Tag Archives: hiking

A triumphant return to Elk Meadows!

Standard

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?

Elk.
Meadows.


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.

LATE EDIT:

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

Montana – A quiet Sunday

Standard

Sunday, 13-June-2021


Any morning that starts out with French Toast is a good morning.

A morning that starts out with sugar-covered French Toast is a great morning.

This? This was an exceptionally excellent morning. Not only did it include sugar-covered French Toast, but it also included some leftover brisket from the BBQ that we’d had the night before, alongside fluffy scrambled eggs, a-la Brian and Clara.



After greatly enjoying our breakfasts, packing.

After packing, cleaning.

After cleaning? Hiking!



One of our original targets for hiking was a rather popular area called Pattee Canyon. It looked good, from a distance and elevation perspective, but it hadn’t had any notes of great views of expansive wildflowers… which put it a bit lower on our list for the weekend. But now that it was later on, and we were all tired… a simple walk where we could chat and talk sounded exactly like what the doctor ordered.

We drove, parked, and started the hike in… into the beautiful woods and roughly 90+ degree Montana summer heat.


I’ll tell you, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. Not in a bad way, at all, but… I don’t know, for some reason I was expecting Montana to be a bit more rocky than it is… more jagged mountains. Maybe I’m mistaking it for Colorado? But this was… well, just like the other hikes that we’d done. Rolling hills, tall trees, and a big sky. No wonder they call this “Big Sky Country”.


We walked, we talked, and we appreciated nature. Clara found some excellent flowers, and soon enough we were heading back into town for lunch… and by lunch, I of course mean Ice Cream!

We hit up a place called “Big Dipper”, an ice cream shop that Brian and Clara had been ranting and raving about for pretty much the whole time we were there. We got some rather generous scoops, and I’ll freely agree with them that it was well worth the wait in line.


After making myself far over-stuffed with huckleberry and chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream (with a chocolate shell and rainbow sprinkles, of course), we set about to explore town. No major goals, just… you know, poking around and enjoying the small-town vibes. We hit up some novelty shops, an outdoors store, and quite a few other interesting places… There’s a lot of art in a small town like Missoula, and wandering the shop was definitely a nice treat.


The rest was just saying out goodbyes, battling my way through both an airport lobby and the tides of time itself, and finally finding myself back in the 1970s, sitting at a gate, waiting for my flight to wing me back to Portland.



Montana – Saturday hiking

Standard

Saturday, 12-June-2021


Turns out, Google is smart.

Strange start to a post about a race day, but… bear with me, this is a good one.

The night before, we needed to figure out when to leave the house, so that Clara would be at the race on time. We plugged the addresses into Google Maps, and punched in the arrival time – 8:15am. It spit out our departure time – 8:30am.

What?

We had a nice rental car, to be sure, but we’re not talking a Delorian here. This thing could drive on gravel roads, but not through the tumult of time, right? We did a few double-checks, and Google kept spitting out the same thing – leave 15min after you need to arrive, and you’ll get there on time.

Finally, we noticed something – the race wasn’t actually in Montana, it was in Idaho! Across the state line… which also happens to be the time zone line! When we drove into Idaho, we went back an hour… leaving at 8:30 out time was, effectively, leaving at 7:30 race time.

Smart play, Google Maps.



Anyways, Clara also noticed some small print on the race flyer, reminding us that “all times are in mountain time”, meaning that we did actually have to leave at 7:30, instead of 8:30… but still. Interesting.



We got to the race on time. Clara started, and Brian and I read for a while. I napped a bit, and we generally relaxed and enjoyed the soft patter of rain on the car’s roof.

Soon enough the race was over, and Clara had finished her first high-altitude half-marathon! We celebrated, ate and drank, and appreciated the sunlight finally breaking through the drizzly clouds. It was nice – the energy around a race is always really positive, and I very much enjoyed soaking it in… especially while eating an exceptionally delicious bratwurst.

Our goal after the race was Jerry Johnson hot springs – one of the joys of this part of Montana is that it’s quite geothermically active, and many of the rivers and streams have natural hot springs pouring out into little pools. Most of them are, most likely, kept as family secrets or something… but we were able to track down a public pool that looked to be just far enough off the beaten path that we wouldn’t get mobbed by people.

We hiked in, found the pool, and slithered our way in!

There weren’t as many people as I’d expected, which was a nice bonus. The pools also weren’t quite as deep as I expected, which wasn’t so much of a nice bonus. The two bonuses kind of evened each other out though, leading to some gloriously relaxed times just luxuriating in the warm silty water.



After a while of soaking, we started feeling the need for food… and so headed back into town to rustle ourselves up some BBQ.

Along with the many hike details we’d looked up ahead of time, we’d done our research about places to eat. Brian, specifically, if I remember correctly… though forgive me if that memory isn’t quite as accurate as it should be. We had a place in mind though – the Notorious P.I.G., which both has an amazing name and an amazing location, being set up in an old oil-change garage.

We ate, we ate some more, and then we ate the rest of what remained. It was amazing.


After rather copious amounts of eating, we had some spare time… and slightly messy faces… so clearly the only course of action was to head back to the cabin and take a nice relaxed evening to enjoy some facemasks, pore strips, and a Disney movie or two.

It was a very good day.

As before, many thanks to my guest photographers! I now have some pictures of myself!