Friday, March 7, 2014

Our Attempt at the Portland 4T Hike

When the rain stops, the sky clears, and it's Friday when Husband occasionally doesn't have to work ...... we play.

Things we like to do:  Ride bikes .... shop ..... hike ....... road trips .... and, um ....  Okay, so our list is small.  Always needing to burn some calories, I investigated a hike I'd heard about, presented it to Husband, and got the green light.  The Portland 4T.

The 4Ts are trail, tram, trolley, and train ... in that order, and it went like this:

We started at the zoo, or rather in the zoo parking lot where we stashed our car.  Then we headed south on foot across the freeway and up a trail that was still soggy from the downpours of the two previous days.  Stupid me for not thinking about mud in my choice of footwear.

This trail wound up through typical lush, soaked-in-green Oregon forest.

 Beyond this initial trail, we had the option of more trails or streets.  We chose the streets and left the mud behind.  There are 4T signs along the way, not to be confused with SW Trail signs which promptly led us off in the wrong direction down a road near where I lived during my high school years.  I love these older neighborhoods with unique designer homes that were obviously built before the concept of production building and "cookie cutter" sameness and before anyone had thought through the eventual need for a garage and actual parking.  Each home is a work of art, with colonials, craftsmans, victorians, cape cods, moderns, tudors, etc., all perched along the narrow roads.  No two are alike and I love them all.

After discovering our mistake we headed back up and arrived at Council Crest Park, the highest point in Portland, where the radio towers puncture the clouds.  The view is spectacular.

And when you are at Council Crest Park, you MUST stand in the very center of the rock pavilion and declare boldly, "Portland Rocks!"   I did not make this up.  Just do it and see what happens.

Then we wound down through more delightful homes wherein, I'm sure, people live happy/cozy lives, and made it to OHSU among Portland's massive complex of hospitals, medical school, and other health-related institutions, and to......

The tram (2nd T) ..... which gave us a free ride down to the valley floor (you only pay going up) and then we did another half mile walk to the Spaghetti Factory which we sadly discovered was closed for the afternoon.  Darn.  So we caught the trolley heading downtown (3rd T).  Now here's a curiosity:  You are supposed to buy a ticket at a machine at the trolley stop, which we did ....... but no one ever collected it.  We never even saw a driver.

The trolley took us (and a friendly but very loud woman with her "therapy/service" dog NAMED  GINGER AND SHE IS FIVE AND A HALF YEARS OLD, AND THEY'VE BEEN TOGETHER SINCE SHE (the dog) WAS TEN WEEKS OLD AND SHE'S THE SMARTEST DOG IN THE WORRRRLD, BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH ............, to the grand old County library on 10th, where we escaped and began a search for food.  A few minutes away, we found a block full of sidewalk food venders and decided on Thai.  Then we found a low stone wall on which to sit, well away from the scruffy looking fellow asleep on a bench.

The food?  Meh.  It was so-so.  But the little gal inside was sweet.

We then headed a couple of blocks back to catch the Max .... Portland's public transit train ... AKA the last T. Again we dutifully bought our tickets from the machine and again, no contact with a driver and no one collecting tickets.  You have to wonder if we were the only dopes on the train who paid for the ride, because you just walk on and walk off.  No wonder it needs to be subsidized!  It can't be making it in fares!

The Max dropped us off in an underground station where we boarded elevators that brought us back up to daylight and ..... VOILA!  The zoo parking lot!  Right where they said it would be.  Who would have thought!?

All in all, it took us about four hours with about five miles of walking, and we're giving it a thumbs up.  You get woodsy forest, fascinating homes, gorgeous views, the city, and a few rumpled panhandlers tossed in for good measure.

1. Don't depend on the signs.  Either carry a good map or access to the internet and/or a GPS.  You will need it.
2. They sell fudge at the Zoo shop.  Just saying.
3. You may or may not decide to buy trolley or train tickets, but you didn't hear it from me.
4.  Pass on the Thai food.  You're better off with a burger.
5.  Plan for mud.  This is Oregon.  It rains here.

(Update:  I heard they do random checks and there's a nasty fine if they catch you without a ticket.)