The West Hills is a small mountain range (Tualatin Mountains, in itself a far-flung spur of the Coast Range) that separates Portland from the Tualatin Valley to the west. Some of the hills rise above 1,000 feet in elevation. And there’s lots of natural areas, in fact, much of the northern section is park, Forest Park. It’s a great urban escape for hiking, yet I never, ever get up there as much as I should.
This year has been especially bad–I hadn’t been up in the hills for a hike until now. Blame COVID. I love taking transit to and from these hikes because it means I don’t have to do a loop. But right now I’m hesitant to take public transportation. So this time was one of the few times I drove to a hike in the West Hills. And this time, it’d be a “family hike”–myself, Emee, her kids, and one of their friends (who is “podding” with us for the coronavirus.)
The goal of the hike on Sunday November 8th was to get to Pittock Mansion, one of the highest points in the West Hills, plus one with a great view of the city. (You don’t build mansions in the West Hills with no view!) We decided to get there via Macleay Park and the trail that parallels Balch Creek. It was a good day for a hike, sunny, 50F ish. I took my Minolta SRT-101 loaded with Kodak Ultramax 400 with two lenses–the 50mm f/1.4 for “regular”, plus a 135mm tele. Oh yeah, the Olympus XA2 was loaded with black and white.
There were a lot of people enjoying the park. Too many, probably. I figured that it could be busy, but it was busier than hoped. Chalk this up to the nice day and people needing to release their nervous energy post-election. The trail was crowded in spots, at least in the lower spots, though most folks were respectful. Okay, there were a few clueless folks walking the wrong way–a section of the hike was part of a one-way loop to minimize contact in these pandemic days–but this type of cluelessness dashed with “I don’t care” is to be expected.
Alright, be positive Shawn. Fall was making its last stand in the Balch Creek Valley, and the golden Bigleaf Maples mixed with Douglas Fir felt enough like New England to this Nutmegger. The view from Pittock Mansion was grand, as always. And I managed to get some decent shots with both cameras.
We descended from Pittock Mansion using neighborhood streets through the Kings Heights and got back to the van around dark. It was about six miles, which is the longest I’ve walked in a bit. My feet definitely noticed. I hope to get a few more good hikes in the West Hills this winter, and hope the coronavirus spike goes down enough that I can feel hesitantly comfortable taking transit. Until then, there’s always Mount Tabor in my backyard…