Category Archives: General

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Paris in the Springtime, Part 2

April 9-14, 2014.

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 Click to view the entire album from Paris.

The story picks up on Paris’ Left Bank. Heading south from Notre Dame, we walked clear across the Latin Quarter to stand in line at the entrance to the Catacombs. It was lunch hour, and we hadn’t eaten yet, but we were committed to getting into this place. The pictures were compelling. Plus, it was so hot in the sun, spending some time in a cool cave sounded like just the thing.

The Catacombs

An hour after we got in line, at last it was our turn to descend into the tunnel. We picked up a couple of audioguides and went down. Sixty feet below the city, we entered a network of tunnels. Originally a huge limestone quarry, the tunnels now house the bones of millions of Parisians. In the 18th and 19th century, Paris saw the closure of several cemeteries in an effort to improve public health. The bones were dug up and moved to their present home in the Catacombs.

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Along the tunnels there were several sayings, poems, and quotes written or carved on the walls. Simple markers indicated which cemetery the surrounding piles of bones came from. The bones were arranged in neat patterns, with the knobby ends of femurs forming walls on either side of the tunnels. Rows of carefully laid skulls added complexity to the simple pattern. The less aesthetic bones and other bits must have been buried in the deeper layers of the piles, out of view. In all, we covered over one mile of walking underground.

Besides the bones, there were a few other unique features. My favorite were the 18th centure carvings created by a quarryman in his spare time. The buildings were replicas of actual places he’d been, which is especially incredible considering iPhones weren’t invented at that time, so they were carved from memory.

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The experience was made much richer with the help of the audioguide. Since we couldn’t read much of the French, we would have pretty much wasted our time if we hadn’t had the guides to listen to.

Jardin du Luxembourg

Emerging from the darkness, famished, we jetted over to the first lunch place we could find and devoured some crepes and cider. We took the scenic walk back to the apartment, detouring through the Jardin du Luxembourg.

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Now, this was a park. A map at the entrance detailed all the different sections and what you could do there: playgrounds for kids, bocce ball for old men, sitting areas, fountains, gardens, and of course, snack stands. There were symbols designating which grass was off limits and which was ok to trample. The park was filled with people, each enjoying the outdoors in their own way. We wandered through the paths, trying to stay in the shade, until we got our fill. If I was staying longer in Paris, this would be a favorite destination on a lazy, sunny afternoon.

Panthéon

The Panthéon was another of France’s National Monuments that seemed worthy of a visit. It was kind of on our way home anyways. The dome was under construction, but even so, it had captured our attention early in the trip.

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The outside of the structure was impressive, with its grand staircase and huge columns, but the inside was ten times more amazing. I felt really small once I stepped through the door. Built in the Neoclassical style, the Panthéon is shaped like a cross with a massive dome on top. The building stood over 270 feet tall. Gargantuan paintings filled up the walls, bold tile patterns decorated the floor, and detailed stone carvings commanded attention in each room. Click to view a 360° view of the interior.

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Plaques recalled a time when the Panthéon served as a place for an important experiment: demonstrating the rotation of the Earth by hanging a pendulum from the top of the central dome. Foucault’s Pendulum has since been removed to a museum and a replica was installed here. But, not today, since the dome was under construction.

Lastly, we descended into the crypt beneath the main building. Here lay the bodies of many historical French figures, including Marie and PIerre Curie, Victor Hugo, Louis Braille and Voltaire. Many confusing hallways led from one tomb to the next. Some had fresh flowers or other gifts, some were gated shut, and some had descriptive signage explaining what the person had accomplished to earn their place in the Panthéon.

Louvre

The next morning, we headed straight for the Louvre. It was a short walk from the apartment, so we arrived before it opened and got in line. The queue standing outside the famous glass pyramid turned out not to be a ticket line, but a security checkpoint allowing us the privilege to go buy tickets. Once we descended into the main atrium, all hell broke loose, with people walking in every which direction and speaking every language known to man. We looked around the confusion until my eyes settled upon a ticket machine. Once we got tickets, we had our choice of several wings to enter. I headed straight for the one with the least people milling around. Whew, we were in.

We started exploring a wing of the museum dedicated to the history of the Louvre. We were mostly alone, looking at old pictures, floor plans, and details of renovations of the building over time. It was fascinating, but not a major draw for tourists. After that, we explored some of the more popular exhibits: Greek Antiquities, European paintings, Asian art. The halls were packed with loud and pushy tourists, all on their cellphones and iPads, shoving in front of me to take a picture of whatever I was looking at, then take off a second later. Was anyone actually looking at anything? I thought, perhaps not. I kept my phone in my bag and instead tried to enjoy the art and artifacts displayed in the museum.

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What was maybe more impressive was the museum building itself. Looking up, I saw intricate paintings, decorative wood and stone work, and lavishly decorated rooms. Looking out the windows, views of the building exterior, glass pyramids, fountains, and gardens presented themselves. The Louvre was an extraordinary place, if you only took the time to look.

One Last Surprise

Later that evening, after walking past the Eiffel Tower, its pulsating mob of tourists and sketchy street folk hawking souvenirs, after a late dinner, and after exhausting our feet with walking, we conjured up enough energy to re-visit the Eiffel Tower after dark.

Paris was a great walking town at night. It was cool but not cold, and bright lights illuminated all the monuments, fountains, churches and statues throughout the city. We wandered towards the tower, admiring its familiar shape jutting over the Paris skyline.

But suddenly, we stopped in our tracks. When the clock hit 10pm, a dazzling light show began. Each light twinkled fast and furious, the entire structure glistening in the night sky. We rushed to find a clearer viewpoint and take some photos. This was an event to remember. The lights flashed on and off for several minutes before settling back to normal, as if nothing had ever happened. The picture does not do it justice; this must be experienced first hand.

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The next couple of days were mostly consumed with MovNat training, which was awesome in its own right.

And my favorite moment in Paris? That Sunday morning when I woke up early to get to my training class by foot. Jogging along the Seine with not another soul in sight, watching the boats floating in the river, breathing in the cool air, feeling the cobblestone under my feet. It was perfect.

Resources for Visitors:

Eiffel Tower
Jardin du Luxembourg
Les Catacombes
Louvre Museum
Pantheon

Paris in the Springtime, Part 1

April 9-14. 2014.

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Click to view the entire album from Paris.

