Sometimes I suck at rest day. For example, today for rest day I hiked 2.5 miles and ran 1 mile, but I did it with leisurely thoughts in mind.
We hiked out to Pool of the Winds out near Hamilton Mountain. I keep meaning to hike Hamilton Mountain.
We brought The Outlaw Josey Wales with us in his new adventure gear. He loves the woods and water as always. We did go a bit off trail adventuring below the falls. Last time I hiked this trail, the water was too high to climb about on the rocks but today the water was low so we had some fun. Then the little bear and I went on a 1 mile run to start training for the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving day. The joys of running with a 6 year old is that at mile .64 he made a request if we could just stop for a minute and do the hokey pokey. Can’t say no to that request! So we did the hokey pokey on the trail. It was pretty legit!
Oh did we have quite the fun Friday and Saturday in Bend. I’ve been over to the Bend area quite a number of times. Last year I was out that way often for climbing at Smith Rock so needless to say despite having been over there often, I haven’t explored much. I didn’t even make it to Smith this time as I’m not really climbing right now for a variety of reasons so no one had to suffer through me trying to figure out how to shoehorn that into the trip, which made for quite a relaxing time.
We left early on Friday because we wanted to camp at Skull Hollow and it’s first come first serve and well, there wasn’t a reason for us to wait around Portland so over the mountain we went. Skull Hollow has turned into one of our favorite camping spots although I will say this time was the least dramatic time we’ve been there and boy was that a nice change! It’s in the high desert and the space is quite open, there’s no light pollution so the stars are amazing, and you always get to hear coyotes at night. We are not light weight campers, we car camp and we bring many of the comforts of home and we don’t apologize for it!
After a quick camp set up we were off! We went over to Crux brewery, which is by far one of my favourite breweries not only for their excellent beer, but also because they have a huge lawn with some lawn games set up and you can bring a blanket or chairs and just chill. They have good food there, but even more importantly is that they have a couple of food trucks and the El Sancho truck makes some of the most legit street tacos ever. The tongue taco is to die for!
Then we were back to the campground for the evening. It was windy. Soooooooo windy! But we managed to batten down the hatches and had no tent blowing away issues, which we were honestly a bit concerned about. As noted before, the stars were amazing, but the wind was cold and the daylight was lengthy so we retired after looking at the stars for just a bit.
Morning found us with quite a conundrum, the gas stove was not working. Luckily we hadn’t used up all our firewood the night before (we nearly did and decided eh, we’ll save a few for a small fire in the morning). So, Eric saved us all and made bacon and eggs over the fire. The bear and I hung out and enjoyed the morning.
Then we were off for the main event of the weekend, which was checking out the Lava River caves in the Newberry Volcanic National Monument. I was pretty excited because my parents got us the National Parks annual pass and I thought I would get to use it earlier this year at Glacier, but it was off season so no need to pay so this was going to be the first use. However, it was the 25th anniversary so it was free. No real complaints, but I just laughed and noted that with all our plans to go to parks this year it would be hilarious if we hit them all on special days and didn’t need to pay at all.
Indie was a bit nervous, as was I, when we first went into the cave, but he warmed up quite quickly. He even was on board for and enjoyed turning out all the lights to be in the total darkness. He noted several times that this was his favorite part of the day.
Then because the boys humor me, we did another unplanned hike along the Deschutes to and it was AMAZING!!! I haven’t spent much time by the Deschutes and this particular section of it was so beautiful!
Eric was not a fan of taking this picture as I’m sitting on the edge over some raging rapids.
Indie was also not pleased with the heights and I picked him up for a picture. This is not him smiling, he’s yelling “AAAAAAHHHHH!”
Then back home over this beautiful mountain we went. The bear got into the car and fell asleep immediately.It was an amazing weekend and we had so much fun. It was then off to Dallas for me today and I don’t get home until July 3. I’m meeting my mom in San Fransisco this weekend for the Grateful Dead show. This means that I won’t see the little bear until the end of July because my mom is traveling up to Portland to pick him up and take him to stay with them for a month. So we had many snuggles this morning before I left. Eric and I are going to enjoy some adventures on our own for the month of July!
Saturday the little bear and I set out on an adventure. Eric was pretty exhausted and honestly after a week of me being gone and traveling, sometimes it’s good for the bear and I to have some time just to ourselves. Luckily I am blessed with a six year old who has an immense appreciate for nature and the outdoors and also has pretty good spirits when setting out on a longish hike (for him). We did 5 miles at the Tom McCall Preserve. 2.5 miles up and 2.5 miles down and a little trail running along the way.
We could not have asked for a more beautiful day in the gorge. The sun was out and warm and there was a bit of a breeze. I have never been to the Tom McCall Preserve or in that general area so it was fun to see a new part of the Gorge. The area of the Tom McCall Preserve is a super cool geological area since it serves as a transition zone between the valley and high desert. Also, it’s wildflower season!
Post hike we grabbed some lunch and spent some time hanging on the river front in Hood River, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite towns in Oregon. We watched sailboats and some folks kite surfing, which I think is now on my list of things to try!
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!
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!
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:
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.