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Day 278 – Columbia River Gorge, September 20, 2011

Today I headed inland along the Columbia River on the
Washington-Oregon border.  I spent my
time on the Washington State side and stopped to enjoy the panorama of Oregon’s
wooded hills and of the powerful river that lay at the foot vertical cliffs
from Cape Horn Viewpoint.

As I made my way east through this breathtaking area, I
reached Beacon Rock State Park where Petey and I followed a lovely trail
through the lush forest to Hardy Falls, Pool of Winds and Rodney Falls.  As we wandered along the trail, we came
across a bridge that crossed what was almost a dry creek bed.  A thin trickle of water rolled down the steep
hillside.  I thought to myself, if this
is the falls, I’m going to be one disappointed hiker.  Much to my relief, slightly further ahead, I
came across two signs pointing to the attractions.

Hardy Falls was nothing to write home about as the view was
relatively blocked by vegetation, but the Pool of Winds and Rodney Falls was
inspiring.  A path led us past a boulder
and up to a rock outcropping.  The falls,
tucked in the back of a cylinder of rock, cascaded down a mossy log into a pool
of water before it zigzagged down the rocky shelf to the creek.  Spray from the falls assisted by a tunnel of
wind cooled the air and dampened the rocks where we stood.

Upon return from our two mile hike, we stopped to admire Beacon
Rock situated across the road on the bank of the river.  This enormous monolith, almost 850 feet tall
and second only to Gibralter in size, is the core of a vanished volcano.  Lewis and Clark referenced the rock several times
in their recordings of their expedition.

From the park, we traveled about five miles or so to the
Bonneville Dam where, along with a cormorant, I got to watch salmon swim up river through the fish
ladders to spawn.  Humans count each type
of fish that passes through the ladders daily and post the counts.  The previous day nearly 19,000 fish passed
through the ladders and year to date over 2 million.  Salmon and Shad make up most of the count,
followed by Steelhead and Lamprey.lamprey
Lampreys look like eels that have a sucker mouth which they use to stick
to edges.

After a short time at the fish viewing, we stopped in
Stevenson for a stroll along the waterfront.
The windy day attracted several kiteboarders and windsurfers to the
white capped river.  In addition to the
water enthusiasts, a cruise line that offers an eight day journey on the river
was in port.  When I spotted the paddle wheeler,
I had hoped for a two-hour afternoon jaunt mentioned in my trusty book of
travels.  The operators told me those
types of trips were offered in Cascade Locks on the Oregon side.  I will be there in a few days.

If the drive along the river wasn’t scenic enough, I
followed the Cook-Underwood Road Loop up into the hillside for a spectacular
view of the Hood River Bridge and the majestic Mt. Hood.  Thereafter, I followed Highway 141 north to
Trout Lake where I found a county campground for the night.  ETB

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