Five days in Paris is not enough to see the city, but Aaron and I did our best to see the major sights without too much rushing around. We managed to get around the city on foot 95% of the time, with just a few Metro rides to help save some time and to save our sore feet. My travel to Paris served two purposes: to attend a certification workshop for MovNat, and to visit the city as a tourist. I’ll describe the tourist portion of the trip here, with a detailed description of my workshop experience on JessBFit.com.

AirBnB Apartment Rental

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Hotel rooms in Paris are microscopic and expensive. A little searching on the web brought us to AirBnB, a site that allows property owners to rent rooms, apartments and homes around the world for short periods of time. We rented a 5th floor apartment on the Place des Innocents, right in the heart of Paris’ Right Bank. From there, we could get anywhere we needed to go. In a 20 minute walking radius, we had the Louvre, Notre Dame, Jardin des Tuileries, and the Latin Quarter. Plus hundreds of restaurants, cafés, stunning churches, beautiful fountains and many small parks. All that convenience also meant there were always lots of people around and they were up partying well until the wee hours of the morning. It’s a good  thing we tuckered ourselves out during the day so we could sleep soundly at night.

 Champs Élysées and the Arc de Triomphe

What better way to see a new city than to walk its streets? After settling into the apartment, we headed back down to the main square and began walking towards the Louvre. Although it wasn’t on our to-do list today, we thought it might be nice to check it out and to see just how crazy of a wait it would be to get in. Our observation: insane. We took a look at the line and continued walking.

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 Our journey took us next through the Tuileries Garden, where perfectly trimmed trees, colorful flower gardens, and huge statues existed in harmony. The park was buzzing with Parisians having a chat, a coffee, a stroll or a smoke. Ah yes, smoking. I’d forgotten that that was a thing, having no friends who smoke, and having smoking banned pretty much everywhere in the US. It was a bit of culture shock to be sucking in cigarette smoke constantly, especially in parks and sidewalk cafés.

Undeterred, we continued our walk past an obelisk and out to the famed Champs Élysées.  The sidewalks were very wide and they were packed with people carrying shopping bags from the many stores lining the strip. I was feeling a bit like one tiny swimmer in a pulsating school of fish. But we were determined to follow the street to its end at the Arc de Triomphe. I had an insider tip that the view from the top was the best in Paris and there wouldn’t be a line of people waiting. I was sold.

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 Sure enough, there were lots of people walking around the bottom of the monument, but not too many coughing up the 9.50 Euro to go inside. We did, and were pleased to find excellent views of the city from the top. The nice weather was the cherry on top. We took our time getting various angles from various perches atop the Arc. One side was under construction and covered with scaffolding, which was par for the course for nearly every architectural landmark in Paris.

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 We looped back to the apartment via Rue St. Honoré, which was quieter and more pleasant than the Champs Élysées. My feet were tired. It had been a long day of walking after a long night of flying. We were happy to have a kitchen so we could make a relaxing dinner at home before turning in. The party outside had just begun.

 Finding Sainte Chapelle

The next morning, we knew we had a jam-packed agenda so we got an early start. Today we’d visit Île de la Cité, an island in the middle of the Seine, then cross over to the Left Bank. Before we could do either of those things we were distracted by shiny objects in the distance. It was a pedestrian footbridge covered, deck to railing, with thousands of padlocks. There is a fairly recent tradition that couples will attach a lock to a bridge, then throw the key away in the river as a symbol of their undying love for each other. It sounds pretty tacky, but the colorful glimmer coming from the huge mass of locks is quite a sight to see. In a city where everything is centuries old, the padlocks are almost like a piece of modern art.

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 Okay, one distraction down. Next I had a mission to visit the tiny park on the tip of Île de la Cité, near the Pont Neuf Bridge. A fellow Corvallis French Club member had told me it was his favorite spot in Paris. I had to go.

We found a narrow set of stairs leading down to the park from the bridge that brought us to the park. It was beautiful, freshly watered and cleaned, with several pretty trees and plants lining the fences. With the river flowing lazily by in the background, it was a treat for the eyes. But not for the nose. It smelled like urine and boat exhaust. Plus I’m sure someone was smoking on the lower level. We hung out as long as we could stand it, then headed out towards Notre Dame.

Along the way, we happened to see signs for Sainte Chapelle. Sure, Sainte Chapelle wasn’t on our short list at first. But we’d seen some photos of its stained glass windows while visiting the Arc de Triomphe and became very interested to see it in person. We took a detour.

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 There was a great deal of construction happening here, but it did not detract from the incredible beauty of the place. Stained glass windows from the 13th century extend 50 feet high, sending beams of brightly colored light into the upper chapel. Every inch of the interior was decorated with paint, meticulously carved stonework, and colored glass. The level of detail was mind-blowing. Sometimes those places that you discover along the way bring the most joy. Score another point for taking a walking tour.

Notre Dame Cathedral

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 Before taking off for the Left Bank, we had to at least see the outside of Notre Dame. To contrast the two, Sainte Chapelle was like the slender, agile kicker, and Notre Dame was like the solid, defensive lineman. Notre Dame takes up space. From the outside, it looks gigantic and somehow it seems to be bigger once you go inside. The ceiling is so high it seems to reach into the heavens. What supports the weight is beyond my understanding of architecture, because the interior is so spacious, the whole thing appears to be supported by puppet strings.

Despite the “Silence” signs all over the cathedral, it boomed with sound inside. Hundreds of visitors were talking, banging sticks together (?) and generally making a ruckus. Visitation skyrockets when the entry fee is zero. At the back of the cathedral, sounds from a choir practice attempted to cut through the noise. There was something about listening to singing inside a huge cathedral that took my breath away.

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 Nonetheless, we took our time walking through all the parts of the cathedral, admiring the windows, sculptures, painted patterns on the wall, and all the little details that made the building memorable. The delicate decorations contrasted with the simple, unblemished brick walls, columns and arches. The design allowed you to focus on the stories told in the vivid imagery plastered throughout the building.

Eventually the crowds really got to me and I had to get out of there. We admired some views back at the cathedral from afar before finishing our river crossing and exploring the Latin Quarter.

Resources for Visitors:

Arc de Triomphe (official site)
Champs Élysées
La Sainte Chapelle
Sainte-Chapelle (official site)

Silver Falls: Trail of Ten Falls

March 21, 2014.

8.7 miles | 1300′ ele. gain | 4 hrs.

Today was my first hike lead for the Mazamas. Since my home base was Corvallis and the Mazamas are headquartered in Portland, I chose something convenient to both: Silver Falls.

