Tag Archives: Oregon Hiking

One does not simply walk into Mordor… 17&18-Sept-2021, walking through Mordor

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Friday and Saturday, 17-Sept-2021 and 18-Sept-2021


“One does not simply walk into Mordor”, Boromir said to the council.

“The Lord of Gondor speaks truly”, said Ben, “But one can walk through it, if one is quick and keeps their wits about them”

“Ohh.”, Boromir responded.



I’m not saying that’s 100% how it happened… but that’s probably exactly how it happened.

How what happened? Ohh, how Laurel and I walked through Mordor, of course!



We’d spent the week checking the weather and debating different hikes to try. Originally we’d planned on spending three days hiking into Green Lakes, in the Sisters Wilderness, before we’d realized that permits stopped being required the next month, and not that month. Then, we looked at a few hikes in Washington… but they had rain all weekend long.

The weather out in the Pacific Northwest is fickle though, so we kept our wits about us and kept checking the forecast, ’till we finally found a spot with available permits and a clear-ish weather window: the Western edge of the Sisters Wilderness, across the ridgeline from our original goal!


We cut the trip down to two days, thanks to the rain, but aside from that we kept the plan similar – meet up early on Friday (I’d have pancakes ready and waiting, of course), and then hike into camp before sundown on Friday. Then enjoy the sound of rain on the tent Saturday morning, before hiking out as the rain started in earnest.



The plan went as… well, as planned. Chocolate Chip pancakes with Bacon, some coffee, and a relatively normal 3hr drive brought us to the trailhead. Good conversations were had both in the car and on the path, though the trail did put a bit of a damper on conversation as we got into the burnt area of the wilderness.

Did I mention that part? The online trail description mentioned that there were a few miles in the middle that had been part of a wildfire, but… as can be expected, the trail description didn’t quite convey just how burnt this was. We’re not talking “lightly singed” trees, here. We’re talking scorched earth, blackened deadwood. The forest had been regrowing over the past two years, of course, but it was still noticeably dusty and devastated… a fact which added quite a bit of solemnity to the hike.

We persevered, though.



Walking through the burn was a good meditation aid, but I’ll freely admit that I was quite thankful to get through and back to living forests. Both Laurel and I had a rough time of it; burning through our water much more quickly than expected, between us and making sure Biscuit had enough to drink… the sun was warm, and the trail was dusty, and the views seemed to sap our energy as we continued through…



Until, finally, we came through Mordor to the other side… our destination, Husband Lake



It’s interesting – I’ve hiked in the Sisters Wilderness many times before, but I’d never heard of a mountain called “The Husband” before. It’s nestled to the West of the main Three Sisters, in a parallel valley to the Green Lakes valley. There’s a series of small lakes, and the PCT even goes through the valley a little ways to the East.

It’s beautiful, barely travelled, and… I don’t quite get why it’s not as popular. As you can see, dear reader, we may have gotten some stellar views as we unpacked, set up camp, and the sun dipped down toward the horizon.


Laurel, being the MVP that she is, had insisted on carrying my inflatable kayak. We’re heading to a lake, so clearly we needed to be able to paddle it, right? Right.

I’ve used the kayak quite a few times before, but this was my first time using it on a proper backpacking trip… and let me tell you, it was absolutely amazing. Quietly sitting on the lake as the sun sent light scattering through the clouds and smoke? Gorgeous.

Laurel set up the tent while I paddled, then she paddled off while I filtered the water and started prepping dinner… it was gloriously chill, and an amazing post-hike start to the evening.

The only one unhappy with the situation was Biscuit, I’m sorry to report. He was definitely not a fan of the humans splashing into the distance where he couldn’t check on them, and so stayed as close to the kayak as he could on the shore… after swimming for a while, of course. But it was cold, and he’s a svelt pup, so we quickly dried him off and bundled the poor dear up while we cooked dinner, drank wine, and chatted on into the night…



The next morning dawned exactly as we’d expected – to the pittering sound of rain on the tent.


There’s something gloriously relaxing about waking up on a cool morning in the rain. It wasn’t quite cold, thanks to having three people in the tent… well, two people and one dog… and the sound of the rain was just inconsistent enough that it was both soothing and interesting at the same time.

I lay, drifting in and out of sleep, for quite a while… It was lovely, and absolutely what I’d been hoping for when we talked about going backpacking. But, after a little bit, I started to feel restless… and found myself outside, braving the rain to do a bit of exploring and to make a bite of breakfast.


We’d packed coffee, instant eggs, cheese, and some tortillas… nothing too fancy, mind, but enough that it was lovely and fun, and just enough work to assemble that we had something to do in the warm dryness of the tent. I’d been tempted to just push through the rain, but Laurel insisted on waiting for a bit… I wasn’t convinced that the rain would hold off, but hanging out in the tent was fun, and she’d put up with me pushing us onward the day before… so turnabout is fair play, and we spent an hour or two just relaxing and chatting in the warm dry spot in the storm.



She was right, it turned out. The rain slowed, then stopped completely.


We headed out into the world, packed up, and got ourselves underway back toward the truck. The hike out was long, and definitely wet, but also beautiful. It was easier to chat, since the trail wasn’t quite so dusty, and the fine mist helped keep us cool… cool enough that we didn’t really want to slow down much, as we made our way down the trail.

It was lovely – a major shift in climate from the day before, but an excellent ending to an excellent hike.

