Written by Panorama hiking guide, Steve Pogge. May 2016. Photos by Panorama resident, John S.
Eight hearty Panorama residents, plus myself (Steve Pogge) and my assistant guide, (Mark Akins) set out on an adventure that took in some of the most magnificent scenery found anywhere in Northwest. We stood on cliffs a thousand feet above the crashing surf, walked on soft pine needle paths through 400 year old giant cedars and firs, hiked into see waterfalls plunging 200 feet off of ancient lava flows, walked in the foots steps of Lewis and Clark, strolled through stretches of beautiful yellow, purple and white wildflowers while listening to a multitude of native birds serenading us.
It started out on May 8 when we jumped into, hopefully the final voyage of the OLD BROWN VAN, and headed to the far northwest corner of Oregon where Lewis and Clark spent the winter at Ft. Clatsop. We toured the camp with the ranger and sat down at the first of many picnic lunches that featured a variety of meats and cheeses, fruits and vegetables, bread, humus and of course chips, cookies and chocolate just to keep the diet balanced.
After lunch we took a leisurely walk along the Lewis River. One could imagine Lewis and Clark canoeing down this river 210 years ago on the way to trade with the Indians or make the trek to the coast to watch for passing ships or maybe to see a beached whale. When we got to Seaside Oregon we continued our walk along the Ocean past a replica of Lewis and Clark’s salt kiln, where 3 members of the corp. spent weeks boiling water to provide enough salt to preserve the meat they would need to get back.
We made it to our Inn late that afternoon and many enjoyed a glass of wine or beer out on the deck, while watching the crashing waves along our secluded cove. Dinner followed shortly at one of the fine dining establishments of the town. This would be the first of many scrumptious meals on the trip. To add to the enjoyment and variety we decided early on that we would order 3 or 4 desserts at the end of the meal and share them. However there was one caveat, no double dipping with a used spoon.
We all slept well that night listening to the waves and dreaming of our next day hike to Cannon Beach. We awoke the next morning to a glorious sunny day and cool weather. Our group was evenly divided into the hard charging Mt. Goats and the beauty seeking nature lovers who came to be referred to as the “Fluters”. This name was coined after the participants occasionally heard an Indian Flute on the trail. The haunting melody seemed to almost drift through the forest trees. The player of the flute, turned out to be just me, a novice trying not to be too off key.
The Mountain Goats were not disappointed about not having a flute player along. Their focus was on what Lewis described in his journal as one of the toughest hikes of their entire trip. The trail was not much different after 200 years. Mark, who led the group, ended up doing a 9 mile hike up and over Tillamook head that took them next to an old lighthouse, massive rock formations, old growth forest and secluded beaches not to mention having to get over 80 downed trees. The Fluters meanwhile were sauntering down a warm sand beach, next to Hay Stack rock, trying to decide what flavor of ice-cream we would have at the end of our walk. Needless to say we all had an incredible hiking day.
On to day three, we loaded up the Van and took off for Tillamook Oregon in search of Cheese, but not without stopping at Oswald State park first and walking through a giant old Sitka Spruce grove, we then had to scramble across a suspension bridge before reaching a secluded surfing beach.
We followed the 3 cape scenic route to Cape Look Out. We soon learned how it got its name. The trail followed a narrow path overlooking the ocean far below, with the wind whipping through our hair and whales and eagles off in the distance. We were both invigorated and mesmerized.
Day Four brought with it many new and exciting options. We were staying at the beautiful Oregon Garden Resort in the town of Silverton. In addition to tours of the Garden, there were spa treatments, tours of a Frank Lloyd Wright house, a mural tour in town and of course one of Oregon’s premier parks, Silverton Falls, featuring the walk of the Ten falls. Most of us didn’t have trouble finding things to do this day and by late afternoon we were just hitting our stride. We left that evening for Mt. Angel, a nearby Bavarian village that had an excellent German restaurant. After dinner we visited a small Catholic seminary a short drive from Mt. Angel. It is located atop a high bluff overlooking the surrounding countryside. A circle of 100yr old Sequoias surround the seminary and the sunset that evening was spectacular. On the way back home we stopped and walked across the Gallon Bridge, one of the many historic covered bridges that are scattered around that part of Oregon. Most of us slept well under down filled comforters that night.
The Mt. Goats were still feeling strong the next days so they took the longer hilly route. The Fluters decided to scale back and do a peaceful walk along the Salmon river in an old growth forest located at the base of Mt. Hood. People swore they saw hobbits and fairy hiding in the wood sorrel and wildflowers. Although it was only a short walk, the memory of the sound of river cascading over the rocks and the smell of pine needles under a canopy of ancient cedar, firs and maples will last a lifetime.
After the walk we took the short drive to our last lodging of the trip. It was a complete change from our first two accommodations. Our last night was at a very peaceful, Spartan religious retreat center. It soon became several people’s favorite lodging for the week. It was tucked back into the forest off the beaten path and prided itself on being environmental and eco-friendly. The staff went out of their way to make us feel at home. They cooked for us that night using only organic fresh food and served it family style. We were told that our group would be included in their daily prayers for one week before and one week after. It was a comforting thought having strangers pray for our well being.
As all trips go, there is usually one or two unexpected occurrences that come up. Ours occurred on the last day when we had planned to visit Larch Mountain, overlooking the Columbia River with views of 5 of the tallest peaks in 2 states. The Mountain is a little known extinct volcano and we were going to hike into the crater itself. Unfortunately the road was closed 5 miles from the top. So we turned the van around and headed down to the Gorge where we toured several waterfalls off of the Old Columbia Gorge highway in addition to visiting Crown Point, the multi-million dollar bathroom built around the turn of the century. It made for a good final goodbye.
We had our last picnic at Bridal Veil falls and headed back to Lacey that afternoon with a sense of kinship, accomplishment and happiness from having had a trip that dazzled the senses.