I was happy to have some of my Corvallis friends join me for this trip, plus a few people I’d never met before. One of the regular Mazama leaders came along to oversee my leadership skills, too.

The Trail of Ten Falls is pretty beginner-friendly, plus you get to see 10 waterfalls in less than 10 miles. It’s a must-see hike for anyone in Oregon.

It was cool and overcast. Some folks were in down jackets, others in shorts. We ambled along the trail, stopping at every viewpoint. All the falls were running pretty high. Winter and spring are the best seasons for visiting this park.

We’d get periodic sun breaks while walking in the canyon. A nice change from feeling smothered in the trees.

All went according to plan. It was a smooth and easy first lead on record. I’ve been in charge of groups before, but never with someone looking over my shoulder. I was glad to have had a pretty uneventful first run at it. From here, who knows what’s next? Perhaps something a little more challenging, or perhaps not. I enjoy sharing the outdoors with people who don’t get out much on their own. I can only hope to spark an interest or capture someone’s imagination to go further, climb higher and explore more obscure places in the future.

Thanksgiving at Maiden Peak, 2013

November 27- 30, 2013.

Gold Lake Shelter | Maiden Peak Cabin | Maiden Peak

Photos from the trip are on Google Plus

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I anxiously watched the weather forecast and snow levels for weeks. It had been an unusually dry and sunny fall. As much as I enjoyed the blue skies and cold, starry nights in Corvallis, I worried that my annual Thanksgiving snowshoe trip wouldn’t require snowshoes. Snow or no, I was going to embark on my pilgrimage as scheduled and Aaron was coming with me. We drove out of town after a hearty dinner on Wednesday night.

By the light of our headlamps

The trek began from the Gold Lake Sno-Park, which was completely empty. We trotted across highway 58 to begin the 2 mile road walk to the snow shelter at Gold Lake Campground. The gravel road surface was apparent, with little patches of snow and ice covering up small bits. We inched along, and I felt every ounce of pack weight on my back. See, in order to make sure my hiking partners want to go hiking with me again, I feed them very well. And since Thanksgiving was tomorrow, I filled up my pack with all the traditional Turkey Day accompaniments, plus the heaviest pie I’ve ever seen.

Although the road follows a mellow, declining grade the entire way to the shelter, it felt like an arduous uphill walk. I obviously hadn’t carried that much weight in a long time. I was thrilled to catch sight of the campground sign, meaning we were just a hop, skip and a jump away from the shelter.

As expected, the shelter was empty. We built a fire, unpacked, and hung out for a bit before calling it a night. A chilly, chilly, night.

Turkey day

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The next morning began with a warm fire, an oatmeal breakfast, and a casual start to the hike. We strapped our snowshoes to our packs and walked through the depressingly intermittent snowpack up to the cabin. The trail surface ranged from frictionless ice to hard snow to bare dirt. As we trudged uphill, we stopped to identify the occasional animal track left behind in the snow. Some big cat had walked here before us. Deer, rabbits, and other small critters had also traipsed through the forest.

We crossed Skyline Creek on a narrow log, then continued up the trail. Here we found clear snowshoe tracks, left some indeterminate time before. They looked fresh, so we mentally prepared for having to share our space in the cabin with another party.

A short, two hour hike brought us right to the Maiden Peak Cabin. Boy, was I happy to throw my pack off. The cabin was just as I’d remembered, but much less wood was cut and stocked for this year’s trip. The old log book was gone and replaced with a new one just last month, so there were only a few entries to read. The last group had left behind a pot encrusted with some sort of bean soup. It was pretty icky.

We sat outside on some uncut logs and ate lunch in the bright, warm, sunshine. It was cold inside the cabin. Aaron stepped away to split wood for the fireplace and I sat outside doing crossword puzzles until the sun sunk down below the trees for good. Now we just had to twiddle our thumbs until dinnertime.

Each year, there’s a new twist on the Thanksgiving meal. For dinner, all the usual suspects were there. But for dessert, there was a fabulous surprise. The main course consisted of:

  • roasted turkey and gravy
  • garlic butter mashed potatoes
  • black olives
  • cranberry sauce, two ways
  • toasted baguette and butter
  • meat stuffing
  • mixed carrots and peas
  • bread stuffing
  • and for me, a can of Two Towns hard cider
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Using both the hot woodstove and my camp stove, I quickly reheated all the meal components and we sat down to dinner. It was typical in that there was way too much food and we ate until our bellies were creaking and splitting at the seams. Aaahhh. But wait, we haven’t had dessert yet…

After dinner settled down a bit, I pulled out the ice cream ball and ice cream-making supplies: cream, sugar, and vanilla. I poured these ingredients into the chamber in the ice cream ball and sealed it tight. Then, we packed the other side full of snow and rock salt, then proceeded to kick the ice cream ball back and forth on the floor, soccer ball style, for the next 20 minutes. At the end, we had freshly made vanilla ice cream to put on top of the berry pie we’d been eyeing for days.

Summit day

The next morning, somehow, we still had room for a big breakfast. I laid out the morning’s feast and put a game plan to get everything cooked and warm at the same time for a nice meal. I put the two house skillets on the wood stove to heat up as Aaron scrambled the eggs and I read the directions on the carton of dehydrated hash browns we found in the cabin free-for-all bucket. I put butter in each of the pans, one for eggs and one for potatoes—just then remembering I had packed in bacon for breakfast, too. And so, butter-fried bacon was born.

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We gorged on eggs, hash browns, buttery bacon, and warm pie.  It was delicious.

The weather outside looked delightfully bright and clear. I was excited to continue the tradition of hiking to the summit of Maiden Peak post-Thanksgiving day. Aaron and I repacked for the 6-mile dayhike, knowing we had plenty of time to get up and down the mountain by the early afternoon.

We headed out on snowshoes today, mostly because they offered some traction on the hard snow and slick ice. Previous human tracks made route-finding easy; this was the first year there was any hint of human presence before my arrival. Aaron led the way as we walked through the trees up the gentle grade of the snowy trail. Soon we were again treated to numerous animal tracks imprinted into the snow. We found what looked like wolverine tracks that were as big as Aaron’s hand. For years I’d seen the wolverine sign in the cabin thinking, yeah, whatever, wolverines… But these tracks were like nothing I’d seen before. We took a ton of pictures, then wandered back to the trail.

