Archive for the ‘Oregon’ Category
I met the bearded man just after I’d skied over the bridge, topped with about three feet of snow, piled to the top of the bridge’s railing (I didn’t do the math, but I wondered how much extra weight was just sitting on that bridge all winter long). I planned to explore a new ski trail for me, along the north side of Gold Lake. As a Backcountry Ski Patroller, a large part of my “job” is connecting with the public and helping them have great, snowy, winter experiences, so I stopped to chat as this man awaited his companion.
As I figured out how many miles they had already snowshoed that morning (about 5, down from the South Waldo Lake Shelter), then found out what they were training for (hiking the Continental Divide Trail), it suddenly dawned on me that I’d met Sunshine and her Dad (trail name: Balls). I first read about the duo on the Backpacking Light website in 2011, when they were completing their Pacific Crest Trail journey. Last year, they hiked the Appalachian Trail. So, this year, they’re going for the Triple Crown with their CDT hike, completing all three long hikes by the time Sunshine is 13. This 12-year-old has more experience with bear hanging, sleeping on the ground, trail food, and pushing herself through challenges than most people will ever have. As I considered the school that Sunshine has missed in the past three years, I kept coming back to what she’s gained in self-confidence and outdoor skills from her experiences.
Earlier that morning, I’d talked with my friend Walter about adventures with kids: living abroad, rock climbing, and, yes, even through-hiking. A couple of things have been pointing me toward more serious adventures with my kids. First, I just started a book, Before They’re Gone by Michael Lanza, about a family’s year-long quest to visit National Parks imperiled by climate change. Although I’ve only just begun reading it, it’s easy to see that this family had what most people would consider “grown-up-sized” adventures. In the first chapter, they’re heading out for an early spring, 4-day, 29-mile backpack with a 7- and 9-year-old on icy Grand Canyon trails. That’s believing in your kids and their abilities!
After meeting Monkey, who turned nine while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail last summer, I’ve been considering how feasible it might be to complete a long hike with one or both of my children. The PCT was Monkey’s idea, by the way. She wasn’t coerced. Last summer, when we gave Monkey and her Mom a ride to their campsite after they’d inhaled 1200-calorie meals of pizza and milkshakes, I asked Sylvan if he’d like to try a long-distance hike with me. He balked. The little one, though, seemed interested. With her constant singing and smiley demeanor, she’d be the perfect companion, too! Sunshine to balance my native grumbles. I asked her yesterday if she’d like to try some backpacking this summer. Without looking up from her art project, she said, “Yes.” As she shapes up as a hiker, we’ll see if she enjoys pulling off long days (with enough Jelly Bellies) and is driven by the challenge of a good, long-term goal. I hope so!
While Sylvan was losing his fifth tooth and picking an Army duck from the secretary’s supply for birthday and missing tooth kids, Leslie and I ventured up to Marys Peak, the highest mountain in Oregon’s Coast Range.
We’ve been busy this month. Here’s a sampling:
Hmmm, I can’t put captions on the photos anymore. But please do notice:
- that Elena wore cowgirl boots and Sylvan wore shorts to see Santa (who’s growing up in Oregon?).
- that Sylvan was very excited to get a tree, and they were both very excited to read next to it the day we put it up. You should note that we cut this gorgeous Grand fir for a grand total of $14 (including two hot chocolates). Again, that’s Oregon.
- that Elena is going to be so happy when she can read so she can sing Christmas songs by reading the lyrics. She is trying very hard in this photo.
- that we just spend the last two days in the Winter Wonderland of the Oregon Cascades. Unbelievably powdery piles of snow! (For birders, we saw many mountain chickadees, some flittery wrens, a northern flicker, mergansers, a hairy woodpecker, an osprey, and we heard a bald eagle.)
Chris ran the Waldo 100K yesterday. It was more than 100K; you’ll have to ask him about it.
The kids and I supported him, but only a little. We really just wanted to get out of town and go swimming in a beautiful mountain lake. We succeeded.
“Are you having a good Fair?” is a common question when you attend the Oregon Country Fair. This question sounds like such an odd construction to me, but it really captures the spirit of the Fair, which is that it is its own entity, a strange and vague collection of experiences and images.
I swore off the Fair a few years ago, after trying twice to enjoy it. The first time, I felt like the Fair was a hotter and dustier Saturday Market; and all I remember is sitting in a queue for the bus trying desperately to quell my raging headache. Then, I brought Sylvan when he was just mobile enough to be frustrated being in a backpack all day. That made me frustrated all day.
But, at 3 and 6, my kids are now the perfect ages to check out the Fair, marvel at the costumes while wearing their own, and enjoy the shows aimed at kids.
