100 miles across the Columbia River Gorge and back: 5/31/14

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Sean Thomas
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Joined: February 25th, 2012, 11:33 pm

100 miles across the Columbia River Gorge and back: 5/31/14

Post by Sean Thomas » June 2nd, 2014, 2:04 pm

If there is a place on this earth as enchanted and beautiful as the Columbia River Gorge I haven't found it yet ;) Looking forward to experiencing some of that beauty while also visiting some of the most iconic and remote areas of the gorge has had me excited for almost a year since dropping out at Horsetail Falls on a similar trip last summer. Thanks to the snow melt and the increasingly longer days, the table was set Friday morning for an incredible adventure across the Columbia River Gorge and back. The journey took me from the popular Angels Rest TH all the way over to the highest point in the gorge, the appropriately named Mt Defiance standing almost five thousand feet over the great river to the north. Starting after sunrise was the plan to avoid using the headlamp or being in the dark anymore than was necessary early on. I actually hadn't been to Angels Rest since last summer when I did the Hatfield with a few tff's and had totally forgotten how scenic it is up there:


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The continuation of the Angels Rest Trail and the Wahkeena Trail over to Multnomah Creek were equally nice with the forest floor just bursting with green:


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It was going to be a van marmot day:


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The short segment along the famed Multnomah Creek was full of green as well, doing its best to represent the lush and thickly vegetated stream side habitats the western gorge is known for. Especially this time of year, the annuals that pop up in spring and the crystal clear water really scream "you're in the gorge":


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The next section of trail was the haul up to Bell Creek on the Franklin Ridge and Oneonta Trails:


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I was super excited to see all of the awesome stuff mcds had been doing up there but was still in awe at some of the giants trees this dude has cut through. Amazing and thank you!! There is no more Bell Creek Biggen to climb over and like mc had said in an earlier post someone has cut some of the worst brush out as well:


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The big trees in that area of the forest are huge and definitely something to admire. As you close in on the crossing the brush gets a little thick again but then you hit the old bridge over Bell Creek, which was looking kinda dry:


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Now for the 3+ miles on the Horsetail Creek Trail over to the Nesmith Road and the Moffett CreeK Trail:


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The viewpoints along the unstable cliff edge up there offer excellent views across the river:


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A nice section of the Moffett Creek Trail in the sunshine:


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It was good to see the old Wauneka Point sign still standing tall:


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And the sights at "powerline meadow"


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Heading over to Von Ahn Rim and those awesome viewpoints of Tanner Butte and Mt Hood:


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Chase did some excellent detective work a while back and found this article about a Curtis Von Ahn who managed six lookouts in the gorge area:


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The little known and even lesser used Von Ahn Rim camp still sports a few fire rings and old campsites. This pit looks to have not been used for a while:


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If someone was to camp up there it would be a very short walk to views like this:


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The descent down Moffett Creek to the Tanner crossing went really well. The forest in there is really interesting above the crossing with lots of rhodies about to bloom:


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A few Bear Grass too:


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The crossing of Tanner Creek was far too deep to rock hop and avoid getting the feet wet so in I went:


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I grabbed some water and loaded up on some food at this small stream before hitting the Tanner cutoff up to Tanner Ridge:


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After the sweaty battle up the cutoff I ran into the first person I had seen all day, a super cool guy named Brian who recognized me from PH! Thanks for saying whatsup Brian, I needed a good booster at that point :)


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I saw a few friendly groups of backpackers near the butte asking about the spur trail before I hit the Eagle-Tanner and that awesome little marsh above Thrush Pond with all the old frog hopper steps. Lots of marigolds and shooting stars up there right now:


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I tanked up on some more water at Big Cedar Springs after the long dry stretch from the bottom of the tanner cutoff to Big Cedar. I could have stopped at Tanner Spring at that point but I was still good on water so just pushed on through. The Eagle Creek crossing was knee deep but not too bad other than the otherwise slippery rocks :D The old log near EC:


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Once I reached the Eagle Creek Trail it was like walking out of the jungle onto a paved road after all those miles in the brush :D I got up to Wahtum pretty quick:


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There were still some lingering snow patches on the Herman Creek Trail from the base of Chinidere over toward the anthill junction:


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Once again I would luck out as a very pretty girl full of enthusiasm was waiting for me at the Tomlike Mtn junction ;) Jojo had hiked in via Herman Creek and waited for me at the rendezvous point with a bag full of food and drinks. She wasn't feeling well in the week leading up and wasn't sure she would even be able to help out. But she proved once again just how amazing she is by pushing through and being my pacer as well as my aid station. Big thanks to her cus I could have never done it without her!