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We walked nearly non-stop until we reached the summit. That big, hearty breakfast offered a nice mix of slow-burn and fast-burn fuel to maintain our energy for the two hour uphill snowshoe. Although we lost the trail in the trees nearing the top, we picked it up again past the false summit. We followed the trail as it contoured along the north side of the conical mountain and doubled back towards the highpoint. Beautifully windswept snow decorated the mountaintop. At the summit, bare ground peeked out in places. I’d never seen Maiden Peak with this little snow on top!

We dallied here for over an hour, taking pictures, eating lunch, and wandering around the summit area. Lunch involved a variation on the traditional day-after-Thanksgiving-turkey-sandwich: crackers spread with cream cheese, whole berry cranberry sauce, and slivers of cold turkey. We were really slumming it on this trip.

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The bare ground revealed signs of an old lookout tower and a USGS benchmark. Views extended to Diamond Peak, Thielsen and Bailey to the south and the Sisters, Bachelor, Broken Top and Jefferson to the north. The longer we stayed, the more ominous the gray clouds appeared over the north central Cascades. Weather appeared to be moving in for the night. Click to see a 360 degree photosphere taken from the summit.

We walked back to the cabin, where we spent another relaxing evening eating lots of food and playing games. A light drizzle fell as the night pressed on, and we went to sleep hoping to see fresh snow in the morning.

That’s all, folks!

Instead of fresh snow, we awoke to clear, blue skies and a pretty sunrise over some fleeting, low clouds. Breakfast consisted of hot cornmeal mush with coconut milk, dried apricots and mixed nuts, plus bagels toasted in bacon grease and butter, then spread with cream cheese. I could barely get it all down. After breakfast, we packed up all our gear and kept waiting for the rain clouds to move in. They never came. We swept and cleaned up the cabin, leaving it in better shape than we found it. Another stay had come to an end and it was time to haul the last 5 miles out.

Miraculously, the weather held, and we enjoyed a sunny but brisk morning walk. Once we reached Gold Lake road, the snow was all but gone. It was ugly and brown, and much unlike any other road, it went uphill in both directions. While the road walk felt uphill on the hike in, it was actually uphill on the walk out. Ugh.

But the final slog was broken up with beautiful ice formations created by the freezing and thawing of puddles on the road. As we walked, we stopped frequently to observe and admire the unique shapes and structures created by the ice. Pointy stars, long struts, arching walls, and delicate crystals created striking patterns in the frozen puddles. It was like walking through a natural art museum.

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We hadn’t encountered another visitor in the entire trip, making two years in a row of solitude at the cabin. And while I’ve seen the same, exact trails on roughly the same dates for five years in a row, each year has proved to be a distinctively special trip. I can only guess what excitement and adventure awaits me next year.

Ghosts of Thanksgiving past: 20122011 | 2010 | 2009

Stormy weekend at the Oregon Coast

September 28-29, 2013.


Wind. Rain. Angry seas. Oh yes, it was time for a trip to the coast.

The Oregon Coast is an interesting place. It’s not a place to put on a bikini and spread out your towel for a day of sunbathing. Growing up in Rhode Island, that’s what I thought the beach was for. Building sandcastles. Splashing in the waves. Running around in a bathing suit (unless the people were packed in sardine-tight). But here, the place where the ocean meets the land is different. It’s not the beach. It’s the coast. There are beaches, yes, but the atmosphere among beach-goers is quite different. There’s usually fleece, rubber boots and jackets involved. There are sneaker waves and killer logs and other death traps. The coast is a beautifully forbidding place. And it really hits its stride during storm season.

We booked a room with ocean views in Newport and then made the drive out there. After checking in and putting a bottle of bubbly wine on ice, we donned our weather barriers and set out on a walk downtown.

I felt like the Gorton Fisherman in my yellow rain slicker. I covered every inch of skin I could with gloves, hat, rain pants, waterproof shoes, etc. It was wet and very, very windy. A delightful afternoon for a walk.

We wandered along the waterfront and picked up some food to make for dinner back at the hotel. Fresh seafood and veggies!

During the evening we watched the rain pour sideways into our window and listened to the wind try to blow the place down. It was so awesome.

The next morning, we took a nice stroll on the beach. The waves came in fast and frothy. There weren’t too many people out and about. Once we got ourselves organized and out of there, we drove to Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. I wonder what it takes to get that “outstanding” designation?

The wind was absolutely ripping. I could hardly stand up when it gusted. Watching the wind blow across the puddles on the ground was insane. I’d never seen anything move that fast.

We parked at the interpretive center and walked to the black pebble beach, then out to the lighthouse. Waves crashed far offshore. There would be no lighthouse tour today, but we had plenty to keep ourselves occupied. There was hardly a soul around, except for the people watching it all from the comfort of their vehicles.

The final stop was Salal Hill. A short, narrow trail took us up to the top of a very densely vegetated viewpoint. At least all the plants were small, so visibility was excellent. I was grateful to be wearing glasses as a shield from the wind and rain.

Hardly any of my pictures were salvageable because of the huge rain droplets on my camera lens. Trust me, it was stormy out there.

Pro tip: When visiting the Oregon Coast, always bring a spare set of dry clothes that lives in the car!

Cascadia Cave

September 5, 2013.

Cascadia State Park to Cascadia Cave (private) | 2 miles | negligible elevation gain

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Cascadia Cave is a culturally significant site along the South Santiam River that has some of the oldest rock art, or petroglyphs, in the Pacific Northwest. I felt fortunate that I was able to go on one of the few public tours of the site offered each year. Led by archaeologist Tony Farque of the Sweet Home Ranger district, this all-day adventure was jam-packed with fascinating stories from Native American mythology, descriptions of found artifacts, and evolving theories of what the cave was used for in past millennia.

The tour began in Cascadia State Park, a lovely little park right off highway 20 in the town of the same name. We all gathered around a picnic table displaying artifacts and replicas of items used by the native Kalapuya Indians. Tony explained that the Kalapuya were known as the “medicine people.” They made use of the diverse plant species found in the Willamette Valley and Cascade foothills to concoct treatments for what ailed their people.

Camas flowers

Camas flowers

The plants also served as rich sources of food, although the nutrition was not always all that easy to extract. Huckleberries were gathered, not by hand, but with rakes that scraped berries and leaves off of the bushes. Berries were then sorted and dried before being carried back to camp. To render camas bulbs edible, for example, the Kalapuya built huge ovens in which to steam the bulbs for 72 hours. The camas bulbs were also mashed, mixed with dried fruits, seeds, and insects, and made into biscuits and cakes, which could then be used to trade for other items.

