Category Archives: Hiking with dogs

Chasing Snow, Finding Fog

dsc01105Having lived in the mountains for years, I am accustomed to dealing with cold, rain, and snow.  That said, as a city dweller now, I play it cautious because I’ve learned not to trust other drivers. When the Portland area got its first snow freakout warning of the season, however, I decided it would be a nice opportunity to take a hike in different conditions.  Luckily, the roads were simply wet on the way to Marquam Nature Park.   Good start.

I left my vehicle in one of numerous pullouts along Terwilliger Boulevard and headed up the muddy Marquam Trail.  I had no particular place to go, I just wanted to gain elevation and hopefully see a little snow.  Ultimately, I created a loop with the Flicker and Towhee Trails.  My route trended upward for a while, and then flattened out in a quiet forest.  I topped out at less than 800 feet above sea level.  There were dustings of snow here and there, and I did see a few flakes falling.  The slick mud underfoot affected me more than any white stuff.

 

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A moody look up this steep foggy hillside

 

While Marquam is not a well known as its big brother to the north, Forest Park, it is also sizable and a fine choice for any Portland area hiker or jogger in need of a few trail miles, even when a touch of snow is in the forecast. Happy trails.

Forest Green River Scene

Amid a lot of literal and figurative cloudy weather, I found the perfect golden window other day for a walk.  Nothing like leg stretching and photography experiments in the sun to make me feel better about the world. Okay, a mountain top would beat it, but hey.   Rocks, moss, leaves, a passing seaplane, wings of a dove, er, seagull, and my boy Jackie Chan.   Seeing him cut loose on a beach would prompt a smile from the biggest curmudgeon.  All is right with the world. Well, mostly.

Willamette Shoreline Stroll

sse5In the middle of a stretch of long days at work, it was nice to take a riverside walk with Denise and Jackie Chan the other day.   It was another chance to play with my new camera as well.  The weather was terrific, and we lucked out seeing a great blue heron as well as other waterbirds.   The water level has risen with autumn rains, and the Willamette’s shore is very rocky, so we had to pick our path with care.  We didn’t go far, but a short trip in nature is always a good thing. Happy trails.

 

 

 

Gray Green Beautiful Scene

Alaska is large.  Who knew?  It felt like it was going to take a looong time to get from Talkeetna to Whittier, where we would go on the half day glacier cruise the next day.  And so it did, but we saw some cool stuff along the way.  We took a detour up Hatcher Pass, which is known for some historic mining buildings.  It turned out to be a long detour–a long, beautiful detour with territory ripe for exploration. We didn’t exactly hike a lot, but the potential is off the charts, especially as we gained elevation. Such gorgeous, open country.  I kept wanting to make comparisons to other places, but they fall short.  Alaska is its own world.

The mountains and valleys we saw on that detour are but a mere wrinkle in the landscape of Alaska.  And there’s more.  Lots more.  The weather wasn’t great, so we didn’t stop much more until we passed Anchorage.  Once we were driving along the water, we started looking for whales, specifically Belugas.  No luck. That’s okay. It was still a cool part of the Alaska experience.  More to come.

 

Just Another Manic Sunday

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Cool, clear, classic Clackamas River

 

Dawn broke clear and cool over the upper Clackamas River drainage after an impromptu camping trip amid the teeming hordes escaping the metro area.  Every campground was full for miles.  So it goes.  It was a great morning to look at clear water, tall trees, and mossy rocks.  Then there was the low waterline at Detroit Lake, living the late summer reservoir life of stumps and marinas in the mud.  We did a lot of walking, although we didn’t end up taking a serious hike.  We simple went with the flow, something at which I do not always excel.  We found gorgeous spots of placid river, and soaked up views from the dam at the foot of Detroit Lake. Ten to fifteen fishermen cast their lines right off the top of the dam.  Some of them were even successful.  Pretty cool.

Once we got out of the foothills, we had a decision to make.  We could go to a popular hiking area like Silver Falls or Opal Creek, but we opted instead to do something a bit more unique, based on the classic on-the-fly smart phone search.  Onward to Willamette Mission State Park!  It was there that Jason Lee established a Methodist mission in 1834, two decades before Oregon was even a state, and survival had to come before any conversion of Native Americans.  The part comprises almost 900 acres of river, lakes, orchards, and open fields. It’s just over an hour from home, yet I’d never visited.  Time to change that.

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The edge of Goose Lake

 

Once in the park, we walked the short trail to the of Goose Lake, then drove to the viewing spot of the nation’s largest Black Cottonwood, which is not incredibly tall in comparison to redwoods or Douglas firs, but boy, that trunk is massive!

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Denise soaking up the wisdom of the tree

 

One of the cool things the park does is create what they term a ghost structure, which duplicates the basic shape of the original mission buildings.  The structure was built close to the riverbank,  and mosquitoes were a big problem, along with malaria.   Not such a great spot, as it turns out.  The mission moved to Chemeketa, now known as Salem, in 1840.  Ironically, an 1861 flood ravaged the area, and the main river channel moved further west.  The water below the ghost structure is now a landlocked lake most of the year.

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The ghost structures

The trails were pretty, and dotted with nut trees and apple trees.  There were many walnut trees, and a lot of a few other species, which probably included filbert trees.   A few deer darted through the area, perhaps looking to nosh on some apples.

 

Once we left the orchard area, we discovered a path to the Willamette River itself, on a quiet rocky beach with calm water that instantly make me think of Huckleberry Finn.  I skipped a few rocks, which Jackie wanted to chase.  Sorry, not a ball, buddy.

