Thursday, July 14, 2011

Chasing Ramona Falls

"I beg your pardon, Owl, but I th-th-th-think we are coming to a fatterfall... a flutterfall... a very big waterfall!" - Piglet

It’s no secret that I spend most of my time chasing waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge, so hiking to a waterfall on one of the most popular trails in the Mt. Hood National Forest felt a little bit like cheating on my spouse. But “The Gorge” knows where it stands in my heart and it will never be replaced.

We “attempted” this trail last summer, but Odessa’s little legs (she was only 3 ½ at the time) just weren’t up for the task and we ended up turning back not long after crossing the Sandy River Bridge. When I told my husband, Jon, on the Fourth of July that I wanted to go hiking and get away from the masses of holiday travelers that would be fighting for parking spots at most of the trailheads in “The Gorge”, he suggested we give Ramona Falls another shot.

Near the trailhead

According to most of the hiking guides, the Ramona Falls Trail is a 7.1 mile roundtrip with 1000 feet in elevation gain. According to my pedometer, it was 7.31 miles, but I am guessing that the hiking guides don’t account for chasing a 4-year-old up and down the trail either. We started the trail a bit later in the afternoon than most, so we passed few people on the trail, and those that we did offered a hearty hello and a smile.

Crossing the Sandy River

There is a small, wooden bridge that crosses the Sandy River and this seemed to be a great spot to stop, dip our feet in the glacial (that means it’s freezing cold) water and take a quick break until our toes almost turned blue.

Are they blue yet?

The views of Mt. Hood are spectacular, especially just after crossing the Sandy River. At times, you feel like you could just reach out and touch the snow that is still covering the mountain.
Mount Hood

The trail wound its way through the forest, flanked by wild rhododendron and the sound of rushing water coming from below. The cool breeze blowing down off the mountain was a welcome treat, as we were all getting a workout.

Trail sign near the falls

The trail

As a first time visitor, when we finally reached Ramona Falls, I was awed by both the scale and the beauty. I had seen many pictures before, but not one of them did this place justice. The falls were much (much) larger than I had imagined, and the place had a peacefulness that is hard to describe. After hiking for well over three miles with no cell phone signal and no one but my husband and children to be seen, I truly felt like I had gotten away from it all.

Sage and Ramona Falls

My girls ran around in wonder of the place, feeling like they had just found the play land of fairies. My husband was busy with his camera, snapping his own pictures, but, I just sat there, for what seemed like not nearly long enough, and enjoyed the peace of the place before giving my own camera its workout.

Eventually, we had to tear ourselves away. It was getting late in the afternoon and we needed to get back to the trailhead before dark.

Wild rhododendron

I have never claimed to be in any kind of shape other than round. So I won’t lie, it was a few days before my calves were speaking to me again in anything other than shrieks. This trail was about double the distance of what I normally do on a day hike. Was it worth it? Absolutely!! I returned home that night, a combination of relaxed and exhausted. I even slept right through the annual neighborhood Independence Day re-enactment of the bombing of Baghdad!

Visiting Ramona Falls:

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic! Such gorgeous photos. Can't say I'm too happy about having TLC stuck in my head, but it's worth it. I do remember hearing about your shrieking calves, but what a wonderful way to get a great workout.