Other forms of currency included obsidian, beads, and tightly woven baskets. We looked at the array of crafted items on the table: obsidian knives, medicine grinding stones, antler tools, and strings of tiny shells. I imagined the skill and patience it required for each of these items to be created by hand.

After the introduction, we walked up the River Trail. The Kalapuya similarly used this area as a travel corridor, an ancient Highway 20 of sorts, and it looked much different in the past than it does today. According to Tony, the Kalapuya managed the land by using fire. Instead of weaving their way through a dense forest, they burned down the vegetation along travel corridors, permitting people to move more easily.

Potholes in South Santiam River

Potholes in South Santiam River

We stopped along the river at a section with many exposed rocks and potholes. This was a great spot for catching salmon. Salmon played a huge role in the lives of the native people all across the Northwest. Elaborate ceremonies were held to ensure the salmon’s return in the coming year. But today, we looked at the pretty rocks for a few minutes and turned to continue walking upriver.

Old Douglas Fir

Old Douglas Fir

Along the way to the cave, Tony pointed out some of the oldest trees in the park. One, just along the left side of the trail, was about 9′ in diameter and is an estimated 850 years old. As we continued, we learned of the many ways the native people used the Western Redcedar. The bark could be used to make clothing, bedding, mats, waterproof hats and ties. The wood was used to build canoes, homes and weaponry. Redcedar was also used for medicinal purposes.

At some point down the trail, we crossed the park boundary and walked onto private property. Cascadia Cave sits on land owned by the Hill family and managed by a timber company. Currently the only way to legally visit the cave is with a tour guide. Plans are now underway to turn the property over to public entities, including state and local government and Indian tribes. These groups intend to create a new community forest, providing opportunities for recreation, timber harvest and cave restoration. (edit 12/2019: I can no longer find any information on that proposal). You need a login in order to read the story, unless you locate Google’s cache of the web page. To summarize, people are still talking details and nothing certain is set. Unfortunately, efforts to restore and protect the cave for the future cannot begin until the land is in the public’s hands.

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Cascadia Cave Tour

We reached the cave at noon. We all dropped our packs, found a seat and took out lunch. Tony continued to enrich the experience by telling stories of the changing interpretations of the cave’s significance over time. Experts, shamans, native people, and ordinary visitors each made great contributions to the body of knowledge regarding the cave. The first non-native visitors to the cave were artifact collectors in the late 1800’s, who took many of the precious remaining bits of stoneware, tools, and other items from the soil at the base of the cave. Collection of artifacts was the fashionable thing to do back then, and many of the discoveries were removed to private homes and lost to history. The floor of the cave as it stands today is three feet lower than that of the original cave, due to the hordes of people excavating dirt to find buried treasures. In the early to mid 1900’s, archaeologists explored the cave and attempted to document the rock carvings by drawing pictures and publishing their findings. Later teams would discover more and more secrets hidden in the rock wall. To this day, much is debated about the significance of the figures etched permanently into the wall.

We took a look for ourselves, surveying the massive zigzag lines that ran horizontally across the cave. Some other petroglyphs were easy to see—bear prints, rows of vertical lines, human faces made of holes, and a wide array of symbols representing male and female genitalia. Others were more subtle, and had to be pointed out. I could vaguely see feathers, salmon, and other shapes if I really used my imagination. As a rational thinker, the wild interpretations of some of the imagery felt a bit far-fetched. But, I was no expert.

Bear prints

Petroglyphs at Cascadia Cave

Paint was applied by scientists in the past to make the bear prints more visible

Scientists in the past applied paint to make the bear prints more visible

Switching gears, Tony shared stories from Kalapuya folklore and suggested some possible ways they may have used the Cascadia Cave site. Was it a rest stop along a riverside highway? A place of trade and commerce? Or was it a place of spiritual significance? What did the clues tell us? Each new story had the crowd more and more convinced that THAT was the true meaning of the place. There were clearly numerous ways to interpret the evidence. He asked us to imagine this spot where we were sitting as it once was, when the native people managed the land. Instead of a lush, dense forest, it would have been a clear meadow, burnt out to permit easy passage. Then, Cascadia Cave (more like a slight overhang) could have formed the headstone of a giant amphitheater. With a shaman leading ceremonies at the cave mouth, hundreds of others would have filled the meadow, drumming, dancing, and singing. This site could have held significance to the Kalapuya as the link from the physical world to the metaphysical world.

Of course, that’s one way to look at it. The most astonishing bit of information Tony left for the end of the presentation. That nugget tied much of the folklore, academic findings, and recent inferences together. What was it? Well, you’ll just have to take the tour to find out.

Learn more about upcoming tours at Cascadia Cave and elsewhere in the Willamette National Forest at recreation.gov.

A Disheartening Setback

When I returned to my car after a quick stop in the store, someone had broken my passenger door lock and stolen almost everything I had in my car: over $4,000 worth of gear that I’d accumulated over many years of traveling in the mountains. After carefully adding up the costs of lost gear and repairs to my car door, minus a negligible amount covered by insurance, I need $3900 to be back where I was before the thief targeted my property.

The Backstory

mazamaThe story began in April, as always, on the day the Mazama climb schedule came out. I eagerly flipped through the pages, highlighting what climbs I deemed the most interesting and worth blocking time out of my schedule for. I have a few criteria: a leader I know and trust, a limited total number of climbers, and some out of the way destination or unusual link-up. This climb had all three. I would climb with a man known and beloved by many, with a great big smile and awesome attitude. I would climb in a small group of 6, and I would be heading up to a mountain that struck me down, twice, just a few years ago. This was going to be a great trip.

All summer, I worked. Yes, starting a new business in a relatively new town sucked up a good majority of my time. I didn’t have as many opportunities as I would have liked to go out hiking and climbing, training for the big trip. Oh well, I thought, the adrenaline alone will push me through.

The week before, I began preparing. I’d tested out a brand new climbing pack on a shorter hike. I started making and dehydrating meals I could bring back to life at camp. I began laying out the wide array of gear I’d need for this trek: snow climbing gear, rock climbing gear, warm clothes, lots of food, emergency equipment, a bivy sack and tent (since I wasn’t sure what I’d bring), my camera, and many other items. Spending 5 days in the alpine, far from the civilized world, means you need a lot of stuff. The varied climbing terrain also ensured I couldn’t get away with carrying a light pack.

