Columbia River Trek ~ Oregon & Washington

Where I’m originally from, Christmas = cold & (sometimes) snow. I now live in the sunshine state and well…there you get a whole lotta “none of that stuff.” What better remedy for the “I want snow during the holiday” need, than to spend Christmas in the Pacific Northwest! Last time I was in Portland, OR, my mini-me and I spent the day walking around the wonderful city streets. This time…we’re taking a field trip kiddies. All along the GORGEOUS banks of the Columbia River. I wanted cold & snow….I got cold & snow. Along with freezing rain. I’m not a math major but add all those lovelies up and you get ice. Which means icy roads. Hey…fun factoid kids! “Oregon does not treat their roads with chemicals to melt the ice.” (per a nice gentleman at a random gas station in WA, as he gingerly laughs when I told him the max speed we were driving, which was 30mph btw)  Well guess what, I didn’t fly 2,522 miles to hibernate in my hotel room. Well, I would’ve sat at the bar but that’s not the point. I was getting outside and that’s final. I was head to toe in my Columbia Omni-Heat lined beanie, coat, boots, thin under layer. I ain’t messin’ around y’all. I was going to hike in some snow dang it! I was ready!!

Before I take you on my journey, I first want to thank the Subaru Gods above for creating this lovely beauty of an AWD beastie! (wink, wink….heyyyyyyy Subaruuuuuuu!)

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I bow down to you almighty Forester. Keeper of mine and my mini-me’s life during the northern ice trek. HAIL SUBARU!!

Secondly, I must give a shout out to the Hilton in Portland for having one of the best vegan breakfast options I’ve ever eaten. This bowl was MASSIVE! Massive not only in size but the flavor was amaze-balls. For a price of $15 you definitely can share this beauty with a bud. Unless you’re a big ass football player. Or stingy. Now I can eat. I can seriously put some food away, and I couldn’t finish it. Kudos to you Hilton!

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Beauteous Maximus Bowlimus. Oats, Buckwheat & Chia Seeds. Awesome combo! Yummy Caramel Latte made with Almond Milk. Perfectly made!

And we’re off on the 30mph trek along Highway 84 towards destination “any waterfall or hill to hike.” I absolutely love mountains. Hills. Rocks. Large boulders. Rivers. Forests. (Why in the world do I live in Florida…??) I was one happy camper on this drive. Such beauty! Such grandeur! Such foggy conditions. Eh…who cares. I saw enough. For THIS trip, that is.

First stop on the random search on iPhone Maps is Bridal Veil Falls.

Dude….this place is pretty awesome. Thank the bathroom Gods for having their wee gem of a ladies room open on this holiday. (When in cold country one must consume copious amounts of coffee. That’s just a rule. So one must take advantage of all the bathrooms.) I was a prayin’ for this one!

The air was crisp and cool. Deep inhales. Long slow exhales. Refreshing and exhilarating. A bit biting on the face and down the nose and throat, tingling the lungs. Just what I wanted! Winter conditions on Christmas Day! Glorious indeed.

Forward to the Falls!

2/3 of a mile of glorious trampling up and down the hills of snow. And ice. Lots of ice. We slid part of the way. No joke.

I think back and it was a tad humorous walking down those steps. Treacherous, icy steps. I seriously could’ve busted my ass something serious! hahaha!! You had to punch your step hard to make an indent. A semi-grip if you will. One slip and you’re toast. But by god I was going to see that damn waterfall!

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The sound of the running water was magnificent. Continuous and calming. And yes that damn bridge was icy.

Up and down hills, switchbacks, icy steps, more icy steps, skinny icy steps, skinny icy steps with no railing. I am afraid of heights. Vertigo sometimes sets in. A few deep breaths and some pep talk later and I got to see this….

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Worth it. 110%.

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Look out point for the falls. Insert many skinny, icy steps with no railing. Insert Jen about to have a mini stroke. I need a beer just thinking about it…

Back tracking to where we parked and it’s off to destination “any waterfall or hill to hike” #2. The wrong way on the highway, and we had to back track a bit. Pleasantly surprised it takes us to Rooster Rock State Park. Bitingly bitter wind and a serious solid sheet of ice covering the parking lot. (People were doing donuts…us included. My idea, of course.) We were there all but 10 minutes. It was feckin’ cold!

