A new theme in our lives: water.

Sometimes it's the coast, one of the places dearest to my husband's heart. He's a coastal boy. I'm a mountain girl. Compromise, compromise, compromise.

After 60+ hour weeks at work, it was time for a break.

The weather didn't exactly cooperate; then again, on the Oregon Coast, it rarely does. We did very little- ate fudge, crashed (and broke) one kite, watched waves, discovered new little coves.

Washing the work week away

Fogarty Creek State Park

saying hello to the camera

And we definitely, definitely have a beach dog. {GRIN}

stalking sea gulls & starfish

On another day, when May felt more like June, we tried our hand at the East Fork of the Lewis River. The lower reaches, near La Center, Washington where we put in, are still influenced by tides off the Columbia. Verdant, flat, easy paddling.

the lower reaches of the East Fork are placid & calm

Several miles upstream, it all changes. 

beaching the boats when the current became too swift

This trip was something of a recon mission. Like the early days of hiking and backpacking, we don't really know where to go. We're discovering all sorts of hidden fees- the confusing morass of private/public launch sites, and the fun of slogging through red tape and regulations. We're deciphering trip reports and conservative guidebooks to try to understand what is within our comfort zone. We're learning about current, water levels, tides, interpreting new charts, learning new trail etiquette. If there is one thing that is true about water, it's that conditions are variable.

The upper miles of the East Fork are shallow, swift and contain fun little rapids. Not whitewater material, just fun riffles with quick decision making and channel hopping required. Several miles upstream from our launch site, we literally turned a corner and the character of the river changed- swift, icy, shallow. We beached the kayaks and explored a little, only to decide we must work out some sort of shuttle system. This river is impossible to cover as an out and back, and the upper reaches look hella fun.

Must. Go. Back. 

Andy & kayaks: East Fork of the Lewis River

upstream from our beach


Silver Star summit pano- the mountains are hiding today
Hardy Ridge & Phlox Point

May has been a good month. Portland and the surrounding area are suddenly exploding with it's-almost-summer! sentiment: warmer days, longer daylight, and a recently doubled population as every human and dog in the metro area is outside taking advantage of the glorious weather. In the Cascades the high country is beginning to melt out, and I'm finding myself stir crazy for alpine trails not yet accessible. In my lust for new found trails, I've gotten a little off course sometimes during my explorations, but always in good company and good spirits.

Silver Star was one of those "oops" moments: I managed to turn around both myself and my hiking companions one day by unintentionally hiking the Larch Mountain trail instead. In my defense, there's nothing even remotely approaching signage, and the Yacolt Burn Area is a confusing tangle of old jeep roads. Having never tackled Silver Star from the Grouse Vista TH (both hikes start from the same trailhead), it's kinda easy to see how I might get confused {<= well, no, not really, especially if I had actually *read* the trail description. Oh well. Win some, lose some}.

It was not a memorable hike, but the day was redeemed by the lure of Happy Hour and hamburgers back in Portland and an impromptu layover hike in Lacamas Park. I'm not the biggest fan of city hiking, but as Marut (my one time park ranger turned amazing nurse friend) pointed out, city parks allow us easy access to nature and hiking that might not otherwise be there for some people. Touche.

And Lacamas is actually really charming. I could see it becoming a nice winter stomping ground.

sun-filtered trees in Lacamas Park

Later that week I re-tackled Silver Star from the Grouse Vista TH. I can see why it is reviewed as the least scenic approach to the area; that said, it is also only 35 road miles from my house which is akin to a quick Gorge hike. Huzzah.

And the flowers...they are trying really, really hard to make a comeback after winter hibernation. In another month, the entire area is going to be a color explosion. 

pink trilliums along the trail

avalanche lily

wild iris :)

Didn't feel warm at the summit though. 

What May looks like at 4400 feet

Iron Pug the sequel

In the using-our-arms-instead-of-feet category of transportation, Andy and I are continuing to take the kayaks out for short spins, testing our water wings. We've been sticking close to home mostly because we're still getting ourselves outfitted to a) drive the boats longer distances and b) participate in potentially hypothermic water conditions.

the day started out cool and cloudy, finished warm & sunny. Welcome to the PNW

the winter hat came off later, I swear

Elk Rock Island landing

like I said, one of us always screws up the picture

Lake Oswego in the distance from Elk Rock Island


On the kind of day made for sunscreen, J.B. and I hauled the dogs up Hardy Ridge & Phlox Point, a Gorge "summit" a stone's throw away from my good ol' friend Hamilton

Phlox Point is really...phloxy.

Hamilton Mountain looks tiny from Hardy Ridge


Table Mountain from Hardy Ridge

more phloxy-ness

A promising start to the summer. I *might* even get a slight tan this year. 

All smiles on Hardy Ridge

Big Rocks

Central Oregon: where "Oregon doesn't look like Oregon."

Walking on The Peninsula, Tam-a-lau trail

But still so awe-some.

In Bend for a conference...what better way to break up the both the drive and post-conference stagnation than with local hikes I haven't done before?

Cove Palisades State Park, Oregon
~7 miles, ~600 feet elevation gain

80 degrees at 3:30 pm. I feel like a weeny. This is literally the hottest day in nine months for me. Although the trail wasn't "the experience of a lifetime for me" (big words Oregon State Parks), it was calm. Only windsong, birdsong, some lizards, and big sky to keep me company. Time to settle into myself, reground, just walk.

The Crooked River arm of Lake Billy Chinook

Balsamroot flower = signs of spring

looking out at The Island and the Descutes arm of Lake Billy Chinook

Central Oregon, you are photogenic

Smith Rock State Park, Oregon

It's been years since I have been here. Literally, the age before digital (wow, I have been living in Oregon long enough to actually say that). Smith Rock is inspiring. It's Bend's version of Forest Park. Only with crazy rock climbers and bombtastic sunsets. 

Conference food settling in my belly didn't inspire me to try my hand at the Misery Ridge trail, but it was still a great way to spend the evening with a coworker.

I have no complaints.

Smith Rock State Park & the Crooked River