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There were a few nice views of Mt Hood from the Rainy-Wahtum Trail on the way over to the old house on top of the Herman Creek cutoff. The clouds closing in on the summit looked a little mischievous:


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The incoming cold air felt really good as we hiked the old roadbed:


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Past the Rainy Lake campground and pretty soon we were at the Mt Defiance Trail and the final leg of the first half of the trip. Theotherbobs comb was still hanging out at the signboard:


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The stretch up to Defiance was beautiful as the light finally left us and the forest took on a more mysterious feel. Last year I really struggled on this stretch and in both trips I had a really hard time trying to stay awake through the night. This year I felt much better going up the backside of Defiance and didn't get sleepy hardly at all other than a few short spurts just before dawn. After a little over 16 hours on the trail I had made it. No records by any means but at this point I really felt confident in my chances on getting back to Angels Rest:


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The drop down the backside of the mountain was awesome in the night air as we made our way back over to the lakes and the campground. Occasionally huge strikes of lightning wood illuminate the woods around us, reminding us just how small we really are. The strikes were far enough away that we never heard any thunder and thankfully never had a system directly over head. One thing was for certain, we weren't the only ones roaming around the woods that night. The amphibians didn't mind the storm at all and were out enjoying the midnight air just as much as we were:


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This one was underwater:


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Salamander:


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The little log jam on the outlet of Wahtum and the stream crossings on the way down to Eagle Creek weren't too difficult in the dark. The Eagle Creek crossing was a bit of a different story but I made it across safely as jojo watched from the bank. She stayed on the east side of the creek to avoid the crossing and set up a little mini camp to get some rest before hiking back out Eagle Creek that morning. She was amazing on this trip and I love her to death. Couldn't have done it without you Jojo ;) :) Now it was time hike the ever improving Eagle Tanner Trail up to Tanner Ridge. I have to say, having done this route 8-10 times in some variation for the last 4 years it has really improved in an overall sense. There are still lots of sections that need a lot of work but the growing dream that is the Hatfield Route is really starting to come alive :) Back at the little frog hoppers again and the sun had come back out giving me a renewed sense of life and energy to tackle the days remaining obstacles:


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I saw a few more folks on Tanner Ridge and then dropped down the evil that is the tanner cutoff :D


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I took another short break at the small bridge I had stopped at the day before and loaded up on food and water again to make the last giant climb of the trip. This log always serves as a little extra motivation every time I hike up the Moffett switchbacks ;)


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I felt pretty good going up Moffett and was able to make a pretty good time despite being as far in as I was. I ate a few more snacks on the Horsetail Creek segment but I wasnt really feeling eating any more dry food at that point. Pretty soon I had made it back to Bell Creek, where I dropped out down to Horsetail last year. Instead of stopping and even thinking about last year I just pushed on and found myself back at the bridge over Bell Creek:


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The log was still gone! :P :D


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This is where what seemed like a perfect trip turned a little less perfect as I tripped on a rock(maybe a root) and fudged up my left knee on Bell Creek. Pretty much from that point on it was difficult to run and even walk down hill, which is where time is usually made up. Wet feet, and an increasing limp caused me to develop a nasty blister under my right foot, effectively turning me into a pile of sludge :D Little did I know that from this point on I would experience the whole gamut of human emotions from happiness and elation to extreme anger and despair. Trying to just focus on the basics and trying to enjoy the rest of the trip I was able to curb a lot of the negativity and kept going at a reasonable pace. Funny thing tho, you really do see more when you take the time to look around. I found the Bell Creek Camp! :lol: It is pretty close to the west end of the trail and has a nice spot or two for a couple tents. It would be hard to beat a night under all those big trees!


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Franklin Ridge was somewhat difficult going down but the forest is so pretty in there it makes it difficult to stay crabby when you're in such a beautiful place :) Back at Multnomah Creek and the lush green of the western gorge!


