Thanksgiving Snow

After a few days of food and family over the Thanksgiving weekend Forrest and I headed for the mountains. We headed out for the southern Washington Cascades. Our plan was to head south along the western side of Mt. Adams, perhaps exploring the northeastern side of the mountains if conditions allowed, then returning to the west side and popping out in Trout Lake.

After filling up in Packwood (by the way, I don’t recommend the rest stop just south of town on Highway 12…very very cold stainless steel toilet seats), we headed up towards Wallupt Lake (Johnson Creek Rd aka Rd 21). I was pretty aware this was an ambitious plan but I knew Dad had hunted up in that area in mid-November. Unfortunately, it had rained the day before and the snow was a slushy, slushy mess. We made it to about 3,200 feet before we manged to get stuck in about eight inches of snow. After digging out it was apparent that continuing up that road wasn’t going to be possible. We headed back down towards Randle and tried to go over Road 25…which just happened to be closed. We jumped over to Rd 23 and I wasn’t feeling particularly optimistic about our chances of making it up and over to the other side but making something of what had been a pretty dismal weekend was at the top of my priority list.

We manged to keep chugging up the hill, winching ourselves out once, and eventually we made it to the junction with the road to Takhlakh Lake. There were tracks leading up the road so we figured we could probably make it up to check it out. Once up at the lake, we met up with a group of friends who’d been camping at Takhlakh every Thanksgiving weekend for about ten years. They were very welcoming and we sat around the campfire drinking beer with them before crawling into the Jeep for a good night’s sleep.

The next morning we woke up and Mt. Adams made a lovely appearance over the lake. After some breakfast, we headed out and hoped to continue over the road to Trout Lake. We made it over Babyshoe Pass thanks to the trail broken by our new friends but once we got beyond their help the going was slow. It wasn’t long before we realized that making it over the next pass was not really a possibility so we turned around and headed for Cougar.

Our trip hadn’t turned out quite as well as we liked so we settled for some pretty darn good Chinese food in Camas with Forrest’s mom and headed home.

Originally posted on the blog: Evergreen Rambles.

Lolo Pass & Hood River

We headed north for a weekend to hang out with Jason & Anna up in Hood River (and also to play in the snow and drink some yummy beer!). We stopped briefly in Sandy and had what were some pretty disappointing doughnuts before heading up the area where Jason’s been building some mountain bike trails for IMBA.

We helped out with the trail building for about a half hour or so before setting off on our next adventure–crossing Lolo Pass. The snow was perfect for this adventure! I’d never been snow wheeling before and I had a blast–well, I think seeing the bear tracks was actually my favorite part but it all works. It was a pretty nice day, considering it was November, and Mt. Hood even came out of the clouds for a couple minutes! On our way out towards Hood River we made a brief detour up to Lost Lake it was just us and a couple of snowmobiles and lots and lots of snow.

Back down in Hood River we went to a British style pub that advertised having “hundreds of beers.” Most were beers we’d had in bottles and we settled on an IPA of some sort to share. Then we headed down the Full Sail to have a couple pints–the Vesuvius IPA and Wassail. Vesuvius got a big thumbs down but Wassail was a good as ever.

After that we met up with Jason and Anna at the condo they’re subletting until the purchase of their house is final. After a little bit of relaxation we attempted to go to Double Mountain Brewing for dinner but it was packed so we headed up the hill for some sushi! (Forrest was a good sport all around.) After a lovely dinner we headed back down to Double Mountain for pints (Forrest and I consumed a Fa la la la la and the IRA…alll yummmmmyyyyy).

The next day on our way home we checked out the salmon hatchery and sturgeon viewing area near Bonneville Dam. We also checked out the Oregon side of the Bonneville Dam visitors center. After that we headed to Eagle Creek to finally see all the waterfalls we’d heard about. I got more than a little distracted though by the salmon running upstream. I pretty much stood on the side of the creek in awe, completely oblivious to the smell of rotting fish.

