For years I have visited Portland's West Hills high point at Council Crest to enjoy its beautiful views of the Cascade peaks. I have feasted with my eyes, but until a few weeks ago, I had not used my ears. It took a knowledgeable fellow-visitor to ask me to stop talking so loudly at my son, and to discover for myself--- COUNCIL CREST ACOUSTICS! He said, move to the center of the encircling wall of rocks at the viewpoint, stand upon the brass marker in the center, SPEAK, and then don't keep talking-- OPEN YOUR EARS.
Then speak A FEW MORE WORDS. DIRECT THEM AT THE WALLS OF STONE. LISTEN... The acoustic effect left me unabashedly exclaiming "Wow" "You gotta try this" to everyone nearby. As you place your ears within a magic zone only a few feet wide, you quite suddenly have the strong impression that you've begun speaking into an invisible but powerful amplifying microphone. Each word or phrase you speak returns to your ears much louder, more distinct and with the impressive resonance usually reserved for a king...The possible origin of the name "Council Crest" is that it may have been a place that Native American leaders visited to hold tribal/inter-tribal councils..... Well, I doubt the acoustics I experienced existed in those distant years, but I do wonder if the builders of the current stone-walled viewpoint intentionally created a focal spot from which a person can hold an impressive council--- if only to themselves!
From the 1,035 foot summit of Council Crest are superlative mountain and cityscape views of both Portland and Beaverton. Below are two feasts for the eyes. They are two of the four great Cascadian peaks that can be seen from Council Crest--- but unfortunately they are only seen well on one of Portland's rare crystal-clear, east-wind winter days... Mt.Rainier (on the left) is over 100 air miles distant! Rainier is one of the greatest peaks in the United States, standing well over 14,000 feet high, bulky and massive, completely coated in the most extensive glacier system of any mountain outside of Alaska.... Mount St. Helens (on the right) appears quiet, but the very same day this picture was taken, the "Volcano Cam" on the opposite side of the mountain showed steam plumes over 500 feet high rising out of the lava dome in the mountain's crater.
Imagine you are on Council Crest 15,000 years ago. One of the periodic cataclysmic Missoula Floods has just hit, and the entire Portland area seen in the image below is a deep inland sea of dirty brown water, flecked with huge icebergs and giant floating trees. Those larger animals that we might call the "Fleet of Foot" had perhaps 5-10 minutes warning to escape to higher ground. Deer, Elk, wolves, assorted smaller animals like racoons which did not have far to run--- these lucky ones are now thick about us on the high points of the West Hills, such as Council Crest. It's going to be a long and dangerous wait up here. It will take about 2 weeks for the flood waters, which have travelled all the way south to Eugene, to drain back out through the Columbia River at Kalama. And even that isn't the end of it--- depending upon the season of the year, it's going to take another week or month or even more for the lowlands to become negotiable again. Meanwhile, the "Fleet of Foot" are going to be demonstrating survival of the fittest-- it's mayhem up here day and night; everyone is hungry, thirsty and scared. It's a prehistoric Hurricane Katrina story and there is no Red Cross.