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Hiker offers traveling tales

Deep in Oregon’s Coast Range, Portland-based writer Doug Lorain rounded a corner and saw something unusual. He knew the creature hadn’t seen him and, with the wind blowing straight at him, hadn’t smelled him either. Wanting a better look, he stepped into a shadow and waited.

“It was moving like a cat, but it was way too big to be a bobcat,” Lorain said. “As it got closer, I realized it was a female mountain lion, and she was trailed by two cubs.”

Though he’s hiked nearly 18,000 miles in Oregon, Lorain said he has seen only six mountain lions in his life. Most of those encounters are nothing more than a golden streak that disappears into the wilderness. This time, however, he got a good look and a bad scare.

“The kittens went running off,” he said, “but the mother just stood there and stared at me. I wanted to get a picture, but every time I moved for my camera she’d come a little closer and get a little bigger. I gave up pretty quickly and figured I was better off not moving.”

Once the cubs were safely away, the mountain lion turned and followed them, leaving a stunned Lorain behind her.

Though the moment only lasted a few seconds, Lorain counts it among the longest of his life.

The list of encounters like that is long and getting longer, and Lorain is full of wonderfully vivid stories from a lifetime of hiking. He has been charged by grizzlies twice, bitten by rattlesnakes and shot at by a hunter who couldn’t distinguish a hiking fanatic from the buck of his dreams. In spite of it all, Lorain is undeterred.

“I’m constantly exploring new places,” he said. “I’m always checking other guidebooks for ideas. Sometimes it’s just a muddy elk wallow, but sometimes it’s a little-known gem.”

Either way, Lorain comes back with stories and an encyclopedic knowledge of the Northwest’s beautiful back country, all of which he will share Tuesday, May 21 at the Walters Cultural Arts Center in Hillsboro. The talk, which he dubbed “Finally Spring,” will focus on Lorain’s three favorite reasons to hike in the spring: waterfalls, wildflowers and geology.

“This is the best time of year for blooming wildflowers. With winter snow melting, waterfalls are as spectacular as they’ll be all year and, finally, geology can absolutely be better in the spring. Places like the Painted Hills are more vibrant now before they dry out throughout the summer.”

His talk, like his books, will focus on destinations in Oregon and Washington.

“Sixty or 70 percent of the material will be within a couple hours of Portland,” he said.

Better still, Lorain seems to have something for everyone.

“If you like waterfalls, you can’t beat the (Columbia River) Gorge,” he said. “The Horsetail Falls to Triple Falls stretch is one of my favorites. You get lush forests, deep canyons and walking behind waterfalls. If you want mountain scenery, I’d send you to the north side of Mount Hood, or Mount Adams if you wanted to get away from folks.”

No matter the person, Lorain has a hike to fit.

“Hiking, hiking, hiking, and more hiking,” he said.

That’s how he does it. Name a place and Doug Lorain has been there, done that and written about it, too.



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