Vol. 3 // An Oregon autumn
We’re bearing East down Highway 84, and we’re due to arrive in Hood River by 10am. I tell ya, Fons, though I’ve probably driven it fifty times by now, the Columbia River Gorge never fails to leave me scooping my jaw from the floor. It’s spectacular out here today. Aubrey rides shotgun to me now. To my right, I watch her eyes trace the evergreens on the ridge-line. I suspect that we’re thinking the same thing: Damn, we are lucky to live here. To the north, Washington begs for the same attention. It’s so close I feel like I might be able to swim the distance. You know, if I really had to. Like if I were being chased by a swimming cougar, or something. Hah!
Anyway, it’s overcast today, and the temperature is hovering around the mid 60’s. We’re getting a later start than I would’ve hoped for because we still have much to accomplish in Hood River before we follow Highway 35 up into the state forest.
A note here, should you find yourself in the area: Mount Hood is a National Forrest. You would be wise to pick up your permit before you arrive. They’re not terribly expensive and the proceeds fund everything from trail maintenance to bridge building to clean restrooms. Here are some options -
1. Day Pass $5
2. Annual Pass (OR & WA) $30
3. Annual Interagency Pass (All National Forrest and Parks across the US.) $80
I’d also like to pick up some extra dry flies at the Gorge Fly Shop. I’ve been recommended the October Caddis pattern for this time of year on the East Fork.
I’ll send another entry once we’ve settled into camp for the evening.
It’s nearly 8 p.m., and the sun has been down for a little over an hour now. We’ve decided to camp at a gravel pull off near the Polallie Trailhead. The east fork of Hood River fills the air with soft static and we’ve made a small fire in one of the established rings. Our stomachs are full of tomato soup and bacon-apple grilled cheese sandwiches. We purchased the apple today at a small fruit stand in town. Fons, I tell ya, it was the sweetest, most crisp apple I’ve ever had.
I tried my luck with the trout of the East Fork today as well. The locals recommended I rig what’s called a dry and dropper. I’m embarrassed to say, but my first rainbow was no larger than my pinky finger. Aubrey was amused, and I flushed red, but I trust that you won’t judge me too harshly. You’re a good friend. As the day wore on, my luck improved. The final count was a modest 5 rainbows. However, this area is catch and release only. Hence the tomato soup and grilled cheese dinner.
Fons, despite the good day, there is one thing that troubles me this evening. Upon arrival, the campsite was littered with plastic bottles, wrappers, and even used toilet paper. There’s been obvious disregard for established fire rings as well. Fons, I fear that exposing these places on the internet will only serve to further the issue. So I have a request of you. When you publish this article, please include a copy of the LNT principles. I pray that the future generation brings a more considerate and earth-conscious population.
Fons, I’ll tell you this - Should I have never seen a waterfall, I would indeed have missed one of nature’s most profound and pleasing gifts. But fortune’s light shined upon us today, brother. Our weary hiker eyes bore witness to not one, but TWO glorious waterfalls—the mighty Tamanawas and the elegant Ramona. They were different, each magnificent in its own right.
I’d also like to share a peculiar topic that arose during our hike to Ramona today. Cougars. You see, it’s my understanding that earlier this year (In May, if memory serves) two mountain bikers were mauled, and one of them even died from it. This is unsettling, but, fortunately, this type of event hasn’t surfaced since 1924. BUT, only four short months later, another woman was killed in Mount Hood just miles away from the very trail we walked to Ramona Falls. Well, Fons, knowledge of horrific events, however sporadic, do play devious tricks on one’s mind when walking lonely trails.
So Aubrey and I concluded that, should we encounter one of these diabolical, man-hunting felines, we would assemble back-to-back. She would grab the metal tripod from my pack, and I would swing it at the cat, and we would hope that this would deter the hairy beast long enough to walk slowly back to the parking lot. Talk about the longest 4 mile hike of your life! Hah!
Anyway, I’m now back in the parking lot, and I want to have a more informed answer to the question “What do I do if I encounter a cougar?” I’ve given it a Google. Here’s how to handle the situation according to one of our local news resources, The Oregonian.