Tag Archives: hiking

Hiking Coyote Wall, in the Fall

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Sunday, 16-Sept-2018

First off – There were no Coyote sightings at Coyote wall.  Weak, I know, but hey.  C’est la vie.
Second off – woo hiking!  We’re still doing our training hikes, building our endurance and strength back up, and this was one more step on that ladder – a bit longer, a bit higher elevation gain, slightly heavier packs… slowly but surely, you know?
Coyote Wall is something that we’ve hiked before, but hadn’t made it all the way up to the top of before.  It’s out in the Columbia River Gorge, it’s got great views, and it’s just long enough and has just enough elevation gain to make it a legit challenge for us right now.  It’s pretty ideal, honestly.
We started in late, as a way to dodge the morning rain, and arrived just as the sun was starting to burn through the clouds.  It was beautiful, and we started into the hike with extremely high spirits, and energetic squealing from both Sarah and Ollie.  I, being the professional adult of the group, merely squeaked under my breath and smiled a lot.
The start of the trail is a bit dull, thanks to it being a section of the old gorge highway… but it’s still pretty beautiful, since I use “highway” very loosely here… we’re talking 1.5 cars wide, semi-paved… this isn’t a modern road, but one of the original roads going down the gorge as a pleasure road instead of a working road.
But once we broke onto the main trail (with a little bit of help from a random trailrunner), the views and the terrain took a huge turn for the impressive.  We worked our way up an endless series of switchbacks, constantly moving upwards along the ridgeline toward the trees in the far distance.  The terrain was mostly grasslands with random spurs of rock sticking out – Ollie’s ideal running ground, incidentally – with almost nothing blocking our views of the gorge stretching out below us.
As we got higher we started being able to see the edge of the Columbia Gorge Plateau in the distance and the vineyards dotting the landscape in between… it honestly seemed like something out of a fairytale, or maybe Lord of the Rings?
Anyways, the weather held out on us, staying beautiful right up until the point when we stopped for lunch.  We’d decided that it was about time to turn around anyways (a late start means a late lunch, which means tired legs), but the rain definitely helped us feel better about our decision.
It didn’t last long, thankfully, but it did seem to have kept everyone else off the trail for the day… we’d seen the weather report of course, but had decided that the middling chance of rain wouldn’t be enough to stop us from taking a day hike.  But I guess other people didn’t feel the same way, because we saw almost no one for the whole trip; it was beautifully abandoned, which just added to the sense of wonder and fantasy that we’d felt on the way up.  And the views were even better on the way down too!  Since we were facing down-hill, toward the Columbia River itself, we were able to spend the entire time just watching the landscape… it did make placing our feet a little tough, I’ll admit, but the distraction was absolutely worth it 🙂