After a bit, we finally decided to get hiking. We didn’t go too far, just the 2.1 miles up to Punchbowl Falls. It was beautiful though and definitely somewhere worth coming back to sometime.

On the way home we learned a couple of things: The North Face does not sell technical climbing equipment or shoes, the Woodburn Outlets have Christmas style traffic at 4pm on a Sunday in November, and that I can lead Forrest right to a place but if I even almost over shoot the destination it doesn’t count.

Originally posted on the blog: Evergreen Rambles.

Waves and Wine

Mom and Aunt Laura made it down to the Valley this weekend for a bit of relaxation. We met up in the morning and headed out to Newport. We had lunch at Bay 839. The tapas were great and it was really fun to hang out and just talk.

After lunch we headed north towards Lincoln City. We took a quick break in Lincoln City to walk on the beach and had wine not been calling my name I would probably have ended up in the water. We headed back inland towards Dallas and started making the rounds of the wineries.

Our first stop was Chateau Bianca. I was rather unimpressed by this stop. The wines were pretty good but the guy who poured the wines was such a boor. The next stop at Firesteed Winery was much more pleasing. I loved ALL of their wines especially the $60 pinot noir…

We made a couple of other stops: Orchard Heights Winery…which just ended up being kind of shabby. We also checked out Cubanisimo Vineyards which was pretty cute and the wines were okay but nothing super special. The afternoon had gone so fast we were all pretty surprised to find that it was getting close to five and most of the wineries would be closing soon. We did manage to get to Bryn Mawr Vineyards before they closed and it was my favorite stop of the day. They only use estate grown grapes…and they only have four acres! The wine was fabulous and I was enchanted by the small garage sized operation.

The day wound up with dinner at Big River in Corvallis with Forrest. My food was really awesome (chantrelle risotto) but Forrest’s pizza wasn’t too great. We did discover the Double Mountain IRA though so the dinner was definitely worth it.

Originally posted on the blog: Evergreen Rambles.

Mt. Theilsen & Crater Lake

We finally found a date to head south and climb Mt. Thielsen! This time we were joined not only by Ezra but by Dan, a friend Forrest made when he worked the HP auction, who was back for another go-round in Oregon.

We had an absolutely beautiful day for a climb. The trail was really well constructed and the hike up the the PCT junction seemed like a breeze! (Dan for one might argue with me a bit on this.) When I got my first good view of the mountain I couldn’t help but notice its similarities to Mt. Crumpet (of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas fame). The scramble up the summit block was so much fun! Forrest scared himself a little bit when he decided to take an alternate (read: poor choice) route up but eventually we all found ourselves standing at 9,182 ft! (9.8 miles round trip, 3782 feet elevation gain)

The view was beautiful. We could see Bachelor, South Sister, Diamond Peak, and Mt. McLaughlin, not to mention Diamond Lake and Mt. Bailey. We headed down the mountain ready to go find a place to camp and grab some dinner.

Finding a place to camp turned out to be a little harder than we’d expected as all the campgrounds on Diamond Lake were closed for the season. We wound up camping on a Forest Service Road that took off for lakes to the north…we were near the much less scenic dumping grounds for Diamond Lake Resort. We found some wood for a fire, cooked dinner, drank a couple of beers and all promptly passed out. I spent most of the night shivering in my pathetic excuse for a sleeping bag (fabulous for light summer hiking and 40 degree nights…not so great for the fall 25 degree ones) but eventually Forrest took pity on me and shared a bit of his amazing old Coleman bag.

The next morning we headed to the Diamond Lake lodge for some coffee. It was fun to sit by the huge old (1920s?) fireplace and talk to the resort workers about the resort and the area but it was soon time to head south to Crater Lake.

