Tag Archives: Hiking Oregon

Hiking to Duffy Lake, Mt. Jefferson wilderness – 06-Sept-2020

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Sunday, 06-Sept-2020

 

Wildfire season has started.

Growing up, I was used to the four traditional seasons – in Winter we had blizzards, Spring had rain and sometimes hurricane remnants, Summer we melted, and in Autumn it was beautiful and perfect.

Out here in Oregon, we sort of have three seasons.  Rainy, Sunny, and on fire.

Right now, we’re on fire.

 

I don’t want to get into the specifics and stressors of said fires, since that’s just unpleasant and not something that I can really affect in any way, so instead I’ll talk about the hike I went on right before the fires hit.  Immediately before, in fact.  Like… very close before.  I started the hike before the fires were really bad… and by the time we got back to the trailhead, the wilderness was closed due to the fires.

The trail in question?  Duffy Lake, out in the Jefferson Wilderness.  Nothing crazy or long, or with huge elevation gain… but a lovely looking trail, and a really great way to get out into the woods.

 

I really enjoyed it, got to meet and pet some horses, and had amazing views of the lake while eating lunch.  At this point the smoke from the nearby fires was pretty minimal, and instead of cloying the smoke just sort of hung above the forest, giving this interestingly misty / ethereal haze to everything.  It was… beautiful, in a way.

A long staycation on July 4th – Hiking on Hood

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So my company was hit pretty hard by COVID-19, and instituted a 10% furlough program. Reduced pay, but balanced by various furlough days scattered throughout the year… primarily around holidays. July 4th was one of those, which meant that I had Thursday through Monday off from work – the 2nd through the 6th. Five full days for adventure!

My original plan was to drive out to City of Rocks in Idaho. I reserved a campsite maybe two weeks beforehand, and started planning out what to bring, and what route to take.

But… It’s a 10 hour drive, shortest route. 11, by the route I was thinking of taking. And that doesn’t include stops for gas, food, and the stretch breaks that I’d absolutely need on a trip that long. I kept trying to talk myself into it, but in the end I just talked myself out of the trip.

I canceled the reservations, and put together a new plan. A staycation, full of relaxation, organizing my new apartment, and re-aquainting myself with the Pacific Northwest…

 

 

Thursday, 02-July-2020

 

The adventure started on a Thursday.

The plan was something a bit non-standard; to hike up Mt. Hood during the day, to see how high up the glacier I could get. Sort of an endurance and altitude acclimatization test, if you will. My goal was to get at least as high as I’d gotten before, and ideally all the way up to the base of Hell’s Kitchen – the caldera of Hood itself.

I wasn’t particularly set on this goal, though. I knew it was pretty ambitious, and ascending in the middle of the day is absolutely not the ideal time. But it’s not dangerous, as long as you consider your surroundings and conditions, so I was looking forward to seeing how I’d do.

The drive out was lovely, but as I got onto the flanks of Hood, and neared Government Camp, I had a realization. I pulled over to confirm, and yes. I’d left my hiking boots at the apartment.

Well, okay. Part of ascending up a glacier is having crampons. I had them, but they were worthless without boots to attach them to. Technically I could probably hook them onto my running shoes… but they’re not waterproof, and that’s a singularly horrible idea.

 

Fine, Hood it out. What else’s around?

A lot, obviously. It’s Mt. Hood, man! I’ve got a whole forest ahead of me! I can go anywhere!

So I went to Tom, Dick, and Harry. It’s a peak that Sarah and I had done before, above the beautiful Mirror Lake – another hike that I’d done pretty regularly recently. Decision reached, I found the parking lot and headed in.

 

It’s July 4th weekend, sort of, so I wasn’t particularly surprised when the trailhead was nearly completely full of cars. I mean, it’s a Thursday… But COVID has everyone home, I guess? Meh, who knows? It’s all good. I parked as far away from people as I could, and headed into the woods.

There were a lot of people, but it’s thankfully not too hard to stay away from folks on trails like this – I admit that I hopped off the side of the trail more times than I’d have preferred, which definitely added some time to the hike, but you know what? It’s worth it.

The hike itself was exactly as I’d remembered it – beautiful, fairly calm, and great views. It was pretty toasty, definitely, but I felt really good. I think it’s all the time wearing a mask at work – seriously, I’ve noticed a definite boost in my hiking endurance, even more than when I was regularly running. It might help that I’ve been biking, and have access to a gym, but… I still think it’s too soon for those to have kicked in any appreciable amount.

You heard it here first, kids. Wearing a mask gives you better endurance. Woo!

 

Anyways, I hiked, it was beautiful, and then I summitted. It’s one of those surprise summits, where you don’t quite realize that you’re already there until you look over and – BOOM – Mt. Hood is standing proud directly in front of you.

It was excellent – Relaxed, had a snack, and even played with / got mobbed by some chipmunks. The “got mobbed by” is quite accurate, actually, since they tried to loot my backpack by starting to climb into the pockets… while it was less than a foot away from me. I feel bad admitting it, but I ended up having to fully kick them away, when yelling, tossing pebbles, and then smacking them with my hands didn’t work. They’re persistent little buggers.

The hike down was quick and painless – I stopped at Mirror Lake to admire the view and take a quick rest, but mostly I just trucked onward down the mountain, and back to the car. In total, I think I did ~1,800ft elevation, and maybe 8 miles. Not bad, especially as the start to an adventure weekend!

 

Hiking Elk Mountain… or attempting to, at least

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Hiking Elk Mountain… or attempting to, at least

Tuesday, 05-Sept-2017

 

Daniel came to visit!

We’d come up with a whole adventure plan for his time here in Portland – we’d warm up on Gorge climbing at Rooster, then climb the Beacon, then hike, then explore the city.  Great plans, right?  WRONG.  FIRE.

As in, there were fires.  Some kids, hiking at the Eagle Creek trail, decided that what that area needed were some explosions.  So they threw fireworks into the brush.  Which, funny story, caught fire.  Which then, totally unexpectedly, caused a monsterous conflagration burning over 48,000 acres.  Yup.  Because some [swear words here] people wanted to play with fireworks.

 

ANYWAYS.  I’M NOT BITTER AT ALL.

 

Since we couldn’t go climbing thanks to the fire, we spent the morning doing some research at a rather excellent breakfast spot that Sarah and I like taking Ollie to.  Advantages of Portland: there are a ton of dog-friendly spots nearby.  After perusing six or so guidebooks, we settled in on a solid hike – trekking up Elk Mountain, out toward the coast.  It wasn’t too long, wasn’t too high elevation, and more importantly it was out of the smoke from the fires.

So we thought, at least.

A few hours later, Daniel and I are sitting at our high point, staring off into the hazy distance, wondering how we’d gotten so winded by such a short hike.  Ollie wasn’t fairing much better… the poor puppy had burnt through her own water, and I’d started giving her mine.

We weren’t at the top yet, and actually still had something along the lines of 800ft still to go, but the time had come and we made the call to head back to the car.  Still a beautiful hike, no doubt, but it probably would have been a bit more beautiful with… you know… breathable air.