The morning before leaving to meet my carpool, I stuffed it all into my backpack, threw a few creature comforts in my car for the first night of camping, and drove up to Portland. I made a quick stop at REI just a couple hours before meeting my carpool to grab some last minute items.

The Discovery

When I got back to the car, this scenario unfolded: my door was unlocked, which was weird, and I looked over into the passenger seat. My bag of snacks and clothes was gone. Quickly, I looked into the back, and my multi-day pack, tent, sleeping bag and small day-pack were gone. Slamming the car door, I ran to the passenger side and noticed the lock was neatly punched out. Metal bits were strewn across the floor. This was no amateur. Someone had his strategy mapped out long before and I was not the first victim.

I blasted down the stairwell and into REI, looking around frantically for an employee who wasn’t busy. Yeah, right. As I marched down the aisle, a man in a black T-shirt asked if I needed any help. He did work there, and he was heading home. He kindly brought me to the front of the store and tried to summon a manager or other help. This took forever. In the meantime I got on the phone with the police and, choking back tears, tried to get some help.

“We can’t send an officer down for that, do you have Internet access?”

SERIOUSLY.

No, I asked if there was some other way. The operator said she’d have an officer call me back, which was way more comforting than getting on a computer to file my report.

The Response from REI

REI_PortlandBut this took some time, so I waited up front at REI for a bit and talked to a manager. She was also not very helpful. Let me paraphrase the message I received from both REI workers: “Oh yeah this happens to our employees all the time. Theft has been up lately, so we put up some signs. It would cost $50,000 to have security in the garage, so, you know…” I know? Really! Yes, I do think 50K (if in fact that is the cost) is a perfectly reasonable amount to pay for security for a company who sells high end outdoor gear. Even if they threw some GoPro cameras up in the corners or had an employee walk the lot every day, I bet they could nail some of the people that are cruising the lot for free goodies. There’s one way in and out of the garage, how hard could it be to provide security? This nonchalant attitude towards their own employees and customers getting ripped off made me sick to my stomach.

The Damages

57 warmup

Taken: rock climbing gear, memories

My trip was canceled for the whole team. The financial investment I’d made in my gear–some of it, gear designed to last a lifetime, was gone. Not to mention all the little things I’d worked on myself: the homemade meals, personalized first aid kit, time-tested clothing system, and the painstakingly researched purchases. Poof. The value of these items to me far exceeded the money paid at the time of purchase. To replace these items with brand new stuff would be much more expensive. I waited for discounts, scrimped and saved for what I had, and upgraded to the nicer stuff once I used borrowed gear and thrift store finds for years. Besides, the memories of the red #1 cam holding my first lead fall, the nights spent curled up in my fluffy down bag, and the hundreds of trips my beat up, old green RidgeRest has been on made these things even more precious. I didn’t need shiny new things, as the old gear was holding up just fine.

The Insurance: Adding Insult to Injury

“At least your insurance will cover it,” many people said, in an effort to console me. Yes, I’d purchased renters insurance several years ago after reading other people’s stories of car break ins and theft. I told the agent when I took the insurance out that this was the point, I wanted to protect my belongings left in the car when out hiking, climbing, traveling, etc and I have to leave things behind unguarded. I had my car broken into once before, while parked at a trailhead in the Gorge, but luckily I left nothing of significant monetary value in the car.

So imagine my surprise when talking to the friendly insurance adjuster on the phone who said, well you’re insured for $13,000 and 10% of that value if the property is out of your home, so that’s $1,300. Plus you have a $500 deductible.

This is where I kind of stopped listening and the anger deep within my soul began rising to the surface again.

So after all this, being “covered” by insurance, and I only get a maximum of $800? Not to mention, there were damages to my car as well, and THAT has a separate $500 deductible, bringing my net intake to $300 paid to me from insurance. I’m not going to do the math and calculate all the insurance payments I’ve made in my lifetime, but I can guarantee that’s far more than $300. Whew, good thing I paid for that renters policy.

Take-Home Lessons

Here’s what I know. I feel angry. I feel like I’ve been wronged by several entities in many different ways. I feel like I did the best I could to acquire and protect my property, and those efforts were not enough.

#1: Most people are amazing. Here’s the part of the story I haven’t told yet. Within hours of getting the word out that my gear was stolen, people from all parts of my life were reaching out to me asking how they could help. Lending gear, donating gear, lending money, donating money, or offering emotional support. Everyone rallied, including people in my life I haven’t heard from in a while and even complete strangers. It was, and continues to be, unbelievable. I am deeply humbled by the number of people expressing concern, sympathy and anger right along with me.

#2: REI needs to take action. If a company is in the business of selling expensive items and said company is fully aware that these items are being stolen from employees and customers at their location, and they refuse to do anything to handle the problem, they’re not doing good business. Boy, that was the most civil way I could put that. I’m looking at you, REI, and know that this is not over. Things need to change. I will absolutely not be replacing my stolen gear by going back and shopping at REI. And I will work to ensure that no more shoppers have to endure this nightmare.

#3: Know what your insurance covers or don’t get it at all. I’d like to think I’m a smart shopper. I don’t spend money freely, and when I do spend money, I make damn sure I’m getting what I need. So it was a shock to learn that my insurance coverage was absolutely not what I thought it was. If anyone has any tips on choosing an honest insurance company, send them my way. From what I’ve heard, most people are pretty unhappy with their insurance once they actually have to file a claim.

#4: Don’t ever leave gear visible, even for 30 minutes. If thieves have their eye on a sweet parking lot/garage where they know there’s no security, you’re a target. Last minute stops at REI? Avoid them. Buy things in advance or shop online if you can. If you forget something, I guess you’re out of luck unless you’re driving with someone and they can stay in the car. I don’t know what to suggest for road-trips where you’re taking multiple short stops and you have to leave stuff in the car, except if you have a trunk or car-top box, stash items out of sight.

If you’ve been the victim of theft, please feel free to share how you recovered in the comments below.

If you can help me send the message to REI that they need to improve security for their employees and customers, please contact me now.

If my story resonates with you and you want to throw in a few bucks to help me gear up again, check out my donations page here:

Black Butte Snowshoe

January 20, 2013.

about 10 miles | 2400′ ele. gain | 7 hours (including 1.5 hour break)

Photo Album

Mt Jefferson from Black Butte

Most of the year, the trek up Black Butte is pretty short and straightforward. When there’s snow on the ground, it’s another story. Fortunately for us there hadn’t been too much new snowfall, so the ground was really well packed down. Nonetheless, we prepared for a long day of hiking.

