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.



Pinnacle Ridge to Elk Cove

Barry and I hiked up Pinnacle Ridge on the north side of Mount Hood this weekend.  The trail is in bad need of maintenance with downed trees crisscrossing it, bushes growing over it, and many stretches where the trail completely disappears for under debris for a bit.  We lost the trail a few times and had to backtrack to get ourselves going in the right direction again.  The hike, though, was lovely - lots of flowers, stark scenes of trees burned in the Dollar Lake fire, and views of nearby peaks.  When we got to Timberline Trail, we headed east and set up camp at Elk Cove.  Our campsite was perfect.  I read, I napped, I read some more.  We watched clouds hover over Mount Hood and settled in for a good night's sleep.

We decided that we didn't want to go back the way we'd come because the trail had been so challenging to pick through the day before, so we descended by way of the Elk Cove trail.  We were treated to stunning views of Hood and scents of amazingly fragrant wildflowers... and a two mile road hike back to the car at the trailhead where we'd started.


It Had Been Too Long, Cleveland

It had been two years since Barry and I had been to Cleveland to see my side of the family.  We went back to celebrate the high school graduation of my smart, sweet, funny nephew.  My sister and her husband threw a great party, as they always do.  The weather was gorgeous.  We hung out on Lake Erie.  We stopped at a brewery we've enjoyed in the past.  And we spent lots of good time with my parents, who I miss so much when too much time passed between visits.


Mount St. Helens and the Plains of Abraham, Again

A trip up to the Plains of Abraham on Mount St. Helen's is becoming an not-quite-but-almost annual event for us.  We headed up there again last weekend.  It's a nice hike on a bike-friendly trail (I'm not confident I can swing that approach yet, but curious to try it someday) and the views at the top are gorgeous.  We woke up to the mountain being socked in with dense clouds below us.  I love a morning on a mountain.  And a night.  And a day.


Old Dog New Tricks Exhibit F: Bike Packing

I bike a bit, I backpack a bit, but I've never done both at the same time.  That is, not until this weekend.  Barry and I headed to the Oregon coast so he could introduce me to bike packing.  We've talked about riding from Portland to the coast one day, and this was a very little taste test to see if it's something I might really be up for.

We drove our bikes out to Tillamook (yes, drove our bikes - remember this was meant to be a very little taste test), had a take-out lunch with fantastic beer at de Garde Brewing, and then pedaled to Cape Lookout.  It was a bit of an adjustment to ride with a full pack on my back - a pack with a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, clothes for the night, a little stove, coffee press, mugs, food, book, camera... you get the picture - but it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.  Once I figured out how the pack would move as I pedaled and once I settled into a good pace, the ride was great.  The hike/bike-in only sites at Cape Lookout are sweet, and being on the beach with the salty ocean air was such a nice change of scenery for us.  We strolled on the sand, saw a molting seal (I never knew!), reminisced about time in our childhoods spent in Nags Head, and watched the sun set over the Pacific.

The following day, after a long leisurely morning on the beach spent drinking cup after cup of coffee, comparing patterns on broken bits of sand dollars, and reading The Old Man and the Sea, we rode up the coast to Cape Meares then back to Tillamook for lunch at Pelican Brewing before heading home.  The verdict is still out on whether or not I want to bike all the way from Portland to the coast, but I'm definitely up for more bike packing trips.