Category Archives: Camping

Backpacking out to Green Lakes!

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Saturday and Sunday, 22 & 23-Sept-2018

 

BACKPACKING!

 

We went backpacking again!

 

I’m really excited about how much we’ve been camping recently – we’re taking our gear out, we’re getting mud on our boots, and we’re getting stronger and stronger each time.

 

This weekend was our annual backpacking trip to the Green Lakes Wilderness, nestled in the basin between South Sister and Broken Top. It wasn’t planned to be an annual trip the first time we went on it… but that was one of the fun things that we realized as we were walking in on Saturday – we’ve backpacked into this area every year for the last three years, every time with a different level of success.

The first year? Pouring rain, hiked out the next day in soaked gear.

Second year? Summitted Broken Top.

 

This year? Had a beautiful day, perfect weather, and amazing skies.

I mean, seriously… We couldn’t have asked for better weather. It was cool, crisp, clear and beautiful. It was that perfect temperature where you can walk with a pack for hours, but barely sweat at all. It did mean we had to put on jackets when we stopped for rests and snacks… But hey. Small price to pay, right?

We drove out on Saturday. We could have driven out Friday night… But hey. We worked all week. We deserve an evening to relax, right? Right. So we took one, packed at our own pace, and had a good dinner to prepare ourselves for the adventure to come.

Saturday morning, we tossed the gear in the Mustang and drove out, southbound toward Sisters. It’s a long drive though, so we clearly needed snacks, which meant Starbucks. Side note: sausage egg and cheese sandwiches are MIA all over Oregon. Dono why, but we had the chicken sausage and bacon ones instead, which were amazing and so much better. Especially when paired with Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Because I’m a college girl who loves her some fall spice. Other side note: we nearly got eaten by the lady behind us in line. No joke. She kept walking closer and closer behind us while we’re all in line, finally ending within a foot of Sarah before asking, “are you in line?”. Ma’am. No. We’ve just been standing here, walking forward as people are served, for no reason. Ugh.

Anyways it was tasty and then we drove and parked and started hiking ohh my god why did I write so much about Starbucks?

The hike started well – a pretty packed parking place, but we were presently plodding, packs perched politely upon our backs. There were a fair number of people on the trail, even at the beginning, but that was honestly to be expected – it’s a super popular place, so we weren’t surprised by the crowds.

The people thinned out as we moseyed onward, and we really started to enjoy the solitude of each other’s company… And the crashing of Ollie running through the underbrush, of course. In all honesty, we did really well on the trail to Green Lakes! We walked quickly, talked the whole way, and had a really great time.

We did run into some… Adventure… once we got to Green Lakes itself though.

See, green lakes is popular. And we’d seen a lot of folks hiking in with packs. And, for one reason or another, the first route that we took through the campground was the single combination of paths that took us past exactly zero campgrounds. And then, when we realized that, we retraced our steps instead of continuing on toward the camp site 50 yards away. And then, once we retraced, we walked the long way around toward the far end of the campground.

No idea why we did that. Don’t know who chose those routes. No idea. All I do know was that our 4mile day turned into an 8mile day, and that I got cranky enough for Sarah to literally tell me to “shut up, stop complaining, and eat a Snickers”.

It helped. It helped so much.

And then, at the far end of the Wilderness Area, at the edge of the world, we found the ideal campsite.

I can’t even begin to describe how happy we were when we saw the site marker, and realized that it was open for us. This place was covered by huge trees, had a nice little log to sit on and make dinner, and overlooked the meadow that drained into the lake nearby. There was a small steam gurgling nearby, and the trail was far off to the side. Like I said – ideal.

After we put down our bags and set up the tent, we kept walking a bit, curious as to what was down the path. We went a ways down, and ended up meeting a pair of backpackers who were also looking for a spot… they’d checked almost all the other ones, and were on their way out of the wilderness area planning on looking for a back-country spot outside of the camping restriction zone.

Being the good samaritans we are, we offered to share our site, and ended up having camping buddies for the evening!

They were friends from San Francisco and New York City, if I remember correctly, exploring Oregon for the week. They were fine – we honestly didn’t really chat that much; we had dinner together, but then sort of went back to our own sections of the campsite to relax for the evening.

