Monday, June 8, 2009

Hiking With Angels

Click on the Title of this post to see the video I made of the Angel's Rest Trail hike I did this past Saturday, June 6th (stand away from your computer screen when you view it or you’ll get a head ache from the bouncing camcorder!).

This is a loop trail in the Columbia Gorge that takes in the scenic Angels Rest, The eerie Devil's Rest and the beautifully forested Wakeena Trail. It’s an 11 mile hike with an overall elevation gain of 3400’. This kind of elevation gain makes it’s a good training hike for the brutal ascents on the John Muir Trail that I am going to do with Tom Willard at the end of Summer. I didn’t film any of the grinding ascents during this hike. I was in too much pain to think about filming.

As you can see, the weather was typical of the Pacific Northwest; damp and cool. It was just a light mist today, but enough of a mist to wet my clothing and gear. I had to fight to keep my camera lens from fogging.

There are a number of Columbia Gorge trails that make great training hikes in preparation for the John Muir Trail. The ascents and elevation gains are similar. All these Gorge trails rise precipitously from the Columbia River, climbing the steep basalt walls of the gorge. I wasn’t able to film any of the ascents on this hike. I was in too much pain to think about recording the grind, although I now regret it. The only disadvantage I’ll have using these trails in the Gorge is that the altitude is much lower than the John Muir Trail, which is high up on the crest of the Sierra.

These Gorge trails have always held a sacred attraction for me. The glorious water falls, the old growth Douglas Fir and Red Cedar, the grand views of the gorge itself, and perhaps most impressive of all, the atmosphere of peace and serenity. I remember coming up here to a trail much like this one on a day off from work 5 or 6 years ago. I was feeling particularly stressed out from my job and I needed a respite. As I drove out to the trail I recall telling myself how foolish I was to move here from the Midwest. We were right in the middle of the rainy season at that time and I suppose a lot of people say that during a 30 day stretch of wet dreary weather in the Pacific Northwest. But as I walked the path in the cool mist of the Gorge, all the anxiety of life melted away as I listening to the water falls hiss and the birds call out to me under the canopy of the giant Douglas Firs. I felt an overwhelming sense of God’s presence up here. I wasn’t long on the trail before I was telling myself that I must never leave the Pacific Northwest, for God was meeting me here in this forest.

It was John Muir who said, "Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”

Each section of the trail had its own character, which made the entire hike enjoyable. The Wakeena Trail portion of the loop hike entertained me with its array of wildflowers gracing the trail. There are over 800 varieties of wild flowers in the Gorge. On this trail I had a never ending show of Blue Lupine, White Cucumber and Red Columbine.

On the Wakeena Trail, from time to time, I was able to see and hear the highway far below me. It was a lesson to me that as humans we really do live in two worlds. I suppose we need both, but on this day I was glad to be in this one.

With only two miles to go I took my own rest at the rock outcropping appropriately known as Angels Rest. As I sat on the edge I thought that perhaps angels were at my side, taking their rest with me and enjoying this serene view of the Gorge.

If I were an angel, I know where I would take my rest.


Tapestry said...

This was beautiful! Loved the narration and music with the video. The Gorge is a special place. When I was in Portland years ago without Dale, I used to hike some with friends in that area; not as much as I would have liked, but enough to fall in love with all that it has to offer. This hike you did looked beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

Staubaloha said...

Hi Joe, I was trying to leave a comment on Jesse's blogspot yesterday and realized it was a lot easier to create a blog of my own to reply to his so one thing led to another and I put "Oregon State Lens Duster" together by mid afternoon and posted it to cyber space while you were up there in the Columbia Gorge frolicking with the angels. I enjoyed your comments as usual and its nice to read you are gearing up more and more for the JMT with Tom Willard. That will be one of those great times to remember long after you have come back down to earth. Good luck and say Hi to the Angles for me if you get a spare moment next time you are up in the clouds. John

Kim A said...

Hi Joe, Lew forwarded the email you sent him to whet our appetites.
I loved the video! It definitely got me excited about coming up for a hike. I have always loved the pacific northwest but have never done any hiking there. Hopefully, Lew and I will be seeing you in August. I am keeping my fingers crossed! Love and Light, Kim

Joe Staub said...


Thank you for watching the video! I look forward to meeting you, sharing a trail, and talking turkey over a campfire. It will be great fun and you will greatly enjoy Oregon. Trust me, don't miss it!