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I swear Huck left his raft here somewhere

 

It was a lovely spot, and the temperature was perfect.  Just visible downstream was the Wheatland Ferry.  It seemed such an quaint anachronism that we had to take it.Such happenstance led us to Dayton, a cute little town which was apparently founded by Joel Palmer, part of the Barlow Road entrepreneurial team and namesake of the Palmer snowfield and chairlift at famed Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood.  We also chowed on great burgers at the Block House Café.  Then came the Sunday afternoon traffic issues, part of which was caused by a pair of tractors on the highway, which seemed humorous yet fitting in Oregon’s wine country, and a fitting capstone for the day.

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Rather pretty if I do say so.  Note the cabin on the far left.

Cobbling Together an Adventure

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Looking towards Whiteface Mountain and Wilmington Notch

The view is easily worth the effort expended on the short hike and scramble to reach the top of Cobble Hill, especially when considering the trail’s proximity to town.  The Adirondacks can be like that.  My wife and I set out for a small adventure last week as our vacation was winding down.  A big peak did not seem in the offing, but we found another small hike to a great view, this time near the tourist town of Lake Placid.

 

The beginning of the hike meanders through flat deciduous forest, but soon starts climbing.  There is even a signed warning that the way is steep.  We continued. At one point the route crosses rock steep enough that someone has placed a rope for a handline.  I was slightly surprised to see one guy pass us wearing only Crocs on his feet.  Said path continues across patches of open rock and ledges.  We had to use our hands in a few spots, but the grade tapers off before the summit.  Like our last hike at Flume Knob, Cobble Hill offers broad views in a few directions.  There are great views to the south and east, but I was slightly disappointed that we didn’t catch glimpses of Mirror Lake and Lake Placid.

An alternate route takes a longer, mellower route down, one that actually has switchbacks.  The way is peaceful and the grade is easier.  We passed through some gorgeous birch forest and skirted the edge of the lovely Echo Lake.  Other than that, the descent was uneventful, but this is a worthy hike if you have limited time.

I did no other significant hikes while I was back east, but it was great to be there, visiting family and enjoying an entirely different environment.  The Adirondacks are a long way from Oregon, but visiting them is always a pleasure.

Gorge’s Greatest Hits: The Oregon Side

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It was a long week at work and I was exhausted, so I was slow moving yesterday morning.  In the afternoon, however, D. and I headed out for a Gorge exploration in my new vehicle.  We ended up hitting on a Gorge tick list of sorts, starting with the short hike to Bridalveil Falls, and ending in Hood River for a pint on a patio.  We had our son’s new dog, which kept things interesting but fun.  There were lots of clouds on the west end of the gorge, and we walked in the rain a bit at Bridalveil Falls, but we saw sunshine as we neared Hood River.  At Starvation Creek Falls and Mitchell Point it seemed especially bright.  It was a good afternoon and evening, reminding me how much I have to be thankful for.  I am a lucky man, indeed.

 

Cannon Beach in the Springtime

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Looking south from Tolovana Beach

On any weekend with good weather, Cannon Beach tends to be swarmed by tourists, yet the area scenery is always peaceful and soothing.  The ocean itself feels like an endless well of calm and inspiration.  I enjoy staring at the shifting swells and breaking waves, the combination of scenery and the audible whish and splash of waves and the calls of seabirds making a truly unique spectacle.  Westward lies a range of possibilities.  Back in reality, I wanted to take a few modest walks right there, on the sand and in the forest.   The weather even cooperated surprising for the Oregon Coast in early spring.

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Calling Thailand, are you out there?

We rented a cottage near the beach and a quick walk showed an awesome sunset on display.  Inhale that marine air!   The next day, after hanging out with family for a few hours, I wanted to find a nearby hike and avoid repeating earlier endeavors.  Once again, the internet was my friend. A quick search found a state park I didn’t know.

 

Multiple sites refer to Haystack Hill State Park, but I find no mention of it on the Oregon State Parks web page.  Regardless, Haystack Hill is located roughly midway through Cannon Beach, climbing to a highpoint I’d previously missed.  The acreage was supposedly donated to the state for preservation, and there has been no development beyond an unsigned trail which climbs the quarter mile to the top of the hill, then splits in a couple directions. I found a few unique views looking down on famous Haystack Rock. I also enjoyed some awesome trees and lush ground cover.  What a great find.

Bend Trip Part One

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A place to walk, fish, kayak, or simply relax.

Years ago, I spent two stints in Bend, Oregon.  Although the town has changed a lot, the region holds a place in my heart, from Smith Rock State Park to the Deschutes River and to the Three Sisters Wilderness and Mount Bachelor.  So it was great to visit there last weekend, taking a few hikes, visiting family, and relaxing.  I had one fantastic hike at Smith Rock, and that night took a spontaneous night hike with my nephew, scaling Pilot Butte to see the lights of the small city.  There’s so much I could include!  For now, I will touch on the walks we took along the Deschutes River north of town.

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Access to the river trail is easy, and the walking is pleasing if not challenging.  It’s perfect for runners, and I notice a few bike tracks, too.  The landscape is dotted with sagebrush, junipers, ponderosa pines, and lots of rock. I found a few basaltic crags worthy of scrambling, and I have no doubt that there is much more to explore nearby.  This is still a magical area.

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Denise and Jackie Chan from atop a tiny crag

Man’s Best Friend and a Murder of Crows

Today I had to get out of the house, and I was lucky enough to hike with Jackie Chan.  We visited Elk Rock Island, as I had the other day, but the weather was very different.  It was dry but gray and cool. I found a new spot to scramble on mossy rocks that’s out of the way.  Jackie was pretty excited about a sandy spot among the rocks, but he was content sniffing everything in the woods, too, including some very cool small ferns.  Unfortunately, his mere presence seemed to spook some crows as I was trying to get a better shot of a large group of them.  Does any reader know why it’s called a murder of crows?  Enjoy the photos.

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