Our original plan for Sunday morning was to head to the west side of Mount St Helens. However; after checking the weather report, it seemed like it might be a bit useless. Overcast throughout the entire region for the whole day. No matter, one of the greatest things about this area of the country is if you head an hour in any direction you’ll hit a different climate zone. So that’s exactly what we did. When we went out to the Columbia Gorge last we were a bit rushed and didn’t get a chance to check everything out that we wanted to. This time we took I84 straight out the gorge and didn’t take any detours until we passed route 35 (the farthest out we made it last time).
We happened upon a few good viewpoints along the way (such as those at Ruthton Park) but our luck severely turned when we chatted briefly with a Ranger at the Twin Tunnels Trail. She told us a little history about the road we were on and how the rest of it was closed to all but bikers and hikers (with a permit). She then told us about an excellent viewpoint, called the Rowena Crest, coming up along the Historic Columbia River Highway and gave us directions.
The Rowena Crest is one of the best overlooks of the Gorge that we’ve seen. To get there you start heading east and it gets drier and drier the farther out you go. This makes for some dramatically different scenery. This was perfect for today as it was overcast and damp in Portland. Once we reached the Rowena crest, we spent a little while walking around the trails and getting shots of the curvy roads we’d have to take. Then we headed back to Portland to visit with the Hamalainens and the new Heath family for one last get together before everyone headed home. We only stayed for a short while before heading on to our next stop, Bend Oregon.
What little we saw of Bend was very pretty. However; Bend was really only a halfway point for us to make the drive to Crater Lake tomorrow shorter.