Our evening activities? Stargazing, and celebrating the equinox! Summer had passed, and Fall was in; we burned some sage, talked about how far we’d come so far this year, and slept in the beautifully crisp night.

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The next morning we got up slowly – our campmates were up and gone by the time we started packing up, heading to summit South Sister, I believe.

We didn’t have remotely such lofty goals. Instead, we relaxed. We made some breakfast and a lot of coffee, and enjoyed the quiet as the day warmed up. I had brought a book, but it honestly took me a while to get into the swing of it… instead I just dozed and wandered a little, while Sarah explored the marsh by our campsite looking for an ideal place to paint.

Once she found it, I joined her and we lazed in the sun, her painting and me reading. It was a very good day.

But unfortunately home was calling. Not loudly, mind you, but it was calling. After a while we packed up camp, and started the hike back out.

Thankfully, hiking out always seems to go quicker than hiking in, and there honestly isn’t really much to report from the walk back. It was lovely, slightly quicker thanks to us going direct instead of circuitously, but extremely lovely. Good weather, happy excited Ollie running next to us, clear skies… Yes. It was absolutely a good day.

Camping at Veda Lake 02 & 03 September, 2018

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Camping at Veda Lake 02 & 03 September, 2018

Sunday, 02-Sept-2018 through Monday, 03-Sept-2018

 

It’s labor day weekend, and we’re not planning on laboring particularly hard.  In fact, our goal is to basically labor not at all.  The car’s going to do the bulk of the laboring.
Specifically, we’re going backpacking!  Sarah’s first post-surgery backpacking trip!  Woo!
It’s a trial run, though, not a full-on trip.  More of a “see how our legs feel, and make sure all the gear still works” kind of trip, instead of a “let’s work ourselves and be exhausted by the end of it” sort of trip.
With that in mind, Sarah was careful about which hike to pick… and found what was absolutely the perfect destination for us: a place called Veda Lake.  It’s a small lake South of Mt. Hood, about a mile away from the trailhead.  The challenge, though, is getting to the trailhead itself – it’s 30min down an extremely rough road – rough enough that the trip reports all warned us that we’d need a tough vehicle and even tougher nerves to make it up.
Sunday
Thankfully, we’re tough cookies, and the Subaru is just as tough a car as we are cookies.  We made it up without any trouble, and found a beautifully empty parking lot waiting for us.  There were cars there, true, but not nearly as many as we’d seen on the drive in – and since it was labor day that was a rather major blessing for us.
The hike in?  It went quickly and easily.
I mean, come on.  It was barely over a mile – we’re out of shape, but thankfully not that far out of shape.  I’ve been working out a fair bit, and Sarah’s been doing a ton of PT, so the hike was pretty clean for us.  The only challenges arose from my backpack – this was the first time I’d taken it out for a real backpacking trip, and it’s definitely a bit different than the one I’ve gotten used to.  I… hesitate to admit to the sheer number of curses I uttered as I was packing it and trying to get it comfortable, but that’s how it goes with a new pack, right?
We walked in, past a few groups walking out, and even passing one going in!  Don’t let that fool you though, the only reason we were able to pass them was because they were a huge team – three humans, four dogs, and one kayak.  Not one of the light ones either… one of those heavy wal-mart kayaks.  They… they were making some life decisions that day.
Anyways, we ended up being thankful for that Kayak, because it slowed the other team down long enough for Sarah, Ollie and I to get one of the best campsites on the lake.  It wasn’t right on the water, but it had a nice fallen tree to eat dinner by, and enough room for us to set up the tent on perfectly level ground beautifully devoid of any roots or rocks.  It was lovely, and we had camp set up quickly enough that we were able to spend some time exploring the lake and playing around in the water before dinner.
One strange thing we found?  Spears.  As in, wooden sticks that had been sharpened, and stabbed into a dead tree in our campsite.  Not in a creepy way, though.  I know that description sounds “children of the forest hunting for your face-meat”, but it was more “some young kids sharpened sticks and threw them at a tree because it’s fun” sort of thing.  So clearly Sarah and I had a spear-throwing competition in the middle of the woods.  I can’t remember who won, but I can promise that Sarah and I both enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.
Dinner?  Simple stuff this time – just mountain house freeze-dried meals and some whiskey and tea.  It was a practice run, remember, so we wanted to go light and simple.  No back country cooking cuisine this time, I’m afraid.  But hey – that’s fine.  We enjoyed ourselves immensely!  Just being outside, watching the sun set and then watching the stars come out… it was beautiful, and an amazing chance to enjoy spending time with each other.
Evening
Random challenge that I didn’t expect to run into?  Getting Ollie to come to bed.  When we camp, Ollie usually runs right into the tent… but for some reason she was on full sentry-duty this time, insistent on guarding the campsite all evening.  She was good, and came when we called her, but she wasn’t super happy about it.  She’d even made a little nest for herself under one of the trees nearby, so that she could overlook the camp and keep watch… cute!
Monday
Monday dawned bright and early – it was perfect, and we were even able to wake up quietly and pleasantly, since Ollie was nicely tired from the day before and wasn’t quite into full spaz mode just yet.  Getting to bed early definitely helped too; we were up and mobile early, having breakfast and enjoying seeing the sun rising over the mountains around us.
Quick side note?  Starbucks instant lattes are delicious… when they’re fresh.  Turns out, they do go bad.  Not like “make you sick” bad, but… definitely less than optimal.
We played around in the lake a little bit, but honestly… it was cold, yo.  Veda Lake is in a depression, with pretty steep hills all around it, so we didn’t get any direct sunlight until we had already packed up and were heading out, sometime around 9:30 or 10:00.
We’d planned on staying most of the day; swimming and catching crawfish and enjoying the solitude of the lake, but that didn’t quite work… so instead we aimed to head back into town early and enjoy the chance to rest, relax, and make a fancy dinner.
Packing went well, hiking went well… the walk out was honestly really pleasant.  The sun had already risen, so it was that perfect kind of weather where it’s warm, but not hot quite yet.  Cool enough that we enjoyed the walking, but not so cold that we wanted to put jackets on.
Ollie, of course, loved the whole event – sprinting forward and backwards, jumping over logs, and sending out the kind of happy energy that makes you wish that you could just run screaming through the woods for hours at a time.  You know, like I did when I was younger and somehow even less sane than I currently am?  Yeah, just like that.
It was a good trip.
**Last side note: Ollie doesn’t like sitting up front at first.  She’s always cranky about coming up, instead of just hanging out in the back seat.  But the problem is that she gets bored in the back seat, and barks at everything that looks interesting as we drive.  Once we drag her into the front seat, she remembers how fun it is to stick your head out the window!**

