Return to Tabor Mountain (and Sunset/Moonrise), 9 March 2020

At the Slough Country Ramble on Saturday February 22nd, Stasia wondered why she hasn’t run into me on Mount Tabor. She goes there a lot, and figured since my current place is close, I’d be up there a bunch. I admitted that despite living in North Tabor for a year, I haven’t been up there as much as I thought I would.

This realization of course made me feel bad. I too thought I would be going up to Tabor frequently, maybe once a week on average. But looking back over the past year, I could count on both hands the amount of times I’d been to the top of the highest point on Portland’s east side.

Why is that? It’s barely two miles to get to the top, and that view! Well, I’ve become something of a shut in these days, as I “work from home” most often. Getting outside requires motivation, and I don’t always have that. Not only that, North Tabor is the “hardest” side to get to the top. It’s generally the steepest way, and requires sketchy crossings of some major streets. There’s no great easy way to get up there from the north side.

This is different than the last few times I’d lived close to Tabor. My first proximate residence was in late 2007, living in a shitty place with weird roommates in South Tabor. That’s when I discovered the charms of this old volcanic butte. Before then, I liked Mount Tabor okay, but didn’t really appreciate it. I thought that loving Mount Tabor was so obvious, so basic for an eastsider. Me? I preferred more obscure places like Rocky Butte, where the view was better, a place some people I knew had never been. But being close to Tabor meant being able to easily explore all the approaches, not just the basic “up SE Salmon” one. This gave me the appreciation I needed.

Then right after that I moved to a place on NE 68th and Glisan in Montavilla. While my current place is just blocks from there, it’s also further downhill. It’s a lot easier to get up to the top of Tabor when you have a head start.

Then there was the one bedroom I shared with April on SE 90th and Stark in 2010-11. For the year I lived out there, I visited Mount Tabor practically every day, as I would climb the north shoulder on the commute into work. The 1/3 mile of climbing gave me a mile of glorious descent. This was probably my favorite commute in Portland.


It was time to get back to Tabor. There was a full moon rise on Monday March 9th. Watching the full moon during the off season is tricky here in Portland; most often it’s at least cloudy, if not raining. And if it’s clear, it usually means it’s cold and/or windy. But this night was going to be clear and nice. I got up there early enough to go to the top and watch the sun set with a bunch of other people. And mosquitoes. They are out early this year. Thankfully, I had enough layers on so they couldn’t penetrate.

Then it was to the east side picnic area to catch that last bit of alpenglow on Mount Hood. The moon rose after 7:20 PM. No clouds meant I got to watch it rise above the Cascades. It was a good one, this Worm Moon. I played around with long-exposure settings on my Pentax IQZoom 170SL camera, we’ll see if anything good comes out.

The moon had cleared the horizon, it was getting later and darker, so time to go home. One thing about all that steepness on the north side of Tabor: It makes for a great descent. Thankfully the B+M headlight attached to the Dynohub on the Raleigh Superbe plus some modern brakes meant that the descent was not sketchy. A good end to a good night.

And yes, Mount Tabor, I need to get up to you more often. There are more sunsets to behold.

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