Punchbowl Falls

Sometimes it seems that there are only two types of cars here in Little Bay Root: Subarus and Prius. There are usually a couple of each parked on any given residential block and the roads are just lousy with them. My hiking buddy Z just bought himself a Subaru, the quasi-official vehicle of hikers in the Pacific Northwest. Really, you can’t park at a trailhead without picking a space beside a Subaru. It must be a law or something.

Anyway, my buddy bought a Subaru and he’s been itching to get out and do some hiking. The weather was reasonable, so my boy and I loaded up and we headed out into the gorge. Our original plan was to hike on the Washington side, near beacon rock. Unfortunately, on arrival we discovered that the Northwest Forest Pass wouldn’t work there and we needed a Discover Pass. Since we didn’t have one of those, we had the option of purchasing a $10 day pass. This led to a terrible gnashing of teeth and waving of fists and soon we were driving back over the Bridge of the Gods declaring that we weren’t coming back. At least until we climb Mt. St. Helens again in August.

So, our initial plan foiled, I suggested that we head to Eagle Creek and hike up to Punchbowl Falls. That should be an easy hike, according to the red book, and we already knew that the trail was pretty awesome. Thanks to our late start, the parking lots were full and we had a bit of a walk to get to the trailhead. Not terrible, but already we were adding a bit more distance to the hike.

The big (or should I say little) limiting factor for this hike was my son. He’s four. We’ve been raising him to be a walker, so he’s got a pretty good range for his age. This means that he can go about 2.5 miles on an easy trail with no sweat. The hike to Punchbowl Falls and back is a bit more than 4 miles and the trail is at times rocky, narrow, and/or steep. He was a trooper, but I did wind up having to carry him on my shoulders for a few long stretches. Sometimes I like to think of this as conditioning for this summer’s backpacking. At other times I just complain about how sore my shoulders are the day after.

All in all it was a good hike. The temperature was great and the trail wasn’t too crowded. We got to stop and take pictures and hang out down by the river. My son met a number of dogs and took great delight in explaining that they have buts and that is where the poop comes from. We even saw some dudes kayaking between the upper and lower falls. I’m not sure that they were supposed to be doing that, but it was an amusing surprise.

As usual, my fivefingers performed like champs, even with the extra forty pounds of Portmandia Jr. on my shoulders. That confirms my plans to use them for my planned backpacking trips.

Next weekend I’m hoping to get up to Forest Park for a bit of exploration. Hopefully the weather will smile on us again!