My First VOLCANO Workout!

The title doesn’t refer to some hot, trendy new workout. It refers to an actual volcano – a real-life mountain forged from magma that oozed through the earth’s crust, violently altering the landscape of our planet.

I wasn’t in any danger, though. This particular volcano has been extinct for 300,000 years. But it’s a volcano nonetheless. And I worked out there. ON A VOLCANO! I was geeking out. I still am!

The volcano that I’m referring to is Mount Tabor, in Portland Oregon. “Mount” is a generous term – it’s a 430-foot hill within the city limits, and the entire thing is a city park, with entrances on all sides. There are trails that wind up to the summit, but the reason why I went there is because there’s also a stairway that takes you straight to the top.

And there are a lot of stairs!

Thanks to my friend Erin for this photo!

There doesn’t look to be all that many in that photo, but there are 282 steps, split between 18 different flights. I made a video that shows all of them – and it’s only about a minute long!

I’m used to exercising on outdoor stairways in Los Angeles, whether they’re at Universal Studios or in quiet residential areas. But what I loved about these stairs, that you really can’t get in Los Angeles, is that they’re in a forested area.

Glorious tall trees everywhere!

I would look up as often as I could, as I headed down in between climbs, just because it was so beautiful. (I couldn’t look up that often, or I’d surely tumble to my death, and you’d be reading about the latest volcano fatality in the news.)

I also loved that I wasn’t alone in my stair-climbing workout, like I often am when I tackle an LA-area stairway. There were at least a dozen other people climbing the stairs for fun – some once, as part of a longer hike, but many over and over again, like me. Portland is, after all, a very outdoorsy city, and it was a very nice, mild February day.

I climbed the stairs six times, in a little under 50 minutes, burning over 600 calories. That’s 1,692 total steps, a few dozen more than I’ll be racing in the Eiffel Tower next month! After my sixth climb, I explored the summit a little bit. The summit is rather flat and big, and there’s a paved road that encircles it, so if you’re looking for something easier than stair repeats, you could climb once, and then circle the summit a few times – each lap is probably around 1/4 of a mile, and pretty flat.

While walking the Mount Tabor summit loop, you can peek between the trees and see the Portland skyline in the distance, and gaze out over a couple reservoirs built into the western hillside. (I learned after the fact that there’s another stairway between the reservoirs – 96 steps – so that’s on my list if I ever get the chance to return.) There are bathrooms up there, which I took advantage of.

There’s also a statue of influential newspaper editor Harvey W. Scott, sculpted by Gutzon Borglum, who is probably most famous for designing… anyone? anyone? …Mount Rushmore. I don’t know what he’s pointing at, but my guess is he’s showing a group of hipsters the closest place to purchase artisanal doughnuts and beard oil.

Here’s another fun fact: Thanks to Mount Tabor, Portland is one of only four American cities that have volcanoes within their city limits. The other ones are Bend, Oregon (Pilot Butte), Honolulu, Hawaii (Diamond Head), and, interestingly enough, Jackson, Mississippi, which was built on top of Jackson Volcano, an extinct volcano that lies nearly 3,000 feet below the surface.

There you have it. I had a great workout, AND I learned something. What a great day!

Keep it up, David!

What to read about more of my Portland adventures? Check this out. This too! And this!

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