anden, Brandy, & Jason) Latourell Falls

Let’s all take pictures! (Anden, Brandy, & Jason)

So we decided to head to the upper falls. Now, looking at the map, to me, it’s never very clear how far or how strenuous the walk is, but what the heck, right? So off we headed – uphill. Steeply uphill. Both ways. OK, kidding – sort of. Brandy, Jason, Anden, and Josh took off ahead of me and David. Bless David’s heart for staying with me and my slow pace. I think he just didn’t want to have to carry me out of there…

Unofficial Lookout Point, Latourell Falls

Unofficial Lookout Point

View from Unofficial Lookout Point, Latourell Falls

View from Unofficial Lookout Point

The trail kept going. And going. Through a lush green Pacific Northwest forest, with that woodsy smell you associate with camping – and s’mores. That smell alone will keep you going. Finally, the rest of our group came back to meet us. They figured we were still at the parking lot (now why would they think that?) and they didn’t think there were more falls, but we assured them there was. Hours and hours later (kidding again, but it was a bit of a hike) there they were! The beautiful upper Latourell Falls! We made it! Of course, so did a lot of people with small children, but hey, it’s hot and we’re delicate.

Josh behind Latourell Falls

Josh behind Latourell Falls

Time to head back down and it’s a loop so just follow it, right? Yep, right up until there’s a side trip to a sort-of look out. It dead ends so obviously that’s not the way back so we head back up the trail on around the loop. But it keeps going up and up! See, I said it was uphill both ways! We figure that can’t be right, we’re supposed to go down to the parking lot, so we turn around and go back by the lookout and down another trail there. It becomes obvious very quickly that it’s not right either because it’s not maintained. Oh, and it’s a dead-end. Back the other way again. Uphill. Again. Finally, we see the trail below us and know there is hope. Suddenly it does quickly head back down and we end up, alive and well, at the parking lot. We were all hot, sticky and exhausted, but felt we had a great workout and it was beautiful scenery. So even though we intended to hike Multnomah Falls, we were glad our plans were changed for us and we were able to see the two falls that we might not otherwise have taken the time to stop and see. It turns out it really was only a 2.4 mile hike.

If you like hiking to waterfalls, you need to check out the book, “Hiking Waterfalls in Oregon: A guide to the State’s Best Waterfall Hikes,” by fellow travel writer, Adam Sawyer. He refers to himself as a “Professional Gentleman of Leisure” but I refer to him as “one of the nicest guys you will ever meet.” Adam’s book just came out this July and he is busily working on another one for Washington. You can find it on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Hiking-Waterfalls-Oregon-States-Waterfall/dp/0762787279/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407106247&sr=8-1&keywords=Waterfall+hikes+of+Oregon

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Categories: Historical, Outdoors, Parks, Roadside Attraction, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Observation Loop Trail, Yellowstone National Park

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Josh watching Old Faithful erupt for the first time

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Old Faithful

There are several fun hikes to take in Yellowstone National Park. A short one is the Observation Loop Trail. This one starts behind Old Faithful and is a 1.1 mile round trip hike. It takes you up 160 feet so it is rather steep. But the reward is worth it.

On our first visit to Yellowstone National Park as a family, we had reservations at the Old Faithful Inn for dinner. We first stopped to watch Old Faithful erupt. It was so much fun watching Josh see it for the first time – he was very excited and impressed!

Then we had some time to kill so David said we needed to take this hike because he had been on it before and wanted us to see the view. So off we headed crossing a footbridge over the Firehole River which is where the trailhead begins. First of all it is a beautiful walk through trees and flowers, watching for birds and the little critters. I would recommend hiking shoes. Sandals do not work as well and aren’t very comfortable as Josh discovered. You can see from the pictures that trail is dry and a bit bumpy and steep. It’s considered a “moderate” hike in terms of difficulty, but Josh was seven-years-old at the time and did just fine, so families can easily do it. There were only a few other people on the trail, so we had it mostly to ourselves. It was a great place to be away from the crowds that were around the geyser.

