Tag Archives: Hiking Oregon

A triumphant return to Elk Meadows!


Friday and Saturday, 06 & 07-August, 2021

Seriously. Elk Meadows, man.

So good.

You don’t even know. Anytime I need to escape the city, but don’t quite have the energy to do some big backpacking trip?


That’s what I did, the first weekend of August. If that part wasn’t obvious. Woke up, had a relaxing day, and then tossed my gear in the car to cruise up the highway and over to Mt. Hood.

The drive was exactly like it always is – traffic and chaos until I finally leave the city behind… then a few towns, one specific intersection where someone always tries to cut into traffic by screaming and ramming the person in front of them, and then some clear highway until I can start seeing the mountain.

The clouds stayed around for most of the drive out, but I wasn’t particularly worried – I’ve done this drive often enough to know that the clouds like the morning… one of the really cool things about Mt. Hood is that it’s tall enough to actually slice through a lot of the clouds coming in from the coast – which means that the Eastern aspect is usually cloud-free, or just has some interesting cloud formations left over by the evening.

You know… the aspect with Elk Meadows on it?

Yup. Keeps coming back, doesn’t it?

Anyways. It was great. A few cool things happened, too!

But before I dive into those… Enjoy a video of a literally babbling brook that I ran across!

I saved a teenager’s life! Or… well, he said that I “literally saved his life”, but I was a teenage boy, and I’m pretty sure he’s still learning what literally means. Or maybe not – what happened was that, as I was hiking in, I passed a group. Then, about 2min later, I saw a brand-new iPhone sitting on the side of the trail by a nice sitting log… The story was pretty clear, in my mind, so I quickly dropped my pack and started jogging back up the trail to try and catch up with the group I’d just passed.

My hunch was right, once I caught up with them – and I earned the aforementioned accolade of life-saving.

However, one downside was that I got overtaken by another group of backpackers… I was worried that it’d mean that I’d lose out on my favorite campsite, but… lo and behold, when I got there the site was still happy and open for me to flop down and stretch out. Yay, Karma!

The other cool thing was that I met the second Kirby of my life! Strange thing, I know, but… you know, it was just interesting enough that I feel like it’s worth noting. I’d never met anyone named Kirby before, so… kinda neat.

After setting up camp, there was still quite a bit of daylight left. I headed out for a bit of a pre-dinner walk, and ran into the team that had passed me on the trail while I was returning the phone. I told them the story, we laughed, chatted, and I played fetch with their dog for a few minutes. Nothing major, just… nice, you know?

Ohh! And a third thing happened! I’d lent my tent to my friend Laurel a week or five previously, and this was the first time I’d taken it out since getting it back from her. She hid a tiny hand in it. Hah!

Anyways. The rest of the trip went absolutely beautifully. Relaxed, chill, and pleasant.

I like this meadow.


I just remembered! On the drive home, I got to meet a thru-hiker! Or… mostly thru? He was an older gentleman, coming up from the Oregon / California border with his pet chihuahua, looking for a ride over to Government Camp.

Yes, you read that right. A tiny one-pound dog, hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.

It was amazing.

Added 04-Sept-2021

2020, a year in review


The entirety of 2020… Can it even be summarized? How can I look back on a year that seems to have lasted a lifetime? More than a lifetime, even?

But here I am.

Typing my thoughts into a blog, thinking back on one of the most eventful and impactful years of my life. Even as I type that sentence, I question it… was this last year really that much different from the previous years? I’ve had major life shifts, sure, but… I’ve had those before. Leaving Medway to go to college, graduating college, even moving to a new state for an internship. Breaking my arm, then my leg, or stepping onto that plane that took me so far from home, when I first traveled to South America?

Those were all such huge events… but I feel like the difference is that they were planned. Expected. Part of the roadmap, so to speak. 2020… well, it didn’t have a roadmap. Even if it did, the track I followed sure wasn’t the same map that I started the year with…

Right now, I’m alternating between standing on my porch, overlooking an empty road, and sitting by my little gas fireplace, enjoying the warmth and the simplicity of the fake wood.

Celebrating New Year’s Eve alone.

And that’s okay.

That’s what 2020 became – a chance to be alone, and to settle back into myself. To recall who I truly am, what I can be, and where I want to be going. The whole world is changing, faster than I think any of us ever expected, and sometimes we’ve got to step back and appreciate the quiet solitude while we still can…

Let’s sit down together, and walk through the year together, shall we?

January – I started the year in Scotland. We watched as Australia burned, while lashing rain both torpedoed the family plans and also gave me some of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen – the sun shining out over the Isle of Skye. We flew back to the United States, blissfully unaware of just how much the world was going to change over the next 12 months…

February – My Mom came out to visit Portland! Honestly, this seems so long ago that I can barely even remember it… which I definitely feel bad about! I ran a 5k, and although I didn’t do quite as well as the previous year I still stuck it out, grinding my way through the steps.

March – I started working from home. Something I’d wanted the option to do for years, but I didn’t ever expect that it would be caused by a pandemic like this… In March, I still felt like COVID was something almost normal, or that it at least wouldn’t lead to as much of an impact to my life as it did… Snow came to Portland, and I started settling into a slow trudge of another year.

April – The lockdown really came in earnest – We limited exposure to people, and I started trying to do better about staying fit while being stuck indoors. That lead to a new injury – Trying to do deadlifts at home led to me pulling a nerve in my back, which in turn led to some of the strongest pain medications I’ve had to take.

May – We started taking Ollie to my office on the weekends – I was going into work every other day, but was also stepping in for an hour or so on weekends to help with 3D printing face shields for COVID relief… which gave us some unique chances to get out of the house, and even out of our neighborhood, at least for a few short hours.

Flowers started blooming in the garden, adding a really nice touch of color to the ongoing pandemic…

June – June marked the end of my longest relationship, and was the closing of a hugely impactful chapter of my life. A relationship ended, and I was set back on the path of remembering who I actually am… slowly restarting the parts of myself that I’d shut down over the years. I went camping, and backpacking, and finally met my friend Mike down in California…

I also moved to a new town, cutting my daily commute from 90min down to 10, which would slowly reverberate through the rest of the year as extra time, energy, and focus.

July – My Birthday came and went, though I could barely tell you what happened. I was still settling into my new apartment, my new routine, and my new life. COVID restrictions were still in effect, but comparatively lax against what was to come.

I started going outside even more; hiking, backpacking, and rock climbing.

July also marked my newfound love of hiking Elk Meadows, which would become my new retreat from the insanity of the city…

August – August brought hiking and biking, but the biggest standout of the month was my first big solo backpacking trip in… well, I can’t remember how long. I took the week off from work, packed up the Mustang, and ground away the miles to far Eastern Oregon, to the Eagle Cap Wilderness and the near-legendary Ice Lake.

Ice Lake is supposedly one of the most picturesque backpacking trips in Oregon, it absolutely didn’t disappoint… and was a beautiful chance for me to escape into my own mind for a few days.