In an attempt to shave off some mileage, we turned up road 1110 towards the trailhead to see how far we could drive before the snow got too deep. The answer: not too far. It took us probably just as long to extract the car and get it pointed downhill again as it would have taken to just walk up from the base of Green Ridge Road 11. Oh well.

Snowshoes on and loads of food stashed in our packs, we marched up the long road that winds up to the “start” of the Black Butte hike. It was chilly in the shade of the trees, but the knowledge that we’d eventually break out from beneath the evergreens brought warmth to my bones.

After about three miles, we reached the trail head, where the sun had melted away much of the snow covering the start of the trail. Interesting. The trees parted slightly here, allowing some bright light to reach the ground at my feet. It was lovely. Here we began the fun part of the hike.

The snow quickly returned as we continued up the trail. The sun felt hotter now as it was higher in the sky and the shade trees were less overbearing. We stripped down some extra layers and began taking more water breaks. Slowly and steadily we made our way up the trail as it traversed across the wide slopes of Black Butte. Once the trail took a sharp bend around the other side I knew we were getting close.

It was here we lost the trail and decided to head straight up the invitingly smooth snow slopes. The trees here were recovering from a fire; the charred, black remains of scattered tree trunks made an eerily beautiful backdrop for this magnificent day. Once the fire tower was in clear sight, we set a straight trajectory for its base. Little did we know, the trail would have taken us far across the other side of Black Butte’s summit area.

Near the fire tower we dropped our packs and enjoyed a ridiculously good pizza party while savoring the views of all the Central Oregon volcanoes. The sun was blinding, and we had to dust off our sunglasses and sunscreen to survive the intense conditions on this treacherous alpine summit. For the next hour and a half we wandered around, taking pictures and savoring the experience. We walked over to the actual touristy summit area, where the old cupola stands. There, we could see as far north as Mt. Adams! What a day.

Eventually we packed up to make the return trek. Despite there being lots of footprints up the road and along the trail, we hadn’t seen another human today so far, which was nice. We made it almost back to the trail head before coming across a group of three ladies and a dog, who said they hoped they didn’t block our car in with theirs. Thanks.

The walk out along the road was knee-jarringly dull, but it was totally worthwhile considering that the rest of the day had earned a high rating on the awesome scale. Just before reaching the car we passed another couple walking their dog, and then it was home free. Although there were three vehicles parked at the base of road 1110, we were able to sneak the car out through a gap that wasn’t too badly snowed in. Sheesh. Who parks straight across the base of a road with fresh tracks leading up it?

I highly recommend snowshoeing up Black Butte, especially in packed snow, as a decent way to spend a day on the trails. It’s not quite as challenging as its reputation, but it will make you put in some effort for the summit.

A Wintry Visit to the Oregon Dunes and Heceta Head

January 2-4, 2013.

Hobbit Beach

Devil’s Churn | Carter Lake Dunes | Tahkenitch Dunes | Umpqua Dunes | Heceta Head

See all the photos and video here.

The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions

One last road trip before school starts, really.

My friend Sue and I headed west for the Coast to take advantage of some rare, nice-weather days on the ocean. We made a quick stop at Devil’s Churn/Cape Perpetua to stretch our legs and make some lunch. The water was crashing quite dramatically on the rocky shoreline, and the barren rocks were awfully inviting for some exploration. We wandered carefully along the exposed rocks, watching the waves come in and keeping a safe distance. All sorts of tourists who’d just tumbled out of their cars for a quick walk were gathered at various spots near the water. It was not really our type of crowd, so we ate up and returned to the road.

Devil's Churn

Next stop: downtown Florence. Here, we cruised through the art galleries and shops, hoping to find a spectacular bargain. But alas, no amazing deals or unique treasures grabbed our attention. Anyways, it was a decent way to kill an hour.

Onward to do what we’d come out here for: hiking! We had just enough time to run out to Carter Lake Dunes.

Surprise! Carter Lake Dunes

This 3 mile roundtrip hike with negligible elevation gain would be perfect for enjoying the last couple hours of daylight. We walked through the mellow, open sand dunes and into the coastal forest. I was somewhat surprised to find a section of flooded trail that we could not walk around without getting totally soaked. I remembered another trip to the dunes in which I had to take my socks and shoes off to complete a short section of trail just before reaching the beach. I figured this was just par for the course in the winter at the Oregon Coast. So, we took our socks and shoes off and splashed through the cold, cold water.

Wading on the trail

The difference between this trip and my previous trip was that the flooded trail section was quickly followed by another, and another… and then the water started getting deep.

It was so deep that we hiked our pants up as far as they could go–just above the knee–before they just couldn’t squeeze up over our thighs. By this point my feet and lower legs had gone completely numb, as if they’d been injected with Novocaine.

At last we reached the final sand hill that promised to lead us to the loud, vast ocean on the other side. Woo hoo! It was beautiful, and we had the place all to ourselves. Only an idiot would have come this far. Oh, I don’t know why Sue puts up with this stuff.

The sun was bright and warm. We kept our shoes off and traveled across the sand for as long as we could, dreading the return trip through the frigid water. On the way back we took our pants off for an easier crossing. It felt much shorter and less painful on the way back; perhaps our bodies were more prepared this time.

We camped at a state park campground that night. We were the only people there, save for the camp host. It was quiet and peaceful. We planned our dunes assault for the next day.

Tahkenitch Dunes and Threemile Lake

Today we thought we’d start out with a 6-mile loop that would take us through forest and dunes to an aptly named three-mile long lake. I’d done this hike before, but in the summertime. I really hoped we wouldn’t encounter high water today.

Our hike began after a leisurely breakfast and chat by the campfire. About 30 minutes of walking through the sand brought us to an enclosed path crowded by dense, coastal shrubbery. An odd, painted and carved sign on the path gave us a general overview of where we were relative to the Pacific Ocean, which we probably could have figured out on our own. From the sign, we followed the trail as it snaked through grassy dunes and thick, short trees. Eventually we began catching sight of the aforementioned ocean and many random user paths spidered out in all directions from the main trail. We followed what appeared to be the “right way” to the beach, but it abruptly dead-ended at the top of a sand cliff.

