Sunday, August 16, 2009

Happy Oregoniversary!!!

It's officially been one year since we hauled our junk into Portland! Hard to believe that this was one year ago:

Moving day: August 16, 2008

I'd like to say that our apartment is much cleaner now, but... ya know. :)

It's been one pretty dope year. The city, the food, the drink, the people, the hikes, the bikes... I can't believe we crammed it all into 365 days. Every day I think about how lucky we are to live here, and that we get to do the stuff we love whenever we want. I big puffy pink heart Portland!

Here's to many more years!!


p.s. Does anyone think I need to change the name of this blog??

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Camping at Lost Lake

For the last three years, it's been kind of a tradition to take my Dad camping every summer (since camping is not reeeeally my Mom's thing). Moving across the country is no reason to break tradition! So, my Dad flew out this weekend for his fourth annual (and might I say, best annual) camping trip.

In the last year, my parents have visited Portland three times. By some stroke of misfortune, every time they are here the weather seems to turn cloudy and cool. Unfortunately, in those conditions you usually cannot see Mt. Hood from Portland, which led my dad to the theory that Mt. Hood is some conspiracy thought up by the Portland tourism agencies. :) Since he didn't believe in Mt. Hood, we decided to take him camping on the mountain to prove its existence!

We spent two nights at Lost Lake, a secluded lake about 3,000 feet up on Mt. Hood. Oh my gah... this place is beautiful. The sites are all pretty secluded, with plenty of forest between you and your neighbors. Even some gigantic fallen trees for good measure.

Our site

This tree had to have been old

And... what's this??... a clear view of Mt. Hood!!!! I think we had Dad convinced at this point. This is the veiw from Lost Lake. There's Mt. Hood, just hangin' out in the background. Our campsite was set just a little ways back from the water.

This is not a backdrop

You can rent row and paddle boats on the lake (although we didn't have time)

Looking straight up while sitting at the campfire

The upturned roots of that big fallen tree

Our trusty Zipcar that carried us safely to and fro

On Monday we drove to Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood to head out on the Pacific Crest Trail to Zigzag Canyon. Our hike was almost eight miles, with a total 1,500 foot elevation gain. Now, for a born and raised Metro-Detroiter with not much hiking experience, much less hiking at an altitude of 6,000 feet, Dad did awesome. I'm not sure I would have even made it through this one at the beginning of this summer!

Full map and data here

Mt. Jefferson from Timberline Lodge

Timberline Lodge (recognize it from The Shining?)

Heading out on the Pacific Crest Trail

The Little Zigzag Canyon with Mt. Hood summit in the background

Traversing into the Little Zigzag Canyon, only to climb back out

Officially entering Mt. Hood Wilderness

Traversing down into the Zigzag Canyon, a train of horses and mules passed us to deliver equipment to a work crew on the mountain

We made it down to Zigzag Canyon, a 700-foot deep gouge into Mt. Hood carved by the Zigzag River. Traversing down into the canyon was easy enough, but that also meant we had to climb the whole way back up on our return. We hung out at the river for a while to re-energize. :)

Is that a look of accomplishment or what? I guess he wasn't thinking about the climb back up yet...

A little friend on the river

Here's a short video of the rushing river:

Our album cover

On the hike back, the summit started to cloud over. Would be scary to be up there when that happens!

Crossing back over the (currently dry) Little Zigzag River

When we returned to camp, we took in the sunset at the lake. Not a bad way to cap off an evening.

Buckley even got a chance to go swimming! This was pretty much his first time really swimming in open water. He has splashed around in some streams a couple times, but this was really truly swimming. Not a big surprise, he picked it right up!

After a chilly night sleeping on hard ground, it doesn't get much better than Paul's traditional camp breakfast. Fried eggs, bacon, potato hash and french press coffee... something about eating these simple breakfast components at the camp table as the sun comes up makes it taste so good. Paul has made breakfast for us every morning of every camping trip for four years... can't tell you how much we appreciate that. Thank you Paul!

Doing his thing

Mmm... eggs cooked in bacon grease

As if we hadn't put Dad through enough, on Tuesday we went on one more relatively short hike through Eagle Creek, in the Columbia River Gorge. This one was a 4.2 mile hike with 400 feet of elevation gain (also at a much lower altitude). After all the tough hikes we've been doing this summer, it was kind of nice to do a short, relatively flat one that allowed us to just take in the beauty!

These narrow ledges were blasted out of the cliff face, and have cable handrails alongside... just in case

Metlako Falls visible after just 1.5 miles in

The destination for this hike was Punchbowl Falls, a 30-foot falls that plunges into a gorgeous swimming hole with a huge bedrock bank to hang out on. This was our first time here, and I'm already dying to go back.

The rocky bank leading up to the falls

Punchbowl Falls

The rocky surface under the water... the water is really this clear

This was the perfect place for Buckley to go swimming, but Paul ended up going in with him! A little chilly, but I guess he got used to it!

Frolicking at the falls

A true water dog

Buckley trying to jump up onto this free-floating log, which rolled every time he tried to climb onto it (hilarious)

We saw someone else taking this picture and thought it would be cute... now I'm not so sure

One more little video, this time of Buckley playing fetch at the falls:

And with that, another successful camping trip down! I have to say, Oregon camping blows Michigan camping out of the water (no offense, Michigan!). I do believe there will be a lot more of this in the future. Thanks for coming out Dad, we had a great time!


