On one of the last days of winter I went hiking in the Columbia River Gorge’s rain forest. There were bright white trilliums in bloom and a few toothworts too.
As I looked closer in the forest duff, there was a pink surprise – – – a calypso orchid. How about that? A wild orchid in bloom in the winter above the 45th Parallel.
The outing began at the Herman Creek Campground east of Cascade Locks. In a little over one mile I had hiked over a ridge and down to a footbridge over Herman Creek.
The Herman Creek Canyon forms the east side of the 4,000-foot Benson Plateau (the Eagle Creek Canyon forms the west side.) I enjoyed the exceptionally beautiful area while hiking to the west, meeting the Pacific Crest Trail in less than one mile at about 1,000 feet above sea level. Instead of turning uphill for the five-mile climb to the Benson Plateau, I continued west. In less than one-half mile the 40-foot Pacific Crest Falls was reached, two wispy waterfalls hidden in a dark canyon.
From there it was a short transverse across a large talus slope to a group of tall, crumbly rock spires near the Trail. They reminded me of the “tors” in the Angel Rocks’ area north of Fairbanks.
After exploring the pinnacles, I headed west for another 1 1/2 miles to Dry Creek. A short distance up the Creek was a grand waterfall, dropping 70 feet down basalt cliffs. I explored the area for a while, ate a light lunch and then began the trip back to the Trailhead.
All in all the hike was 9.5 miles in length with 1,700 feet of elevation gain. A very pleasant outing indeed!