I’d never seen the lake and it was pretty amazing. I do have to admit that I was more enamored with the view of the super fun mountain I’d climbed the day before across the lake. We hung out in the lobby of Crater Lake lodge while eating our breakfast of bagels and checked out the display of the lodge’s history. It was a little sad to see how much it would cost to stay and eat at that beautiful place…out of this world expensive! We checked out the small visitors center, took some pictures, and decided against doing the whole rim drive to head out along the Rouge River instead.

This ended up being a fabulous idea! We got to see the pretty falls near the headwaters as well as the place where the river actually runs underground through some lava tubes (Forrest and I stood on top of it!). Just on a whim we stopped to see Mill Creek Falls and instead found ourselves at the Avenue of the Boulders. We all had a blast scrambling around the big rocks to see where we could get ourselves. Eventually we found the falls but they weren’t near as exciting as the boulders had been.

After that we headed back to Corvallis–but what an awesome October weekend!

Originally posted on the blog: Evergreen Rambles.

A Quick Trip to MY Olympics

I always forget that when I post “I’m going to the Olympics!!” on my Facebook page someone invariably assumes that I mean I’m going to the Olympic Games rather than my beloved Olympic Mountains which always makes my excitement seem somewhat silly.

Anyhow, Forrest found a set of wheels he wanted up in Sequim and I was more than happy to accompany him on the drive up there. We left Corvallis on Friday afternoon and made a brief pit stop in Monmouth to pick up Ezra and then headed north. We spent the night with our “motorhome and tent trailer” combo (aka the Cherokee and the trailer Ezra pitched his tent on) on the top of Mt. Walker (elevation 2085′). The view in the morning was fantastic but we had to hurry on to make our purchase.

After buying the tires (it was so nice of the couple to let us leave our trailer there overnight!), we headed up Hurricane Ridge. Ezra’s never been there, Forrest hadn’t been since he was about eight, and I always act like an eight-year-old given that view so it was quite lucky that we’d gotten a beautiful blue sky Olympic day. After a quick lunch and a perusal of the raised relief map of the peninsula in the visitors center (where I got Forrest to admit there’s lots to explore) we headed out Obstruction Point Road.

I’d never been out that way and wow was it pretty. I was a little shocked at the number of cars in the parking lot but once we started down the trail we didn’t see too many people. Our original plan was to hike out along the Deer Park trail for about three or four miles and then simply head back. Our plans changed. For the steeper.

Once we got a glimpse of Grand Valley from Elk Mountain looking over Badger Valley we decided to make a loop of it. This loop wound up being somewhere between 9 1/2 and 10 miles, depending on which source you believe) and had some serious elevation loss and gain–to the tune of 5,000 feet.

Totally wonderful variety and totally worth the sore legs. We got to be above the tree line, in the subalpine meadows, in the high elevation trees (much less undergrowth than lower in the Olympic valleys), mountain streams, and a mountain lake.

After our hike we headed down the mountain and camped at Heart O’ The Hills. We let the ranger talk us into going to his campfire program “Drama In the Dark” (I did successfully volunteer Forrest to read a poem, but he was a good sport). We sat around our own campfire for awhile and then crashed–it’d been a long day!

On our way back to Sequim we went out to Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge and played around on the sand. I was kind of up for the 10 mile hike out to the lighthouse and back but it didn’t sound like Forrest had any interest in that adventure. I did get to play in the water like a little kid. The waves were huge right up on the shore and I got soaked. It was amazing.

After retrieving Forrest’s wheels, we headed down the canal. I finally got to have my Olympic Mountain ice cream again which was INCREDIBLE. I love Hoodsport…I mean, really? Does it get any better? Mountains, salt water, Lake Cushman, ice cream, and oysters? That’s pretty awesome.

The drive home was uneventful (and felt way shorter than the drive up in the dark). Hurray for squeezing in another high country hike before the snow flies!! (The webcam showed a dusting of snow at Hurricane Ridge the following Tuesday morning.)

Originally posted on the blog: Evergreen Rambles.