Monday, August 3, 2009

Summiting South Sister

This was the big one folks... the day we had been preparing for all summer. On Saturday we successfully summited South Sister with the Portland area MSU Alumni group. What an awesome experience.

We drove out to central Oregon with our pals Eric and Kelly. The drive should have been about 4 hours, but about halfway in we got stopped in traffic by a forest fire that had actually reached the road. We were about two miles back from the fire, and were told that it would be about an hour until traffic was let through! We happened to be just about in the middle of nowhere, so it would have taken even longer to backtrack and take another route. So, we waited. Definitely a new experience to be held up by a forest fire. Once we got going, we could definitely see where the forest and road were completely charred.

We finally made it to the base camp on Friday evening. The whole group (13 in total) was able to stay in the same house together, about 45 minutes from the trailhead. We had a spaghetti dinner that night and hit the hay early. In order to get going at a reasonable time, we had to get up at 4:00am. I can't remember the last time I saw 4am. We left the house at 5:00am, to reach the trailhead by 5:45am.

Here is our GPS route, taken from our handheld:

The full map with data can be found here. I also thought it was pretty sweet to look at in satellite view:

At the trailhead, 6:00am.

At the base, about a mile above sea level already.

Our climbing group

There were sort of three phases to the climb. The first couple miles were ascending through the woods, thick with mosquitos. After that, we spent a couple miles hiking across the part known as "the golf course," a really flat and open trail with not much elevation gain. The last couple of miles were brutal, climbing in earnest up to the summit.

Hitting the trail

South Sister summit - a clear view of where we're heading, right after completing the first phase.

Getting ready to head on after our first break.

The sun coming up over Broken Top mountain. Not a bad way to start the morning, huh?

Broken Top

Looking out over the "golf course" toward the summit

The next two photos were meant to stitch together to form a panoramic shot, but I did something wrong and they don't quite match up. This is Broken Top mountain and Morain Lake.

Imagine this photo side by side with the one below...

Pushing forward.

Yet another picture of some Red Paintbrush. This trail had the most vibrant rosey-red paintbrush I've seen yet.

Once past the golf course, we started climbing in earnest. The terrain became much more rocky and sandy at this point.

Getting steep now. About to cross the first snow field.

Looking back at Mt. Bachelor.

Lewis Glacier with a little lake underneath.

Looking back, you can almost make out the entire trail.

For the last mile and a half or so, the terrain turned to soft red volcanic soil... almost like traversing the surface of Mars. This terrain was extremely soft, so with each step we would slide back about a half step. This phase was also extremely steep, so from this point on it was very.... slow... going.

This is the point where the altitude really started to get to me. It was very difficult to take deep breaths, so I had to stop about every 5th step to catch my breath. I felt extremely heavy, and like I was barely moving with each step. Several times I looked up at the summit and wondered how in the hell my I was going to push myself there. It took a very long time, and every ounce of physical and mental strength in my body, but I made it.

Once at the top, we then had to traverse the Rim Trail which takes us around the rim of the summit up to the true summit.

Broken Top from the Rim Trail.

The final ascent on the Rim Trail up to the craggy summit.

We made it! The views from the summit were surreal. At 10,358 feet, you can even see the curvature of the earth. Pretty wild.

Middle and North Sister from the summit.

Views for miles.

Smiling through the hurt. :)

Our climbing party taking a well-deserved lunch break at the summit.

Kelly and Eric.

Broken Top from the summit.

It wouldn't be complete without my summit pose would it?

Standing on top of the world.

The Rim Trail around the top.

Looking back at Mt. Bachelor.

The climbing party.

1-2-3 GO STATE!

Teardrop Pool, Oregon's highest lake.

The first few steps from the summit, back down the mountain.

The descent was also fairly brutal, but we made it in no time. The ultra soft terrain actually proved to make the descent a little easier, at least on the joints. You could just dig your heels in hard, and slide down a foot or two with each step. Not gonna lie though, the steeper areas were tough. It was hard to take one confident step.

Heading back down through the red.

The lake below Lewis Glacier. The color of the water is real, no editing here.

The further along we got, the more I remembered we were in high desert. The sun was beating down now, at about 90 degrees.

Broken Top in a different light.

Mt. Bachelor.

The trail marker back near the beginning, with the summit in the background.

As you can imagine would be the case with Spartans, as soon as everyone made it down we got to celebrating!

Our reward.

The group organizer also had Nike MSU t-shirts made up for us to commemorate the day.

After a well-deserved night of eating and drinking, we all crashed pretty hard. We packed up and headed out Sunday morning.

The group at base camp Sunday morning, getting ready to leave.

I can honestly say this was the most physically and mentally demanding thing I've done, probably in my life. Even though we've been doing progressively more difficult hikes all summer to prepare, this was harder than I thought it would be. BUT, we all made it, and it was so worth it! I think we'll back off on the really tough hikes for a while, but there are plenty of slightly easier and still beautiful hikes out there. My Dad is coming out camping/hiking next weekend, so we'll be hitting the trail again in no time!


p.s. HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!! xoxo :)