Sarah and Ben’s three year anniversary!

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Sarah and Ben’s three year anniversary!

Tuesday, August 14th and Wednesday, August 15th

 

Three years.

Three years of adventures, excitement, challenges, love and mutual admiration.

We’ve lived an hour apart, Sarah’s gone on a multi-month roadtrip, and we’ve lived together in a tiny town of 7,200 people.  We moved her from Portland to Hood River, and then from Hood River back to Portland.

We’ve been to Spain, England, Scotland and Italy – not including layovers.  We’ve climbed all over, succeeded at summits and given up on summitting less than 100ft from the summit block.  We’ve backpacked and hiked, biked and roadtripped.

Three.  Years.

 

Now, our anniversary fell on a Wednesday.  Thankfully, my job is flexible enough (and limited to a hard-cap of 40hrs per week) that I was able to bend my hours so we could take the whole day off.  Our original plan was to go up to Mt. Adams, and camp out at a small lake near the base of the mountain… but unfortunately this is fire season, and that plan pretty quickly got dumped in favor of driving somewhere a little less smokey.

Sarah searched far and wide, pouring over maps and lists of campgrounds.  She cross-referenced air quality maps to campsites, and finally found our destination: a campground on the North Fork of the Siuslaw river.  It wasn’t a short drive from the house, but that wouldn’t be too much of a hassle – She’d pack the car, and then as soon as I got home from work we’d catapult off into the sunset!

