First adventure of 2013. Not entirely true; we went to Astoria back in January, but that was more a post-Christmas and Disneyland recovery excursion. Not that liveblogging a Jersey Shore Final Season marathon wasn’t an adventure of its own sad variety, but I’m putting beaching ourselves on a hotel bed for two days of click-and-poof fireplace abuse and cable TV loafing in its own category. Set on starting our hiking/backpacking season earlier this year, we decided on a short hike out to the Gorge for a trip up the Angel’s Rest Trail to get a head start on dejellifying our legs and testing our post-flu lung capacity.
Fueled on pho and Vietnamese iced coffees from Ha VL, we set off up the trail just as ice pellets and rain stopped falling. Though still a bit chilly, springtime was undeterred with wild currants, spring beauties, and trilliums blooming. About a mile up the trail, the sound of Highway 30 faded out and my grip on reality lightened as I started rounding every corner thinking “This looks just like the place in Skyrim where…” Suddenly I was Ilsa the Deceiver, videogame viking warrior and general badass.
Fact: I’ve been entrenched in Skyrim for the last couple weeks, effectively turning Robin into a Skyrim Widow. I hadn’t played it for a couple years but sometimes enough things in life pile up and the best option is a kind of escapism involving running around mythical fjords with a battleaxe and experiencing omnipotent power–fleeting though it may be–through a Nord named Ilsa. Nothing alleviates work stress like cleaving a few skeletons in the knees then stealing some giant’s bowl of partially-fermented mammoth cheese. Given my current preoccupation with Skyrim, imagine my delight when the Angel’s Rest Trail ended up indistinguishable from the game.
The thing about hiking is that it affords a lot of disengaged mental time for the old brain, and when left to its own devices, my mind will fill the silence in whatever way necessary. On this particular day, it involved me believing there was a little scrolling compass floating above my field of vision, swinging the imaginary “N” around with each switchback, with red dots revealing oncoming enemies. By which I mean other hikers, not assassins and/or wolves. This isn’t really Skyrim, I had to keep reminding myself. This man with the nice beard and jaunty salute is probably not operating as an emissary of the Dark Brotherhood. He does not have a note in his fisherman’s vest with directive to kill you.
As with most trails Robin picks, Angel’s Rest is 2.3 miles straight up to the rocky bluff that overlooks the Columbia River. After a winter of little activity, my legs were definitely feeling the incline, and when we reached the end of the trail, the Skyrim drumbeat marking a level increase boomed in my head.
Leg Strength: Raised from 25 to 26. INCREASED SKILL. I danced a mini-jig.
Robin was giddy at the top. His official hike summit portrait was a arms wide open moment of pure glee taking a page from Fraulein Maria.The view was lovely, 180 degrees of river as far as the eye could see and a backdrop of snowy firs. We stopped long enough to enjoy the view and the blue sky, then headed back after watching a slightly
volatile-looking microweather system push its way towards us. From Angel’s Rest, the trail spurs off for an optional extended loop up to Devil’s Rest along the Foxglove Trail, a day hike I hope to revisit a bit further into spring when the foxgloves are blooming.