Fools on Falls Creek (USA Day 100)
Unsure of how bad the headwind would be, we split our run into Portland along the Columbia gorge into two days, just in case. In reality, today was an easy ride, so we could’ve made it all the way in one, but we’re long past mile targets and hurrying now. An opportunity arose for a short ride with a daytrip across the Bridge of The Gods and into Washington, so we pootled out of Hood River and straight onto the Interstate, which was quite frankly horrible but necessary for what was to come next.
The south bank of the Columbia is the rideable one, despite the initial Interstate stretch. Shoulders hunched and eyes squinted against the oncoming truckopalypse, we rode that bike lane with Great British Grit, looking only forward even though the beautiful Columbia river stretched out to our right. As soon as we reached Viento State Park, we took the exit and joined a little path where things we much calmer. They’ve been building this for years in chunks, and it’s almost reached town. Riding what used to be Highway 30, but now clearly isn’t, you wiggle up and over hillocks and weave in and out of forests, dodging tree roots and day cyclists, all the while marvelling at the dramatic hills enclosing both sides of the river. Too soon, our bridge arrived and we transferred over to the Washington side. This is the kind of bridge with a road material made of gridded plastic, so that once you’re travelling fast enough and you look down, you feel like you’re flying. Aesthetic or functional, I think I can only ride about three more of these in my life before my nerves drop off. Once in Stevenson, we dropped in on Amy (this might get confusing) our WarmShowers host and her excellent old dog, Hoodoo, who had plans for a hike.
We showered, stuck all our worldly possessions in the laundry, then discovered the error in such an action and implored new Amy to lend us clothes dry enough to actually wear. Once this was sorted, off we went in the camper van to deepest darkest Washington for a hike through a Douglas Fir forest, up towards a waterfall. Hoodoo, who is great and old and really very great, fell back with regular Amy to take some photos, and we didn’t see them again for ages. Eventually, I started to worry about the two slowcoaches, but new Amy said it’d be fine. Hoodoo’s often on small but really very great adventures and always turns up. Cut to half a mile back down the trail, where Hoodoo’s scuttled down the riverbank and can’t get back up. Regular Amy doesn’t know about his uncanny homing pigeon ability, so she’s hauling the poor bloke up muddy verges which his old but really very great legs couldn’t manage on their own. Eventually the two caught us up, Amy earthen from the elbow down, Hoodoo from the toes up. We all learned something that day.
The waterfall appeared at the end of the trail, fittingly, and blew our minds. They make ‘em tall over here, but the best part was where the water hit the pool with incredible force, firing jets of vapour outward and up. On the grassy banks that cupped the waterfall, a constant wind blew the grass uphill. Isn’t that a neat little phenomenon?
We rolled downhill and back into the camper van, entirely satisfied having confirmed the existence of aforementioned waterfall. Waiting for us at home were Nick and Iko, whose stories over dinner of cycle touring in Cuba were dangerously inspiring. It’s…kind of on the way home, right?
So we did more hiking than biking today, but that’s exactly what we wanted. At nearly 5000 miles of cycling since New York, I think we’re ready to branch out when the opportunity knocks.