Tag Archives: Exploring

Backpacking to Paradise Park


Friday and Saturday, 04-Aug-2023 and 05-Aug-2023

Son of a…

Razzme-frazzme stupid forgetful…

How could you…

I couldn’t have…

Having to turn around…

Okay, starting at the beginning.

I forgot to put the battery pack and my lunch box in the car when I left the trailhead.

How the heck did I… Okay, who knows?

I finally backpacked all the way out to Paradise Park! I had my pack, my sword, and I even hiked the first part of it twice because I loved it so much and not because I realized that I left things on the roof of the car when it was likely to rain.

Yup – Brought the sword along with me. Legal in Oregon, and it would be invaluable if I ran into any ORCs (Oregon Research Cosplayers). Heh, yep, that’s the joke I kept telling people.

The hike was beautiful – The wildflowers were in full bloom, and I had a good mental map of the route thanks to having hiked out a few weekends prior. I took my time, enjoyed the weight of the pack, and appreciated the scenery. I snacked, read my book, and soon enough had camp set up in a nicely sheltered stand of trees a nice distance from the trail.

That night, I spent some time practicing forms with the sword that I’d learned a lifetime ago when I helped teach longsword at that one summer camp, and happily watched as the sky caught fire in the distance.

The next morning dawned a bit misty, which felt perfect for a bit of a wandering walk around. I left my camp set up, so I wouldn’t have to carry the full pack weight as I explored, and walked to and fro along the Timberline trail. I didn’t go too far, maybe a few miles in each direction… just far enough that I got some excellent sights and good miles in. I found some interesting placards, and even found a beautifully made labyrinth up on one of the alpine trails above the main area.

Interesting trivia fact – by technical definition, Labyrinths aren’t mazes. Labyrinths only have a single path, with no offshoots, which means you can’t get lost in them… instead, they’re treated similarly to a scholar’s garden and can be intended as a meditation. “Walking the labyrinth” is a lesson in mindfulness, and an opportunity to simply appreciate the surroundings you find yourself in.

I took that to heart, when I found this labyrinth laid out in small stones, across a rocky part of Mt. Hood.

I walked in circles, appreciating each area and making a point to experience each view that it brought me to. I walked slowly, without rush, and appreciated each little bit of the environment I was in.

It was lovely, and a beautiful opportunity to re-center myself before the hike out.

Of the hike out… there’s not much to say. I hiked it, and quickly enough found myself back at the car. Too late to have dinner at the Lodge, but just the right time to order some chicken from dominos on the drive back.

Camping and hiking up on Rainier!


Friday, Saturday, and Sunday – 21-July-2023, 22-July-2023, and 23-July-2023

I’ve never really been up to Mt. Rainier.

I think I know why – but at the end of the day, it was just a confluence of circumstance that had kept Rainier out of my target-list for places to go adventuring. When Jess asked if I’d be interested in car camping and doing some day hikes around the Rainier National Forest… well, no time like the present to explore a new spot, right?

I had Friday off, while Jess didn’t, so I spent some time packing up and relaxing. Blueberry bacon pancakes, coffee, more bacon… yeah, it wasn’t a bad start to the day.

After Jess was off work, we packed up her truck and headed North. Through the highway, into the woods, and onto the back roads we went, braving the challenges of finding a good dispersed camping spot. More of a challenge than we were expecting, interestingly, as the area that’d been recommended to us… was actually houses. In the woods. Banjo noises thankfully not included.

We found a good spot, though, and soon enough camp was set and stars were being gazed upon.

In the morning – bacon and veggies and coffee!

Then – A hike up to Noble Knob.

Yuip. Yup Yuip. I may have picked the hike based on that name alone, but you can’t prove it so it’s fine.

It was a nice hike. Long, but not too steep. Dusty and warm, but not too exposed or brightly sunburnt. We found a lake, we swam, and I even flew the drone around a bit. We chatted, spent some good woods time together, and even met a couple with their two Malinois who were heading in to watch the sunset. Watching the pups play was definitely a nice bonus to the evening!

Dinner, more stargazing, and a beautiful sunset… What more could I ask for?

The next day brought with it another quick breakfast, a medium-length hike out to the Rainier viewpoint (on the aptly-named “Rainier View trail”, along with another drone flight and some good reading on top of the hillside. Then a drive home, some excellent burgers and onion rings from a roadside fry-shop, and a quick stop to grab some equally excellent roadside flowers.

Yay adventures up to Rainier!

A jaunt up toward Elk Meadows


Saturday, 15-July-2023

The original plan for the weekend was a light and chill backpacking trip up to Elk Meadows – nothing heavy, but nothing too light either… that’s the joy of Elk Meadows, yeah? Simple and short backpack, but then if you’re still energetic there’s the whole meadow, on top of that trail around the ridgeline with all the fallen trees! Stages and levels to the hike galore!

But… we didn’t quite make it that far.

See, it turns out I’m not the only one prone to injury. Maybe that’s one reason Jess and I get along so well – we both break various bits of ourselves with concerning regularity.

This weekend was, unfortunately, Jess’s turn. An injured back, combined with an injured hip, made carrying a pack not the greatest plan out there. At least for Jess – I’d already packed my bag, and… well, no reason to leave it in the car, right?

The plan was simple and clean – we grabbed my traditional brunch at Pine State Biscuits, then headed to Elk Meadows.

“But Ben, didn’t you just say that wasn’t a good idea?” Quite right… quite right. But bear with me.

Then, instead of doing the full ascent, we did the simple part – the flat section up to the steep bit! A little over a mile each way, with basically no elevation change to speak of. Enough to get some healthy motion into the limbs (and some good training for me with the full pack), but not so much that it risks exacerbating any pre-existing injuries.

We hiked, we spent some lazy time relaxing by the rushing river, and I even flew the drone around a bit. Then, we headed back – made a nice dinner, relaxed, and… flew the drone around a bit! Nothing huge, mind you, just straight up far enough to get a nice view of the Portland Skyline, and even a few of the Cascades nearby!

A good day, and a lovely light hike.

(Pancakes from the next days breakfast included!!!)