2024 Road Trip: Part 5 – Chasing Waterfalls

I did it, TLC. I chased the waterfalls.

I checked out of my cool little temporary apartment at the very last minute, then hit the road again. Before actually leaving town, I dropped by the Astoria Column. The Astoria Column is this cool monument at the very top of a hill that even has a spiral staircase inside that you can use to make your way to the very top and get some great views of the area.

The Astoria Column
Climbing the spiral staircase inside will get you to some great views

I took in the views from the top for a moment, then made my way back down and to my car. Today, I had planned to go see a few of the many waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge. I wanted to slowly start working my way closer to home, so the falls would be along the way in that direction.

But first, I wanted to track down the Sauvie Island Side Ship; a UFO-looking boat of sorts that apparently washed up into the woods during a big flood. I had seen pictures of it somewhere on the internet and wanted to see it for myself.

The ship is unsurprisingly located on Sauvie Island, which is a pretty good-sized island in the middle of the Columbia River. The ship also just so happens to be sitting along a nude beach, called Collins Beach, so if you happen to visit this thing, be prepared to encounter nude people.

Or, maybe not. I happened to show up on an overcast 65 degree day, with zero wind. I guess most people don’t consider this to be beach weather, because when I showed up, the beach was completely barren, and dead silent. It’s roughly a mile long, and I couldn’t see anyone anywhere in the area. To me, this is perfect beach weather. I don’t do too well in the sunshine, and personally I think people were missing out on going to the beach this day. Their loss. I had the entire beach all to myself.

I found what I was looking for shortly upon arrival, right on the edge of the woods, perfectly facing the beach. Imagine turning this thing into some sort of apartment.

I come in peace

The beach was so quiet and calm, the weather was perfect, and I wasn’t in any kind of rush, so I thought I’d just enjoy the quietness and go for a walk on the beach. I had been surrounded by tourists and traffic for so long, that it was nice to get a break from the chaos. I must’ve spent at least two hours walking up and down the entire length of the beach. I think I needed the quiet.

It was starting to get late, and I wanted to visit the waterfalls while there was still daylight, so I got back on the road and made my way to the Columbia River Gorge. The first waterfall I arrived at was probably the most popular, and surely one of the most Instagrammed waterfalls you’ll see, so it was fairly crowded on arrival. I can see why it’s so popular, though. It’s really one of the best waterfalls that I’ve ever seen.

Multnomah Falls

Getting a shot without any people took some patience. At any given moment, that bridge is full of people, but it was late enough and drizzly enough that most people started to leave. I don’t mind the rain, and I love overcast weather, so I had my camera ready for the moment when the bridge was empty and got a few shots.

Of course, I made my way to the bridge myself, and even though it’s exactly the same waterfall, it almost looks like a completely different one from that spot.

The trail keeps going, so I kept following it. Unbeknownst to me, the trail continues allllllll the way to the very top of the waterfall and beyond. Getting to the top is quite the hike. It’s steep, with 11(?) switchbacks, and about 1.25 miles long. I was a sweaty disgusting mess by the time I reached the top, but the occasional drizzle helped.

A smaller waterfall at the top
Looking straight down at Multnomah Falls
Nice views from up here

The hike back down was much easier, although still a little challenging due to the fact that the Chuck Taylors I was wearing don’t exactly make for the best footwear when going down a steep trail. It was much less crowded by the time I got back down, likely because it was still drizzly and starting to get dark. I chatted with another tourist for a moment, who suggested an easy but lesser-known way to get to the bottom of another nearby waterfall. I quickly made my way to that fall before it got dark, and found the easy-access point that they had mentioned.

Bridal Veil Falls

I only spent a few minutes at this waterfall. It was getting pretty dark, and somehow it felt like I was trespassing on the shortcut to the falls (the “private property” signs I walked past seemed like a red flag, although they were posted on open gates.)

It was mostly dark at this point, and I hadn’t intended on stopping any more, but I just so happened to see this fall on my way out, so I pulled over for a quick snap. It’s literally right next to the road, so no hiking required.

Horsetail Falls

There are many, many more waterfalls in this area. Realistically, I probably could have spent an entire day here if I wanted to see each and every one of them. If I’m ever in the area again, I might have to do just that.

I finally got back on the road for real this time. It dawned on me that I had no idea where I was going to stay this night. I thought I’d just drive farther East for a while and watch for a hotel or a campground. I kept going for a few hours, but wasn’t seeing much. I was getting too tired to drive, though, so I pulled into a rest area and just slept in my car. Not the most comfortable sleeping arrangement, but it was better than crashing my car. I did sleep better than expected, though.


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