Hiking up to Elk Meadows for Rosh Hashanah

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Monday, 10-Sept-2018

Rosh Hashana, one of the Jewish High Holidays, is traditionally spent in the synagogue, surrounded by family and familiar prayers and wearing our best outfits.  The most working out that we do is alternating between sitting and standing, along with some bustling in and out of the kitchen afterward when making the big dinner.
We didn’t quite follow those traditions this year.
I apologize to my Grandma, but I wasn’t able to find a synagogue that we wanted to attend, and so Sarah and I started looking at some alternative ways to celebrate the New Year – specifically, ways to celebrate that focused on motion and hiking.
Sarah, as usual, took the lead in finding us an excellent hike.  I, in turn, made sure to request the time off (as is traditional, since most companies haven’t even heard of the High Holidays), pack our bags, and prepare a bit of a plan for what we’d eat for the hike.
Eating is key, you recall.  Jewish holidays tend to have a focus on food – even Yom Kippur, when we fast all day, has the breaking the fast as a critical point.  Rosh Hashana is about chicken dinner, apples and honey, and making sure to ring the New Year in as a sweet one.
The day dawned, and the car zoomed toward Mt. Hood.
The target that Sarah had selected was Elk Meadows, on the South Eastern face of the mountain.  It’d be a fairly long drive, but an extremely scenic one – definitely a good way to start the New Year.  But we also held with another important aspect of Rosh Hashana – reflection.  Rosh Hashana starts what are called the “Days of Awe”, where one is supposed to reflect on their past year prior to Yom Kippur.  In that vein, Sarah and I discussed our various upbringings, Religion, and how the previous year had gone… along with how the current course of the year seemed to be going.
Honestly, it was surprisingly positive when considering how rough this past year has been.  Moving, being unemployed, injuries, challenges… we’ve been overcoming them all, and are honestly in a far better place than we were before.
Okay, that’s a lot of backstory.
We got to the trailhead.  It was beautiful.  It was a bit rainy, but we both put on our big-kid pants (along with our no-less-helpful rainpants), shouldered our packs, and started in.  Ollie had her backpack too, of course, and was running her usual role as outrider – making sure no interesting smells or food could sneak up on us without her having first thoroughly investigated them.
The hike in was lovely – a really pleasant increase in distance and elevation gain from our previous weekend’s hike to Veda lake.  It wasn’t extremely long, but it was definitely an increase in both duration and difficulty… which is good, since increasing difficulty is the best way to ramp up strength and become unstoppable juggernauts of endurance.
Past that… it was hiking, you know?  We chatted, walked, chatted some more, and even took a short break at one point!  Super exciting stuff.
The most exciting was the meadow though – Once we arrived, we seriously had to just take a few minutes to sit and enjoy the views.  Elk Meadows is up at elevation – right around 5,200 ft, in fact – and right on the steps of Mt. Hood.  it’s gorgeous; a huge rolling alpine meadow with a few copse of trees connected by little streams and rolling grass.  Even better, we found what we assume to be a trail maintenance crew camp!  We’re talking a little area complete with table and chairs (made of cut trees), tree benches, and a perfect view over the meadow toward Mt. Hood.
With a camp like that, there’s no way we could have found anything better.  Time to stop, and enjoy a Rosh Hashanah lunch!
Lunch was:
  • Apples and Honey.  Obviously.  But two types of apple, and two types of honey!  Because we’re fancy.
  • Hot Cocoa.  Not just regular cocoa either; Sarah mixed us up some rather impressive cocoa ahead of time, and kept it in a thermos so that it’d be nice and warm.
  • Sandwiches, made fresh!  These.  These were the key.  I was dreaming about these sandwiches all day as we hiked.  Fresh baguette.  Thin sliced Fuji apples.  Brie, spread over the whole piece of bread.  Cured prosciutto.  Drool!

And it was a glorious lunch.  Perfect views, perfect company, and perfect weather.  A little chilly, which was ideal for the Cocoa to help warm us right back up.

 

After lunch we rested a bit, and explored the meadows.  It was pleasant and relaxing – we’d left our bags, and so just wandered for a bit, enjoying the breeze and the sun and the open air.  Lovely.

The hike back?  Ehh, nothing too special, honestly.  We passed a family who was on their way up to the meadows who’d never seen a dog as… energetic… as Ollie, which was definitely entertaining, but aside from that it was just fun and pleasant.

The drive home was the same – nothing to really write home about, though we did stop to get some excellent black cherry lattes to help fuel our return drive, and continue the tradition of starting the New Year off sweetly.

 

 

Camping out on the slopes of Mt. Hood

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Saturday and Sunday, 23 & 24-June

 

It’d been a while since we’d been camping – Sarah’s leg being broken made it seem impossible, and we were both a bit too frazzled and run down to challenge that.

Enter: our friends David and Naomi.  They have a van.  They camp in this van, and had heard of a good spot to go van camping.  Sarah and I packed up the Mustang and followed them to said campsite.

 

We met them on the trail into the woods – since the Van and the Mustang have pretty similar ground clearance, which definitely made life a bit easier for finding a campsite.  The easy to reach areas were mostly taken already though, so we kept driving deeper down the road into the woods.

And it turned out, that was absolutely what we should have been doing.  Turns out – the best spot is NOT right by the river where everyone else camps. That’s a trick spot.  It’s good, I’m sure, but it’s also close and easy… it’s the protector of the really good spots.  The spots up on the hill, with a perfect view of Mt. Hood.  You know, the spot that we found 🙂

Once we’d settled in and parked Van and Mustang, we set into the tough challenges of relaxing and enjoying the scenery.
  • Start the fire, then set up camp while Sarah starts cooking
  • Chili cheese dogs are delicious.  Ollie is a dog, and is of the opinion that she should have most of them
  • Relax by the fire, then head to bed
  • Sleep in a bit, while Sarah et. al. make breakfast and coffee, while enjoying the view of Mt. Hood
  • Relax at camp for a little as the sun rises, and then head out to Timberline Lodge
  • Hike Eastbound, instead of the usual Westbound… it kind of looks like the moon
  • Hike back, and end up chatting with everyone on the walkie talkie
  • Head to Salmon River Slabs, and do a few quick routes.  They’re fun!
  • Drive on home