Tag Archives: Beach

Exploring Oswald West state park – 12-Sept-2020


Saturday, 12-Sept-2020


Oregon is still burning.

It hasn’t let up much, and Wilsonville’s air quality has been holding pretty steady at “hazardous”, recommending that we wear at least respirators, if not full SCBA face shields.

That… makes trips pretty challenging.


But, you know what?  Challenging isn’t impossible.  I have the internet, which has basically any piece of information that I could ever want.  And I have a phone, which let’s me chat with people, and plan adventures.

Marcella and I decided to head to Oswald West – it’s a beach on the Oregon Coast, not too long of a drive, and it looked like the air quality would just be “bad”, instead of in the dangerous ranges.  Coastal breezes, fog, and light rain would hopefully keep the particulate count down, and make the air a bit more breathable.


If you’ve never seen Oregon forests through the fog – you’re missing out, and you’ll enjoy the pictures I was able to get.  It’s magical; the forests already have a primordial feel to them, and when you add in a thick fog, with just a hint of smoke, it becomes steeped in some sort of mystic haze.

It’s gorgeous.

The hike into the beach was beautiful, and over nearly before it even began.  Thankfully, it looked like we were some of the only people to come up with this trip plan, and so the trail and beach were almost empty.  There were some surfers, a few beach combers, and maybe half a dozen people walking their dogs… but thanks to the thick fog and rolling surf, it felt like the entire world was completely empty.



After coming back to the world, hunger set in.  Turns out the empty world of the beach tied into an empty stomach, which led us to the town of Cannon Beach… where we not only met some cowboys (on horses, even), but found ourselves in the Pelican Brewery, eating amazing burgers.

A good day.  A very good day.

Exploring Fort Stevens and Astoria… IN OREGON YO! This is my new JAM! – Day 2

Exploring Fort Stevens and Astoria… IN OREGON YO!  This is my new JAM!  – Day 2

Thursday, 18-June-2015

You know what I dislike? Sleeping pads. Every time I get a new one, a new one that “won’t instantly pop!” and “Is actually for backpacking!” and “Ohh Ben, we wouldn’t lie to you again!”…

It gets a leak.

It leaks air as the night goes on.

I wake up early because I’m now sleeping on the cold and unpleasant ground Damnit I spent $75 on this stupid thing wtf arg!!!

Anyways. I woke up early.

Since we’re near a city, and because why not, we head in to grab breakfast somewhere. I honestly don’t remember where, but it was good… nothing exceptional, but definitely good food. Energizing enough to keep me happy.

And energizing enough to get us moving toward the shore – to see the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald!

Not really. The wreck of the Peter Iredale, however, is right nearby. And from what we’d read, it was a pretty famous wreck – the hull of an old iron ship that ran ashore during a particularly bad storm.

In actuality, it’s a few iron spars sticking out of a beach.

But whatever. It was an excuse for us to walk around on the beach, enjoying the salt spray and the wind and the cool air and… well, really everything. It was pleasant, and I enjoyed it. And we didn’t go a short way either – we must have walked four or five miles total in that one section – down the beach, then inland and back toward the car.

Honestly, the inland section was kind of suck, but the beach had been excellent enough to keep us happy and contented as we forced our way through scrub grass along a tiny little horse trail. Literally a horse trail – we may have read that one sign wrong. Thankfully Liz was up front, and she had a good eye as far as watching out for… ahh… “horse-deployed landmines”.

The car then takes us to Coffenbury Lake, where our hands bring cheese and crackers and apples into our faces. And then our legs took us around the take itself – a supremely picturesque loop that reminded me a lot of Jurassic World… which kind of worried me for the first few minutes. Then I remembered that the West Coast doesn’t have velociraptors, and I felt a lot better.

The lake tuckered us all out a bit, so we stayed low key the rest of the day. I mean… it wasn’t a long walk, but it was kinda toasty, you know? We checked out an observation post that looked out over the ocean, watched some birds, and climbed over an old test-range bunker. Or… I climbed over it, while Mike and Liz snuck off to make out somewhere. Hey, at least they’re polite about it.

And then? Well… I mean, it IS Astoria. And there ARE a lot of breweries…

  • We hit three brew pubs this time:
    • Fort George Brewing – Mike and I get flights of 8 drinks each (in a double-shot glass), and we all share a plate of nachos. The food is excellent, but the beer is doubly-so. The bartender is pretty excellent too, so we have a really good time.
    • Astoria Brewing Company – Just beer here, but we all share a big flight, and enjoy the extremely chatty bartender, who is awesome. Seriously; we talk about everything, and I learn a ton about the area and what Oregon is going through and what it’s like. Turns out? Sea Lions are a problem in Astoria right now. They’re eating all the fish, as they migrate out of their normal territories.
    • Wet Dog Brewing – We get another full flight here, and split it among the group. Order up some more oysters, and some cheese fondue – it’s awesome, and we devour everything. I should note: the oysters here are different than those I’ve had in Boston. They’re served off the shell, firstly. And they’ve got a meatier texture to them than the ones I’ve had before. Bostonian oysters are sort of consistently slimey, and they go down smoothly with a salted taste. But Oregonian ones have a denser meat to them, and aren’t nearly as salty. I think this is (for Willapa Oysters, at least) because they’re farmed off the sea floor, at a junction between salt water and fresh water. Not sure though.