 

Tuesday

Getting on the road ended up taking a bit longer than expected, unfortunately… but that’s how things go, and soon enough we were burning gas escaping the smoke and smog of Portland.  We had a few hours of driving ahead of us, but we churned through it pretty quickly – even making some time to stop at Dairy Queen and have a quick snack to help us power through the last few miles to the campsite.

 

And man, this was a campsite.  Nicely secluded in the woods, surrounded by massively tall trees and miles away from the highway noise or forest fire smoke.  A dense tree canopy overhead, and a nice tent pad for us to set up on.  Ollie, of course, was freaking out the whole time about how awesome it is to be in the woods.  Thankfully she wasn’t barking, but just running around in circles trying to smell all the trees and bushes and branches and dirt all at once.

It kept her occupied, though, which made setting up camp a heck of a lot easier for Sarah and I.

Once camp was set up?  I’d love to say that we made a small fire and relaxed around it, just talking and enjoying the night… but honestly?  We just passed out.  It had been a really long drive, after a rather tough escape from Portland, and by that point we both needed the sleep more than anything else.

 

Wednesday

Waking up in the forest, in a tent, is amazing.

Even when waking up in a forest, in a tent, with a dog who desperately wants to run and explore and hunt.

Logically, it should be really annoying – Having someone literally standing on your face, whining and yelping to be let out is not really pleasant or relaxing.  But somehow it’s endearing, just how earnest Ollie is about it.  She’s not doing anything to be mean, it’s just that she’s effectively a machine designed and bred to hunt and track and explore… and there’s an outside that needs to be hunted, tracked, and explored.  You want to be annoyed at her, but all you can do is smile, hook her up to her leash, and set her loose.

So, that meant we got up fairly early, for it being our day off.

I mean, we were awake fairly early.  We’ve gotten wise to Ollie’s ways by now, and had set up a leash for her outside that bought us a solid extra 45min of sleep before we had to legit get out of the sleeping bags and start making breakfast.  But that’s okay – Coffee and oatmeal is always a good way to start the day, especially when it’s camping!!

 

Once coffee was drank and a light breakfast was eaten we headed back into town toward out first stop of the day – a coffee shop on the river near the bay.  Yes, yes, we’d just had breakfast and coffee… but we still needed second breakfast, obviously, and second coffee to go with it.  The views were gorgeous, the coffee was strong, and the breakfast burrito was… well, it was definitely interesting.  It was delicious, but the fact that we had to microwave it ourselves was a little surprising, to say the least.

Staring off over the fog-covered river though, we didn’t mind a microwaved burrito to go with our artisnal lattes.  It was beautiful, and since Ollie was hanging out in the car we were able to thoroughly enjoy ourselves.

We relaxed at the coffee shop for a while, then did a bit of a walk around town.  It was a small tourist / fishing town, sort of like some of the smaller places around Maine or New Hampshire, and I really enjoyed it.

 

 

From there, we headed toward our main target of the day – Hobbit Beach.

Sarah had picked it out because it was a fairly short hike in from the trailhead, was mostly deserted, and had huge long runs of open sand for Ollie to run and play on.  Ohh, and it also had faces carved into the cliffs.

That last part was pretty key, actually.  Really adds to the mystery of the place, you know?  Not creepy at all, imagining faces being carved into cliff sides…

The hike in was lovely – it was a bit steeper than we expected, but it went well which is what matters in the end.  Sarah’s legs held up quite well, and we both enjoyed the chance to get back into the woods and enjoy the outdoors a bit.  Seriously enjoy the outdoors – Sarah was literally giggling the whole time, hopping around and loving the fact that she could fully walk again.

The beach itself?  It was what you would expect.  Lovely, huge views, and the amazing sounds and smells of the pounding Pacific Ocean.  The cliff side carved faces were a bit less impressive than expected, but that’s totally fine because it meant that they were far less creepy than we’d expected.  Sarah did carve her own, of course, but went with a bit more whimsical option instead of the standard fantasy-style faces.  She made a cat.

 

After enjoying the beach for a good long while we headed back, and drove back home to Portland.  Simple and easy, but pleasant and extremely fun.