Paul Gerald certainly knows how to sniff out the best a town has to offer. As the author of the perenial best seller 60 hikes within 60 miles of Portland, Gerald can no doubt direct you to all the spots that make this area the Promised Land for lovers of the outdoors. Portland, however, is about more than its proximity to world class hiking and camping. The town loves breakfast. To many folks in Portland, the day’s inaugural repast is more than a bite on the way out the door, it’s an event. Gerald’s book Breakfast in Bridgetown is a thorough guide to all the spots that pay homage to the town’s favorite meal.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting up with Paul, over breakfast of course. He was kind enough to answer some questions about hiking and writing in Portland.
How did you get started writing?
“I started as a sports writer for the student newspaper at SMU. I had grown up reading the sports sections of newspapers, and that’s what I wanted to do. My main goal at that point was to get paid to go to all the great college football games, stand on the sideline, and talk to the players and coaches after the game.”
How did it evolve into what you do now?
“I got a job during college at a daily paper in Dallas, and after I graduated I went back to my hometown of Memphis. There, I wound up working at the daily paper in sports, the weekly paper writing everything, and freelancing for a monthly magazine about downtown Memphis.
The freelancing thing turned into a mini-career all its own, and I started to specialize in the things I enjoyed: sports, travel, and the outdoors. After I moved to Portland in 1996, I met a fellow travel writer who introduced me to a company that was starting a series of hiking guidebooks called 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of … . So I did a Portland book for them (now in its 4th edition), then I did one called Day and Overnight Hikes on the Oregon PCT, then I revised one called Best Tent Camping in Oregon.
In about 2006 I got an idea for a breakfast guidebook to Portland, and eventually I published that one myself, Breakfast in Bridgetown, in 2008. Now I have my own little company, with a new edition of the breakfast book coming out, and more books on the way.”
What got you into hiking?
“I went to a summer camp in Wyoming when I was 12, and I got completely hooked on the outdoors. There I was, a kid from flat, hot Memphis, and I was canoeing in Yellowstone National Park, backpacking in Grizzly country, riding horses, hanging out with kids from all over the country. I moved to Oregon in part because of a series of letters I got from a camp friend, telling me he could go an hour west and be at the ocean or an hour east and be in the mountains.”
What’s your favorite hike?
“It’s kind of a revolving thing, based on the time of year. I really like to visit places under certain conditions that make them shine, so here’s a quick rundown of my personal hiking calendar”
March: Silver Falls State Park, or anything with waterfalls.
April: Coyote Wall and Catherine Creek
May: Dog Mountain
June: Salmon Butte
July: Cascade Head or Silver Star Mountain
August: Vista Ridge
September: Cooper Spur
October: Opal Creek
Where do you go hiking most often?
“Forest Park, since I live right next to it. Otherwise, probably the Gorge, since it’s so close and available almost year-round. I seem to wind up at Triple Falls several times a year.”
Part 2 of my interview with Paul Gerald will be available here next week.
Paul Gerald is a best-selling author and host of the weekly internet radio show, Breakfast in Bridgetown.
For more of Adam’s writing, reviews, and photography, visit AdamSawyer.com