The Drive Along The Columbia River Gorge

Gifford Pinchot National Forest

I have told this before as well, but Gifford Pinchot National Forest is one of my favorites to get lost in. The few times I have been here was by the nineT and this was my first time by car. The place is empty, peaceful, serene and just beautiful to explore. The roads are not as well maintained as national parks, but that just adds to the charm of the place. 

As I was driving down the Wind River highway, it started snowing again and a fresh layer of snow was starting to pile up on the road. With the morning’s incident in mind, I slowed down and slowly cruised on the road. The roads were lonely and relaxing, just as I was hoping it would be.

a fresh layer of snow as I roll into Wind River Highway
The roads are lonely. I slowed down and decided to take it slow

Soon I saw a sign ‘Welcome to Gifford Pinchot National Forest’ and I was excited from within. Here I was at last after almost 5 hours of driving. Time was now 8:45 am and the trailhead was nearby. As soon as I entered the Forest, I was greeted by some Turkeys having a conference right on the middle of the road. I slowed down hoping that they would move out of their way, but they did not budge. Whatever they were discussing was obviously more important than letting some random human go through. I pretty much slowed down to a crawl and they moved out of the way only after I had to come to a complete stop. They did not seem happy that I disturbed their meeting. 

Turkeys hanging out in the middle of the road
They were not happy that I disturbed them

Amused by what I just saw, I moved on. It was close to the trailhead to Falls Creek now and I kept an eye out for the turn out to the road that was supposed to take me to the trail head. The road still had fresh snow and it all felt so surreal driving through that scene. Soon, I saw the road that leads to the trailhead. It was a narrow, snowy and slippery road and it got narrower as the road went on. After driving for maybe a mile inside on the snow. I got to a sign that said that the trail is closed for winter. Turned out I didn’t do enough research.

Getting closer to the trail head. It was a beautiful scene to find myself in
The roads got narrower as I ventured deeper into the road that lead to the trailhead
Road closed. I didn’t do enough research apparently

Now I had two problems in hand. One was that the trail was closed and the entire hike plan is down the drains and two, how in the world will I turn around in this narrow road and get back on the main road? By this time, I had some experience from getting stuck in snow when in Idaho – a story for another time – and I didn’t want to go through that again in a remote area like this. But there was no other way and I just had to do it. It took some time and effort and at last managed to get out of that road and got back on the main road. By this time, I was back in good spirits and felt accomplished. The rest of the plan was still salvageable. So now off to the next way point – Panther Creek Falls. With the extra time in Hand, maybe I will swing by Lower Lewis falls as well as it is on the way anyways. 


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