Still Summer

Weekends, if they haven't been filled with backpacking, have been about bikes and rivers and camping all summer long.  This is the first weekend I brought a camera with me while mountain biking, so now there's proof:

I've been hearing a lot of "this summer went by so fast" talk recently and I have to say that summer has felt like a long, wonderful season to me.  Warm weather came early to Portland this year and since it did, we've taken full advantage of our summer evenings and weekends, squeezing every possible good bit out of them.  I'm still looking forward to more of it - Labor Day by no means marks the end of my summer season.


18 Years on the 18th

To celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary last weekend, Barry and I went back to our special spot in Goat Rocks Wilderness.  Like we did three years ago, we made a long weekend of the trip.  This time, though, we hiked out to our campsite destination on day one.  It took us two days to get there on out last visit (and by us I mean me).  It was good to push on to that home base to and be able to spend three full days and two nights exploring the high meadows, waterfalls, streams, and lakes nearby.

It was great to get back to this special place that we've talked about frequently in the years since we first visited - to spend mornings with coffee and books while looking out on impressive glaciers, to dip in Warm Lake, to hike in all directions and be continually amazed by the sights.  And it was awesome to make the trip again with my best friend.  Barry introduced me to backpacking - and several other things in this the wonderful life I live.  I love that I'm living my life with him.


Paradise Park Solo

For my first ever solo backpacking trip, I wanted to go somewhere familiar.  Somewhere that was comfortable enough that the new challenge of being on my own wouldn't feel too daunting.  Somewhere close-ish to home.  Somewhere beautiful.  I know I'd just been there two weeks ago, but Paradise Park seemed like the perfect destination for this weekend's solo adventure.

Making this trip on my own without anyone else leading the way made me realize how frequently I defer to Barry to read maps and find our way when we're backpacking.  Even though I've made this trip several times before, I'd never paid much attention to the turns we'd taken at trail junctions or the distance between landmarks on the hike.  I've been happy to follow Barry's lead and enjoy the views.  I was much more in tune than ever before with the specifics of navigating this hike (this very straightforward hike) which, despite its ease, was still really satisfying.  I plan to take more of a lead in future non-solo trips so I can have a similar experience on other trails.

The hike was as picturesque as ever with clear blue skies, wild flowers in bloom, and idyllic streams flowing with refreshing water.  Once I made it to my destination and set up camp near Split Rock,  I settled in for an evening of reading, map-studying, and lots of photo-taking.  I slept with ease that night, which I'd wondered if I'd be able to do when I decided to strike out on my own.  I was woken around 6am by the footsteps of an early morning hiker.  I watched as the sun started to light up the sky.  I enjoyed a few cups of coffee.  And I read a lot more (I'm rereading All the Pretty Horses and am struck again by how beautiful the book is).  A few hours later, I made the hike out on trails that now feel more familiar than ever.


Paradise Park with Friends

To make full use of a day off of work for the Forth of July, we went on our second backpacking trip this week.  We hustled out to Mt. Hood after work on Wednesday and met up with friends at Timberline Lodge.  Packs on our backs, we started out on the Timberline Trail at 10pm with the destination of Paradise Park in mind.  I've done this hike plenty of times, but never in the dark.  It was a different experience to be focused solely on my headlamp's spot of illumination in front of me, surrounded otherwise by blackness, instead of the vast scenes that usually capture my interest while hiking.  The hike flew by - conversation with a group definitely helped - and we set up camp on a ridge with a great view of the peak of Hood.  We had quite a star show before heading to bed around 3am - later than I've been up in years.  Barry and I started the morning with a short hike to a lookout over the clouds that had settled in over night.  After a few cups of coffee, we hiked back and hung out with our friends at the site.  We had a nice, long, lazy day (at least I did - Barry went for a run while I took a nap) before saying goodbye to our friends and heading back home in order to make it back for work on the 5th.  I loved seeing the familiar trail in the light of a beautiful day.