So very wet: Meeting spiralcage in the Gorge, 22 July 2014

Robert/Spiral Cage, the man behind the Rootless in Place blog, has been on a Tour Without a Goal since early this month. So far, he’s been following the Sierra Cascades route through Washington and then will continue southward through Oregon south to California. He wanted to come to Portland so I agreed to host him for a few break days in town. And since the day he’d be riding through the Columbia Gorge was my day off, I decided to meet him out in the Gorge and guide him in. I was itching for a long-ish ride and haven’t been out that way in a month, so it was a good excuse.

I had a few options on getting out there: I could ride out the night before and camp, then meet him close to Cascade Locks, Oregon, where he’d be crossing the Columbia from the Washington side. But this would mean leaving town right after work Monday night and hauling ass to get about 40 miles out. Turns out I wasn’t really in the mood for that. Another option was I could take the bus that goes out that way in the morning, meaning I’d only have to ride back in. A great idea in theory, the problem is that bus leaves from the eastern fringe of the metro area at 7 am which would mean about 15 miles of riding just to get to the bus stop. Waking up at 5 am or earlier wasn’t in the cards. So I decided to leave the house in the morning and ride out as far east as I could to intercept him.

I left the house around 11 am. I could have taken transit to get to Troutdale, the furthest east I could get to the Gorge, but it would most likely take about the same time as riding the 15 miles. And I was in the mood for adventure.

I chose a route that hugged the area around the Columbia Slough in the far northern reaches of Portland. Along the way I found Wilkes Creek, a small stream that flowed into the Slough. There’s a small natural area surrounding the creek, so I explored it for a few minutes. There’s a lack of streams on the east side of town, so it’s always great to find one, no matter how minor it may be. The rest of the way into Troutdale used paths paralleling the Slough and then Marine Drive paralleling the Columbia River itself. I got into Troutdale around 12:30 pm and had lunch.

While finishing lunch I got a text from Robert, saying he was at Multnomah Falls. I decided that we should meet at Crown Point, and then I took off on the Historic Columbia River Highway. When I started to climb, the much-threatened rain arrived. It had rained early in the morn before I woke up, and the forecast called for a chance of showers. So I was unpleasantly surprised when it started raining really good, and I lacked real raingear. Yes, we don’t always carry raingear in Portland, especially during the dry summer months when rain is the exception. And now I was facing the exception. I was getting soaked down to skin. The only good thing was that the temperature was in the low 70’s, so I wasn’t cold. But man, I was wet!

The rain ebbed and flowed on the climb to Crown Point, but it did not stop. I arrived to Vista House and quickly headed inside to wait for Robert out of the rain. He arrived shortly thereafter, equally soaked. We exchanged greetings and took off, as the rain had stopped. The dry spell didn’t last long, and we got more soaked on the descent. So stopping at Edgefield in Troutdale for food and drink was a good idea! Thankfully the rain stayed away for the rest of the trip back home.

Robert hung around my house for two days, taking a well-needed and well-deserved break from the road. He took off on Friday morning, headed back east to reconnect with the Sierra Cascades route. It was fun hanging out with him during the time he was in town.

Maybe you’ll stay with me when you pass through on your bike tour? Maybe I’ll even guide you into town! And if I do, hopefully it won’t be as wet!


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