I want to go here

Well, I do, for obvious reasons, and don't, for pain-in-the-ass permit reasons.

With so many people talking about the Enchantments lately, I thought I would give this person's amazing video some major props.

Washington Enchantments from Glidecam TV on Vimeo.



An impromptu PTO day saw us arriving to sun on the Oregon coast, leaving the clouds behind in Portland. A rare phenomenon. We had originally packed for a hike, but the lure of tiny towns, hidden cafes, beachfront wanders and kite flying proved to be too much; the hike got squashed and, instead, we spent joyous hours ducking in and out of places we haven't visited in far too long. It was a day spent wandering among sea stacks and tide pools, a landscape of colored sand between our toes. Sometimes, the best days are the unplanned ones.

Andy found clam chowder

Kiwanda, one of my favorite places on the coast

(I bet you can sea kayak in there)

little details

Three Rocks (Oceanside)

Netarts Spit from Cape Lookout

gorgeous Netarts bay

Green Trails

Allison, heading towards Saddle Mountain's cloudy summit

Oregon Coast Range, Oregon
~6.1 miles, ~1630 feet elevation gain

Everything is so green. I haven't been hiking since March. Time for the pony to keep up with the thoroughbred. [GRIN].

The color of spring in the Coast Range

Allison is actually a great hiking partner. Although she has a ground-eating stride capable of leaving me in the dust, she possesses a chill, flexible personality that makes for a good trail buddy. Her amazingly cute little side kick (insert Oscar, trail wonder dog here) doesn't hurt either. She also happens to be a wealth of trail, wildflower and edibles information. On this particular day, heading up the Saddle Mountain trail in a thick cloud, I actually wasn't too far behind her thanks to the plethora of tiny wildflower details and plant details dotting the mossy, exposed ridges of the peak and the occasional, but well-placed, salmonberry. 

I won't go into too much detail about the trail since there is more than enough info written about Saddle Mountain. At 3,287' it's the tallest peak in the Oregon Coast range. Some rare species of flora call it home. Depending on what guide book you consult, the trail is between 4 and 6ish miles with a steep, final grind on exposed slopes to the finish (my legs are going with Douglas Lorain's mileage estimation). I haven't hiked Saddle Mountain in years, and the trail has been extensively rehabbed since I was last there, which makes for (somewhat) better traction. Shrouded in cloud, busting out in all colors of mossy green, it made me feel like I should have been running around like a Braveheart extra. A good day.

the car is waaaaay down there

Wind River/Columbia Gorge Recreation Area, Washington
~6.3 miles, ~1150 feet elevation gain

first beargrass of the season

I've never been to Falls Creek Falls. I've heard of it, just never been, and I couldn't tell you why. Maybe because it's exactly the kind of hike I suspected it would be, and most days, I'm just not interested in putting up with the sea of humanity that tends to flock towards easy waterfall hikes.  

All that said, it is a phenomenally beautiful waterfall.  

Where me and everyone else ended up on Saturday

Andy and I arrived to a trailhead with at least thirty cars in the lot on a warm, bluebird, Saturday morning. We had taken our time lazing about and as such, arrived at peak hiking hour.

That said, Andy and I found some surprising solitude by completing the loop clockwise and getting the least scenic part of the (optional) loop out of the way first. I'm betting most people do this trail as an out-and-back, which makes sense since the trail actually leading directly to the falls is hella more beautiful than the forested ridge walk we took in. 

I suspect Falls Creek Falls is a great winter/early season trail or one to start really early or really late (if you want to avoid crowds). It's a great hike for out-of-towners, kids, or people who need a short, easily accessible, really grandiose waterfall without much mileage or elevation gain. For myself, I think it's a winter stomping ground kinda place. 

Trying New Things

Lake River-Columbia River-Lewis River

It's like I turned around and suddenly, out of nowhere, it's June. My life has been one in constant transition over the last six months: adjusting to a new schedule and finding my own inner balance with a new career that is as rewarding as it is demanding. I was just getting my feet under me at my previous job when an opportunity arose that I simply couldn't say no to. I realized the other day that between graduating school, passing my boards and having two jobs in five months, I have been in absolute flux, seemingly in a permanent orientation/adjustment mode, and my sleep and work schedule has been all over the board. I've been more than just a little outside of my comfort zone and wholly focused on work in way I have never been before. Which explains a little of why I've woefully neglected my trail (aka *me*) time.

Although I haven't been hiking since March (god, I cringe to write that), Andy and I have still been trying some new stuff...or, in other words, getting mildly obsessed with kayaking. It's an exploration of our world from a different view that we have been wanting to try for years, so with a little more time on our hands, we've been trying it out. We took a basic skills class from Alder Creek a couple of years ago, but decided to retake it recently with some good friends who are also interesting in seeing the world from a waterway perspective. All in all it was great fun, especially watching me try to Superman solo self-rescue myself back into the boat while the entire class got to look on (solo kayak rescue= not graceful). We've signed up for a three day, full immersion class in July, and will do some renting and social paddles in between. Boats are on the brain. For two self-confessed gear junkies, it's a bad thing to open up an entirely new sport of gear we don't have; I have a feeling the next couple of months are going to be mental gymnastics in self restraint.

We recently took out some boats for a day at the RidgefieldWildlife Refuge, a large area of creeks, lakes and interconnected sloughs north of Portland, off the Columbia River. We traveled up the Lake River near Bachelor Island, explored a wee, downfall-ridden creek, bobbed around like corks in the choppy Columbia and wandered a short ways up the Lewis River. Ospreys lined the waterways in abundance, nests perched high on towering deadfall and the ruins of old pilings. We watched a bald eagle defend its tree from other birds, aerial acrobatics like a fighter jet over the Columbia, winging back low over the water and directly overhead, eyeballing us with a superiority only predatory birds are capable of exhibiting. Fish popped out in front of us, either hunting insects or in surprise of our boats following their trajectory.

It's interesting learning a new activity again...I very much so know what I like with hiking, how to plan trips and looking at trails. But I forget how the first couple of hikes/trips/backpacks were almost complete disasters and that it took time to build to the *skill* (if you can call it that) level I'm at now. Andy and I are just beginning to explore the local paddling community, and we have no idea where to go or what we really like yet. Like snowshoeing, feeling like a bit of newb. However, once again, Portland offers a wealth of opportunity for exploration in the local area- this is Bridgetown (aka rivers everywhere) after all. I love where I live. 

this handicap spot has a Fred Flintstone thing going on :)

P&H makes lovely boats (Lake River and Bachelor Island)

where the Lake River meets the Columbia, Warrior Rock Light (Sauvie Island) a half-mile across the water


the path is thwarted by downfall

self-portraits in a kayak are tough to angle correctly