Multnomah Falls



Rivian’s logo – the compass blending with the company’s adventure theme.

I aim to hit at least “one” interesting thing each day on the drive. First, route planning. I struggle with how much preplanning to do. Since I don’t know the area, each morning it does take a considerable amount of planning to know where to go, charge, and what to do when I’m there.

Evening accommodations have similar challenges. Sure, I could stay in a hotel each night, but I’m looking for a bit more diversity in where I stay. Hotels get expensive over time especially spending three weeks out on the road. Campsites tend to be all over the map. Good ones are usually not available on demand and for lack of better words, I was really disappointed in the quality of the KOA. Trash, bugs, and noise were all plentifully available, LOL.

Rivian offered free charging in Happy Valley, Oregon – just east of Portland. Stopping there meant missing downtown Portland, however it got me closer to Multnomah Falls. The more I stop at EV chargers, the more I realize that EV chargers are meant for destination travelers rather than through travelers.

What do I mean? Gas stations – particularly those along heavily traveled interstates have optimized for through travelers. Each time I stop, I need four things:

  • energy – be it gas or electric
  • a bathroom break
  • a drink
  • an optional snack

Most of the charging stops are in strip malls without easy access to the other three. I’m getting good at finding restrooms inside of grocery stores and department stores. However, the setup isn’t great for the store or the through traveler. I suspect those in the area that have electric vehicles find the placement of the chargers more convenient as they’d be shopping in the stores rather than passing through.

Now charged up, Multnomah Falls and Mount Saint Helens were on the agenda today, with maybe a stretch to Mount Rainier. Unfortunately, after digging into more about Mount Saint Helens, it appeared to be a bust. Mount Saint Helens has two visitor centers: the Seaquest Visitor Center on the west side of the mountains and the Johnson Ridge Observatory on the volcano’s eastern flank.

The Seaquest Visitor Center wasn’t compelling to warrant a diversion. The best views of Mount Saint Helens come from the Johnson Ridge Observatory, which was considerably more driving and closed this year due to a rock slide. That being said, I often miss being able to see things when traveling by motorcycle, as the gear is often difficult to store. I figured I would do Multnomah Falls “right” and let that be the adventure for the day. Multnomah Falls is an iconic waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge in northwestern Oregon. It is a two-part waterfall that drops a total of 620 feet.

After the pandemic, the federal government has been routing many visitors to our national wonders to to get day passes to popular attractions. Multnomah Falls is no exception. Each visitor must get a time-stamped entry pass to the waterfall so the government can control the number of people visiting the park. On the one hand, it was nice not having waterfalls overcrowded. However, I got somewhat lucky with securing a slot just hours before my visit. The reservation fee is two dollars to cover the transaction cost-effectively.

With the EV community starting to notice the electric yellow truck getting so far from California, I often get comments on the GotWatts (my amazing electrician) hat near the truck!

I quickly hiked up to the bottom pool of Multnomah Falls with a short 0.2-mile hike. The area was still filled with people, and I saw it was “only” a mile and 600 feet of climbing to the top. It was warm but not brutally hot, so I chose it. I usually hike 800 feet over 4 miles at home, so I’m fine.

After climbing to the second switchback with nine more, I quickly realized this hike differed. Unlike my loop at home, the elevation was unrelenting. There were no breaks. Also, the sun was bearing down step after step, switchback after switchback. I didn’t bring any water, figuring it was only a mile. After accruing five more switchbacks, I was starting to get tired. I met this lovely family on the side of the trail. I asked them, “How much further to go?” They replied, “Oh mon, you’ll be fine. It’s only a few extra steps up the hill.”. I figured they’d done the hike, so I pressed on. At switchback nine, I finally summited Multnomah Falls and descended to the river at the top of the falls.

There was a small observation deck at the top of the falls. I was surprised at how sheepish I was walking out to the edge. Multnomah Falls was much higher than I expected it to be and looked a long way down to the bottom. Maybe it was the heat. Perhaps it was the dehydration. The one thing I did know, I had no desire to be at the edge of the falls. That caught me off guard.

About 15 minutes later, the family I saw on the trail made it to the summit. I laughed and asked, “I thought you all were going down the hill.” They laughed and said, “Nah, man, you just needed the encouragement and good spirit to climb the hill.” I couldn’t help but notice the joy in that family going up and down the mountain. Their enthusiasm is one of the things I take on this adventure from now on.

Once on the road, it was clear I wasn’t making it to Seattle, and staying on the outskirts of Mount Saint Helens was the best option for tonight. Traffic out of Portland was the expected grind into the not-so Vancouver, Vancouver.

The volcanoes in this area always impress me how they pop out around the corner and dominate the landscape at the same time. Wow. Mount Hood was no exeception crossing the Columbia River.

A buddy of mine in San Francisco introduced me to HipCamp. It’s an app where you can book campsites on private land. I was looking for something better than a campsite but not as expensive as a hotel, so HipCamp was in that middle ground.

I stayed at the Flying Pig farm just northwest of Mount Rainier. The farm afforded a great view of the mountain. A small portion of the barn was converted into a room, so I didn’t have to camp for the evening. More importantly, they had a 50 amp outlet to charge the truck overnight. Much like at home, overnight charging makes the life of the EV driver significantly more accessible.

EV Insight: Stay at places that allow overnight charging.



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