Updates (Year in Review)

Hah! Turns out I'm not very good at continuing in the theme of catching up. And somehow, the last year just, well, disappeared. Not that I haven't been doing *stuff*, I just haven't somehow gotten back to cataloguing it. Looks like a year behind a desk/computer will do that to me.

2017 'twas good. Yeah, I'm old (yay 40!) but life is good. I have a kick-ass job (learning tons, fantastic coworkers), have caught up with some old friends, acquired some new hobbies, love my adorable husband, and have plenty on the agenda still to do. Just...haven't been sitting down much. But I love keeping family and friends up to date, so here goes nothing. {GRIN} 

Andy, trying his hand at fly fishing (Wilson River)

Because...this guy

We had a hellishly cold and wet winter last year (so far, this year is MUCH MUCH better. Hal-leh-lu-yah). In retrospect though, it makes me sad as I love hiking the gorge in the snow and rain and wind. (This year, most trails on the Oregon side are closed, thanks to the horrifying Eagle Creek fire....)

Dry Creek falls, one of my favorites for cold weather wanderings. Impossible, yet, to know if it still exists

frozen hairs

Splitting time between deserts and the coast and waterfalls, hunting up decent weather days between the deluge, looking for sun...

Sunny northern coast and shipwrecks

Deschutes River Trail...can you find the wandering collie?

Lots of local wanderings, rediscovering places close by. More rain. Mud. Dogs. Dory continues to ever-so-slowly settle in.  

winter shores of the Columbia River and Sandy River delta
Mud. So much mud.

She's a cutie but a weirdo

Finding new places (for us, at least) on the coast. And one of my last hikes on the Oregon side of the gorge, my beloved Wahkeena/Devils/Angels Rest loop, likely destroyed now. 

Evening light, Drift Creek Falls

Drift Creek falls

I love the slumbering forests of the gorge (Wahkeena trail)

trillium blooms

An early heat wave starts and the pug craps out on a hike.

My mom visits for her 70th birthday. <3. Wineries, the gorge, long drives, Helens.

Helens, Johnston Ridge. My mom couldn't get enough

Loowit trail. Negotiating snow boulders isn't always fun

puppy snowcones

Even the mountains are hot. Lupine like I have never seen. Introducing a good friend to the joys of huckleberries.

LUPINE. Tilly Jane trail

Elk Cove

Fireweed galore. Recovery in old burn zones

dropping into a summertime Heather Canyon

J.B. is the best-est

One word. ECLIPSE. 

The coast wasn't insane like Central Oregon....still entertaining on the 101 though

I love my husband. September is always a good month. Twenty-freaking-years.

Two words: NORTH CASCADES. (Finally....OMGOMGOMG). Hunting larch. 

Heather-Maple Pass loop

Glorious larch at a freezing 6800'


(Saw my first bear on trail here!)

Sleepy, shorter days, racing sunlight. The world is starting to wind down.

Ice storms (again) and a perfect, solstice hike.

Trail buddies play catch up on everything else....

From Huckleberries to Lighthouses: off leash wanderings

Warrior Rock lighthouse
It’s no secret that our newest little monster, Dory, has been both a delight and a challenge. Trying to keep up with a smart dog, it turns out, is a full time job.

Over the last year, I’ve been missing hiking, outdoor time in general, and spending more time with my husband, friends and animals. Turns out, I’m abysmal at the 8-5 grind. I’ve spent the last two weeks mostly Portland-bound due to weather (hello, ice storms?!), just unwinding and resettling as I transition to a new job in the near future.  

Turns out, sometimes unexpected weather is a blessing. Since I haven’t been able to get to the Gorge, I’ve been exploring little places close to Portland, places in all the time I’ve lived here I have somehow overlooked. Close to home stuff translates to some nice local hikes in Powell Butte (complete with coyotes and deer in the snow), Thousand Acres and our local biking paths. 

