Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Backpacking the Eagle Creek Trail


I was invited to come on the Teacher’s (14-15 year olds) backpacking trip in July up Eagle Creek Canyon in the Gorge. I have been wanting to go up there for a while, so I was excited to come along. I was also the unofficial guide, because I knew the trail and new the maps well. We started on a Monday morning at 5 a.m. to get to the trail by 6 a.m.


The trail is a nice one, with no steep climbs, and it follows Eagle Creek. There are some neat places and good views along the trail as well. I liked the box canyon at High Bridge and the concave basalt pillar tops called the Potholes. We had many rests and everyone did pretty well, with some complaining, but we were having fun.


The big highlights of the trail are the waterfalls. There are nine big falls along the trail (three over 100 ft.) and several smaller ones. I really love Punch Bowl Falls. The setting around it is truly beautiful. Tunnel Falls is also a favorite because of how big it is and the tunnel you use to get around it:


We stopped for lunch at Twister Falls and took a little swim to cool off.


Here are the nine big waterfalls (you can see me next to Tunnel Falls):

Metlako FallsIMG_6646

Lower Punch Bowl FallsIMG_6666






Punch Bowl FallsIMG_6655

Loowit FallsIMG_6693






Skoonichuck FallsIMG_6711

Grand Union FallsIMG_6734






Tunnel FallsIMG_6749

Twister FallsIMG_6771







Sevenmile FallsIMG_6799






We camped at Seven-and-a-Half-Mile Camp, and had a good rest from our hike.IMG_6813

The next day we headed up the mountain to reach Wahtum Lake. This was a harder climb. We did have a nice place to eat lunch at though.


Wahtum Lake was a great place to swim. I also showed the boys how to catch and cook crawdads. And for desert I made a huckleberry compote with the fresh berries growing right in our camp.







Wednesday, we headed further up the mountain. We took a small detour to summit Chinidere Mountain. The view was incredible. We had clear views of five major mountains and many smaller peaks. We could also look down into Eagle Creek Canyon. There were also some ancient Indian pits (first picture). These are pits hollowed out of the rock and sometimes built up a bit. People are not sure what they were for, but that are several thousand years old.


Our camp that night was in the middle of a burned section of the forest. We got our water from a little spring. It was pretty cool.


Thursday was our last day and we had to hike down about 4000 ft. The trail was very steep. During lunch I found this neat little wasp nest (they did not bother us). IMG_7011_thumb

Because of our elevation there were some very nice views. Here is a view of Cascade Locks were we ate delicious ice cream a week before, as well as a clear view of the Bridge of the Gods over the Columbia River. We also found more Indian pits in an open rocky area.


I had a really good time on this hike and am grateful for the invitation. It was hard but very worth it.

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