“You want to hike to a coffee shop when there’s one 10 minutes from your house,” Ryan asked. “Seriously?”
I’ll do almost anything for a good macchiato, a shot of espresso marked with milk. After living for almost two months in Hood River, Oregon, I’d found the best coffee and ambiance for writing at 10-Speed Coffee, just a few blocks from the room I was renting.
My addiction to 10-Speed Coffee was a strong one – it was the first coffee shop I’d ever been to where the coffee is roasted on site, each cup of coffee is brewed to order, sustainability is key, and there’s local beer on tap.
All summer, my barista friend, Jakob, urged me to go to 10-Speed’s other location, 10-Speed East, in Mosier, a town just under ten miles away. Car-less in a land where public transportation is nearly non-existent, I had given up on the idea until my brother Ryan came to visit. Now we began planning a day hike in the Columbia River Gorge. As soon as I found the Historic Columbia River Highway Trail that runs for six and a half miles between Hood River and Mosier, my mind was fixed.
“Yeah. I want to compare them. It sounds like fun. Why not?”
Ryan couldn’t answer. And, lucky for me, my brother loved the idea of hiking between towns. The idea appealed to his history-loving pioneer side.
So, at eight o’clock the next morning, one of my roommates dropped us off at the Mark O. Hatfield Trailhead West on his way to work and we set off on the Twin Tunnels Segment of the Historic Highway. Portions of the Historic Highway are drivable, but the Twin Tunnels and Tooth Rock segments are for pedestrians and bikers only. Completed in 1922, the highway was a nine-year project and engineering feat. It was one of the first highways built into a cliff-face and utilized new technologies to make the high, slim road safe for cars and drivers. Designers of the road were mindful of the natural landscape as well. Stone guard walls were built for safety, but were only minimally disruptive to the scenic vistas. In the early days of the highway, it was common for motorists to stop and admire the view. However, as the road became more popular, stopping became dangerous and the road quickly began to wear out before it was abandoned.
After restoration, the Twin Tunnels segment is now a paved, wide, relatively flat trail that makes for easy hiking and biking. Day passes are $5 and available via machines in the trailhead parking lots.