After finishing up at Wet Dog, we tried to find ourselves some good shellfish to make up for dinner – specifically scallops… since for some reason both Mike and I had been freaking ravenously craving scallops. Probably because he made some over the weekend, and they had been delicious.

But alas! It was not meant to be, because the seafood section of the grocery was closed. So we got firewood and some chicken instead, and made the best of it back at camp. Big fires, good food, good drink, and pleasant company. Good times.

Spring Break 2014 – Climbing in En Vau: Take 2


Friday, 23-May-14

Location: Cassis, France – Les Calanque D’En Vau (pronounced “onn vow”, if I still have got it correct)


Quote of the day:

Erin (resting on the stones) – “Yay!  I found a snail in my cleavage!”

Ben (climbing) – “Wait what now?”


By this point, we’re getting quite good at the whole morning routine.  Awake, breakfasted, coffee’d, bacon’d, and ready to start walking all in 45min or so… and that’s taking a relaxed breakfast where we chill, watch the sky, and eat a delicious croissant.  Or two.  Maybe one with chocolate in it as well.  This is France, I can do what I want.

Even the walk down to En Vou was quicker today, or it at least seemed a lot quicker.  I think the trail was a combination though – instead of tons of crowds, it was just us.  And instead of taking an insane detour away from the trail, we actually stuck to the normal trail that leads directly over to the Calanque.  So that probably helped.

But either way – we made it, and set up shop at Le Petite Aguille.  Climbing details are, as always, listed down below.  But the non-detailed version is that the climbing was amazing, the views were perfectly clear, and the sun was burning brightly down upon this, our last day of adventure on the Mediterranean.  We climbed, we chatted, we ate, and we posed like rock stars while summitting “The small needle”.

In fact, that posing part was pretty key – As I summitted the top, I struck a nice and solid pose… which elicited a resounding cheer from the cliffs.  What.  Why… I look around, then look down, and see that just as I finished a whole group of tourists had been walking past.  I guess they’d stopped to watch me finish the route, and took my pose as a call to cheer and clap.  Huh.  Nice to know I’m appreciated, I guess.

So we climbed, we enjoyed, etc…

Then, it was hot out.

There was a beach nearby.  A cool Mediterranean beach.  That had crystal-clear water to swim in.

We went swimming.  Bjorn went deep-water soloing; a solid traverse out a ways.  Rebecca swam all the way out to the deep water of the boat-lane.  I did some bouldering on the cliffs near the beach, and sunned myself there for a while.  Daniel stepped on a sharp rock.  We enjoyed ourselves immensely.

But there was still more climbing to do afterward…



La Petite Aguille

  1. Variante Nord-Oeste – 5.9 – Daniel leads.  Sort of.  Daniel actually lead two climbs as one… he got distracted by a shiny bolt halfway up, and decided to take a different route instead.  It’s ok though, because they were both super fun.  This one took a solid Arete to the pinnacle.
  2. La Face Norde-Oeste – 5.9 – Rebecca Leads.  Actually, since she just took one side of the route Daniel had done, and went to the correct anchor.  This climb was a bit more protected, since it was in an off-width about half of the time.  But not a normal offwidth… instead of a crack, this was a crack that lead into a cave.  Too small of a crack to fit a whole body through, but enough to chicken-wing an arm into.
  3. Note on actual summitting… it wasn’t easy.  See, the previous climbs all terminated about 10ft below the summit… and there really wasn’t any gear above the anchor.  At all.  So you had to climb up 10ft, then stand on a 4 sq.ft. ledge, then downclimb 10ft again.
  4. After Swimming   Face De La Mer – 5.6 – Ben & Bjorn Lead. This climb was directly viewing the beach, and it was quite fun.  Simple, lots of small ledges and interesting holds from the salt erosion, and somehow it wasn’t even super polished.  Crazy-talk.


Dalle Du Chat (A crag right by the beach)

  1. Passagers Du Vent – 5.10c – Bjorn leads.  This was an amazing climb.  I think it may be the hardest outdoor climb that I’ve completed, to be honest, and it felt like it.  Lots of tiny holds… they were good, but never where you wanted them.  I’m sure that it would be progressively easier the more times you do it, but the first time… yeah.  Lots of tough pulling, cursing, and just lunging for it.  Totally amazingly worth it.


La Saphir

  1. La Saphir, P1 – 5.6 – Ben Leads.  A good and fun end to a great and amazing climbing trip.  Erin and My last climb in Southern France, and it was excellent.  A lot more run out than I remember it being before, but quite fun with an amazing view at the end.  Excellent.