A quick hike to Mirror Lake, 28-Dec-2020


Monday, 28-Dec-2020

This will probably be be my last hike of 2020… Not that that’s a good, a bad, or any other type of thing… it’s just a thing, right? An interesting observation, for better or worse.

2020’s been an interesting year, to say the least, and I’m starting to write up some sort of overview post to go over what happened… but for now, I went on a hike to keep my mind occupied.

Instead of hitting up my go-to hike of the year, I went with a shorter, closer, and a bit more heavily trafficked hike – Mirror Lake, one of the first hikes by Hood that you run into on the drive from Portland (or Wilsonville, in my case. The parking lot was… pretty much exactly what I expected it to be, which is to say a madhouse, but thankfully it wasn’t as bad as my paranoia had convinced me it would be. There were still spots to park, at least, so… small victories, right?

With small victories come small hurdles though, and this hurdle was simply called “a lot of ice”. The parking lot, while not completely full of cars, was absolutely coated in a nice slick of ice… far slicker than the Mustang could navigate safely. I mean, I could absolutely have driven through it… but as I drove power to the wheels they’d started slewing to the side… which was enough of a risk of bumping someone that I held off on trying to out-drive the ice.

Instead, I put the chains of for literally the last 5ft of the drive… just enough to safely park without the car slipping or yawing into one of the cars on either side of me. Seems silly… but I’ll take the 5min to put on chains, over the 30min to trade insurance information any day.

With the car safely parked, I clipped on the crampons and headed into the beautiful winter wonderland that I’ve come to expect from Mt. Hood. This trail was far more trafficked, of course, but it was still gorgeous – tons of waterfalls, small rivers, and beautiful bridge crossings to keep me company.

There was quite a bit of foot traffic, of course, and I was quite thankful for my crampons giving me traction on the slick trail… one of the fun parts of winter hiking, when the whole trail turns to ice? Definitely thankful for the spiky bits attached to my boots.

Aside from the icy parts, the hike was beautifully relaxing and quiet… as quiet as it can be while passing people every few minutes, of course. Soon enough I was at the lake, circumnavigating along the ice, taking chances to admire the views of Hood, and have a few bites of my bars. Even relaxed and read a bit… once I found a nice little cove a bit off the beaten path, of course.

The hike wasn’t anything too crazy, but it was a nice chance to get into the snow, and away from town. I’m always thankful for the crisp air, and am already looking forward to the next chance I get to hike through the snow…

A hike on the coast – 27-Dec-2020


Sunday, 27-Dec-2020

It had been ages since I’ve hiked out on the Oregon Coast… It’s a long drive, is the problem, but still. The coast is gorgeous, and it was high time that I got back out.

So… I drove. Got going fairly early, for a day off, and was starting in to the Cape Falcon trail by 11:15, give-or-take. Not bad, since it was a two hour drive from my place in Wilsonville, so I was feeling pretty energetic as I hiked through the misty trees, hearing the sound of cars receding behind me and the sound of the breakers growing in the distance.

Once I made it out of the forest and onto the beach… I realized that tides are a thing.

Because there was no beach.

Turns out – high tide does happen, and when it happens at Oswald West, the tide comes all the way up to the trail, nearly. Not so much that it covers the whole area, of course… but the distance between surf and ground was quite small… just a tiny little strip of sand, covered by the waves half of the time, maybe a foot or two wide.

Made it a bit difficult to walk along the coast, as you may imagine, so instead Cape Falcon became the goal of the moment – heading back inland to walk out to the overlook, and give the tides a bit of time to recede so I could get some shore-line walking in later on in the day.

I hadn’t hiked all the way out to Falcon before, so this was an interesting experience… During COVID I’ve been able to avoid crowds pretty well, and having been hiking up on Hood I’d gotten used to the snow and slush of the high elevations.

I’d forgotten just how crowded popular trails can get, and how that can lead to some rather interesting trail conditions… specifically, the fact that I was wading through pretty much constant mud the whole way out to the Cape Falcon overlook.

But hey – that’s what boots are for, right? My boots were still pretty new too, and needed a bit of breaking in… and what better way to do that than to slog my way through deep mud, escaping the forest and striking out onto the cliffside?

The trail was churned up, like a herd of elk had cruised through, but truth be told I didn’t see that many people as I was hiking in. A few groups, of course, but nothing too crazy… Nothing nearly as intense as some of the more popular hikes out in the gorge on a sunny summers day, at least. I was able to make pretty good time, though I did get some added altitude training thanks to wearing my mask so consistently…

Anywho, the hike went well, and the overlook was singularly gorgeous.

In keeping with tradition, after hiking was dinner, or at least a late lunch, out at Cannon beach. I’ve been to the Pelican Brewery a few times, and thankfully they’re still open and kicking during the pandemic… if only for takeout. But you know what? Takeout calamari and seafood chowder is still pretty dang good.

Especially when there was a sunset like that…

A walk in Wilsonville


Saturday, 26-Dec-2020

Sometimes, I can’t quite rally myself to get into the car and drive all the way out into the woods.

Don’t get me wrong – I love me some woods, and long drives, and all of that awesome jazz… But sometimes, it’s just a little too much, you know? Sometimes, I want to just lay low, relax, and not have to get things together to do stuff.

Like today – Today, I was just… tired. energetic, and wanting to do something, but not quite holding on to enough mental energy to get myself all the way through traffic and to a big hike. So instead, I packed up a lightly-weighted back and stepped out the front door, aiming to follow Bilbo’s advice of not knowing where my feet would take me.

No where of particular note, but they did keep me moving… which was really all I wanted from the walk. Some time out of the house, and in my own mind for a few hours, while enjoying the outdoors and beauty that Wilsonville has to offer…