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Nancy and Josh hiking up the Observation Loop Trail

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View from Observation Loop

Once at the top, the view is gorgeous! The Old Faithful Inn actually looks quite small from that viewpoint. We stood there marveling at the expansive view of the basin until we realized we had about 20 minutes until our dinner reservation. So unfortunately we worried we wouldn’t have time complete the trail and David took off running back down the trail and Josh and I followed a little more slowly. We took what we hoped was a shorter route to get there and it actually was – we were just minutes behind David as he was making sure we wouldn’t lose our reservation. We arrived sweaty and breathless, but we made it in time.

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David and Josh relaxing after the hike and a great meal

After a delicious and elegant dinner in the Old Faithful Inn we headed back out to enjoy the evening and look up at where we were earlier and think of the different view of the area that we had. We know from the lack of crowds up there that many people miss this experience on their trip to the Old Faithful area. So next time you are there, take the opportunity to take that hike and see the view from a different vantage point and away from the masses. It’s a sight not to be missed.

Categories: Keatons Out and About, Outdoors, Parks | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Fishing, Kayaking, and Walking at Carlisle Lake

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Kayaking on Carlisle Lake

It’s not much of a lake. It’s only about 22 acres. Carlisle Lake used to be a mill pond for the Carlisle Lumber Company. The mill shut down in 1942 but the smoke stack from the mill is still standing on the site. It’s quite the landmark. David was very excited when we flew over it one day on our way back from Las Vegas because he could see the smokestack from the jet.

The lake has been stocked with trout since 1953, and Coho Salmon are raised in pens in the lake. It is a cute little lake, and perfect for a quick afternoon fishing trip or kayaking. We can stick our kayaks in the back of the pickup and be there in 20 minutes, then spend a few leisurely hours kayaking from one end to the other while Josh does catch-and-release fishing. Most of the fish that we have caught are small and bony but some people have caught larger fish.

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Interesting Things in Carlisle Lake (yes, we put it gently back)

There is a trail going all the way around the lake and people have made trails down to the water so you can fish from the bank and you don’t need a boat. It’s a great lake to take little kids to since it’s not only easy for them to fish, you can run them on the trail around the lake and tire them out.

Onalaska Alliance, a non-profit group, was formed to restore the lake and surrounding area.  The previous owners, the Southwest Washington Development Association, donated the land, which measures 72 acres, to the group. The Alliance intends to develop it for better recreational use as well as an environmental education aid. This past summer they received a grant and paved the parking lot. It’s a fabulous upgrade because it used to be a pothole-filled gravel and dirt mess. They now plan to clean up the trail around the park. Future plans include a fishing dock and wheelchair accessibility.

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David and Josh

Getting there: Take exit 71 off of I-5 and head east on Hwy. 508 for about eight miles. When you see the grocery store/gas station on your left you will take a left on the street right before the store. The street will take you about 2-3 blocks north and you will end up in the parking lot at Carlisle Lake. You can also look for the smokestack as you get into town.

Categories: Boating/Kayaking, Fishing, Historical, Keatons Out and About, Outdoors, Parks, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On Top of the World! Mt. Washburn, Yellowstone National Park

1-100_2051You feel like you’re on top of the world. You can see forever. And you just walked there!

“There” is Mt. Washburn in Yellowstone National Park. Located in the Washburn Mountains it is named after Henry Washburn who led an expedition to explore Wyoming in 1870. There are two trails to get up to the top. We took the easy route. Easy because it is really a gravel/partially blacktopped road and so it is wide with room for a lot of people. Now, ideally, you would like to take a hike where no one else goes, but forget about that happening in Yellowstone. Just go with it, because the nice part is that even though you climb in elevation, it is an easy, unobstructed walk so there were several more “mature” people walking and kids walking it as well. So it really is a friendly hike/walk for families.

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It is however, 3 miles one way so make sure you take plenty of water and a picnic lunch to have at the top while resting for the trip back down. Plan on taking 4-5 hours for the whole trip, you won’t want to rush it. Also, check ahead with the park before you go, to find out if the trail has cleared of snow yet. It can still have snow on it into June. Wear layered clothing as the weather can be unpredictable.