Specific details:

Trail map: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/oregon/foley-ridge-trail
Foley Ridge trailhead permit: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/willamette/recreation/recarea/?recid=4435&actid=104

Distance (Expected) = 14.6 miles, plus 1mile to the lake
Distance (measured on FitBit) = 22+ miles

Elevation (expected) = 2,368 ft
Elevation (measured on Fitbit) = 2,520 ft

A hike to the Coast! The return of Cape Falcon!

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Sunday, 28-Feb-2021



The last few weekends, I’ve been up in the mountains. Snow, cold weather, beautifully crisp air… I love it.

Sometimes, we need a change of scenery though – Sticking with the theme of the weekend, I was hiking with a friend today, and she’d gotten into a crash while snowboarding back on Friday… so she wasn’t quite feeling like hanging out in the snow, which is rather understandable after cracking your helmet after flying through a whiteout.

We went in the other direction, trading cold snow and crisp air for warm breezes and salt spray!

Falcon’s Crest is a fairly short hike, with a surprising amount of mud in that short hike… but it’s a beautiful few miles, with light elevation gain and excellent views. The trees are covered in Moss, the forest is lush and green throughout the year… and while you can’t quite smell the sea air, you can still somehow sense that the ocean is nearby. Maybe it’s the subtle noise of the breakers, or the salt tint to the breeze… I couldn’t quite put a finger on it, but it’s still always an amazing feeling.

We hiked in, avoided as much mud as we could, and enjoyed a nice snack out on the point overlooking the waves.

We hiked back, rested for a while on a bench by the beach, and watched the surfers rock the breaking waves. Having Aliona along, I got to learn quite a bit about the surfers… or more accurately, the waves that they were chasing. That’s what I love about meeting new people, and spending time with friends – you can always learn more about something, if you have someone along for the ride to talk to.

Every activity has such surprising depth to it, and I truly love getting to learn the intricacies behind why people are doing what they’re doing.

After beach-gazing for a while, we headed back to the parking lot for a quick snack before driving back to town – Aliona pulled out a full camp cooking kitchen from the back of her car, and I got to enjoy a rather amazing late-lunch of indian-spiced ramen noodles. Not something I’ve ever thought to try, but it was gloriously delicious – smooth, spicy… an excellent end to a beautifully salt-sprayed day!

Hiking out to Moraine Lake, 01-Sept-2019

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Sunday, 01-Sept-2019

Bend, Oregon

 

It had been a week.

Not one of those good weeks, but the opposite – one of those bad weeks.

A busy, hectic, urbanite nightmare of bad traffic and workplace emergencies that all piled on top of each other into a twisted heap of unhappiness. Thankfully, I didn’t have to stay in that heap – Sarah was still house sitting down in Bend, and as soon as Friday was over I escaped the insanity, driving like mad to escape to the oasis of calm.

 

The drive itself was glorious – It was clear and warm, and I left the top down for the whole drive.  I left a bit after work, so traffic wasn’t bad at all, and I even found a driving-buddy car who kept pace with me for a good chunk of the drive.  It’s always fun when there’s someone to dodge and weave through traffic with – especially when the traffic is crazy-huge lifted bro trucks that belch smoke when they try to accelerate… and then get completely stomped by two zippy little cars.  Haha, your fancy de-tuned engine isn’t actually more efficient, and you should feel bad.

(Ed Note: for those who might not know, this is a thing.  See “Rolling Coal” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rolling_coal)

I did lose my driving buddy south of Mt. Hood though, when I saw a car stopped on the side of the road with their hood up.  I stopped, but thankfully they were okay – it was actually someone waiting for their friend, who had picked up the driver and taken them to a nearby gas station to grab a fill up.

I doubled-down on my good karma gathering when I saw a second car stopped not 5 miles down the road – this time I couldn’t find anyone nearby, and the car looked like someone was just randomly backpacking… Maybe it was an early-season hunter, or something?

Either way, I drove onward to Sarah!

 

 

The hike was on Sunday, after we took Saturday to explore Bend and just relax a bit.  Like I mentioned, the week had been singularly unpleasant, and a day off was exactly what the doctor’d ordered.

Sunday, we headed out mid-morning.  Not early, but not late either.  Our original plan had been to head up Tumalo Mountain, but we found out that the trail wasn’t actually dog friendly.  And since we had both Ollie and Scout (our neighbors dog) with us… dog friendly was pretty critical to the adventure.  So we pivoted, and headed toward the Green Lakes trail, to go and explore Moraine Lake.

Green Lakes is one of Sarah and my’s favorite hikes – it’s nestled in between four major glaciated peaks, and always has glorious view.  Moraine Lake is off that main trail by a bit, and so we hadn’t ever checked it out… Since we were taking it easy with the two dogglets, this was the perfect time to explore a bit, and take the road less traveled.

The hike itself was exactly what you’d expect – we trundled, and did a bit more trundling until we stopped trundling at the lake. We also stopped a few times on the way; beautiful sunlight through the trees trapped us once, and exploring some beautiful rock formations caught us another time.  But mostly – we trundled.

 

I don’t really know what else to write, if I’m being honest.  The hike was lovely, and the views were just as lovely, but the photos really do that part justice… it was a really good hike.  A good chance to get into nature, let the dogs run a bit, and to just rest and relax after a crazy week.