Wine-ing with Stacia

Stacia came up to visit from California and I did my best to show her a good time here in Oregon while still getting some work done. True to “The Twin’s” form this involved sampling alcohol from the moment she landed at PDX Monday afternoon. We sampled beer at Lucky Labrador Brewing Co. and caught up on life. Back at home we drank some wine (Airlie 7 and Cardwell Hill Cellars pinot gris) and it didn’t take us long to decide that wine tasting was out Tuesday activity.

Stacia insisted that we go to Airlie so she could taste all their wines (she had a minor obsession with 7…a perhaps justified one but an obsession nevertheless). We took the back way through Wren and tried to make a stop at Cardwell Hill but they weren’t open. I decided to stop and check out Fort Hoskins because I was tired of Forrest saying it was dumb and refusing to check it out (he was right). I ended up being glad we went back to Airlie because the owner was there–I think it’s always more fun to talk to the owner than someone they’ve hired to pour wine. Stacia bought two bottles of 7 and promised to beg Trader Joes in LA to stock their wine again.

After that we went to Emerson where I caved and bought a bottle of their estate pinot noir “Avelena.” From there we tried to visit Illahee which was closed and still kind of under construction, then tried to visit Cherry Hill, and one other winery (Dancing Oaks?) that seems to no longer be in operation (which we found out after we drove into someone’s driveway).

We were finally successful with Van Duzer Vinyards. I kind of liked the crazy woman who served us our wine while Stacia hated her. (The $10 tasting fee may have had something to do with that.) The winery itself was a little over the top but their pinot noir was fantastic and it was really fun to taste their port and dessert wine (firsts for both of us). Then we hit up Left Coast Cellars where I was underwhelmed with both the wine and the feel of the place–Stacia loved it.

We probably should have headed back to Philomath at that point but we were having too much fun so we headed up Eola Hills Road and found Bethel Heights Vineyard. They had wonderful wines, the woman who poured for us was awesome, and the tasting room was adorable. Again, we begged off on “just one more” so we wound up the day with a visit to Cristom Vineyards. It was sooo much fun, I love visiting wineries!

(Other wineries I’ve tried in the Valley include Lumos Wine, Pheasant Court Winery, Veridian Wines, and the previously mentioned Cardwell Hill.)

Wednesday we headed up Santiam Pass to do a little hike. It turned into a fun adventure on Forest Service roads with a little 1 mile hike the summit of Jumpoff Joe Mountain. Nothing strenuous (450 feet? elevation gain) but fun anyway. We stopped at Oregon Trail Brewery to buy Forrest a growler of the Wit–it just so happened to be 9/23 and I thought I’d bring him a treat. Forrest, Stacia, and I went put-put golfing after dinner and then came back home and drank some beer for a chill end of the day.

It was a quick visit but it was so so fun!!

Originally posted on the blog: Evergreen Rambles.

Day 8-McCloud, Millitary Pass, and home

We’d decided to head into McCloud for breakfast. My great-uncle, Burt Lakin, is a minor historical celebrity there, he’d been the mill supervisor and died fighting a fire there. We had breakfast at the VFW where they were minorly impressed that I was related to Burt and tried to describe where the memorial was. We weren’t able to find it but had some fun poking around the railyard before getting back on the bike.

Trying to get to Military Pass Road was a bit eventful as we managed to find ourselves pretty deep in silt…we did see some cool old rail stuff though: a wooden snowplow attachment for an engine, some old Pullman cars, and some sweet graffiti of Sasquatch. Military Pass was pretty and definitely a better choice than a stretch of I-5 I’d already traveled.

The drive on the freeway home was really monotonous. We stopped at a Walmart in Yreka to get some Bendryl for my hand that was still swollen from the yellow jacket sting. This turned out to be kind of a bad choice as I was a little drowsy on the back of the bike on the freeway…yikes! We stopped for lunch in Canyonville and then headed for home.

Day 8: ~370 miles(!)

Originally posted on the blog: Evergreen Rambles.

