Hiking Eagle Creek

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When I was in high school I belonged to a survival club and we learned how to live in the wilds – always a fascination for me. I learned a lot about Oregon during those years and my love for this part of the country became a foundation for the rest of my life.

One place our little survival group backpacked was Eagle Creek in the Columbia Gorge. Back then it wasn’t such a popular hot spot as it is now and hiking Oregon’s many trails were not as congested. There was an unspoken code that hikers followed, almost like a religion. It was sacred. Just as sacred as the land we trod. I think that code could be summed up in one word – reverence. But with that came respect and responsibility. I’ll call it the 3 R’s. True outdoor lovers left nature as they found it – or better.

My son and I had been hiking the Gorge every week and this week he chose Eagle Creek. He had never hiked there before and the three nice waterfalls along the shortened version of the hike made it appealing. We both love waterfalls – so much, that we’ll bushwhack cross country to find one we’ve heard about Online. Always respecting nature’s delicate balance and vegetation.

Today, Eagle Creek’s a popular summer hike and this particular weekend the kids were having one last fling before school started. The creek offered some nice swimming holes and cliffs to jump from and it was a hot day in the high 80s – maybe even 90s.

I enjoyed the people on the trail. I know many hikers seek solitude and avoid a busy locale and though I don’t usually want a crowd, I don’t mind a handful of people. This day I would have to say it was a crowd. Almost a party atmosphere at Punch Bowl Falls. But I joined in and my son and I had fun.

At one point, I was lying on my stomach on the rocks beside the creek to get a low angle shot of Punch Bowl Falls. All of a sudden a yellow tennis ball lands in the water about two feet from my head, splashing water on me and my camera. In the next instant a brown Lab leapt into the creek after the ball splashing me even more. I had just barely moved my camera away from the water and sat up only to have the dog shake the water from his fur (right beside me) happily holding the ball in his mouth. “Sorry,” I hear a female voice meekly utter.

What ya gonna do? Would have been funny if it hadn’t been me. I’m laughing now.

But its good to see this love of our natural wilderness. I think lately many of us have felt we’re taking Survival 101 (those who have fallen on hard times) just trying to get along the best we can plus have a little fun mixed in there to make the going easier. The outdoors beckons us during these times and can offer relatively inexpensive entertainment.

I believe getting back to our roots is the best way to reconnect with who we are and what were capable of accomplishing. It’s sacred ground. The wilderness is our home and hopefully together we can all work to keep it the way we love it now so future generations can tread the same paths we’ve walked and find whatever it is we all seek when we head out to a forested path.

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