Most recently, I took some time on a drizzly Friday afternoon to explore Warrior Rock on Sauvie Island

first view of Warrior Rock, flood tide and rain
It isn’t a fancy hike, especially on a soggy, cold, viewless day, but honestly there is something about walking in the woods that is always therapeutic for me, especially when I am alone. I love being able to set my own pace, to be alone in my thoughts, to just wander and be. And dogs bridge that little gap somewhere between loneliness and human companionship. 

This was one of those walks where the exercise was good- a little over seven miles in 2.5 hours (gotta keep warm in the rain somehow!) and Warrior Rock was totally charming. One of those little oddities that you don’t think exists.  It also was a nice reminder of how far our little Dory had come in her training. 

Even in the rain, Portland manages to be charming

In the theme of catching up:

Our first summer backpack (one of only two this year, sob) was a strict reminder to me not to be too casual with a new dog. It takes time to dial them in.

Pepper, while a monster in many ways when we first got her, never had to be trained on recall. She parks herself behind your right foot and hikes that way. Itty bitty Velcro monster. I don’t know how, as I never taught her this, it’s just where she ended up. I’ve had friends take her on hikes and freak that they have lost her, only to find she’s hanging out just out of eyesight by their right ankle. She’s always been a funny little mongrel. 

Pepper is HOT if she is deigning to flop in the mud

She also learned to SWIM this summer (shock, surprise, wonders-never-cease, world-is-ending kind of stuff):

Apparently she will do ANYTHING, even swim, for cheese

Shenzi and Dory, crack-heading out in different ways at Thousand Acres

Yobo, also never had to be trained on recall. Maybe pug and pug-mixes are just pure Velcro.

Rocky was a train-wreck most of his life in most ways, but on trail was a super dog. Although horrifyingly dog aggressive (yeah, I have fun stories with that), I could put him in a “Stay” off trail, and he wouldn’t break it so long as someone didn’t get right up in his face.

Dory, on the other hand, has explorer tendencies.

On our first backpack she seemed so….good (initially) leash, until camp. Then BAM! “That other side of the lake looks really interesting, thanks for bringing me, have a nice time setting up camp, see ya!” Which leaves a very aggravated me, hoofing around a lakeside through fields of huckleberries and deadfall, hunting for my wandering Border collie mix.

Somehow, in the morning, I thought things would be different. Nope. Cue me, coffee in hand, trying to find Dory again. 

Serenity before the "Finding Dory" morning coffee incident

Lucky for us, on trail, she is decent. However, due to a wandering eye and intense prey drive, we have a long way to go before she gets dialed in to our standards. I despise little as much as poor dog ownership/stewardship/manners on the trail (or in general really); turns out, at Olallie, I was that person. {sigh}

Andy and Pepper both watching to see what she does now

On a funny note, about smart dogs: while tethered in camp, Dory was watching me pick huckleberries (loads of them, nom, nom, nom) and taught herself how to pull them off the bushes and eat them, like some kind of dog-bear. It was endlessly entertaining to watch and almost redeemed the wandering fiasco incident. 

OMG, happy place

Regarding the Olallie lake area- it was a perfect, low-key, reintroduction to backpacking for the (sadly) two weekend warriors that Andy and I were becoming at the time. Hours at the desk had taken over, and we both really needed the outdoor time. The plateau surrounding Olallie Lake is probably at its best in the fall- an explosion of color and blue sky and huckleberries- as it is largely viewless, heavy on forests and meadows and tiny, alpine lakes. Reminiscent, in many ways, of Indian Heaven. As a lover of the high alpine, these areas are more mood based for me than places I actively seek out, especially in the height of summer. Somehow, though, I fell in love with this area and would love to go back for future backpacks. 

Red Lake from camp
Fast forward five months, and we have major improvement. Albeit, it’s taken tons of training to get her here, from multiple classes at the Humane Society, private training and active, daily work/reinforcement on Andy and I’s part…however, I was able to hike mostly off leash with Dory across seven miles. I can actively call her off birds and possums and nutria and other dogs. I can recall her and keep her at my side or within six feet of me. Squirrels are another matter we are continuing to work on and, I suspect, may never fully proof. I will never trust her with cats.

That said, we adore her. Here’s to many hikes in 2017. Big and small. 
Taking in the view at Top Lake