A Millennial Walks Into the Forest

Except, it’s not a forest — It’s just a section of the Reed College Canyon, a little oasis in the middle of southeast Portland. She has the day off and it’s not raining, which is an omen, so she takes the dog and her iPhone into the woods. She can’t hear the birdsong over Flo-Rida, but she imagines it’s beautiful. The dog tugs her along the trail, sniffing and chewing the tall grass.

It’s been a few months since she came down here. Then, it was cold and wet in the middle of Winter, but still green. Now, it’s obvious even to her, a city-slicker, that spring has touched this place. Small flowers of purple and white crowd together, moss covers fallen logs, ¬†bugs flit around her head and she pretends not to care. Every few steps the light hits the creek and shines in such a way that would look perfect on Instagram.

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Pacific Northwest Field Trip: Multnomah Falls

We’ve been meaning to get to the Multnomah Falls, a quick thirty minutes from us in Portland. There was no planning, we just happened to pick a perfect day — clear, dry, and warm for January.

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I thought we were going to walk up that first little bridge, take some photos, and get on with our lives. This was a short-lived fantasy. When we reached the bridge, we kept going. And noticed this little cave. We did the most obvious thing:

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Up we went. The first switchback had a sign: 1 of 11 switchbacks. I knew then I was in trouble. I had dressed inappropriately: Ugg books with no ankle support, cardigan, and makeup. I was only good for looking pretty, not for hiking. Actually, I don’t think I’m ever good at hiking.

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At first, I kept up with TJ, but soon, I was falling behind.

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Eventually, I gave up, waved TJ on, told him to go on without me and to remember that he loved me, despite my failings. I pretend to try some ‘photography’ . Really, I was bent over at the waist sucking air.

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Don’t judge me. I hadn’t eaten breakfast. I workout inside. I have weak lungs. At switchback 7 of 11, I swear I saw a burning bush and Moses.

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By the time I got to the overlook, TJ was heading back down the trail, but he turned back to walk with me.

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At the top, you could stand at the edge and look down, straight down the waterfall. It’s moments like those that I remember that I don’t enjoy heights. Was it worth the pain and embarrassment of being left behind? Of course. I have two strong legs, a heart in good order and ability, I try not to let my brain get in the way.

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What I love about this photo, besides TJ’s half-smile, is the fact that you can’t tell that I am bushwacked, with sweat stains and swamp crotch. Excellent.

We highly recommend this hike. But I suggest being a little more prepared than I was. Maybe, wear sneakers or hiking boots, bring some water, wear layers and if possible eat something. Or, if this all seems like too much, convince your travel party not to go past the first bridge.