Sled Dogs, Mountains, and Fergi Ski Area

Sometimes I believe it’s very important for children to skip school.  One can learn to long for an adventurous life by reading about other’s adventurous lives, but isn’t it better to actually teach the importance of adventure by going on adventures?  When we heard that there was a sled dog race over in eastern oregon and realized that the bear would need to miss a few days of school for us to see the start, we decided that was totally a justifiable cause for skipping school.  And I’ve been dying to get out to see the Wallowa mountains and I was in desperate need of some mountains (which is pretty much my constant state of being).  So, Wednesday afternoon after the bear was out of school, we headed over to Joseph Oregon.IMG_6133

Joseph is a wonderfully quaint town that is highly seasonal and that season is summer.  But I find quite a bit of fun of going to seasonal towns off season.  First of all, way better rates and second less crowds.  Which did mean I wasn’t going to be making my way up those gorgeous mountains on this trip, but it’s an excellent time for some recon work of the area to plan for summer summits.IMG_6142

The main event was the dog sled races at noon on Thursday.  The start and finish is at the Fergi (Ferguson Ridge) ski area, whichis just about my favorite ski area I believe I have ever laid eyes upon.  I’m very used to ski resorts that are well, resorts.  Fergi ski area is a fantastic truly local place.  Season pass owners have to volunteer 4 days out of the season.  A local group of folks who enjoyed skiing would appoint someone “the captain” to locate a good ski spot every Sunday, eventually they settled upon Fergi as a permanent spot and constructed a home made rope tow.  They purchased a T bar in the 70s and finally put it up on the Ferguson Ridge in 1985.  1983-84 was the first ski season on Ferguson Ridge although the t bar didn’t go in until 1985.  The take cash only, no credit, no checks.  You can read the full history here and I highly suggest if you can, you should at least take a visit up to check out Fergi.  Lift tickets are only $20!  Ferguson Ridge Ski Area Webpage.IMG_5946

IMG_5975IMG_5972IMG_5941We also made it up to Salt Creek Summit Sno Park.  We did not, however, make it to snowshoeing that day.  You’re pretty much in the wilderness there and snow can mask a lot.  We decided to check out the trails in the summer so we felt more confident taking Indie on them next winter.  Had it just been Eric and I, we likely would have been a bit more adventurous.  However, the views were beautiful and Indie had a fun time playing in the snow.

IMG_6119We stayed at the Eagle Cap Chalets by Lake Wallowa.  I was highly anticipating those mountains in the morning since we arrived around 10pm.  At first I was extremely sad to see fog, but then it was awesome to see those lovely giants peaking out here and there from the fog.  The second day we were given the treat of a beautiful sunny perfect day.  I couldn’t have been happier to experience those mountains in both atmospheres.  Each brought their own magic to the experience. IMG_5932IMG_5931IMG_6104IMG_6105IMG_6131IMG_6138

Ski Bunnies!

10411205_10100431508785258_2013766378289621771_nAlyssa and I went to do some skiing this weekend up at Mt. Hood Meadows.  It was pretty fucking hilarious.  Last time I skied I must have been around 13 or 14 and it was a travesty. Then last year I tried snowboarding and both me and my friend who tried to teach me agreed it was also a travesty.  And Alyssa grew up in Hawaii.  So, needless to say, we took some lessons.

We did pretty good I suppose for what was her first time and basically mine.  However, our best moment was when I started going backwards down the hill and bailed out and then she did and same thing and fell over me and it was basically a scene from an 80s ski movie.

However, we should note that we did not do more than just the magic carpet.  No buttercup lift for us yet!  We have two more lessons, but we’re going to go practice on the magic carpet more before our second lesson because we’re pretty sure we’re not ready for more skills than making pizza with our skis and trying to turn.  We also need to improve our standing up capabilities.  We’re mainly in this to justify buying cute ski outfits and to feel like we are legit wintertime activity people.  Someday I will also conquer that chipmunk run at big mountain montana.

 

Forest Park

I do not take much advantage at all that I live in Portland and have Forest Park within reach.   I generally find myself going out of town on adventures and thinking oh I can make it there anytime when I don’t have a lot of time and want something convenient.  However, what I find is that I just don’t go.  So, yesterday I went.  I originally planned on 10 miles, but changed to 5 because I wanted lunch and beer.  Pretty legit reason if you ask me.

However, if one lives in Portland or a close area, you should take advantage of Forest Park.  One of my favorite hikes to do there is to do a nighttime hike up to Pittock Mansion starting from around the Japanese Gardens.  It’s just fun!  And you get to look out on the city lights, also super fun when it’s a full moon hike.