By three days before the Fair, both kids had chosen their costumes and laid them out in their bedrooms.
There was some poor behavior thrown in there, too; but it didn’t overshadow a super day spent at the Fair. Thank you, Fair!
Because this starts on July 4th, like clockwork, and doesn’t let up until October 1.
The kids and I have created a tradition, the Creswell 4th of July parade. This year, we brought friends.
If you head to the Creswell Parade, my suggestion is to leave early. We left town at about 9:20 this year, getting us into Creswell before 10 a.m. We easily parked north of the parade route and placed our chairs near the parade route’s end before heading to Holt Park for some playground action and brunch sno-cones (the kids’ll think you’ve lost your marbles, but it’s worth it; there are no lines before the parade). A fighter jet flew over at 10:30, followed by lots of local small planes right before the parade’s 11 a.m. start.
Each year, ODOT, the Oregon Department of Transportation, plows through the snow to open up McKenzie Pass to summer traffic. For some short number of days after it’s completely plowed, the snow gates remain closed, making the Scenic Highway an RV-free paved path through the mountains—perfect for bicyclists.
My friend Leslie has been my biking companion every time I’ve made it to the summit from the west side (Chris and I tried it at least one year before the road was completely plowed, and, after slogging through some snow, we realized that we should turn around). Last time, Leslie and I looked at each other and said, “We could go farther, maybe all the way to Sisters. And there are donuts in Sisters…”
So, appropriately enough, on National Donut Day, as I later learned, Leslie and I biked to McKenzie Pass, then cruised 15 miles down the east side into Sisters for a donut and a coffee. We enjoyed our caffeine and calories in rocking chairs on the porch of the charmingly Western, surprisingly Christian Sisters Coffee Company (the donuts came from the not-to-miss Sisters Bakery, whose donuts are always superbly fresh and whose pies look tart and delicious).
After our quick “lunch,” we headed back uphill through the open, butterscotch and ceanothus-scented ponderosa pine forest that led to the higher, mixed coniferous forest before giving way to basalt and snow at the Pass.
After some serious braking down the steep, west, roller coaster side, we re-entered the vine maple and Douglas fir of the wet side and found the van almost too soon. We didn’t hit any deer on the way down, unlike the man we talked to at the Pass who was helicoptered out of this ride a few years ago for doing just that (!).
Leslie didn’t know it earlier today, but she just instigated my longest day on a bike, 54 miles with 4000 feet of elevation gain. But who wouldn’t do that for donuts?
I’ve started my volcano habit early this year, specifically my Diamond Peak habit. I’ve hoped to ski down Diamond Peak for a few years, and yesterday was my day. The weather report said 70 and sunny in town, which boded well for a bluebird day in the mountains.
Seven years ago (!), Chris and I backpacked into Diamond Rockpile, at the south end of Diamond Peak, with him carrying most of the gear and me carrying my belly with a 25-week-old Sylvan inside (photo available here). The following morning, we snowshoed up the south end on a route I’ve taken a few times since, but always when the snow has melted. The route that day was wind-scoured and scary. I was apprehensive about: climbing a mountain with a bean inside me; ever being able to climb a mountain again; and the mostly-melted-out summit ridge, which looked hairy and difficult. We stopped and turned around at that south, false summit seven years ago. Yesterday the summit ridge was a highway, wide and accommodating of the 21 total people we saw on the mountain:
My climbing buddy, Wayne, and I left Pleasant Hill at 6:30 a.m., and, after a short hike from the car up a road not quite passable yet due to snow, we were stepping into our skis around 9 a.m. We started near the Pioneer Gulch trail, but to avoid the walk on snowless trail we walked up the road a little higher into an old clearcut, perfect for finding more snow. After some route-finding for complete snow passages through manzanita and small Doug firs, we got high enough to find more snow, and we were on our way uphill, 4000 feet in four miles.
A prominent west ridge at the south end of Diamond Peak was our, and everyone else’s, route. Climbing skins and climbing wires on my bindings made the climb possible. I did take off my skis for some very steep, 3-4 foot steps that I just didn’t feel confident negotiating with skis on. There was also some rime ice at about 8000 feet for which I de-skied in order not to slide too far down the mountain.
We climbed steadily, and, when we popped out on the south summit, we both agreed that the south slope looked like nice, mellow skiing compared to the steeper bowls, which sounded a little icy at the top whenever anyone skied down them. We skied the summit ridge easily, since it was wide and inviting, staying away from the corniced east side. In no time, we were on the summit, eating cheese and snapping pictures.
And then it was time for the glorious ski down. Nice softened snow, skiing in a T-shirt, perfect slopes, “adventure” skiing through the trees lower down. Highly recommended.