Out our back door

I’ll bet Credence Clearwater Revival is in your brain already.

Yesterday we finally had a dry day with sunshine and no wind. This March was the third wettest ever recorded in Portland, and Lincoln City had no better luck. There were only four days out of 31 with no precipitation in the entire month. Many days the rain was light but steady. We might only get a tenth of an inch, but it fell as an annoying mist for hour after hour. That, my friends, is why we are so green and lush in this part of the country. But it does make hiking difficult and even walking in town unpleasant.

Lovely soft morning light filters through the pines. It really is a pretty forest.

It was nice to eschew the treadmill at the gym yesterday and get out to explore. We have not hiked a lot in our new town and we knew there was a vista awaiting at The Knoll without having to get in the car, e.g., out our back door.

The Knoll is well-known around Lincoln City. We are lucky to live within walking distance so no need for the car. Behind our house is an area known as the Villages at Cascade Head, a housing development that failed in 2008 before any houses were built. The city bought it and maintains it as park land.

I stopped to breathe in this exposed spot and as I turned around noticed we could see Devil’s Lake off in the distance. The path is steeper than it looks.

Since we arrived in early February we have occasionally walked up here — on a rare non-rainy day — to walk to Safeway or the gym or to access the beach at Road’s End (a 40-minute walk from home). One day we made it about half-way to The Knoll, but were too pooped from moving in, unpacking, and settling to climb all the way up. Friday was the day! Heading out at 9:00 AM into a 45-degree morning, there was no worry of working up a sweat. Our first 3/4 mile was on a paved road that would have been the main drag for the development.

That’s Ric in the foreground. It’s an optical illusion that makes him appear to be on the shore. The beach is actually 595 feet below.

Where the pavement ends, a narrow path leads through a young woodland to a bridge over Logan Creek. This is a substantial steel bridge now overgrown with moss and caked in muck. There is a barricade to prevent cars from crossing it. It is not clear why such a substantial bridge exists.

We clambered over the lower barricade on the side of the bridge (little kids will need a hand here) and commenced walking up slightly on a gravel road. There are houses here in the woods, which feel quite remote. Some of them near the top surely have a great view of the Pacific Ocean. For our view, we had a lot more climbing to do.

Lincoln City is famous for seven miles of beach. You can see the tide is out.

The next locked gate led to a grassy area and a small footpath winding steeply up through the woods. We were on the backside of the hill known as The Knoll. I have to admit that even after a few weeks of going to the gym and walking on the treadmill in lieu of outdoor fun this climb had us huffing and puffing. We had to stop a couple of times for aerobic recovery.

For the record, we live at 125 feet above sea level and the trek was to 595 feet. My friends, that is higher than the highest hill in Rome, Monte Mario (see “Return to Monte Mario”), which claims an elevation of 456 feet above sea level. (Yes, we hiked a lot in the mountains in the past few years, but in the months since we returned from Italy, our activity level has been abysmal given the horrible winter weather and lack of a gym membership.)

This little bird was not happy to have us disturb the morning.

Finally rounding a sharp curve, we came out into the promised grassy area with a magnificent view of the Pacific. Lincoln City stretched out beneath us. (The city boasts seven miles of beach and we were above the very north end of those seven miles.)

We encountered a woman who had ascended even earlier than we did, but she departed and left us in peace with only the sound of the surf pounding far below and a Stellar’s Jay scolding us from the tippy top of a pine tree. This is the sort of place one could stretch out a blanket and enjoy some time listening to the waves and watching the birds. Perhaps as summer nears, it will be much busier, though. We shall see.

Going down was easier on the heart and lungs, but I always worry I am going to slip on a pinecone, so I wished we’d had trekking sticks along. We held hands to steady each other and ensure we avoided injury. Easy hikers can’t be too careful!

Lincoln City stretches out below us. There was a little fog that morning.

I would like to ascend The Knoll again in a few weeks. I suspect there will be wildflowers in bloom. I can also test if the hike has gotten easier as we get back in action. My hiking book illustrates many prospective paths near here. With sun planned again tomorrow, I hope we can bag another easy hike!

Doo-doo-doo lookin’ out my back door.

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Easy Hiking in Switzerland: First to Grosse Scheidegg

Swiss engineering amazes me at every turn. What vision they had even a century ago to make it possible for tourists, not just mountain climbers, to enjoy the high ground! The train that is known as the “BOB” (Berner Oberland Bahnen) dates to 1890, and thanks to Italian engineers, a train takes you to the Jungfraujoch at 11,371 feet above sea level.

The gondola to First.

Continuing our series on easy hiking in Switzerland, the trek from First to Grosse Scheidegg is magnificent. Usually, one would have to work much harder and deal with more people to have such stunning scenery. The adventure starts with a three-stage ride in the Grindelwald-First cable car, a 25-minute ride of more than 3 miles. Yes, another marvel of Swiss engineering. It is beautiful and it has been possible to take this ride since 1947. If all you have the energy to do is take the cable car, it is a worthy outing. But try to press on and you will be rewarded ten-fold!

Laurel, on-the-trail. We visited in October and it was still lovely!

From the top of the First lift, a super easy hike is to Bachalpsee. I’ll write about that trek another time. The hike to Grosse Scheidegg is only slightly more challenging and far less crowded.

Grosse Scheidegg is the pass between Grindelwald and Meiringen. A bus makes the trip, which is your easy-hiker return. More on that shortly. After your ascent, stop at the restaurant at the top of the gondola. We always start with a coffee and make use of the facilities. You can also watch the zip-liners on the “First Flyer” and take in the views from the First Cliff Walk.

These hikers consult a map, although the signs above their heads are really sufficient.

Heading out, follow the family-friendly Marmot Trail. We’ve not managed to see any of these critters here, but the whistles can sometimes be heard. Children, in particular, may enjoy the informational signs about Marmots. The wayfinding is excellent, so simply continue to follow signs to Grosse Scheidegg on a slightly undulating but generally downhill track wide enough for you to walk side-by-side. Enjoy views of the Schrekhorn, Wetterhorn and the mighty Eiger. Paragliders propel themselves off the cliffs and sail down to Grindelwald and provide delightful photo ops.

Paragliders – what a view!

After 5.2 kilometers, about 3 miles, you will reach the hotel at Grosse Scheidegg. (It is closed in winter.) From late May until late October,  the bus to Grindelwald will stop here. Simply pay the driver on board. This is your easy-hiker, 25-minute way back to town. Schedule here. Or you can hike back to First and take the lift down.

This hike took us about 1H 45M. We are not fast hikers and the downhill section through the Marmot Trail was a little slow. Hiking sticks and good sturdy shoes are highly recommended.

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