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Oregon Backpacking & Food Adventures

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:

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Kale Caesar salad


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Beet tartare atop cashew cheese (amazing!)


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Pesto gnocchi



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Mushroom ravioli


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Tiramisu (one of the best vegan versions I’ve had)

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.

Vegan slices from Sizzle Pie

Vegan slices from Sizzle Pie


Very happy girl with cold brew coffee soft serve in hand (from Food Fight)

Very happy girl with cold brew coffee soft serve in hand (from Food Fight, an all-vegan grocery store!)


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The beautiful 620-foot Multnomah Falls near the Columbia River Gorge – a little day hike not too far from Portland


An Oregon brew and vegan tacos from Los Gorditos

An Oregon brew and vegan tacos from Los Gorditos

The next morning we made sure to fuel up before hitting the road to the trailhead:

Breakfast at Paradox Cafe before driving to Mt. Hood.

Breakfast at Paradox Cafe before driving to Mt. Hood.

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!


We reached the trailhead around 1:30 PM. I love that the PCT follows the Timberline Trail for awhile.

We reached the trailhead around 1:30 PM. I love that the PCT follows the Timberline Trail for awhile (me so many times: Cheryl Strayed has been HERE!)


Heading west from the Timberline Lodge (trivia: it served as the exterior for the shots of hotel in Stephen King's The Shining), the trail was mostly dry and the sun mostly HOT.

Heading west from the Timberline Lodge (trivia: it served as the exterior in shots of the hotel in Stephen King’s The Shining). The trail was mostly dry and the sun was HOT.


We hiked 10 miles the first afternoon, which was fairly mild in difficulty, except for the first difficult (terrifying) river crossing at the end of the day.

We hiked 10 miles the first afternoon, which was mild to moderate in difficulty, except for some steep portions of the trail and our first difficult (terrifying) river crossing at the end of the day. Unfortunately I managed to sprain my ankle on the first day — it was sore that night and was killing me the next morning. But when you’ve got 30 more miles to go, what can you do?


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Ah, the wilderness.


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Gorgeous scenery from the southwest side of Mt. Hood


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The trail through Paradise Park was the most strenuous stretch of our first day — steep incline for almost a mile straight — but at least we were surrounded by beautiful flowers!


Dinner = rehydrated bean chili by the fire at the end of a long first day.

Dinner = rehydrated red beans and rice by the fire at the end of a long first day. This was our favorite meal that we ate a couple times (“This is so good, I would eat this at home!”)


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Breakfast on the trail: a rock for a kitchen and a pot of boiling water for oatmeal and coffee (we ground up beans before we left and brought a plastic Hario V60 and natural paper filters for pour overs). Plastic baggie (which was inserted into a larger, odor-proof bag) for leave no trace.


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We passed the beautiful Ramona Falls shortly into our 12-mile hike on day 2.


Day 2 involved lots of fog, which was super enchanting and a welcome reprieve from burny sun.

Most of our second day on the trail was misty + foggy, which was quite enchanting and a welcome reprieve from the hot sun.


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So magical!


I was delighted by all of the beautiful wildflowers along the trail!

I was delighted by all of the beautiful wildflowers along the trail!


The view from our campsite on night 2! I was so excited to get out into the wilderness and see the stars (a big deal for us city folk), but we were so exhausted that we always fell asleep before it got dark!

A portion of the trail was closed a few years ago due to the washout of the Eliot Creek crossing. As you can see, the creek is actually several hundred feet below. Hikers have fashioned ropes to help others get down the loose side of the gully. The steep hike up to even get to the point where the rope is was actually the most challenging part. Using the rope was a little scary and it took as while to actually cross the creek as it was pretty wild and there weren't any super safe areas to ford. Alas, we made it!

Day 3 was all about surviving the portion of the trail that was closed a few years ago due to the washout of the Eliot Creek crossing. As you can see, the creek is actually several hundred feet below. Hikers have fashioned ropes to help others get down the rocky, loose side of the gully. Just hiking up to this point was exhausting. Using the rope to slide down was a little scary and it took us while to actually cross the creek as it was pretty wild and there weren’t any super safe areas to ford. But we made it!


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After crossing Eliot, we took a break to make lunch and then got lost and wound up on a summit trail (uhhhh, why are we going up the mountain?) before scaling down a dune and hopping back on the Timberline. A few miles of the trail stretched across the rocky east face of the mountain, glacier crossings and all.


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We were totally dead at the end of the third day. It was our longest day (from about 9 am to 7 pm) and my ankle was really bothering me by this point. No matter how exhausted I was, I was still so in awe of my beautiful surroundings. This cute little stream is where we filled up water after crossing Newton Creek and  before setting up camp for the night.


Small luxuries on the trail: splitting a treat each night.

Little comforts on the trail: taking your boots off and splitting a treat at the end of each night.

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What a luxury — breakfast in bed on our last morning!

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The scenery changed back to meadows and forest on day 4 (and I’m pretty sure that’s Mt. Jefferson off in the distance).

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Then it was back to a dry environment as we covered the final miles of the loop. Definitely got sun burnt on this stretch of the trail, oops.


The last day was pretty rough, especially declines. We had to dig into our first aid kit to wrap this sucker. Boy did it feel good to get to the car and take off my boot!

What your feet look like when you finish hiking 40 miles in 4 days.

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!

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We thoroughly enjoyed hummus, salads, tofu burgers, fries and beer at Deschutes Brewery!

Crater Lake

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?

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One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been!

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The blueness of the water is insanely gorgeous.

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I wasn’t about to let this bum ankle stop me from enjoying Crater Lake!


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.

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Nothing but beautiful forest!


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Omelette, biscuit and potatoes — if only you could taste this photo!

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!

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A summary of what we enjoyed — everything was so delightful! All ingredients are locally sourced (up to 100 miles), even the grains, so no exotic flavors (i.e citrus).

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How cute is this place? Guests are seated at a bar and the chefs plate each course and serve you from the other side.

Here are snaps of some of the goodies:

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Savory carrot cream and carrot mousse

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“Concentrated tomato” — this was one of the most flavorful things I’ve ever eaten.

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Fermented turnip cream base, snow pea and nasturtium

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This was unreal! Artichoke-stuffed padron peppers.

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Sprouted barley, braised lobster mushrooms, pole beans, corn and a black garlic crisp

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Quinoa cracker with a cauliflower-coriander topping, garnished with mint

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This dish was served in tomato water — so genius and insanely delicious!

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Alice in Wonderland? This was our palate cleanser before dessert.

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Hazelnut cream, raspberries and marigolds in a hazelnut tart

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:

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Our last morning started with a final latte from Coava (our favorite coffee place in Portland!) and doughnut from Voodoo.

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Curry brunch bowl at Blossoming Lotus. It was so yummy, but I could hardly eat half of it because I already had a doughnut in my belly, oops!

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Farewell, PDX. ‘Til next time!


Tell me — where are some of YOUR favorite places to travel in the US?


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