8 Mile and Knebal Springs Ride

We encountered a little bit of everything on a ride on 44 Trails on Monday: blue skies and heavy fog; spots of warm sunshine and stretches of cold; leg-tiring climbs and fun, fast descents; the excited anticipation at our morning start and satisfaction at our afternoon finish.


Mount St. Helens and the Plains of Abraham Again, This Time by Bike and with Goats

Barry and I make a backpacking trip up to the Plains of Abraham on Mount St. Helens almost yearly, and Barry bike packs up to the same spot with friends with some frequency, too.  His biking trips up there always sound amazing.  I've wanted to experience the trip on a bike myself, but up until now I'd doubted my ability to ride the trail.  I'd been working on climbing on my bike all summer long, though, so with some encouragement I was convinced that I was finally ready to give the ride a try.  Yesterday, off we went.  And it was awesome.  Barry and I were treated to one of the most beautiful days - summer-like weather in November, barely another soul on the trail, stillness and silence up on the plains, and a pack of mountain goats to keep us company.  It was perfection.


Sisters: A Lake, An Eagle, Some Trails, Some Bikes

Last weekend was unexpectedly fantastic.  After long weeks at work, Barry and I really wanted to get out of town.  So we planned a two-day trip to Sisters.  We ended up getting a late start.  By the time we reached Sisters, we had just enough hours of sunlight left to find a campsite on a lake outside of town and squeeze in a mountain bike ride on the Peterson Ridge Trail.  It made for a pretty laid back day - a solidly good day.  The second day, though, was what made the trip so wonderful.

We woke up to find the lake ringed with ice crystals, to gorgeous views of the Tam McArthur Rim, and to a bald eagle hanging out near out site.  We spent a cozy morning by our campfire and then headed out on a ride that took us to Tumalo Falls in Bend.  Lots of the mountain biking skills that I'd been workin on all summer - regulating my pace on climbs so I have the energy to get through them, using bursts of momentum while already exerting a lot of energy pedaling uphill in order to roll over rocks and roots, clocking my pedals to avoid hitting those rocks and roots, looking ahead to where I want to go - were put to practice on the long ride.  It was the longest mountain bike ride I'd ever been on and it was challenging.  I cried twice (not coincidentally, I crashed twice, too).  I was so satisfied and proud when we ended up back at our beautiful campsite.


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.