Curiosity and naivety are a good recipe for fun. I love to organize outings and I love to follow along, too.
One week in July, I had been planning to go up Mount Rainier and the conditions didn't feel right, so we bagged the plan. An curious text showed up from my friend, Zack. "Let's you, me and Jerome do the Triple D instead". I looked it up, found out that the 'Triple D' is a local Portland Mazamas Club thing - three mountains in one day. I hit reply and we picked a day.
The Triple D, involves hiking up Dog Mountain, Defiance Mountain and Devils Rest - in one day. That's it. I thought it seemed a bit extreme, but I was fit, having been outside everyday. I figured, why not let's give it a try and we can stop short if we need to. I love Dog Mountain and Devils Rest Hike is my favorite Gorge Hike. I knew roughly where Defiance Mountain was and it sounded fun. And are you kidding - an excuse to be hiking ALL DAY. I didn't need any extra encouragement for that! Plus, I ask people to 'stretch' for a living, so it feels good to me to get out of my comfort zone once in a while. It sure seemed like a lot of hiking for one day and I was excited to see what the outing would bring.
Off we went, on the last Sunday in July. We started at dawn and were on top of Dog Mountain by 7.30 a.m. Back to the car and over the Bridge of the Gods, we hiking up Defiance by 10 a.m. It was starting to get warm and felt good to go higher into the cooler air. That portion took six hours up and back. It's a long way up that hike. I learned that it's the highest mountain in the Gorge and it was 11 miles round trip.
I could have happily gone home after that, but we'd committed to the Triple D not some Double D! Teamwork is infectious, right?
After ice cream and coffee, to supplement the five sandwiches we'd each consumed so far, we headed for our last 'D' of the day. The Devils Rest.
We headed up via Angels Rest trail, with Zack setting a furious pace.... It started to rain halfway up. It felt refreshing as it cooled us, as well as washing off the sweat and dirt of the day. We were going quickly and about a mile from the top we ran out of gas. All three of us lay on the trail and closed our eyes for a few minutes. It felt wonderful.
Up we got, and after another mile on the Foxglove trail, we rounded the corner and there we were. We were all deliriously tired and pretty high on the moment! After emptying our water bottles, we headed off, shuffling down past Wahkeena Falls and back to the road. We were headed the 3 miles back to the parking lot, when a guy in a truck asked if we wanted a ride? "Yes we do", was the unanimous reply. It was getting dark and we called it a day.
We were tired for a few days afterwards, but it was worth it! I probably won't try it again but it sure felt like we connected with Columbia Gorge and a good chunk of it's beauty. And it's nice to know what the body is capable of. If I had any advice on this, it would be to keep the pace low, stay aerobic, and focus on walking softly to conserve energy, eat and drink every couple of hours.
Perhaps the most magical thing I get from all-day hikes, is the expanded connection I feel to surroundings. I spend quite a bit of time indoors and an all-day hike seems to reset my bio clock. It feels devotional too, to witness the sun from it's first rays until it sets, all the way on the other horizon.
After getting home, I looked up some writing and found these lines from Mary Oliver in the middle of her poem, Summer Day. I like what she wrote:
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?