Tag Archives: Backpacking

Backpacking three corners rock

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Saturday and Sunday, 29 & 30-June-2019

 

I honestly don’t even know how long it’s been since Sarah and I went backpacking… a year?  More?

We needed to get out of town, and get into the woods.

We packed up our bags, tossed them into the car, and headed toward Mt. Hood.  Our target was a nice and easy hike that we’d both done before, but never as a backpacking trip – Elk Meadows, on the East side of Mt. Hood.  A nice approach, and hopefully some wildflowers for Sarah to paint.

 

“But Ben, the title of this post says “Three Corners Rock”, not “Elk Meadows”!” you say.

“Well hold on, because this story is about to get icy!”

 

By “Icy” I mean, “we got hailed on like the sky was selling ice pellets”.  It was bad enough that we were wondering if we should seek cover to protect the car from getting dented… way above what we were comfortable backpacking in, to say the least.

We didn’t even get out of the car, I’m almost sorry to say.  But, discretion is the better part of valor, especially when trekking into the woods, and so we decided to pack it in for greener pastures… or at least, less violently raining pastures.

 

Our new goal – Three Corners Rock, the place Ollie and I had hiked the weekend before.  It’s not technically a backpacking trip, pre-say, but I had found a really pretty meadow near the top that I figured would make a good campsite.  And, since Sarah was looking for wildflowers and good views, I couldn’t think of a better place than the top of the rock pinnacle.

After stopping into Hood River to quickly check the weather, we headed onward, to the trailhead!

 

The hike itself was pretty simple – it’d been ages since we’d backpacked together, as I mentioned, so we walked pretty slowly.  Enjoying the forest, the light, and the fact that we were finally out of the city and in nature.  We still made good time, somehow, and found ourselves at the final trail junction right as the sun was about to set.

Instead of setting up camp first, we dropped our packs near the top and hustled up to the main rock to catch the sunset – and what a sunset it was!  Last weekend was foggy and cloudy and gross, but this weekend was amazing.  Perfectly clear, we had amazing views of all four major mountains nearby – Hood, Adams, Rainier and St. Helens, all in view from the top.

 

Once the sun had set and we’d started getting cold, we packed in our books and art supplies and headed back to our packs to set up camp.  Sarah set up the tent and sleeping bags, while I cooked us up some food.  Or, more accurately, I boiled water and watched the stove, making us our evening mountain house ration and our cup of cocoa.  It was amazing.

 

The next day dawned with the usual fervor – Mostly on Ollie’s part, wondering why we were still asleep when we could instead be running around and sniffing all the things.

We had a lovely breakfast, followed by one last trip up to the top of the rock to read and paint a bit more.

The trail home was quick and simple, as going downhill usually is.  Then a jaunt in the car, some stops for wildflower meadow frolicking, and back to town to wash up and get ready for the week ahead.

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!**