Backpacking, boobs, and beer, oh my. It wasn’t long until I started growing restless for an all-girls trip, and I was curious to see how us ladies would fare against the elements without any beefs around. My girls Bao and Jaqui were down for any adventure, so we quickly zeroed in on the land of microbrews and temperate rainforests as the perfect terrain to unleash our wild wiles. It would be like ‘Sex and the City’ meets ‘Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures,’ but with unshowered chicks and critterdudes surrounding our tent at night.
A heavy 45 pak and car rental later, we were in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge 🙂
DAY 1- ONEONTA GORGE
We heard that the Oneonta Gorge was a tropical Zion-Narrows of some sort, so we camped nearby the night before, and set our alarms for an early wakeup call. The awesome part about this short hike is that the creek itself is the trail, and you will most definitely need to wade in waist-deep waters to reach the waterfall at the end. An added bonus? There are huge log jams blocking the trail that you need to climb/traverse around, which make for a fun scramble. It can become a junkshow if there are crowds, but fortunately, people don’t like hanging in dark gorges at 6:30am 😉
And because waterfalls command liberation…
DAY 1 cont- PUNCHBOWL & TUNNEL FALLS
We were down to tackle 10 more miles to reach our campsite, so we loaded up our water packs, sloppily strapped on the sleeping gear/tent and made our way down the Eagle Creek trail. This is home to the numerous wonders around the Gorge area, including the Punchbowl Falls swimming hole/jumping spot. We reach it after 3 miles, and Jaqui morphs into cliffjumping, mermaid mode.
We get back on the trail after a quick lunch, and after a few miles, our achy legs start getting the best of us. But every doubt goes away once we enter the amphitheater of Tunnel Falls, where the trail continues into a rock tunnel blasted behind the waterfall, midway up a vertical basalt wall. The trail gets mistier as we enter the tunnel, and I swear it’s the most refreshing thing in the world.
Just when things couldn’t get more epic, we notice a rope descending to the base of the waterfall, which creates the perfect recipe for epic girltime <3 Bao also ran out of water around this time, so her water filtration straw was a gawdsend 😀
We camp along the trail that night, and since it begins to sprinkle, we decide to bring our paks + shoes into the tent. The rangers had confirmed that wildlife wasn’t a big problem/cannisters weren’t needed, so we felt comfortable sleeping with some food in the tent.
At about 2am, I wake up to the sound of little bears (squirrel? marmot?) trying to gnaw through my side of the tent, getting at my pak/Goldfish crackers. I slap the side of the tent and do a burly snarl before going back to sleep. I wake up to gnawing around my feet about 10 minutes later, and this guy keeps us company for the next hour or so, much to my displeasure.
DAY 2- UMPQUA HOT SPRINGS
We hike 5 miles out the next morning, and drive 5 hours south to check out some wilderness hot springs in the Umpqua National Forest. Jaqui comes up with the idea to stop at a local winery, and as we bust out the blue Solo cups, my sh#t gets a little sloppy.
Some quick and dirty highlights:
- Amazing stacks of travertine and geothermal pools in varying scorching degrees
- Don’t attempt the 1200 ft elevation gain to these springs… in thong sandals
- Do make friends with your new nudsie neighbors, who might surprise you with some progressive food-for-thought
- Don’t chug wine before getting into a hotspring, and attempt to do headstands afterwards….
Needless to say, we achieve maximum R&R to soothe our overworked quads and meet some fun locals/see lots of dongs. Optimal way (not the latter) to conclude our wilderness adventure before heading to Portland the next day/treat ourselves to some ice cream and brewery tours.
A hat connoisseur at a local hat shop will later tell me that 1 out of 3 visitor ends up becoming an Oregon resident.. we’ll see which one of us it’ll be!