One thing I need to remember is it’s muddy there.  Always muddy this time of year even if it’s a sunny day.  So much mud!

Here’s a link to my favorite map of forest park

Here’s a selfie of me hiking in forest park:

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Tillamook Oregon – Cape Lookout Beach

Yesterday I was in need of a distraction because I was stressing out big time, which makes me generally no fun to be around so I try not to do it often.  But yesterday I did.  Luckily a friend wanted some beer from a brewery in Tillamook Oregon which presented the perfect distraction for me.  I would head over there in the morning do some hiking and enjoying the Pacific Ocean, then hit up the brewery when it opened at 3, meet up with another friend of mine when she got off work and then mosey on home for a bluegrass show in the evening.  And during all of this I would receive news about work that would hopefully ease the stressing.

A few weeks ago we went out to Tillamook to Cape Lookout for some whale watching and we took the Cape Trail.  There’s also another trail there, the south trail, that takes you down to the ocean.  Now I will tell you that there are infinitely easier ways to get to the ocean along the Oregon Coast so I only suggest this trail if you’re looking for a hike.  It’s a 3.6 mile roundtrip.  Consider that down to the ocean is half that mileage of downhill switchbacks and you’ll be like oh these aren’t too bad, seems like a slow burn, but the way up you’re like dear god! what happened to the slow burn. UGH!  I prefer to do my uphill first and give myself the glorious view from the top as my reward and then hike down so this inversion of my preference is always hard for me.

I’m glad I did this trail without the bear.  It’s not the worst trail, but it wouldn’t have been fun for him.  I’m trying to keep trails and outdoor adventures fun for him as a 5 year old and not overly challenging so we can slowly build up the challenges and not make being outside and having adventures to be pure torture for him.  Here’s why I’m glad I didn’t have him on this trail:

1. There are so many places on this trail where people have cut through that it’s getting quite washed out in places and a little dangerous, lots of erosion.  However, it would have a been a good teaching opportunity for why we don’t make shortcuts.

2. Lots of big tree roots to contend with.  Not a big deal really for our grown up legs, but this creates a lot of extra work for his little 5 year old legs.

3. The beach was actually full of trash so I would have spent a lot of time telling him not to touch things.  It’s weird that this beach was so dirty because it’s so remote and I can’t imagine people bringing all this crap down there (like shampoo bottles and such) but my friend who lives there reminded me that they’re now getting a lot of tsunami trash on the beaches so that’s possibly what was happening.

4. Just the trip back up.  He would have been so miserable on the hike up because it’s quite relentless and after the hike down and how much he would have run on the beach, he would have been so exhausted!

Good things for me:

1. I had the entire beach to myself for as far as the eye could see.  That’s not too uncommon for Oregon winters on the coast, but usually there’s a few other people.

2. I had the perfect day!  It was sunny and just a light warm wind.  Gorgeous!

3. It was an excellent day for sand dollars and I found like 6 totally intact!

Next time I’m down there I’m bringing some trash bags and lugging some trash out!

Some pictures from the day:

Mirror Lake Hike

Once again, I was obsessively checking the weather to see when we might have some good weather here so we could take advantage.  Today looked like it might be beautiful so we decided to head up to Mirror Lake while the bear was at school.  It was going to be cutting it close to be able to finish the hike and get back in time to pick him up.  We did manage to do that though.  Originally we were planning to snowshoe, but once we arrived it became a bit obvious that there wasn’t enough snow.

I’m really glad we did this one without the bear.  I don’t think I would be comfortable taking him on this hike particularly in the winter.  There were just a few steep cliffs and some stream crossings with slightly sketchy bridges.  I think he’d be good in a year or two, but not right now.

The trail ended up being a mixture of surfaces, some snow, some ice, some soggy ground.  A little more icy than I would have preferred without microspikes or other traction devices.  I had them in the car, but I did not bring them on the hike.  Of course!

This is the hike where you get the very famous picture of Mt. Hood reflecting in a lake, hence Mirror Lake.  That’s why clear days are the best for this hike, otherwise I would have been a sad panda to just see grey clouds in the lake.  So I present to you probably one of the most common pictures of Mt. Hood:

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Climb On: Ozone

Me and my friend Alyssa have been trying to make it out to Ozone to climb for quite some time.  The first time, we couldn’t find it.  Totally lost and we eventually figured out we were one parking area too far and were a mile or so away.  Apparently giant cliff faces aren’t always easy to find when they’re nestled into a forest.  Second time, we actually found it, but there was snow and we were going on a different hike so we didn’t climb.  So, when I saw that Saturday was supposed to be rain free and knowing that usually means that Ozone is dry, we decided to give it a shot.

