Facing Starvation

29 01 2015

Saturday began gloomy, as usual. The fog swirled playfully in the trees, the bare branches cold in the morning mist. I sipped my coffee and appreciated the beauty of the scene before me, while cursing it simultaneously. I’m so sick of the blah weather and it’s monotonous depression. It doesn’t have to be sunny and nice every day, but a little change would sure be welcome!

But that day was different – someone in the sky was listening and granted my wish. The sun broke through and made the swirling fog shine and glow. The moisture on the trees sparkled and made the forest look magical and mischievous. The birds came out to play.

So we geared up to go play, too. My poor hiking boots that have been such good companions the last 3 years have been sent to boot heaven, and I finally bought a replacement pair. Today, I would introduce them to the woods and mountains and see how the dirt would compliment the purple leather. As I laced them up nice and tight, Simba realized we were going somewhere and began his ritual dance of circles and sprints down the hall. Buckled into his harness, he knew he was going, too, and soon we were off in search of the day’s adventure.

Headed west up the Gorge, the sun came and went. We pulled into the parking lot at our trailhead: Starvation Creek. I’ve seen Starvation Creek Falls a couple times – tall, thundering, misting and full of rainbows. But this visit, we turned our backs on the falls and hiked the Starvation Creek Ridge Loop westward. An intersection quickly sent us left and up.

And up and up and up – steep switchbacks riddled with boulders and tree roots, shaded and damp. Ferns brushed my legs as I climbed and I shivered in the cold breeze. Then the air suddenly shifted, like the wind decided to blow backward, and I felt the temperature noticeably rise as we broke above the low cloud layer. Soon I was sweating like crazy, shedding layers and trying to shove them in my back-pack while still walking, without tripping over the side of the cliff. I felt the strength of my legs as my hammies ignited and my quads fired their engines. Climb, legs, climb!

Finally finally, we reached an overlook – the top?! – and I gratefully paused to drink in the amazing views, the peaks of Wind Mountain and Dog Mountain gazing back across the Columbia. The sun was out in fine form, throwing sparkles across the water.

Columbia Gorge, Starvation Creek Cabin Falls trail

Wind Mountain to the west, Dog Mountain right in front of us. The Columbia stretching it’s mighty currents.

Starvation Creek Falls trail, Columbia Gorge OR

Looking east, the parking lot teeny beneath us.

Then, as typically happens after reaching the top, the trail turned downward. The first bit was cleared for the massive power lines marching eastward from Bonneville Dam. The sun, the scene, the warmth I’d been missing – my little heart almost shone itself right out of my chest.

starvation creek falls trail to cabin falls, columbia gorge OR

So many of my favorite things in one picture!

The trail led back into the forest and we crossed several creeks. We hopped across stones and logs, Simba splashing along with us. Then came a creek with a deeper section in the middle. J jumped across to reach the next rock, the leash uncoiling as Simba hesitated, worried as the water splashed his legs. He finally went for it, helped along by J tugging a bit on the leash. His belly got a little wet and you’ve never seen a mutt so excited to run out the other side.

creek crossing, columbia river gorge Oregon

Come on little buddy, you can do it!

And hiking in the Gorge always mean waterfalls. Fabulous waterfalls. Starvation Creek Falls might be the big boy on this section but Lancaster Falls, Hole-in-the-Wall Falls, and Cabin Creek Falls are all pretty awesome in their own right. We made sure to detour over to Lancaster Falls and splashed around some more. It was only as we started back towards the main trail that we noticed the first tier of the falls farther up the slope – a much taller, breath-taking torrent.

Lancaster Falls, Starvation Creek Ridge Loop, Cascade Locks OR

Didn’t even realize this was the small section!

We also passed by the base of Tunnel Falls…which we discovered later is actually called Hole-in-the-Wall Falls. The original waterfall on Warren Creek was diverted through a tunnel they blasted in the cliff-side so the overflow during high flows would stop damaging the old Columbia River Highway. You could drop your head way back and squint a little and see the man-made tunnel the falls tumbled from. Pretty dang cool.

See the tunnel way up at the top?

See the tunnel way up at the top?

Back on flat ground, we finished the loop back to the parking lot, passing by one last waterfall: Cabin Creek Falls. Close to the trail and slightly hidden by a couple of ridiculously huge mega-boulders, you don’t really get a good view of the whole sha-bang. But it’s over 200 feet tall, so you get a pretty good idea.

Back at the car, even Simba was reluctant to go, despite all the water we dragged him through. The sun was slowly sinking and the air was cooling off, so we headed home to rest up.

I’m pretty sad about the lack of snow and true winter we’re having up here in the PNW, but the spring-like day was awesome for a good hike!

starvation creek ridge loop trail, cascade locks or, columbia gorge

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6 responses

30 01 2015
Nancy hart

I so enjoy your blog. I feel I am right there enjoying it also. 😃

31 01 2015
ksnapped

Thank you, glad to share! 🙂

30 01 2015
Trudie Denney

Wow! I feel tired from just reading this. Beautiful!!

31 01 2015
ksnapped

It was quite the climb – but you don’t get the views from the bottom! 🙂

31 01 2015
Lucille Glasgow

Terrific! I love sharing in your wonderful adventures and grand scenery- love you, Grandma

31 01 2015
ksnapped

I love being able to share them with you! Love you, too, Grandma 🙂

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