Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mom's Rules - Elowha Falls

Friday the sun finally shined on Portland again. This is becoming an all too rare event which must be celebrated whenever it occurs, for one never knows when it may happen again. To celebrate, I took off work early. My girls were so excited when I showed up early to get them from daycare, and even more excited when I told them that we were going hiking. In fact, I even let 10-year-old Sage bring along her friend, Danielle.

Elowha Falls

We headed to the first trail that came to mind: Elowha Falls. I was shocked that there was only one car in the parking lot. I figured that on such a rare, sunny Portland day, every trailhead would be packed with people who had suddenly developed Spring Fever and as a result were unable to work. Having the trail almost completely to ourselves was like a cherry on top of the sundae!

Oregon Forest Land Survey Marker

Sage’s friend, Danielle, told me she had never been hiking before. I am always amazed when a kid tells me this. In my mind, it is like they have been horribly neglected. However, if you were to ask my kids, they would probably say that they are horribly neglected because I never take them to the local playground and I am always dragging them out somewhere in nature instead.

Since this was Danielle’s first time hiking, and most importantly her first time hiking with me, it was important to make her aware of my “rules” prior to heading out on the trail. When I announced it was time to cover the rules, both of my kids-- even four-year-old Odessa-- sighed and gave me the irritated "Not again, Mom!" look. Danielle, on the other hand, seemed eager to hear. Regardless, they were all getting the same old lecture.

So, I know you are on the edge of your seat dying to know….what are these so-called rules, right?
1.     Always listen to mom.
2.     No running on the trail.
3.     Always yield the trail to other hikers.
4.     Don’t throw anything. (This rule especially created for Odessa.)
5.     Stay with the group. You should always be able to see and hear me without my having to use my screaming voice.
6.     If you happen to get separated from the rest of us, hug a tree. Don’t do anything but hug that tree.
7.     Always listen to mom.
Danielle looked at me and laughed. “Hug a tree?”

Sage, bless her heart, who has heard that phrase more times than she would care to admit, proceeded to explain: “Yes, it gives you shelter” and laughed.

I elaborated: “Yes, but most importantly, hugging that tree keeps you in one place and makes it easier for anyone that comes looking for you to find you.”

I may or may not have had to yell at the kids to stop running once or twice, which could have been followed by a somewhat traumatizing story about the poor kid (based on fact but mostly fiction) who didn’t listen, fell down the cliff, and it took the rescue team five hours to get them to safety. Other than that, it was a great hike. We enjoyed the filtered sunshine in the forest, the trilliums now in full bloom, and we made it back to the trailhead without injury or incident, other than our shoes getting just a little muddy. To reward ourselves for a job well done, we stopped at Multnomah Falls for tasty, albeit overpriced, ice cream cones, along with a crowd of other people, who likewise were celebrating an afternoon of sunshine in the gorge.

Note: I decided to leave the camera behind for this hike and just enjoy the day on the trail unencumbered. All pictures are courtesty of my iPhone.

Getting there: Want to visit Elowha Falls for yourself? This trail is accessed from the John B Yeon State ParkFriends of the Columbia Gorge has a great trail description! Visit their site for more information on this trail and many more in the Columbia River Gorge.