The trail we took is the Dunraven Pass trail so you get to by going to Dunraven Pass. There is plenty of parking. On this trail you will gain 1393 feet in elevation. The other trail is the Chittenden trail which is 2.25 miles one way and you gain 1491 feet in elevation. This trail is paved so you could ride your bike up it if you are in that kind of shape.

1-100_2023Along the way you can enjoy the various colorful mountain wildflowers such as Indian Paintbrush and lupines, as well as wildlife. Just before we got to the top we saw several mountain goats hanging around. They obviously weren’t afraid of people. I swear some of them even looked like they were posing for us!1-100_2062

At the top is the main fire lookout for the park and a park guide to answer any questions you may have. The lower part of the tower is open to visitors. But before you can ask questions, you will be made speechless from the beauty of everything that you can see from up there. Yellowstone Lake, Hayden Valley, the Grand Tetons. If you work in an office staring at a computer screen all day, the views will make your eyes thank you.

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It will be hard to leave. You will want to just sit there and look out at everything, taking it all in, watching as the sun moves across the sky and highlights areas you didn’t see just a few minutes earlier, shadowing other areas, bringing out the details of the landscape. So be sure you bring a camera. Words really can’t describe it and pictures can’t replace being there but they can help remind you of the way you felt when you were there. With so much to see and do in the massive park, it is easy to miss out on some things. But if you can, make the hike up to the top of Mt. Washburn a priority – because at 10,243 feet, you are on top of the world!1-100_2055

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Tilton River State Park (The “Don’t Blink, You’ll Miss It” State Park)

Hwy 508 runs east-west through Lewis County, Washington, winding through hills and valleys and even an intriguingly-named “Bear Canyon”.  Along the way, part of it parallels the Tilton River, named for a territorial surveyor, James Tilton.

At milepost 27, look to the north and don’t blink! You will literally miss the turn off for Tilton River State Park. It is simply a pull-off on the side of the road with room for two, maybe three cars. No road signs, no ranger booth, no port-a-potty.

Tilton River State Park Entrance

You have to get out of your car and face north and then at the start of the trail, off to your left, you will see a plaque on a rock noting that the land was donated in 1994 to the State of Washington by twin brothers, William and Otto Studhalter.

The Studhalter boys were somewhat influential in the Morton area. Born in 1901 in Tacoma, sons of a Swiss father and German mother, the whole family moved to Bremer, eight miles west of Morton, when the boys were young. The twins were loggers as well as owners of a sawmill where ties were cut for the army in WWII. They donated an old steam donkey (a steam-driven winch for logging) that had been used around 1918 for the annual Morton Logger’s Jubilee. This steam donkey can be seen today in Gust Backstrom Park in the town of Morton. There is also a Studhalter Road a few miles west of the park.

William died in 1993 and Otto followed in 1997. Otto donated the 110 acres to the State of Washington for use as a state park. Later, six more adjoining acres were bought to add to the donation.

By now, you would like to see the rest of the “park” and the river.  Just take a walk down the fairly well-defined trail for about ¼ mile. Careful, there are small obstacles such as tree roots. But when you reach the end of the trail and emerge from the canopy of firs, red cedar, maple, and Oregon Ash, you will see a scene right out of an old TV show – a simple rocky beach, a twisting, lazy river (known as “The Studhalter Fishing Hole”, and handmade fire pits. A beautiful place for picnics, relaxing , fishing or watching the kids play in the water. Very serene and peaceful.

But enjoy it while you can. According to the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, they have decided not to further develop the park and are planning to either sell it or have another agency take over management of the land. A place that holds summertime memories for many local residents could be closed down or built up. But maybe, just maybe, the new owners will honor the last intentions of the Studhalter brothers, and leave the property as is, accessible and natural, for future generations of families to enjoy.

Getting there: From north or southbound on Interstate 5, take exit 71 and head east to milepost 27.

Categories: Historical, Outdoors, Parks, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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