Day two of this Oregon trip started an hour later than usual for me, but that was 5 am Pacific. You see, my circadian rhythm is still on Central Time, so to me I slept in an hour and woke at 7 am Central. So if I do the same tomorrow I should be back in sync – right? Er…
At 5 am on a Saturday one has some time to kill, so I asked Yelp.com where I should get breakfast. It recommended the nearby Cadillac Cafe and its delicious hazelnut French toast plus egg and bacon. Yummy to the tummy!
When dressing I had realized that I forgot a belt for my cooler seashore hikes, so I decided to visit Jasper Johns (Target for the uninitiated) to prevent a wardrobe malfunction. While there I picked up some cheap bottled water for my day hikes. Deciding to skip the interstate, I instead drove city streets along the flanks of Mount Tabor, the extinct volcano perched in northeast Portland.
Today I took full advantage of my friend Betty Bio’s help. She had said the Japanese Garden over in Portland’s Washington Park was superb. So from Jasper’s I drove down to the Willamette River, crossed over into downtown, and then climbed the heights overlooking Portland from the west. And the garden did indeed affect me – I was snapping photos like the stereotypical Japanese tourist.
After so much peaceful contemplation, I balanced the day by hitting the highway toward the seashore, which was packed with Portland citizens fleeing the city. By early afternoon I reached the Camp 18 restaurant near Elsie, lunching in its large timber frame dining hall. Since I had French toast for breakfast, it seemed appropriate to have a French dip and French fries for lunch. Two of the waitresses admired my new Escher tattoo – pity it will wear off soon. Then it was a short drive on to the Saddle Mountain turnoff.
Seven slow miles along a narrow and rather dippy forest road brought me to the trailhead. Saddle Mountain takes the prize as the most strenuous hike on my agenda: 1623 feet of elevation gain in about 2.6 miles of trail. They’ve made lots of trail improvements to help – long stretches have fencing pegged on the trail to hold the rocks, prevent erosion, and give you some grip. Other sections are built up with rocks, there are a few cable rails, and more. All of which are needed! It was a long, steep climb, reminding me of my 2006 trip to Oregon when I clambered up and down the side of Crater Lake and up and down Multnomah Falls. I tried not to think too much about gravitational potential energy, but it was a struggle.
Unfortunately the summit was in clouds by the time I made it up there, but it was still fun to feel like we hikers were on the edge of an abyss. I took a very narrow side trail from the summit over to a rocky promontory, discovering a fellow hiker had left a tiny American flag at the end for fellow adventurers. Cold winds began to blow across that rocky point jutting out into the clouds, and I made an Audioboo from there to capture the moment.
Remember I said I had Betty Bio’s long-distance help today? On my many past day hikes I’ve always just made do with tennis shoes and a tiny backpack, but she insisted on buying me hiking shoes and trekking poles for my birthday for this trip. Saddle Mountain proved her case: the boots made me more sure-footed and the trekking poles allowed me to use my arms to help me clamber up the many steep trail segments. And on the descent my reliance on the poles left me feeling like a mildly retarded mountain goat. I won’t need the poles on my seaside hike tomorrow, but they were a godsend on Saddle Mountain.
After hours climbing up and down some of the steepest trail segments I’ve encountered I longed for the flat beach. So I drove on down to Seaside and checked in and showered at the Microtel. Never been in one of these before. The rooms are indeed smaller than usual, but are well-designed and appointed. I liked it better than the Motel 6 in Portland, although that stay was quite tolerable. More Microtel and Motel 6 stays to come on this trip, although a couple of nicer hotels are coming up soon.
For dinner I drove downtown with its tourist shops and many noisy motorcycles in town for the weekend. The crowds convinced me to take a side street to a nice little pizza joint, and Italy is next door to France, after all. I followed that up with some tasty mint chocolate chip ice cream from the strip. Eating junk food may be my subconscious attempt to compensate for all of the exercise!
I took a final short walk over to the ocean to say hello to the water and goodbye to the sun. My camera had run out of storage space, but I had fun using my iPhone’s photo filters for the odd shot or two.
I’m uploading photos tonight for the latest slideshow, but will skip editing the various video clips for another time. Tomorrow I plan to hike the Oregon Coast Trail above the beach all day – if my energy and body hold up I might walk the 6.5 miles from Ecola Point back up here to Seaside for lunch and then back in the afternoon to Ecola Point for the car. 13 miles of flat trail sounds like a piece of cake after Saddle Mountain’s five miles today.
[Next post: The Oregon Coast Trail: Day 3 of the Oregon Trails]