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Pano caption taken from Rooster Rock State Park.

Just a few more extra miles down that one stretch of icy road…

Stop #3….

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Multnomah Falls. Soooo gorgeous. And guess what???

Closed…

This is it for now….I will meet you again o’ beauteous waterfall. Again indeed.

Next stop was intended to be Cascade Falls. My kiddo has been here several times before and is insistent I will love it. Well it seems as tho someone felt the need to shoot fireworks off. In the middle of the forest. Hmmm…I’m no Einstein but that’s some dumb shit right there. The recklessness caused major fires and destroyed a large portion of this beautiful land. Reports say some places will not be opened until sometime next year. So sad… (you dumbass, you…)

So we head to what would be on any backpacker/hikers list of must sees. It was definitely on mine! A wee part of the PCT. The part of the Pacific Crest Trails’ connection from Oregon to Washington. Ever seen the movie “Wild” with Reese Witherspoon? She plays a character named Cheryl Strayed (who actually wrote the book) who hiked the PCT by herself. The book is amazing. Her journey ends at the Bridge of the Gods. My stop #4… This alone was my ultimate Christmas present.

Washington State.

Guess what??

Clear roads!! Whaaaaa…..

Back tracking along the Columbia River towards Portland, just on the Washington side this time. Scenery is equally as beautiful. Now kiddo is speeding along at warp speed.

Insert moms white knuckles.

Random beautiful scenic point we see on the side of the road. STOOOOPPPPPP!!!! And the trusty Subaru Forester politely obeys. No fish-tailing. No sliding 1/4 mile past our stopping point. Perfect precision.

Helloooooo Cape Horn!

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Cape Horn over looking Columbia River and Oregon. She is a beauty beyond measure.
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Look. At. THAT.
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*sigh* words can’t describe…
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No fancy pose going on here. I’m literally sinking in the snow. On the edge of the cliff. No big deal…

Scenic overload for one day. Time to chow! My hopes of visiting multiple vegan joints in PDX were dashed when nothing was open on Christmas Day. (Ugh…again. The NERVE!) Nothing, but one. One lovely place called Baghdad Theater & Pub! Super cool atmosphere  located on the corner of 37th & SE Hawthorne Blvd. Once again the vegan Gods were smiling down upon us.

It was a lovely end to a jam packed lovely Christmas Day! Mountains, snow, crisp, cold air and some of the best scenery. The Pacific Northwest. I will conquer more of you one day soon…..

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An epic sunrise with 3 mountainous peaks in the background as I leave the PDX.
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6 Comments Add yours

  1. Lyra says:

    I love this post so much!! It makes me miss home; I grew up in Camas. Those are my childhood stomping grounds!! I live in Slovenia now, so it’s mighty far away… thank you for showing me and helping me remember. 💜☄💜

    Liked by 1 person

    1. NomadJenzie says:

      Aw you’re so welcome! It’s absolutely gorgeous there and I plan on going back again soon!! 💙✈️🌎💚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Britt | Alternatively Speaking says:

    I’ve never been but knowing a place has great vegan/vegetarian options definitely means they stand out in my mind – so if we do go, I know where I’m hitting up!
    Britt | http://alternativelyspeaking.ca

    Liked by 1 person

    1. NomadJenzie says:

      Heck ya girl! One of the top vegan cities in the country!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Tish Travels says:

    I love this! Thanks for sharing! I’m actually spending some time (on a work assignment) in the PNW right now, near the OR/WA/ID border! I still haven’t seen Multnomah Falls in the winter but it’s on my bucket list. It was certainly beautiful last summer – before the dumbass set the forest on fire.

    If you haven’t made it there yet, I recommend Leavenworth, WA for winter/ Christmas. It’s a small Bavarian-themed town that transforms into a winter wonderland every Christmas. I just spent a week there and had a blast!

    Those mountain peaks make my heart warm. I lived near Mt. Rainier for about a year and miss it every day! Hope to get back over there someday soon! Thanks again for sharing. Seeing your pictures makes me homesick for a place that’s not my home!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. NomadJenzie says:

      You’re VERY welcome Tish! And thank you for the tip about WA. Yes Multonomah is gorgeous and I hope to get back again soon when it is open. I sure hope the area blossoms back quickly. Thanks again for your kind words! Cheers!

      Like

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