Over the last year Dustin and I have been slowly collecting backpacking gear … hitting anniversary sales at REI, using up our dividends and scouring the REI Garage sales. And while we are far from well equipped we’ve been able to make it work by borrowing gear from my Dad’s inventory. I think that’s the hardest part about getting into backpacking, it seemingly requires so much specialty gear. So for us we’ve been focusing on starting with essential items that we can use for backpacking and car camping, like backpacks, sleeping bag, pads & tents and getting by borrowing the rest.
I’ve been on one backpacking trip in the past to Goat Rocks in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest with family and then we went semi-backpacking to High Hut. But no better time than the present to take our first solo trip! After a last-minute trip cancel to the Washington Coast (forecast scheduled for rain, rain and more rain) Dustin suggested we revisit Eagle Creek but this time stay the night!
While it was raining all over Washington, it was high 70’s at Eagle Creek along the Columbia Gorge. It ended up being so warm we hiked in shorts and tshirts and slathered on sunscreen. This hike takes you mostly along rocky cliffs overlooking the gorge and in and out of the forest along waterfall after waterfall. My favorite of course is still Tunnel Falls (pictured in the main photo) where you get to walk through a tunnel blasted in the early 1900’s. This is usually the stop for day hikers (making it 12 miles RT). We pushed on to our goal of 7.5 Mile Camp, fittingly named after it’s mileage. After walking treacherously high along the cliffs at Tunnels (you’ll definitely find us holding onto the cables bolted into the side of the cliff) you turn the corner to start what many hikers refer to as “Vertigo Mile”, aptly named for the sensation it causes. A little fearful of heights, we quickly made our way through Vertigo Mile (sorry didn’t stop to take pictures) and came upon the 200 foot Twister Falls, pictured below. Contrary to it’s name it only takes a 1/2 mile extra to arrive upon Twister falls and is worth it for a day hike in my opinion.
If you plan on staying overnight I would start as early as possible. We left the parking lot around 10:30am and grabbed one of the last camping spots at 7.5 Mile Camp. There’s also the option of taking one of the earlier spots sprinkled along the path after High Bridge. After 7.5 Mile Camp however there aren’t any spots to camp until you ascend the long hike to Wahtum Lake.
After setting up camp we did what you do in the woods. Relax sans technology, build a fire and make new friends around said fire. You stretch your sore muscles and revel in the fact that you carried everything you need to survive in the woods. You eat warmed up dehydrated food, drink fresh water and fall asleep to the sound of the river.Then the next morning you turn around and leisurely hike back out. And in my case, manage to slice your fingers on a frayed cable causing you to wonder how old your tetanus shot is (overdue that’s what). And that is why you always most definitely bring a first-aid kit. Then patch it up and keep on adventuring.
Lettering Medium: Sharpie, inspired by here.
Distance Roundtrip: 15 miles
Elevation: 1400 ft
Family friendly: We saw some families going to Punchbowl Falls, but I wouldn’t recommend going further with little children due to the cliffs.