Saturday turned out to be foggy and misty and damp.  But fuck it, we went anyway!  Mostly because Ozone is proclaimed to be the driest place to climb outdoors in the Portland area.  And it definitely could have been a lot worst, but it was still quite moist there.  And yes, I hate the word moist just as much as you, but I can’t think of a better word to describe it.  Funnily enough it was drier there the day we went with snow.

Alyssa took the hard part and did the route setting and braved some slick rock and a crazy last move to set the anchor.  As well as us not totally being sure she was on the right route half way up.  We were like you might be on a 5.11b instead of a 5.8, we’re not sure, up to you if you want to keep going.  She’s a major rock star so she kept going and finished and set up an anchor because I’m a wimp and I only top rope.  Some day maybe I’ll get brave enough to lead.

It was a super fun day.  I didn’t climb a ton because wet slippery rock scares me even on top rope.  However, it was good to get outside and climb.  Oh winter, I love you but I miss climbing!

IMG_5811My favorite picture from the day.  It’s not that epic, but I love how determined my face looks in it.

 

Snowshoes and Ice

I start stalking the weather here about ten days out and then I start over planning and getting really excited when I see a sunny day in the forecast.  And I start planning I’m like oh we could climb or hike or snowshoe or go to the ocean. So many things!!!  But since it’s winter and we just got some really decent snow up on Mt. Hood, snowshoeing was most definitely what I wanted to do and the boys were on board!

We decided to hit up Frog Lake Sno Park.  It’s supposed to be nice and flat and easy peasy for the little one.  It is shared with snow mobiles, but otherwise it seemed like a good choice for us.

Let’s take a moment to discuss the snowmobiles.  We’re used to snowmobiles since those seem to be the Wisconsin winter recreation choice.  And I wish I had a lot more positive things to say about them, but I was kind of expecting people to be assholes on the trail and that we’d most likely run into a close call or two.  Apparently like in all things Oregon, the vast majority of the snowmobilers are nice and considerate.   No close calls.  Everyone going at a decent speed, but still having fun.

The other thing about snowmobiles is that Indie had never actually seen one that he could remember.  So when he saw the first one today he immediately said with the most wide eyed amazement “I want one of those.” I guess we know what kind of kiddo we have.

IMG_5733Onto some more info about the trail.  It was nice and flat.  The trailhead is on the opposite side of the parking area from the bathrooms.  We almost ended up on Barlow which I didn’t have any info on so I didn’t want to risk an exploratory trip with the bear.  It is nice and flat and wide.  We stuck to the side of the trail to be polite to snowmobilers.  This trail is also shared with cross country skiers and apparently the occasional dog sled, which was the other really awesome part of the day.

You can maIMG_5730ke many different loops with all the trails out there, we went a ways, realized we were going past the campground area by the lake.  I really wanted to see the lake so we forged a path through the campground to the lake.   That was the most challenging and the most fun (in my opinion) part of the journey.  It was a bit of a trek for the bear, but we kept reminded him to follow our footsteps, which he did for the most part, but apparently forging his own path in waste deep snow is fun for him.

IMG_5746We made it out to the lake, which was frozen solid.  I don’t go on frozen lakes.  I think it’s growing up in Tennessee where nothing was ever actually frozen solid enough for it to be safe.  Also, I think that I was emotionally scarred by It’s a Wonderful Life.  Eric ventured out because he grew up in Wisconsin and apparently that’s what they do there when growing up.

 

20150102_134916We had the usual pb & j post hike and some coffee.

 

 

 

 

 

Then because Eric loves me and humors me, we decided to take the long way home over the rest of hte mountain to Hood River and then drive through the Columbia River Gorge.  It’s been cold here so I had a theory that all those waterfalls would be freezing over and they were and it was beautiful!

IMG_5760 multnomah falls

 

Joshua Tree

I thought in between some of our current adventures, I’d write about some past adventures.  I travel for work and often find myself with a day or so off that I have time for adventure, but not much adventure.  Last January while I was working in L.A., I had one such opportunity. Since I was a little burnt out on L.A. (as I was literally the Portlandia sketch when they go to L.A. I was all it’s sunny and can I take public transportation?  Can I walk? It was bad) I decided to hop over to Joshua Tree for the day.

