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This week’s Summer Outdoor Adventure took us to Angel’s Rest in the Columbia River Gorge. Because my 10-year-old was at his friend’s house, we were able to attempt a longer trek in the great outdoors, with just me and my 15-year-old twins. IMG_3118I love it when I can get out with just them. I have to encourage it, as it is not something they naturally want to do, if I am honest. But, I just say, this is something we are doing, this is something I want to do, an adventure with mom, and it will be fun. I say it in a really happy tone, not really asking but not really insisting, just a “this will be really fun” voice. It usually works.

Sure, it’s fun to share these hikes with others, which we try to do by inviting their friends and their friend’s moms along on certain adventures, but I also treasure alone time. The dynamics change. Sometimes, I just want it to be us.

To find Angel’s Rest, I googled “Hikes near Portland, within 45 minutes,” IMG_3119and this spot came up. Though we have been on many hikes in the Gorge, I do not recall this one. I love trying new spots, and this one was a challenge:  2.3 miles uphill. And uphill it was. Plus it was rocky. We could have used hiking boots, I kept thinking.

But as is the case for many of these adventures with kids, I am happy to just get out yet alone be super prepared. I figured it was only 2.3 miles each way, and if I am honest, I never really know where my hiking boots are anyway. Somewhere in the garage.

I need to put them in an easy spot, I keep telling myself, because for this hike, they would have come in handy.

While the trail started off in smooth trail dusty trail like fashion, it quickly turned rocky. IMG_3146Small rocks, larger rocks and boulders.

As I huffed and puffed right from the start of the incline of the hike, my twins practically galloped up the trail, waiting for me around the bends to make sure I am still in tow. Those years training as cross country runners and Boy Scouts and soccer players, etc. are paying off. Or, I am just in bad shape.  Or both. My knees have seen better days for sure.

The trail meanders its way IMG_3120upward toward the final rock outcropping overlooking the entire Columbia Gorge. It took over an hour for the one-way 2.3 miles to the summit. Along the way, there are viewpoints that we stopped at to peek at the gorgeous Gorge. A creek flows IMG_3166next to the trail and a waterfall graces the side of the trail.  As the twins were usually ahead of me, I would see them move toward views that interested them. IMG_3122IMG_3132I love getting outdoors with the twins and seeing them soak in nature’s beauty.

As we walked up down the tree-lined moderately steep trail, we saw a garter snake, which slithered away. Later, on our way down, there were three folks gathered looking at another snake off the trail. Wesley took photos while we all tried to get a better view.

While walking up the trail, I thought of another Gorge hike — Multnomah Falls — that we did with Gus along, and he was having a hard time getting up the hill. And that hike is much shorter. So, I have to adjust the hikes and adventures we attempt to make them pleasant for all.

The hike had several switchbacks as we gained elevation. Several groups were going down the hill as we meandered our way up. The youngest groups of people we saw were 12 or 13 year olds with their mom. It is always refreshing to see other moms out with their kids in the great outdoors.  There were college age kids and young couples and a few older folks.

I was sweating on this hike right from the start. I thought it would level out but it did not. I knew 4.6 miles round trip is not that far, but the hike is a stretch in its label of “moderate.” For some people, this would be difficult. I knew the view at the top would be worth the effort.

Indeed, the rock outcroppings on the top IMG_3149were angelic and a perfect place to rest. I love the phrase, “Angel’s Rest.” It sounds so peaceful and it lives up to its name. And, when you arrive at the top, your breath gets taken away at the awesome graceful beauty.  The exposed bluff that is Angel’s Rest is surrounded on three sides by cliffs, with the expanse of the view feeling like a 3-D movie. MJ wanted to use my I-Phone for a panoramic shot, which turned out great.

The view of the Columbia River below stretches for miles. It is such a unique perspective from here, like you are in the top of a castle looking out over the breathtaking expanse.  We met a man who was originally from Brazil who was hiking with his high school son, and were able to snap photos for one another. They now live in Maryland.IMG_3154

 As we were hiking, I’d talk to the twins, asking questions about the trail and about the hike. Had they been here before? Who yields to whom when there two parties passing one another: the one going up or the one going down hill? When there was a fork in the trail, which way do we go? Each of the questions that arose during our hike, sprouted additional conversations about life.  

The conversations that ensued about more than just the trail got me thinking about writing. Perhaps a blog or a longer book project. Something like, “Life lessons along the trails with mom.” I thought it’d be a great book for fellow mom adventurers. I love quotes and I love stories and I think of analogies often.

Like on this hike, when we got to a fork in the road, I asked which way we should go, and we figured out the correct path that kept us moving to the end destination, Angel’s Rest. That situation made me think of Robert Frost’s quote from his poem, “The Road Not Taken”:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

And when we wanted to know how far it would still be till we made it to the top, Mickael Josef asked someone who was walking down the hill how much farther would it be, and they said, “Not far.” The lesson that came to mind from that situation was that you should never be afraid of asking for help. 

And when people were walking up the hill while we were walking down, Micki and Wesley moved to the side to let them pass, so I asked them what is the etiquette for when you meet people on a narrow path, and they told me that you yield to those going up, which is something that I do not think everyone knows.

And, when we stopped to look at the garter snake, the life lesson I shared is that it is important to “stop and look at snakes” much like it is important to “stop and smell the roses.”

One other life lesson came from Micki saying to me while I was going too slow heading down the hill: “Mom, walk with purpose.” When I started my treatise on that statement, telling him that is one of my philosophies of life, he said, “Mom, what I mean is hurry up.” Okay, but it still was a life lesson as that is how I like to live my life, with purpose.  IMG_3130

What is it about getting outside with kids, into the great outdoors? The beauty of God’s creation, getting away from electronics, the conversation (and life lessons) that ensue. We need to get back to nature, to soak up the outdoors, to escape the clutter and chaos of modern life. I need it, my kids need it, but they don’t always realize they need it. So, I continue to plan these adventures outside with me. I want them to have memories of me with them outdoors. And, I specifically say to them, “Don’t you love this adventure?” and they are really sweet and usually say, yes. Indeed, once I get them outside, away from their TV series Lost and their technology and away from their X-Box, they too have fun. They slow down. They begin to appreciate.

We all need to find a place of rest, sometimes on the top of a hill. And,  reaching the top that is Angel’s Rest is that perfect spot that is worth the climb. IMG_3158 - Version 2  

[To get to Angel’s Rest: Driving Directions

Eastbound on I-84, take Bridal Veil Exit #28. The trailhead is south of the Historic Columbia River Highway, opposite the junction with the interstate access road in Bridal veil. From westbound I-84, take Ainsworth State Park Exit #35 and follow the Historic Columbia River Highway for 7.1 miles (11.4 km).]

Link for more info:

Angels Rest Hike- Columbia Gorge

Portland Hikers Guide-Where I first found Angel’s Rest

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