Category Archives: Hiking

Stories about simple dayhikes that I’ve been on

A weekend of kicking it – climbing, shooting, and exploring

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First weekend of June
05 & 06-June-2021


Brian’s been staying with me!

It’s been quite a while since I’ve had someone stay over at my place… Not 100% sure, but it’s been at least a year since I’ve never hosted someone at my current apartment.

Regardless of how long it’s been since I’ve had a houseguest, I was super excited to have someone over. The first week he was here was nicely relaxing, with our days spent with him working from home and me heading into the office, and then the evenings with cooking interesting dinners, hitting the gym, catching up, and finally getting up to speed on all the new movies that’ve been coming out recently.

The weekend though, we had some more time to really get into the party time, stretch out, and have some fun!

Saturday, 05-June-2021



On Saturday, we aimed for a bit of city energy – Bouldering, and Shooting range. The bouldering isn’t particularly out of character for me (Ed Note: If Ben had a Character Sheet, it would literally be one of the first lines), but the shooting range isn’t something particularly common… So yay for stretching out my activities!



The morning started, obviously, with Bacon Pancakes. Because that’s how all most of the best mornings start!

From there, the bouldering was lovely – we climbed, we crushed, we ate protein bars. It was good, but not really something to write too much about.

The shooting range was… I mean, I don’t really know what to write about here. We rented a pistol, shot a bit, and felt confident that we knew how it worked. Then we rented a rifle and did the same thing. It was fun, and we both shot quite well if I may say so.

If aliens invade, I am supremely confident that we can in fact climb up a cliff, and then hit our targets roughly in their invading center of mass, quite successfully. We are 100% the ideal defense force for Earth now. You’re welcome.



That evening, we cleaned off the… gunpowder? Is that a thing we have to do? I’m not 100% sure if it was truly necessary, but we did anyways. It’s probably important.

Anyways.

Brian cooked Chicken Parmesan, and it was awesome. I freely admit that it was quite possibly nearly the close equivalent of my previously made Bacon Pancakes. Maybe even a teensy tiny bit better.

The post-dinner conversation was also something not to be missed – especially when it started veering into the slightly crazy tin-foil-hat consipracy theory, regarding which political party may in fact be secretly in cahoots with evil forces, trying to pull the strings on every single action ever taken in the world! To give you, dear reader, a quick hint – it’s both parties. They’re in cahoots! All hooting together! Tin Foil Hats!

Ehemm.

Then we went to bed.




Sunday, 06-June-2021


On Sunday, we met up with my friend Laurel!

She was down in my neck of the woods already, something to do with a previous horse show that she’d been to, so she stopped by for a quick breakfast before we headed out with her and her pup to get some time on the Oregon coast. Brian’s been to the Pacific before, of course, but the previous week had been hot… and I mean HOT… so the chance to get into the salty mist wasn’t something that any of us was going to turn down.

The drive was, as always, a little bit longer than it felt like it should be. It went quickly though – It’d been a while since I’d seen Laurel, and Brian had never met her, so we all enjoyed the chance to chat and hang out, catching up and learning about new people.

I love getting to go on group trips… it’s something that I really miss about living in Boston. Here in Oregon my friend groups never really felt inclined to mix, no matter how hard I tried to set up group activities. Saying that three people counts as a group seems pretty strange, in retrospect, but… I feel like that speaks to how isolated I’d been feeling throughout the course of the pandemic, and the last year or two before I moved to Wilsonville.

Regardless, it was lovely. We drove through the sun and into the mist, parked, realized I’d directed us to the wrong spot, drove to the right spot, realized that it was still the wrong spot, and then repeated that process a few times until we finally decided on a new spot that wasn’t a wrong spot.

Lunch was made (French sandwiches, as per tradition), and a beach walk was commenced.



I love the Oregon Coast… Don’t get me wrong, I have tons of fond memories of the rocky New England seaside – I love jumping from rock to rock, and scrambling around looking for cool tide pools and washed up treasure. But the wide open sand beached of Oregon are… they’re just something else. They’re gorgeous, and I love the sense that they could go on forever… just fading into the mist in the distance.