When I find myself short on time and wanting to visit somewhere like Joshua Tree or Glacier, I try to figure out how I can maximize my time spent there but still get to do a bit of off the beaten path type activities.  I had a couple hour drive from L.A. so an early start was necessary.  I’m sure I attempted to go to bed early the night before, I’m sure I failed at that, but I did get an early early start to avoid most of the L.A. traffic.  Then I decided it was just going to be a long day and that I would be traveling home late at night and would be sleepy the following day. Sometimes you just have to be a little tired in life to experience it.  I also purchased a map of Joshua tree the day before and I noted the main road I would choose to drive on and a couple of specific spots I wanted to check out.  Prep work is definitely a must when you only have a short amount of time.  I remain flexible with my plans just in case I find something amazing, but this way I didn’t miss anything.  I also assumed I wouldn’t have cell service so I printed out directions at the hotel, downloaded music to my phone for the journey, and mapped out which towns to stop for gas.  Probably a little over preparing on that one, but I have no desire to be stranded anywhere, especially in California without gas.

Things I definitely wanted to experience at Joshua Tree:

1. Sunset

2. A little bit of time in the complete darkness with all the stars

3. Do a short hike, but to the top of somewhere for some good views.  I chose the Ryan Mt. hike.

4. Spend a little time off the main road for some solitude

5. See skull rock, jumbo rocks, and cholla cactus gardens

I managed to accomplish all of those goals.

What I learned is that one day if obviously not enough time!  I want to go back for about a week and do a lot of hiking and some rock climbing.  Also, I would like to just spend time in the loneliness and darkness of the nights there.

I can also speak highly of the Joshua Tree Saloon Grill & Bar.  Excellent service, beer,  fantastic burger, and local music (the night I was there anyways).

Slideshow of some of my pictures from the day:

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Whale Watching at Cape Lookout

The fun thing about living in Oregon is when it’s a sunny day in December, you get to ask the question should we spend this sunny day snowshoeing in the mountains or whale watching at the ocean?  We live in Portland so both of those options are only about an hour and a half away.  We are truly blessed here.  On this particular sunny day, we chose whale watching.

I always start out by doing a bit of research on whatever hike we’re going to do, mainly looking for the kid friendliness of it if we’re bringing the bear along, which we did on this day.  What I read about the Cape Lookout hike for the Cape Trail was conflicting on the appropriateness for children.  It was apparently not a lot of elevation gain, but quite muddy and some steep drop offs of cliffs.  That’s not enough to deter us, we could do 5 miles round trip with that.  The bear is very good at holding hands and listening on the trail so I knew we would be able to get by the cliffs without incident and we would just deal with the mud.  So off we drove 1.5 hours to Tillamook.

This hike is fun and quite an adventure!  The first half is easy peasy.  Little up and down, but nothing major and no mud for that day anyways.  But then you hit the half wayish point and you scramble over a few rocks and perhaps your husband will say “well the mud on this trail isn’t actually that bad” and then it begins.  It’s not bad, but it’s challenging for a 5 year old and parents with that 5 year old.  Lots of mud and climbing over many tree roots.  The cliffs weren’t too concerning as we could easily had the bear walk on the inside of the trail and hold our hand.  He knows better than to run along those points and we just reminded him to watch his feet and where he was putting them because we didn’t want to trip at this point.  Overall fun, a little exhausting for little legs, but totally worth it!

And you’re hiking through an old growth forest while getting phenomenal views of the pacific ocean and the gorgeous oregon coast line.  And at the end of it all, you get to see whales assuming it’s the right time of year and a good day for it.  We did see a couple of spouts as the grey whales are migrating south right now.  Next week is supposed to be even better.  We also saw several tiny birds and the bear made friends with every dog on the trail.

Overall I would recommend this hike, even for kids. Just don’t be fooled by the easy first half and keep them close when you get to those cliffs.  Bring extra shoes for sure!  As always I recommend bringing a victory beer.  I like to drink mine at the half way point as it gives me a boost of energy for the return hike.  Also, this hike doesn’t have a lot of elevation gain, but climbing over all the tree roots and through the mud and such make it a little bit more difficult than it might otherwise be.  This is also a busy trail so you will have company for sure, but it wasn’t too overwhelming.

A Fresh Start

Well, I wanted a fresh start on this space, to start all over.  I was trying to figure out how to archive and hide all previous posts and I accidentally deleted them all.  Oh well!  Such is life.  Sometimes when we want a fresh start, we really get a fresh start!

The focus of this space will now be on the many adventures that I find myself on either alone, with friends, or with my family.  As a starter I’m going to share some photos from some of my favorite adventures over the past year or so.  Oh and sometimes food and beer will probably find their way into this space.

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