Day 7-Lassen National Park

We got up bright and early and explored around our campsite a little more…we both managed to get stung by yellow jackets on a bridge…so we hit the road.

After a nice coffee break in Greenville we were headed for Lassen Volcanic National Park. After a perhaps misguided summit of Mt. Lassen we abandoned plans to hike Bumpass Hell (something I kind of regret) and headed north out of the park.

After a yummy hamburger in Old Station we made a pit stop at Subway Cave, a lava tube. I wasn’t as impressed with it as I was with the Ape Caves but it was fun all the same. A bit down the road we stopped and stretched at Bridge campground at Hat Creek. Hat Creek was deep and GORGEOUS–I almost went swimming.

We pushed on a little further, trying to see the falls at McArthur-Burney State Park but deciding that the $9 day use fee was a little steep passed by and made a stop at Lake Britton. We headed north a bit more and camped southeast of Bartle.

Day 6: ~153 miles

Originally posted on the blog: Evergreen Rambles.

Day 6-Fairfield to Tahoe and north

We got a late start out of Fairfield after a yummy breakfast and headed east for Placerville. Placerville was kind of a cute town in a kitschy tourist miner way. We didn’t stay long, just stopped at the historical society for a quick leg stretch, got some gas and picked up some bagels.

From there we wound up towards Lake Tahoe. The woods there reminded me a lot of the Nachez Pass area of Washington: lots of pine, very open, pretty river, etc. The granite was something else though–that reminded me of Maine!

Tahoe was pretty but oh wow were there lots of people and giant ugly vacation homes (to be fair there were some cool old ones sprinkled here and there).

We kept heading north on highway 89 and by the time we got to Sierraville I was STARVING. There wasn’t much in the way of food choices and the Mexican food we had wasn’t amazing, was kind of expensive, but definitely hit the spot! We poured over the map at lunch trying to decide where to spend the night and settled on “Snake Lake.” Thankfully Forrest stopped at a motorcycle shop in Quincy to ask about it, turns out it’s a swamp. Oops.

From Quincy we headed north with a six pack of Bud’s American Ale (we’d tasted it in Fairfield…good for the price) and drank it along a creek at a State Park I can’t seem to find online (near the Keddie Wye…crazy railroad grade). We made friends with some people camping there who shared their hamburgers and hot dogs with us (kinda reminded me of camping with Uncle Morgan, Aunt Denise, Ev, and Tay when I was little). Just before dark we excused ourselves from our new friends and headed up a dirt road to camp for the night and enjoyed a bag of Jelly Bellys, identifying each flavor with our handy dandy flavor guide and a head lamp.

Day 6- ~265 miles

Originally posted on the blog: Evergreen Rambles.

Day 5- Menlo Park to Fairfield

Thursday morning we said goodbye to Lucy, loaded our stuff back on the V-Strom and headed for Fairfield. It was a nice short 80 mile ride but plenty California-ness to last me a long time.

We toured the Budweiser brewing facility (at 10 AM!) complete with two (fairly) healthy samples. I was a little disappointed in how much we were shown on the tour but it was interesting anyway. (Can’t wait to compare it to the Coors factory when we pass through Golden, CO someday.) Forrest also indulged me in a tour of the Jelly Belly factory–it’s kind of cool but be prepared for lots and lots of kids and a nice sickly sweet smell everywhere, I’d recommend skipping the tour and just buying Belly Flops (cheap messed up beans).

From there we got some lunch–my first In-And-Out burger!–and then rode to the Hospitality House. Forrest’s friends Sandy and Sue were very welcoming and I was quite impressed with the dinner Sue whipped up for her family, us, and the assorted Air Force guys who seem to consider their house a home-away-from-home (Forrest said he certainly felt this way when he was stationed there). We played some volleyball (so much fun!), got showers, socialized for awhile and crashed.

Day 5: ~80 miles

Originally posted on the blog: Evergreen Rambles.