Someday, I’m absolutely going to figure out somewhere I can go backpacking on the coast… but until I can finally unravel that web of not-information, I’ll content myself with beautiful strolls along the sand.

Ideally with friends, watching a dog frolic alongside us.

Interestingly, that’s exactly what I did.

We walked, we frolicked, Biscuit ran and barked and was happy, and all was well in the world.


No hyperbole, point of fact. All really was well in the world – it was a really great day, and I was really thankful for the chance to just unwind and relax with friends.

We kept the good-times train rolling even after the sky opened up and it started pouring rain – instead of worrying or getting unhappy, we found a small ice cream shop near the beach, and scarfed down some delicious treats – not just ice cream, but blueberry lattes and chocolate treats too!

And then!

And then, we kept it going with a winery! I mean, it wasn’t really a full winery tour or anything, but it was really interesting! Laurel had a nice flight of wines, as a way of helping us pick out a bottle for dinner of course, and I got to learn a bit more about barrels – specifically some of the more common places that they’re from, and what effect the vintiers have been noticing from the various regions. In short – French and US casks are kinda overrated, and definitely overpriced, but they do give a nice finish that some others can’t quite match

Minutia aside, it was lovely. While the winery was pretty cool, I personally really enjoyed a really tangential bonus to the visit – they had a really nice tin roof in the barrel room, which combined with the pouring rain made for the absolutely most relaxing sound, surrounded by the excellent smell of aged wood and wine.

It was nice, and I appreciated being able to rest for a little while in the room while Brian and Laurel chatted with one of the vintners. My knee had been kind of painful since my hike down from Colchuck, and the rain hadn’t helped… so just sitting and appreciating the natural music was absolutely just what the doctor was ordering.

As we finished up, we mobilized and moved on. Threw our gear in the truck, and headed back toward the city.



I can confidently tell you, the drive back to Wilsonville was one of the happiest moments that I’ve had in… quite a while.

Laurel had started up a rather mixed playlist of 90s songs, before pretty quickly passing out with Biscuit in the back seat. Brian soon followed, leaving me alone with my thoughts, the rain, and the highway. It was blissful – seeing the happily tired out friends surrounding me, listening to the rain pattering against the truck, and watching the highway grind by underneath our wheels.

I’ve learned, in recent years, that my personal form of meditation is long drives. Driving fugue is absolutely a thing, and for me it’s a beautiful way for my brain to turn inward and re-organize itself. My body has its task which keeps me from getting too distracted and lets my mind start really wandering on its own.

Combining that with knowing that I’m surrounded by people I like, and who enjoy my company as well, and…

Well, I was very thankful that the drive seemed to last forever.




The rest of the night was nearly as excellent as the drive itself. We ate, we drank, and we had relaxed conversations. I made jambylaya, which paired beautifully with the wine Laurel had picked out and the chocolates that we’d all picked for ourselves. Then we settled into the couch and watched a very fun, if a little strange, movie that we tracked down on Disney.

It was a very good weekend.




A spring adventure – the best of the best

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Spring Break, 2021

I don’t recall having a real Spring Break trip last year… If I’m remembering correctly, I did a short Spring Break trip down to Joshua Tree back in 2019, but 2020 didn’t quite lend itself to much traveling…

With that in mind, and looking at how much vacation time I’d accumulated over the last year or so, I realized that I really did need to take some time off to escape from work, from Wilsonville, and from getting stuck in my own head. Thankfully, most travel restrictions on the West Coast have been lifted, and my back’s been feeling a lot better… and I was able to finally make the long trek down to Sacramento to visit my friend Mike and finally meet his girlfriend Michelle!

It was a long drive, and a full week of stepping out of my usual little patch of world. I didn’t really go into it expecting anything specific, but I came out having even more appreciation for my friends, and feeling gloriously rested and recharged. I’m not quite back to my old self yet… but this trip was an amazing change to stretch back into myself, and just… explore.


The whole week

I’ve posted a lot of photos for this spring break trip, but here are a few that (in my mind at least) stand out as some of the best… Sit back and enjoy!