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Multnomah Creek from the bridge:


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Who needs a little 420 :D


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The next 6 miles were a lot like the end of the Bell Creek and Franklin Ridge segments, a few ups and downs in terms of my mental state as well as a few hills too :D Its really strange how your mind can bounce up and down in terms of self confidence or a lack thereof depending on your mood. It seems just riding out the pendulum until it swings back into your favor is the only thing to do when things get tough. Speaking of swinging things back in my favor, a couple of awesome guys recognized me from PH(where else :) ) and just speaking with someone gave me all the energy I needed to get back to Angels Rest:


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The stretch down Angels Rest went pretty good as I talked with lots of friendly hikers going up and down the trail. The woodland flowers are really blooming up there and make a great addition to an already great hike. The last .8 down from Coopey Creek was the toughest of my life :lol: but it was an incredible feeling to walk back into that lot and know that I had finished my goal. I had set a deadline of 38 - 40 hours for the trip and beat that by almost 5 hours as I stumbled into the lot after about 34 1/2 hours on the trail. No speed records, prize money or awards but I walked away with a sense of self confidence and the realization that we can all do just about anything we put our minds to. And that in the grand scheme of things, going 100 miles in a day or two is really pretty small when compared to the big challenges so many people on this planet face everyday. Plus, I got to spend all that time in a place I love more than anywhere else earth, so I must be a pretty lucky guy ;)
Last edited by Sean Thomas on June 2nd, 2014, 7:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Roy
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Re: 100 miles across the Columbia River Gorge and back: 5/31

Post by Roy » June 2nd, 2014, 2:18 pm

Sean that's really cool and Ive read your trs that led you to your goal. Something you will remember with a smile for ever.

By the way your trs have so motivated my son more than I could ever do thanks for all your sharing.
The downhill of the mind is harder than the uphill of the body. - Yuichiro Miura

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Bosterson
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Re: 100 miles across the Columbia River Gorge and back: 5/31

Post by Bosterson » June 2nd, 2014, 2:26 pm

Wow dude. Way to stick with it! I didn't know you were planning on going back again this year. Very impressive, congrats! :)
Will hike off trail for fun.

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Rustygoat
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Re: 100 miles across the Columbia River Gorge and back: 5/31

Post by Rustygoat » June 2nd, 2014, 2:50 pm

Simply Awesome Sean! :D Your TR's are always exciting to read....this one, all I can say about it is WOW! I am glad you were able to complete the trip and share with all of us. Happy Hiking Sean! :D
Tim

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joerunner
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Re: 100 miles across the Columbia River Gorge and back: 5/31

Post by joerunner » June 2nd, 2014, 3:22 pm

Very cool. I couldn't even finish once across and to travel 100 miles in that terrain, mostly on your own, is just driven. That's the kind of stuff that books are made from.

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bobcat
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Re: 100 miles across the Columbia River Gorge and back: 5/31

Post by bobcat » June 2nd, 2014, 3:50 pm

Incredible - and congratulations! I am sure you will receive many more as well . . . You and your trail "helper" deserve a slew of prizes for the inspiration you've fostered, just doggedly training, scouting, and sticking to a goal. Those Gorge backcountry trails are getting back on hikers' radar in a big way thanks to the likes of you.

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Sean Thomas
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Re: 100 miles across the Columbia River Gorge and back: 5/31

Post by Sean Thomas » June 2nd, 2014, 4:12 pm

Wow thanks guys. I have such an immense respect for the knowledge, discipline and dedication you have all shown throughout so many of your adventures that it really means something to me to receive this type of feed back from folks I idolize to the highest degree. I mean crap, the expertise the 5 of you have combined from climbing experience/technique to waterfall hunting, botany, history, trail running etc is crazy and im just to proud to be part of such an awesome community of people.

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Peder
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Re: 100 miles across the Columbia River Gorge and back: 5/31

Post by Peder » June 2nd, 2014, 4:17 pm

Sean Thomas wrote:Once again I would luck out as a very pretty girl full of enthusiasm was waiting for me at the Tomlike Mtn junction ;)
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Not only a very pretty girl, she is also very strong. How many miles did Joie put in? You two outdid my mileage to date for 2004 in a single hike! :shock: I am amazed, yet again. Well done!
Some people are really fit at eighty; thankfully I still have many years to get into shape…

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VanMarmot
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Re: 100 miles across the Columbia River Gorge and back: 5/31

Post by VanMarmot » June 2nd, 2014, 4:18 pm

WOW!!! What planning & determinations! Congratulations! Now on to the Western States 100?

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BrianEdwards
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Re: 100 miles across the Columbia River Gorge and back: 5/31

Post by BrianEdwards » June 2nd, 2014, 4:22 pm

There are not enough superlatives to describe your accomplishment, Sean. Absolutely incredible, can't even imagine the perseverance and mental strength it would take beyond the obvious physical fitness requirement. And to do it through the terrain you did, unbelievable accomishment.
Clackamas River Waterfall Project - 95 Documented, 18 to go.

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