Much to my surprise, Sue pushed ahead of me and leaped, gazelle-like, down the vertical edge and landed in a crumpled pile on the sand. Sweet! I approached much more tentatively and dug my heels in to try and produce a softer landing. In the end it was much less death-defying than it looked from the top. I was sure glad we decided to do the loop in this direction instead of the other way around :).

We walked along the beach, watching the birds as they darted around the sand, avoiding the incoming, frothy waves and rushing out towards the water as each wave receded. But then the trail took us back across the dunes and low-growing plants towards Threemile Lake. It was here we sat down to enjoy lunch before finishing the loop.

Threemile Lake

The only way to get to and from the lake was by going down a steep sand dune. There was hardly a nice place to sit at the lake, as the water came right up to the edge of the slope. But we were out of the wind and the view across the lake was pretty gorgeous.

The remainder of the trail was in the woods. The coastal forest was lush, green, and lovely. In some places, the trees competed for space with the sand dune, and a slow-motion battle was being waged between the green and the taupe.

Wide Open Spaces

With half the day remaining, we hit 101 and headed to the Umpqua Dunes. I remembered these dunes as being really impressive, conjuring up images of vast deserts in faraway lands, like the Sahara desert, or a dramatic movie set at least. I was very excited to return, and curious what the water levels would be like on the trails near the beach.

For over a mile, we made our own path up and down the massive sand dunes, keeping the blue-painted posts far off to our right. The air was chilly today, and a steady breeze made sure we kept moving towards our destination.

Umpqua Dunes

Umpqua Dunes

Once across the dunes, we picked up a trail that took an abrupt 90 degree turn to the right as it first paralleled the tree line, then made another abrupt turn towards the ocean. This trail was almost completely flooded. We walked alongside the trail for awhile, until it became impossible to avoid the high water, then did the inevitable: we took our shoes and socks off.

The water was shockingly cold and the trail seemed to go on forever. Fortunately, a nice boardwalk had been erected that kept our chilled toes out of the water. Then, it suddenly ended and launched us back underwater for a bit until we finally reached the sand. Ugh.

We looked cautiously up at the thick blanket of gray that had been closing in on us the whole afternoon. Just a tiny porthole of sunlight remained. I was sure we’d get rained on while walking back.

After exploring the beach, we retraced our path straight back to the dunes. At the 90 degree bend, we kept our shoes off and instead launched straight out into the sand dunes, angling towards the posts so we could retrace our steps back to the trailhead. Along the way I rescued a lost Swiss Army Knife. We explored some ponds, raced down some steep sand piles, and checked out the hardy plant life. The wind was really blowing now, as captured in this video.

We made it back to the car without feeling a drop of rain, but our camp was soaked all night long.

To the Lighthouse

Before driving back to the valley, we made one last stop: Heceta Head. William Sullivan describes a 6-mile loop in the coast hiking book that stars from Washburne State Park; that was our plan for the morning.

Hobbit Beach

The start of the hike is a 1.5 mile or so walk along a wide, flat beach. We were in luck: it was t-shirt weather and the sun was shining extra brightly that day. There was even a patch of rocks corralling small tidepools that were teeming with life. We had to go check those out.

We ambled along, cowering in the intense sun, until we ducked into the woods and picked up the Hobbit Trail. This lovely trail rises a few hundred feet through a mystical coastal forest. Sun beams shone down through breaks in the canopy and sedge lined some sections of the muddy trail. We gawked at all the big trees as we slid and sloshed along in the mud.

Heceta Head Lighthouse

Once we reached the lighthouse, we had some snacks and talked to the park volunteer. The lighthouse was undergoing renovation so we couldn’t get very close to it. Reluctantly, we left the sun and walked back into the woods. It was a no-brainer: we wouldn’t finish the loop by completing the entire trail through the forest to get to the car. Instead, we retraced our steps on the Hobbit Trail to get another mile and a half of glorious, sunny beach walking.

It was a wonderful way to bring Winter Break to an end. The coast is a quiet and peaceful place to visit in the winter when most tourists don’t bother going, and those who do don’t stray more than a couple hundred yards from their cars and lattes. Thanks to Sue for helping to make this trip happen!

Snow-tacular

December 20, 2012.

Day 5: Potato Hill

Potato Hill Sno Park

It was the last wake-up for our trip. Sadness. I knew I had to prepare a big, filling breakfast, because we’d be snow-slogging through fresh stuff up at the pass again today. So I lovingly prepared what Aaron called “gruel” as he began to break down camp.

The “gruel” consisted of polenta, almond milk, butter and pumpkin puree, topped with chopped Macadamia nuts and maple-flavored agave syrup. HELLO! Most people eat instant oatmeal straight out of the packets on winter camping trips. This was four-star dining here.

As we drove towards Santiam Pass and checked the time, we decided we had just a couple hours to play in the snow. We decided to park at the Potato Hill Sno-Park and set our sights on the treacherous and feared summit of Potato Hill. I mean, come on, they couldn’t have come up with a slightly more intimidating name?

Big, fluffy snow flakes poured down on top of us as we geared up for this last snowshoe hike. We headed out in knee-deep fresh stuff, each step feeling as strenuous as ten. Progress was slow. We traded positions frequently and stopped for water and snack breaks as needed. About an hour and a half of walking brought us only marginally closer to the bigtime summit of Potato Hill. In an attempt to get on top of something, Aaron pointed to the closest bump and we headed up there. That would be our turnaround point of the day. The wind blew a little more steadily up here and the snow continued to fall. Standing around made us cold fast so we took our pictures and got going quickly.

One Potato, Two Potato
Jess and Aaron near Potato Hill

We turned back and trudged along our broken path back to the car. We made it back to the Sno-Park at our predetermined return time, 2pm. We happily swallowed some homemade cookies and brownies as a reward for the day’s hard work. We watched as long trains of cars driving 10 mph dragged along highway 20. Meanwhile, a guy in a massive pickup truck rolled down his window to ask how deep the snow was, and if he could drive down into the Sno-Park safely. One quick look at our low-clearance Subaru should have given him the answer, but alas, I think inclement weather dampens everyone’s IQ.

As we exited the Sno-Park and started driving west, I smiled in satisfaction. Another wonderful road trip was under my belt. How soon is Spring Break?

Finish the story
Day 1: Snowshoeing Near Santiam Pass
Day 2: John Day Fossil Beds
Day 3: At Last, a Summit
Day 4: The Epitome of Cold
Day 5: Snow-tacular

View all the photos on Picasa.