Volunteering with a summer camp and Teaching people to climb again!

Standard

Friday, 28-June-2019

It’s been so long since I’ve taught someone to climb… I think the last time was sometime back before I came to Oregon, maybe?

I forgot how fun it can be!

I even learned that the age of the new climber doesn’t matter – previously, I’d mostly taught mid-20s people the ins and outs of climbing… Today, I taught kids age 4-10 how to climb!

Or… more accurately, I just made sure they put on harnesses safely, and then belayed them as they scampered up the walls like spider monkeys, and gave out more high-fives than I’d given out the entire rest of 2019.

Let’s go back to the beginning – Sarah’s working for a summer camp this year as their resident climbing coordinator, and I came to help belay on my Friday off.

It was a more complex process than I’d expected, but it’s good to know that working with young kids not only requires the usual belay checks, but also a full background screen. Trivia fact – not a murderer, still.

It’s my Friday off, but we’re still getting going early. A quick breakfast, then off to the Mazamas Mountaineering Center to set up for the kids. Harnesses get laid out, ropes uncoiled, and crash pads are put out below the routes.

It’s incredible how different the Mazamas gear room is from the NUHOC gear locker. They’re so much better funded, and so much more climbing-focused… They have two entire rooms dedicated to rope storage – two rooms, each one bigger than my entire gear locker!

With all the glorious gear laid out, we gave belay tests to the other volunteers, and braced ourselves for the swarm of campers… The schedule was oldest to youngest, not that it really mattered though.

I belayed, gave encouragement, and high fives. At one point some kids tried blindfolded climbing, and then we evacuated after an attempt to clean the blindfold set off a fire alarm.

Trivia fact: microwaving a wet hankie for 10min can start a fire.

Second trivia fact: kids love fire fighters. We had a good time.

Aside from the fire fighters showing up, the day was pretty chill. I particularly enjoyed climbing with the youngest kids though; we had extra volunteers, so I was able to climb up to the top and provide encouraging high fives to everyone who topped out!

Hiking out to Three Corners Rock

Standard

Saturday, 22-June-2019

I don’t want to admit to exactly how long it’s been since I went on a hike.

So I won’t. I’ll just say that, on Saturday, I went on a hike!! After scouring the various books and websites at my disposal, I found a few options for places I could go.  The goal was a fairly short hike, not too much elevation gain, dog friendly, and most importantly… not one of the standard-issue PDX hikes.

 

I’ve done a lot of the hikes in the gorge, and they’re usually fairly populated… really, anything near Portland with good views seems to get overwhelmed by mid-morning.  Finding parking after 8:00 seems to be nearly impossible, but I didn’t quite feel up for getting going that early.  My target area was the Gifford Pinchot range, a national park Northeast of Portland, that I never really hear people talking about.  I figured that it’d be far enough out that I could escape the crowds and enjoy some quiet time with Ollie.

And man, it payed off.

I parked at 10:30 or so, after having to drive the wrong way on a major interstate after the highway was shut down… without any signage, of course.  Seriously – I was on a main highway, in fully-stopped traffic, for 15min.  Finally, people started giving up, and driving the wrong direction to take an on-ramp to get off the highway.  I tried waiting… but after having my car literally turned off for 15min MORE, I gave up and turned around.

To add insult to injury, when I got off the highway every on-ramp was clearly labeled as “highway closed, no entry”.  So they could label those, but couldn’t tell the folks stuck on the road that it was closed.

I still don’t know why they closed it, FYI.  But hey – that’s the fun of driving in the Northwest, right?

 

Anyways, I got to the trailhead around 10:30, and no one was there, and it was awesome.  So I hiked, and hiked, and hiked, and had a gloriously quiet and enjoyable time.  The forest was empty and mostly-still, Ollie was having fun bounding all over the place, and there was even the tiniest bit of fog to add that ethereal air to the whole thing.

I enjoyed a ton of foxglove (also known as dead-man’s bells, I learned, since they’re poisonous) blooms, and got some gorgeous light through the trees for the parts of the hike that didn’t have the beautiful fog clinging to the trees.

That’s even before the summit.  The views off the summit were… well, it was foggy.  Supposedly they were amazing, and I could have seen all four cascade volcanoes, but you know what?  Quiet and foggy was completely okay with me.  I was looking for quiet, and I absolutely found it.

 

Making a patio – A spring adventure

Standard

Materials:

150 bags of paver base: 52lbs ea = 7,800 lbs

60 bags of paver sand: 50lbs ea = 3,000 lbs

114 cu ft of dirt: 78lbs/cu ft = 8,892 lbs

190 sq ft of pavers: 28lbs/sq ft = 5,320 lbs

Total: 25012 lbs, or 12.5 tons

Sarah and I decided that, since the big Mimosa tree in the back yard had to be taken out, that a patio would go really well in the back yard. We did some research, pitched the idea, ordered materials from Home Depot, and rolled up our sleeves!

I mean, we also invited a friend over. Dug a ton (actually, right around 4.5 tons. See above) of dirt, and ate lots of hamburgers. Also did 3 extra Home Depot runs when we realized that I’d miscalculated the amount of paver sand that we’d need for the project.

But hey! We made a beautiful Roman-style patio!!!