Lengthy post alert! Many photos and tales from the trail lie ahead. Unfortunately I’ve experienced quite a few technical difficulties getting the photos to load to this post — oh the joys of being a blogger! Alas, it’s finally up!
This trip has been the highlight of my summer and I already can’t wait to go back to the beautiful state of Oregon! A few of you have been asking about my itinerary and for more photos — well here you go!
I highly suggest a trip to the Pacific Northwest (AKA Cascadia) if you haven’t been (and even if you have, there is so much to see and do). It’s one of the most beautiful regions in our country!
We first visited the PNW last year on a quick weekend trip to Seattle and absolutely fell in love.
Our 8-day trip went like this: Portland -> Mt. Hood -> Bend -> Crater Lake -> Eugene -> Portland
Portland: Part One
We started and ended our trip in Portland for ease of access to the airport as well as all of the amazing vegan food options! I wish we had more time to eat and drink around this free-spirited city — we will definitely be back in the future.
Our first meal was at Portobello Vegan Trattoria — an entirely vegan Italian spot! Everything was so delightful:
The next day we enjoyed some espresso at Courier Coffee Roasters and Stumptown, did a little shopping downtown (obviously stopping @ Powell’s bookstore), noshed on pizza and took part in some tourism of the local area. We ended our day dining al fresco with some cheap but insanely delicious Mexican food and beer.
The next morning we made sure to fuel up before hitting the road to the trailhead:
Mt. Hood: Timberline Trail
The main purpose of our trip was backpacking — we try to go on one big backpacking trip each summer and after our Colorado trip last year, I was itching to get to Oregon this year! I can’t express how beautiful it was to hike the 40-mile Timberline Trail around Mt. Hood. We trekked through a variety of striking ecosystems, forded terrifying glacial rivers and survived the closed portion of the trail around Eliot Creek.
I’m no backpacking expert but I have gotten upwards of 60 backcountry miles under my belt in the past two years.
A few notes about vegan backpacking: it’s not impossible to find gear made without animal products such as leather, suede and down, even in mainstream recreational equipment stores. Look for shoes and sleeping bags with synthetic materials and choose cruelty-free versions of insect repellent, sunscreen and lip balm. This could be an entirely separate blog post!
Vegan dehydrated food is surprisingly easy to find, with many varieties sitting on shelves in your local outdoorsy stores. While you can go the homemade route and dehydrate and pack your own goodies, I’ve gone mostly pre-packaged for convenience.
While eating on the trail likely won’t be the most nutritious or well-balanced stretch of days, it’s pretty easy to consume enough calories and nutrients. For breakfast we had oatmeal with nut butter and coffee while lunch and dinner were rehydrated meals. Many of these meals included a grain plus a legume in a tomato-y sauce, perhaps with some veggies. We brought (and ate) loads of snacks such as energy bars, vegan jerky and protein cookies. We also split a little treat every night after dinner. I’m always craving a cool, crunchy salad whenever we’ve been on the trail for awhile!
Water sources on this trail were plentiful. We crossed countless creeks, streams and rivers at which we’d fill up our four 1400 milliliter bottles and pop in chlorine tabs which took four hours to produce safe drinking water.
It’s imperative to stay hydrated and fed on the trail, even if you don’t feel thirsty or hungry. How else will you trek 10-15 miles a day, traversing up and down several thousand feet of elevation with 40 pounds on your back?
For those who have low appetite or nausea issues on the trail, frequent, small snacks and meals are the ticket. If these issues are due to altitude sickness, the only fix is moving down to lower elevation (learned that one the hard way). Also remind yourself that you must eat enough if you’re going to cover the miles you planned to cover in the allotted time frame — a lot of the challenges of the trail are “mind over matter” situations. It’s a good idea to build up to longer backpacking adventures rather than jumping right into a long thru-hike. Training for the trail is like training for a marathon–you need to train with the gear, hydration and food that you intend to use on your longer adventure. Not to mention training your cardiorespiratory system, back and joints!
This hike was amazing! It was challenging, no doubt, but the scenery and experience were worth it! We were lucky not to run into too many mosquitoes and the sun was only an issue for me on the last day. No bears or mountain lions, but plenty of deer, ground squirrels and a beautiful golden eagle. We saw many tracks and scat along the trail but were never face to face with any predators. Water was plentiful and our food supply was sufficient. If it weren’t for my sprained ankle, I’d say it went pretty swimmingly!
After three nights on the trail, it was amazing to shower, eat and sleep in the beautiful town of Bend, Oregon!
Also a top destination on our trip, Crater Lake National Park was absolutely stunning, as to be expected. What I didn’t expect were the hoards of tourists and restrictions on backcountry camping (you can’t actually camp with a view of lake, but either in a few limited campsites a bit of a hike off the road or at least 1 mile away from the rim in the backcountry).
By this point my sprained ankle was just NOT having it in any shoes with a back so I had to hike around with my left foot in nothing but an ankle brace and flip flop! Hey, making memories, right?
We stopped in Eugene purely to eat at Cornbread Cafe on our way back up to Portland. I was blown away. First, the drive between Bend and Eugene was spectacular. Then, the food was some of the best vegan brunch I’ve had in my life.
Portland: Part Deux
We were only back in Portland for one night and went out with a bang at Farm Spirit. Founded by chef Aaron Adams, Farm Spirit specializes in horticultural tastings of Cascadian cuisine in an intimate setting — all vegan, of course!
Here are snaps of some of the goodies:
They even sent us home with a little breakfast bread wrapped up to enjoy the following morning! I highly recommend making a reservation at Farm Spirit the next time you visit Portland.
Sadly, it was time to head home the following day, with little time for much other than stuffing our faces before heading to the airport:
Tell me — where are some of YOUR favorite places to travel in the US?