hiking Oregon

A family hiking behind Ponytail Falls, Columbia Gorge, Oregon.

Photo Gallery: Hiking the Columbia Gorge

By Michael Lanza My son and daughter aren’t that into great views. I still remember my son saying to me, making no attempt to mask his disdain, “What is it about adults and views?” Kids don’t want an experience in nature that’s no better than a picture on the wall—they want to immerse themselves in it, get dirty and wet and throw stuff. That’s …

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Ponytail Falls, Columbia Gorge, Oregon.

Photo Gallery: A Big Day in the Columbia Gorge

By Michael Lanza

To some hikers, the Rock of Ages Trail on the Oregon side of the Columbia Gorge will feel like the supreme challenge, a gauntlet thrown down; to others, it could seem like a cruel joke. My friend Geoff Sears and I hiked on the balls of our feet much of the way up this crazily steep, unmaintained goat path—which climbs more than 2,000 vertical feet in one stretch of less than two miles—at times scrabbling along narrow spines of vegetation-cloaked rock where a slip could send us toppling downward through dense rainforest.

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A backpacker on the Timberline Trail around Oregon's Mount Hood.

One Photo, One Story: Backpacking Mount Hood’s Timberline Trail

By Michael Lanza

As late-afternoon sunlight slashed through big, puffy clouds hovering around the craggy top of Oregon’s 11,250-foot Mount Hood, on the first day of a three-day backpacking trip on the 41-mile Timberline Trail around Hood last August, I snapped this photo of my friend, Jeff Wilhelm, enjoying the view from Gnarl Ridge on the mountain’s east side. We were about to cross an extended, alpine stretch of the trail en route to camp for the night at Cooper Spur.

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Ramona Falls, Timberline Trail, Mount Hood, Oregon.

One Photo, One Story: Mount Hood’s Timberline Trail

By Michael Lanza

On the final morning of a backpacking trip last August on the 41-mile Timberline Trail around Oregon’s 11,250-foot Mount Hood, I woke early to find a thick, Pacific Northwest morning fog enveloping the absolutely silent forest surrounding us on the mountain’s west slope. After packing up camp, I walked a few minutes to the base of 120-foot Ramona Falls, an enchanting, broad curtain of water that tumbles over scores of small ledges, giving it a complex, sculpted appearance, and I shot this slow-exposure photo of myself standing in a shower of mist at the waterfall’s base.

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Ponytail Falls, Columbia Gorge.

Nature In Your Face: Hiking the Columbia Gorge

By Michael Lanza

Horsetail Falls slices a thin, glowing white, 176-foot-tall incision down a cliff of black rock wallpapered with moss and ferns, crashing into a shallow, chilly wading pool at its base. To see it, today’s first waterfall, we had to hike all the way across the road from the parking lot.

My son, Nate, and daughter, Alex, give Horsetail the once-over without much comment or enthusiasm. It’s not easy to impress elementary-school-age kids with nature, not even when it roars louder and looms larger than their favorite video games. I understand why: To kids, nature’s no good if it’s no better than a picture on the wall—they want to immerse themselves in it, get dirty and wet and throw stuff. And that water’s too chilly on this overcast, cool, June day to wade into that pool. But I know they’ll be more impressed with the next falls awaiting us. And sure enough, a little while later, when we turn a corner on the trail through dense, dripping rainforest and see Ponytail Falls, they pick up the pace and gush, “That’s cool!”

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