July 7-9, 2011 – Columbia River Gorge continued

Thursday, July 7th, we took a scenic drive in the Hood River Valley called “The Fruit Loop”.  The Fruit Loop is a drive that shows the diversity of the agriculture in the Hood River Valley.  Apples, pears, cherries, berries, nuts and lavender are grown here.  There are also vineyards and alpaca farms - with Mt. Hood watching over all.

We stopped at several fruit stands but the harvest is about 3 weeks late because of the cool wet weather.  They just started picking cherries today so we bought some wonderful fresh cherries and some pears from last falls harvest.  Packer Orchards and Bakery uses pears in all their baked goods - we had to try their cookies - Mmm good!  We bought some really good pear fruit butter and huckleberry scone mix.  We stopped at a couple of wineries but didn’t find any wine we liked.  We really enjoyed seeing all the orchards and vineyards and stopping at a variety of fruit stands and stores.
Friday, July 8th, we drove the Mt. Hood Scenic Byway.  We drove back down through the Hood River Valley and circled behind Mt. Hood.  We stopped at the Timberline Lodge Ski area where there were a lot of people skiing – hard for us to believe skiing on the 8th of July.  It is hard to see in this picture but there is a chair lift going up the left side of the mountain and the mountain is covered with skiers.

We followed the Barlow Road portion of the Oregon Trail.  This portion of the Oregon Trail from The Dalles to Oregon City in the Willamette Valley avoided the dangerous Columbia River Rapids and went around Mt. Hood.  The road was difficult and so steep in places that wagons were snubbed to trees by ropes or held back by drags of cut trees.  We hiked to the top of one of the wagon chutes and couldn’t believe they actually hauled wagons down it.  It was so steep that the trail to the top had many sharp switchbacks.

Along the trail Cody and Camille took a break among the rhododendrons and bear grass.

We stopped for lunch at the Cascade Streamwatch at the Wildwood Recreation Site.  This is a really nice BLM interpretative area that focuses on the watersheds and fisheries of the Mt. Hood region.  There was a nice underwater stream viewing window that is used to watch salmon spawning in the fall.  We could see a few fingerlings but couldn’t really tell what kind they were.

The byway headed back north and merged with the Historic Columbia River Scenic Byway.  We drove to Larch Mountain and stopped at Sherrad Point where we hiked to an overlook where you can see 5 volcanoes.

Mt. St. Helens

Mt. Rainier


Mt. Adams


Mt. Hood


Mt. Jefferson


We had already driven this portion on the Columbia River Highway so we only stopped at Oneonta Gorge.  This was a beautiful gorge with lots of ferns and other plants.  We hiked a trail until we were stopped by this huge log jam.

The gorge behind the log jam was beautiful and we were disappointed that we could not hike any further without getting wet.

We had a really great day and got to see a lot of different country.

Saturday, July 9th, we drove the west portion of the Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway from Hood River to The Dalles.  We stopped at the Memaloose Overlook to get a view of Memaloose Island.  The Indian people of the Columbia River did not bury their dead until very recently.  Instead bodies were wrapped in robes or tule mats and deposited in canoes which were placed in the woods, on rocky points, or in cedar vaults on islands like Memaloose.  The name Memaloose is derived from the Chinook word memalust, which means “to die”.  Memaloose Island is one of several “islands of the dead” once found in the Columbia.  Today, many of these islands are covered by the backwaters of the Columbia dams- only 1/3 of Memaloose Island is visible above the river.  The lone monument visible on Memaloose Island marks the grave of Victor Trevitt, a pioneer printer, businessman, state legislator, and friend of the Indians.  Trevitt requested burial here among the people he loved.  Ironically, water rising behind the Bonneville Dam prompted relocation of Indian graves during the 1930s, and today, only Victor Trevitt’s grave remains.

We next stopped at the viewpoint at Rowena Crest for another great view of the Gorge – this time to the east.  The scenery is changing as we approach the dry, eastern Columbia River plateau.

The scenic byway ends at The Dalles and we turned south on Highway 197 to follow the Barlow Road section of the Oregon Trail.  We drove south through miles of rolling wheat fields with a few orchards in between.  The fields were on such steep slopes that the farmers were using bulldozers to plow and disc their fields – we guess regular tractors would tend to tip over. 
At Tygh Valley, where the Oregon Trail emigrants camped and traded with the Tygh Indians, the road turns west towards Mt. Hood and the scenery changed back to forest.   We were able to leave the highway and drive a portion of the original Barlow Road.  This was a very narrow, rough 4-wheel drive road and gave us a better feeling for what the emigrants experienced (except our Jeep was a lot more comfortable than a covered wagon!).  There were many places where large trees had fallen across the road and we had to blaze a trail around them.  We now have Oregon pin stripes on the Jeep to match our Arizona pin stripes.
We stopped at Emigrant Springs and ate our picnic lunch under the trees.  This spring, which is in the trees behind the picnic table, was an important water source for Oregon Trail emigrants traveling the Barlow Road route over the south flank of Mt. Hood.

We followed the Barlow Road for a while longer until it intersected with Highways 26 and 35.  Yesterday we drove the Highway 26 portion and saw the wagon chutes, so we turned north on Highway 35 and headed back to Hood River.  The Barlow Road continues southeast to Oregon City which is the end of the Oregon Trail.
In the Hood River Valley we stopped at another fruit/vegetable stand and bought some more cherries along with blueberries, green beans, snap peas and zucchini.  One thing we do miss after selling the house is fresh vegetables from our garden – we will feast tonight!
We really enjoyed our visit to the Gorge area and tomorrow we are heading south towards Redmond.


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