About That Hike

He writes in this font, she writes in this font.

Megan’s response to the last post: “Awww baby, I love it — now write about our hike!” Haha! Spot on!

Yes, darling, I’ll write about the clear sky, bright sun creeping its way into the trail bottom, and freezing air that engulfed us like an arctic flame in reverse. I will write about the hike. Thank you!

I am not sure what is typical for Portland weather in early January, this is my first year here. It seemed that this past Saturday was especially sunny and sharply cold. No rain, not even the slightest moisture on the ground, and no clouds separating us from the sun in the sky; this did not seem like the same Portland that I had experienced for the past month. It was dreamlike in the stark contrast with preceding Saturdays of recent memory.

The city was alive, awoken from the deep sleep of December where frigid rain forced us all into hibernation. As we parked our car and descended to Lower Macleay Park from Thurman Street, I was surprised to see an abundance of people. Children jumping on thick ice, hoping against their parents apprehension for it to crack then break under their heels. Couples clothed in leggings under joggers below hoodies, running hard up the trail and against common sense. I was surprised to see such an array of footwear on this hike. Heeled boots, nearly sandals, and some taking the risk of running on this ice slick path. I held my breath every time one of these people walked by as I tried to hide my fear of their falling. People, everywhere, enjoying the day and new year outside; ignoring the cold and embracing the wonder of the Rose City.

Megan and I were dressed for the weather. No, we were not one of the ambitious couples running up the trail with drunken commitment to healthy resolutions. Not this time anyway. Winter boots, warm coats, and several layers did their best to protect us from the sharp freeze of that sunny day. Under those layers and with Klaus haphazardly dodging back and forth by our side, we wandered up then down Macleay Park.

Again and again, the local wonders in and around Portland amaze me. I don’t know of another city that provides its inhabitants with natural beauty and an expansive, national park-like disconnect from city life quite like Portland. In less than five minutes of journeying from the trailhead, we were deep in icy, icicled woods, enjoying the effects of sub-freezing temperature on lush forest.

In no particular hurry, Megan and I studied everything. Patiently, with too much concern, she and Klaus watched me climb up a falling tree to see what secrets hid on top. Guy’s ability to freely take risk, without worry, is something I love about him most. It’s truly the reason we are where we are. He’s not scared of anything. While passersby oohed and aahed Klaus on the trail, I watched Megan. She weaved over tree trunks and through icy leaves to get very close shots of specific fields of bushes. Damn, I love that adventurous woman. “The leaves look like they were painted with diamonds of little clouds,” she shouted over to me after finishing her shoot.

That was our Saturday. The second day of January. The first weekend of this year. Now here are the photos to fill the blanks in the story. Megan’s photographs, I think, tell a better story anyway.

Take A Hike

He writes in this font. She writes in this font.

It was a cold, wet day when we decided to hike Eagle Creek Trail. Not rainy, just wet. Although the sun was out and there were really no clouds in the sky, the trail was frigid and muddy. Thick puddles of mud covered many parts of the trail, which, through osmosis, traveled from our boots upward to numb all unexposed parts with a biting chill. Needless to say, it was a beautiful hike that we enjoyed thoroughly. Wonderfully muddy. Splendidly wet and a little slimy. Perfectly Oregon. It was terribly cold, but what kind of Oregonians would we be if we decided not to go due to cold and rain? Not very good ones. That’s what kind.

But let’s back up. A few Saturdays ago Megan and I awoke with an iron urge to go for a hike. It was my third weekend living here, which makes it two Saturdays from now in the past. After a wet week of hard, unrelenting rain, this first morning of the weekend gave birth to a sky of clarity and warmth. It was a day made for a hiking, so that’s what we simply had to do.

Now where to go? Fortunately Megan and I had made a list of hikes near(ish) to Portland of varying lengths. We made this list on our long drive home from Arizona, sometime between northern California and Medford. I remember making the list vividly because Megan was snapping pictures out the window as we drove quickly up I-5 that entire stretch of highway. Window down, cold air streaming in and carrying fine sheets of rain — providing a mini-waterfall effect. It was refreshing. That’s how I remember the list. Look out for our next post, which will include a copy of that list and our Oregon Hiking Guide. We selected Eagle Creek Trail because it was the perfect length for our mood (slightly under 4 miles) and I really wanted to see Punchbowl Falls. I had never been there myself and I have been wanting to go for awhile. I finally had the best hiking partner to bring with me!

If you have never hiked Eagle Creek Trail, here is a perfect description:

"Eagle Creek is the quintessential hike in the Columbia River Gorge, boasting dozens of spectacular waterfalls, tall basalt cliffs, and the lush temperate rain forests that so characterize the Pacific Northwest. It is considered by many to be one of the most resplendent hiking destinations in the Northwest -- no doubt, essential fare for Portland-area outdoor lovers."

“I can’t believe I live here.  This place is so beautiful.” I think I repeated these phrases, or something similar, every 10 to 15 minutes of the hike. Yes, and every time, I was there to remind him, “Yes, you live here now.” Every slight turn gave way to something indescribably beautiful. Walking through mini waterfalls, looking down on the creek from over a hundred feet above, seeing salmon sit motionless against the current like living anchors — I was grateful that Megan stopped for so many pictures because I needed that time to experience the awe. I can’t even begin to explain to you how much I appreciate his understanding of when I get the urge to stop and escape the trail a bit. I follow my eye to whatever catches it and sometimes that leads me to unexpected places. 

Klaus, on the other hand, begrudgingly sauntered through the hike like an angry mop with legs. This describes him perfectly! He was absolutely soaking wet. He made me carry him towards the end. Sometimes I think Guy prefers to just carry Klaus to be closer to him. They have a ridiculous bond. I think Klaus loves him more than me at this point. I guess the glory of Oregon is too much for some… Anyway, at least he looked adorable.

Gratitude overcame me on the ride home. Grateful for this city and its surrounding paradise, grateful for loving people that made me feel immediately at home, and Megan is the exclamation point to this feeling. Here we go, he’s going to make me cry now. For her I am most thankful, grateful… lovingly indebted.

With muddy, wet clothes and a dog soiling me more thoroughly by sitting on my lap — imagine his condition that low to the ground — I had never felt more content with the world. And then Megan took me to Los Gorditos for some much needed burritos. She truly is always the exclamation.