Hello Summer: Pacific Northwest Edition
So far we've been making appearances for each season in Portland. After viewing fall leaves in The Gorge and splashing in winter puddles downtown, late spring and early summer were beckoning us. There had been plenty of chatter regarding how wonderful these select few months are in the Northwest, and to our delight, the rumors were true.
The Columbia River Gorge is beautiful any time of the year, but the summer months unlock certain adventures cloaked by colder months. As warmer temps arrive and water levels fall, places like Oneonta Gorge become accessible. While only a short hike, reaching the base of Oneonta Falls requires a fabled icy dip through the narrowest section of the gorge. After you take the chest deep plunge into 45 degree water, your decisions are rewarded when standing at the base of the thundering falls. Don't worry, it's not as cold on the way back.
One of the main reasons we chose to head west this time was to boogie, cut loose, and get all sorts of silly. Our friends had been selling us on attending the Northwest's premier transformational festival- What The Festival. Tall tales of bumpin' pool parties, illuminated forests, pristine volcano views, and Burning Man vibes had us tickled with anticipation... and wow oh wow did What The Festival deliver. For three days the ground shook from perfectly dialed sound, bodies grooved through the night till sunrise, and the floodgates of laughter never closed. With moonlight overhead and love swirling abound, we were reminded of how to be kids all over again.
It's safe to say we truly love our crash pad in Portland. Right across the street from our friend's apartment hides one of the cities best secrets: Reed College. A time capsule among collegiate grounds, Reed College sits nestled on a neighborhood nature sanctuary. Peaceful outdoor solace can be found within just minutes of walking out the front door. Daily walks around the college campus are practically mandatory when we are visiting. While the nature preserve tries to steal the show, the manicured grounds and mid-centrury buildings woven into the campus are equally noteworthy.
It had been four years since I first visited Mt Rainier, and the behemoth volcano had been calling my name since we started routinely visiting the Northwest. I was dying to get into the backcountry, but I was also itching to take Erin with me. Never had she been backpacking, but thankfully she agreed to give it a try. To her delight she not only managed the strenuous 6 mile hike (each way), but she really enjoyed it. As switch back after switch back tested our stamina, views of the grand giant Rainier reminded us how special this trek really was.
The coast had been eluding us. Three combined visits and not once had we dug our hands into the sand along Oregon's famed coast, but that was about to end. We committed and after waking up in the backcountry of Mt. Rainier, we drive the 5 hours needed to make it to the coast by sunset. While the sun decided to disappear behind the summer marine layer, that didn't change our desire to complete the mission. With a locals suggestion in mind, we jammed out to Oswald West State Park in search of Short Sands beach. The air was chilly, the driftwood was huge, and visibility was low, but with our feet in the sand, the trip was complete.