Tag Archives: Oregon

Oregon Wildfires – the air was not good. Mid-September, 2020

Standard

September, 2020

 

Man.

2020 is just… not great, man.

It’s scary – I saw someone say that we shouldn’t think of this year as the worst wildfires in a decade… but instead, think of them as the best wildfires for the next decade.  Every year, they get a little bit worse… hopefully we can reverse it, but realistically…

Well, let’s just simplify it and say that I’ll be buying a heavier-duty respirator, instead of the small one that I’ve got now.  Maybe one of those ones with a self-contained tank, or hip-filter or something?  We’ll see.  I’ll look on the fire-fighters supply store and see what I can source this coming Winter.

For now though, the fires burn, and I stay indoors.

From the 10th to the 17th, roughly, Wilsonville stood on the world stage as having some of the worst air quality in the world – top 10 for almost every day, and literal worst for a few hours on the 10th.  My worksite was closed that whole time, though thankfully I already have a working from home setup, so it didn’t affect my ability to get things done too harshly.

Physically, it was rough – headaches, light nausea, that sort of thing… but again, thanks to already having a full fridge and a good set of facemasks, I was pretty well protected from the ash and smoke.  I just stayed home, and did my best to not refresh the air quality page and the evacuation orders page too often.

 

There’s not much else to say, really… I took a few pictures to give some visuals to it… so sit back and enjoy this quick glimpse into what living on Mars will probably look like.

I guess, since we’re having so much trouble getting a manned mission to Mars set up … we’ve decided to bring Mars here?

Sorry, that was the only viable joke I could think of for this whole thing, so I had to fit it into the blog post somewhere.

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

Standard

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.

Climbing at Ozone, taking the sharp end, and cleaning routes!

Standard

Sunday, 23-Aug-2020

 

I got to climb outside again!

I don’t really know if I’d been to Ozone before; I didn’t think that I had, but after doing a few routes here… I’m less sure.  I can tell you that it’s really good rock, with a good approach trail and well bolted routes.  Parking wasn’t bad, and there weren’t nearly as many people as I’d feared there would be.  I mean, it was basically a perfect day, weather-wise, so I’d been expecting a pretty packed crag.  When there were only two teams nearby… well, definitely took that as a win.

The climbing team of the day was Bri, Lizzy, and myself.  We met up mid-morning, packed up the Mustang, and headed in!

 

Driving, parking, and walking in were easy, and in short order we were racked up and started in on the routes.  The specific climbs I’ll detail below, but the first climb was when we hit our most… exciting… part of the day – a loose boulder.

When climbing, loose rocks are just part of the outdoor adventure.  We’re careful, and warn our belayers if we knock something loose.  It’s why we have helmets, after all.

One of the biggest fears of a climber, though, if knocking a big rock loose.  A rock that a helmet can’t help our belayer against.  A bit over halfway up Night Owl, I ran into that fear first-hand when an ~80lb boulder shifted under my hands.

I was on lead, above my gear, which meant that I didn’t have anything to hold onto aside from the rock itself… which had just moved, so… not a great thing to hold onto.  Thankfully it was an easy route, and I was on fairly solid footing, so I was able to quickly re-adjust, and find some safer rock to hold onto.  I was also, more importantly, able to catch the rock on my hip, keeping it in place for the time being.

First up was warning everyone, obviously – telling my belayer and the climbers nearby to vacate the fall zone, and to keep a steady eye on the area that the rock would fall from.  Then, once I found a better handhold, I wedged the rock back into its place as best I could, and continued up the route.  On the way down, I lashed the rock in place with some slings and trad gear – another advantage of climbing Trad, I guess?

 

Once the rock was secure, our plan was to climb, and then re-assess the danger when we took the route down – the rock was safe and secure, and no one was going to be climbing on top of it going forward.

Once we’d all climbed the routes from that anchor though… that was when the adventure began.  I laced up my hiking boots and headed up on top-rope, assessing the size and fall line more directly this time.  We enlisted the climbers next to us to help keep everything clear – they blocked off one side of the trail, and we blocked off the other, making sure that no unexpected teams would wander into the fall area.

With the area safe and secure, my original plan was to lower the rock down with me, so that it wouldn’t kinetically crash down unpredictably.  Once I got to the rock though, it was quickly clear that it was far too heavy for me to safely maneuver on my own… and that ironically the safest option would be to let gravity do the work, and to let the rock fall naturally.

So I disconnected it from the safety gear, and used the webbing already on it to slowly leverage it out.

Honestly, it was terrifying.

But, in the end, it fell safely… if loudly.  Definitely a scary adventure, but I’m really glad that we were able to clear it ourselves, instead of having to leave it as a possible danger.  I did sacrifice some webbing to the rock, since I can’t re-use the webbing that fell with it, but it’s not a bad price to pay… and now I have an excuse to go to the climbing store again!

 

Routes:

Night Owl – 5.6 Trad, Lead – This one was fun, if a bit dirty.  Hasn’t been climbed too often it seems, which led to the previously-mentioned “fun” of removing the huge loose boulder.  Still, worth climbing if you’re around and are careful.

Why Must I Cry – 5.10 Top Rope – This was really fun, but definitely tough… and I may or may not have actually followed the correct route.  I’ll definitely try it again.

Rude Boy – 5.8 Top Rope – Another fun route, but still a bit dirty.  I think I crossed onto this route while doing “Why Must I Cry”.

??? (Maybe Leisure Time?) – 5.9/10 Top Rope – This route isn’t in any of the guides, but Bri and Lizzy lead it on sport… it was definitely a stiff 5.9, if not a low 5.10, and I was very happy to be seconding it.

Helm’s Deep – 5.9 Top Rope – Similar to the previous one, but has the fun of starting off a huge pillar… so there’s a sort of moat around it!  Much easier than the unknown, but I’d still happily call it a 5.9.

 

A good trip, in every sense 🙂