A spring adventure – The Hikes

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Spring Break, 2021

I don’t recall having a real Spring Break trip last year… If I’m remembering correctly, I did a short Spring Break trip down to Joshua Tree back in 2019, but 2020 didn’t quite lend itself to much traveling…

With that in mind, and looking at how much vacation time I’d accumulated over the last year or so, I realized that I really did need to take some time off to escape from work, from Wilsonville, and from getting stuck in my own head. Thankfully, most travel restrictions on the West Coast have been lifted, and my back’s been feeling a lot better… and I was able to finally make the long trek down to Sacramento to visit my friend Mike and finally meet his girlfriend Michelle!

It was a long drive, and a full week of stepping out of my usual little patch of world. I didn’t really go into it expecting anything specific, but I came out having even more appreciation for my friends, and feeling gloriously rested and recharged. I’m not quite back to my old self yet… but this trip was an amazing change to stretch back into myself, and just… explore.



Wednesday, 05-May-2021

Lake Tahoe is gorgeous!

I mean, I’ve seen pictures before, and I’d already visited once… but the visit doesn’t really count thanks to the whole “breaking my leg” big, and everyone knows that pictures can only do so much justice to a place.

Getting to drive around the perimeter of the lake, and see the amazing views off the side… well, that was a special treat.



Our plan for Wednesday was for Mike and Michelle to ski Squaw Valley, and I would track down some interesting hiking trail to explore. Looking around, I found a few trail options… but after talking with the folks at the information booth I learned that none of the trailheads were open yet, thanks to all the snow they still had.

That… frankly confused me quite a bit, since Instagram was already showing tons of photos from those hikes.

But you know what? Screw Instagram, man. There’s no doubt that it, and a ton of other social media platforms (Ed Note: The irony of Ben saying this on a blog, which is inherently a form of social media, is not lost on him) have been having a rather negative effect on the world… so let’s forget what Instagram says, and instead go on a hike!



Instead of my original target, I ended up taking the wandering version of a hike. I hitched a ride on the gondola with Mike and Michelle, watched them zoom off into the distance on their doom-planks, and then started off in a random direction.

I chose my trail mostly by looking at what people couldn’t ski, and going there.

Not the “can’t ski because it’s hard” option, of course, since Squaw was the site of the Olympics and people there can probably ski things I can’t even imagine. Instead, I took the “can’t ski because there’s no snow” option. It was fairly early in the year still, but the sun had been pretty toasty so far it seemed – while there was still enough snow to ski, it was definitely getting thin in a lot of areas, and had even been burned completely off a lot of the ridgelines.

Which was perfectly fortuitous for me, since I love hiking on ridgelines!

I zipped and zoomed all over, taking in the cool snowy air and enjoying the amazing views afforded by the trees and ski lifts. There’s just something about snow travel that really clicks with me… I love the smell of snow, and I love the cool breezes that come off a snow field when the wind picks up… This was perfect for me, and I absolutely enjoyed every minute of it.



After hiking at Squaw, Mike and Michelle headed directly back toward Sacramento. They both had work to finish up that evening, but thankfully for me I had no such compulsions… which meant that I could take a circuitous route back into town, driving back around the lake and then home via the same winding mountain drives that had brought me to Tahoe in the first place.

(Ed Note: See Ben’s other post titled “The drives” for some info and pictures from those beautiful mountain passes)


On the way, I stopped in at a trail that I’d noticed on the way in, but hadn’t quite had time to stop and check out. A trail called “Pyramid Creek” was calling to me, and I had to answer.

I think it’s a callback from one of my earliest backpacking trips – when I hiked the Tripyramids out in New Hampshire back in 2009ish – but I don’t really know why I felt so compelled to explore this particular hike. I’m glad I did though, since it was exactly the right length to help me keep the blood flowing, while granting some rather excellent views:



I’m pretty proud of myself – I probably did three miles in just a little over an hour, with some legit elevation gain and quite a few stops for photos along the way (obviously, since I posted so many just above this paragraph). It felt good, and I was quite happy with how the quick hike turned out.

I enjoyed, had a snack, and was back to the car before the sun had set – ready to turn up the music and start the beautifully winding road back to civilization…