With the weather becoming fairer and fairer with each passing week it was time for another trip into the wilderness of Oregon. April 25th was Tram’s and my six year anniversary and we needed to get away for some alone time. We wanted to head out for a two night backpacking trip to use some of the new gear we’ve bought and to see another side of Oregon. Over the course of a couple weeks we went back and forth about places to go. The choice was limited; Deschutes River, Opal Creek, and Eagle Creek were the most feasible options this early in the season. I wanted to avoid the crowds as much as possible, but in the end we selected Eagle Creek for it’s beauty and the ability to do a loop.
Thursday night we gathered everything together, checking the camping list, and placed it all out on the floor. After a good nights sleep we awoke at a leisurely pace and stuffed everything into our packs, double checking the list to make sure nothing was missed. With everything neatly placed in my tiny car we set off up I-5 from Salem heading to Portland. While in Portland we ran some quick errands, picked up some bahn mi for lunch, and continued out on I-84 heading for the gorge. Thirty minutes later we were at the exit for Eagle Creek.
It was about 12:30 and the parking lot at the trailhead was crowded with not a single space left. Fortunately we were going to park near the fish hatchery and public bathrooms so that the car would be safer while we were gone. We finished eating lunch and checked once again that we had everything. At 1pm we set off, this being the last time we would look at a clock until our return.
The trail as a whole is fairly mild with a gentle elevation gain. Don’t discount the hike though. There are cliff side trails with blooming wild flowers, views of the creek from hundreds of feet up, jaunts through perfectly lush green forest, oh yeah there are even 9+ waterfalls. The first section we walked through was fairly exposed and contained a variety of wildflowers in bloom. I was constantly stopping to snap pictures, holding Tram up. Next we saw several waterfalls, but didn’t stop to wait around much. We were heading for 7.5 mile camp and wanted to make sure we made it with plenty of time to set up camp and eat before nightfall.
Back along the trail we walked around a huge amphitheater of stone with the trail going behind a waterfall. Certainly one of the greatest scenes in Oregon and even with the crowds Tunnel Falls is majestic. I think it’s one of those places you have to see and I’ll refrain from posting a photo, but you can search for one if you like. It’s also me making an excuse because I don’t have a really good photo of it.
After passing the vertigo mile the trail leveled a bit and we walked through several mini creeks splashing over the path. The forest became lush and muted as we slowly veered away from the creek. A quarter mile back we saw the first backpackers of the day and there were several camped near each other. Mistakenly we thought it was 7 1/2 mile camp, but as we went deeper into the forest we came upon a sign: 7 1/2 mile camp. A trail led down to a flat area with several campsites separated by dense forest plants. We wouldn’t need the forest walls though as we had the entire place to ourselves.
Just as the light began to fade from the sky the layer of clouds above us slowly released its soul. These clouds had one hell of a soul too as the rain continue throughout the night, waxing and waning, heavy then nonexistent. This was only the second trip with the tent and we were both afraid of leaks, so through the night we checked to make sure no puddles were forming. Early in the morning before the sun rose the rain held back long enough to catch some good Z’s.
While cooking breakfast in the vestibule (which apparently you shouldn’t do) we discussed our plans. The tent had held up, but would surely stay damp if packed up during our next leg of the hike. I also don’t own any decent hiking pants and was only in jeans. On top of the that the section we were supposed to hike was very steep and would’ve been fairly muddy. The rain returned and it sealed our decision to return to the car and head back to civilization.
The entire hike back was filled with rain and few chance sun breaks. We passed numerous day hikers on the way back, saying hello to all and mostly getting polite greetings in return. Back at the car I was exhausted, but glad to take of my wet jeans and get my feet out of the boots and into flip flops. We were disappointed that we hadn’t stuck it out to camp two nights, but also happy at the great time we’d had. With Eagle Creek checked off the list we could move on to a new destination in the journey to know Oregon.