Multnomah & Wahkeena Falls

    Multnomah & Wahkeen Falls    

            Our very first hike in Portland was to Multnomah and Wahkeena Falls. After three days of living in the City Amongst the Trees, we were ready to chase waterfalls. On our first visit to Portland—April 5th—Heather and Blakely went on a short hike to Wahkeena Falls while I was in my interview. I had major FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) from their adventure, so this hike was at the top of my to-do list. They hadn’t hiked the entire trail though, so Heather was also eager to return. We loaded up our backpacks with snacks, laced up our Bangs, and jumped in the car.

            When we arrived at the trail head, we decided to head towards Multnomah first. Multnomah Falls is Oregon’s number one natural attraction. Millions of people from all over the world visit Multnomah Falls every year.  My main reason for wanting to visit the giant waterfall: Twilight! In April, we visited the Cullen’s house, so The Falls had to be our first hike. With the 620ft. waterfall in mind, we followed the arrow pointing us towards Multnomah. After a short—0.6 mile hike—we came to a parking lot. Confused, we decided we had gone the wrong way so we backtracked. We then arrived back at our car and followed the arrows to Wahkeena Falls. Along the trail, we passed multiple absolutely beautiful waterfalls including Wahkeena. Since the trail circled around to Multnomah, we continued walking. Oregon makes me feel as though I am seeing green for the first time. The rocks—covered in moss—were practically glowing. We continued along the trail for what felt like miles. Eventually we reached a fork in the trail. One way was leading up a rocky stream of water, the other was a switch back heading further up the mountain. There were two men coming down the rocky stream while we were looking at the map, and they informed us that the way they had just came was the quickest way to get to Multnomah Falls. We took their advice.

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            After what felt like another mile along this “faster” trail, our trail became narrower. All of a sudden, we were hiking on a trail less than a foot wide, with plants on either side that were taller than us. Before taking this trail, we were also passing countless people walking in the opposite direction of us. On this trail, we hadn’t passed a soul. My mind began to wonder and my anxiety took over. What if we see a bear? What if those were bad guys? What if one of us gets bit by a snake? Etc. So, I began singing. Loudly. We continued forward and eventually came across a family who assured us we were going the correct way. I was then able to relax and enjoy the scenery, and Heather was free from my “scare the bear” singing.

            We began seeing the most magical waterfalls, falls we wouldn’t have seen had we not gone the way we did. Since many people didn’t choose this route, we were able to sit and enjoy our surroundings without having to move quickly for others to take pictures—like we had to do at other waterfalls along the trail. We eventually made it to our first sighting of Multnomah. We were at the very top of the fall, overlooking this magnificent 620ft plummet.

            The rest of the trail was down the mountain along the waterfall. We eventually made it to the infamous bridge that’s in every picture of Multnomah Falls. The amount of tourists in this location was almost overwhelming. We snapped a quick picture, took in our surroundings and how small we felt compared to the fall, and then continued walking towards the Wahkeena sign. The sign led us to a parking lot, the same parking lot we’d turned around at hours before. Hysterically laughing, we crossed the parking lot and walked the short hike back to our car.

            While we clearly took an extremely longer path to see Multnomah, we were glad that we did. Not only did we get an amazing workout in that day, we also were able to see waterfalls that we wouldn’t have had the chance to see had we just walked to the falls through the parking lot. To be honest, we would have been disappointed if that would have been our first view of the falls. It was very touristy and not the hiking experience we were looking for. Even though we were exhausted, we were so blessed to have experienced both Multnomah and Wahkeena the way we did and when we did. In September, massive wildfires (started by a teen playing with fireworks) hit the Columbia River Gorge. The exact location where the fire started was a hike that we did only weeks before it engulfed in flames, Punch Bowl Falls. These fires spread to Multnomah, now closed until Spring 2018. The glowing green moss is where the danger lies. This moss used to be the glue that held basalt cliffs together, but it has now been burnt away. While our hearts break, we are thankful that we were able to experience the beauty of both Multnomah and Wahkeena. We are hopeful that it will once again grow into the sea of green that we experienced, but until then we hold dear to our memories and pictures.

Kelsey Stacy