Tag Archives: Winter

In which Ben takes a winter walk, and pretends to be a lumberjack

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Friday and Saturday, 12 & 13-Feb-2021



Portland doesn’t really see much winter. Sure, there’s a dusting of snow once or twice. Every few years a bit of accumulation, maybe. But nothing that sticks around for very long, and temperatures almost never get below freezing. Wilsonville’s a bit further South, and farther from the river, so we see even less out here.

Less doesn’t mean none, though.

This time, we got ice. Not a little ice either, but quite a lot of ice. Tree-snapping, power-line breaking, road closing and car enshrouding ice. Multiple inches thick, solid accumulating ice.


It was quite a surprise, actually. I’ve gotten so used to the regular weather of Oregon (sun in the summer, rain in the winter) that I don’t really even look at the weather reports. If I bike in the summer, I don’t bring rain gear. If I bike in the winter, I wear the rain gear regardless. It’s simple and predictable.

When I heard trees starting to shatter on Thursday night… well, that’s not quite what I expected to hear on Thursday night.

When I got going in the morning, the first order of business was to sneak outside and assess the damage… mostly because I’m understandably paranoid about my freshly-repaired convertible… since everyone knows that Mustangs, while clearly the coolest thing on the road, aren’t particularly resilient to falling trees. You know, unarmored canvas tops and all.

Thankfully, while quite a few limbs had fallen nearby (or slid into the car, in some cases) no real damage was to be found. The real issue was the sidewalks – with so many trees and limbs down, most of the roads and sidewalks around my place were impassable.

The roads were out of my reach – the trees fallen across the roads were huge, and fell in ways that weren’t safe for me to try and remove without power tools and far more experience than I have.

The sidewalks, however… those were small enough branches that my axe and I could do some solid work. A quick breakfast was had, and then branches were hacked apart by the energized Ben. Partially energized by the breakfast, but mostly energized by finally having a chance to swing an axe for a good cause!

With all of that completed, I put all the tools away and set out for a bit of a winter wonderland walk.

With rain gear secured, and a helmet on my head to protect against the constant icefall from the trees, I headed out into the great Wilsonville arctic wilderness! My first stop was exploring the nearby park, though on the way I ran into a few other adventurous souls exploring around, and we even grouped up to pull a few of the larger branches out of the streets and off of the sidewalks… but overall, I saw almost no one on my wanderings – the park was beautifully quiet, though the ever present sound of icefall and snapping tree limbs did keep me pretty well focused on the present.

It was really nice, honestly, and quite helpful for keeping a present mind. Which makes sense, since… you know… falling tree limbs and such.

I wandered, explored, enjoyed taking photos, and greatly appreciated the chance to feel the cold. It’s been ages since it’s really felt like winter…

In Oregon, winter almost always stays in its little box up in the mountains, which can be nice when you’re commuting, but it definitely leaves me feeling a little sad and stuck. I’ve missed waking up to a snowstorm, to snow days, and to forging around town through the cold on a completely unnecessary quest to get some silly thing to cook for dinner. It’s not about the destination, but it’s about forging out into the cold, and feeling like an intrepid explorer!

Thanks to this unexpected ice storm, I got to relive a bit of that adventure – and even better, it was all melted away by the time I had to get in the car and drive to work on Monday morning.

I guess there can be some advantages to winter staying in its corner, after all.

Sunday River hiking ahoy!

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26-Dec-14 through 28-Dec-14

 

I’ve been in the city for a while, at this point.  I mean… I’ve lived here for years, but I mean that I haven’t been camping and hiking in the great Maine/New Hampshire wilderness in weeks or months.  And that’s not acceptable.  I also haven’t seen Mike since Thanksgiving… which isn’t all that long, if you think about it.  But either way – sorry Boston, but we’re going North!

 

Friday, 26-Dec-14

I’ve got the day off work, so I take an easy morning before driving out to the rest stop in Lexington, meet up with Mike and his Dad/Step-mom.  Top down, jacket off, warm day of happiness is the theme – somehow, it’s super-warm out… It was honestly only in the high 40s, but somehow it felt amazingly warm.

With the top down, the drive was nicely fast… soon enough I was parked next to their truck, and Mike was hopping into the car. We drive North, with a quick stop in at Tilton to get gas, put the top up, and get some food into our bellies.  Tilton seriously does have the best milkshakes this side of anywhere, FYI.

As the sun goes down, we make it to Sunday river!  Actually… exactly at the same time that Mike’s family arrives… good, we’re just in time to help carry in the snacks, food, and booze.  And with those all in the house… it’s time to party!  And watch The Interview.  Then Archer.  With, of course, some delicious booze and sweet clementines to keep us entertained before bed.

 

Saturday, 27-Dec-14

Even though we had been up late, I somehow awaken around 10:00, and Mike and I have a nice breakfast while his Dad and Step-mom are out skiing.  We make sausages and eggs with a rough ton of clementines; simple and delicious.

Mike’s dad and step-mom get back just as we’re about to finish up, we hang out for a bit and relax before Mike and I head out for our daily adventure.  It’s been raining for the last few days, so the slopes are too wet/icy to really ski – so we’re heading out for some hiking on a trail that I know of near the Loj.  Nothing heavy, but enough to keep us occupied.

Drive out to Route 113, and park the Mustang at the gate where the road closes out.  They don’t really maintain much of it during the winter, though the parking lot is mostly cleared out.  And then, we start in down the trail, along the river, and through the woods.  Seriously – we do everything from rock hopping to yoga on the river; and then once we’ve had our fill of pushing down the Wild River, we headed back and tried to bushwack out to a good overlook ledge that I know of: The roost.

Unfortunately for us, what I thought was the roost trail was definitely not.  We were actually about a mile down-river from where I thought we were, so when we left the main road to ascend up “the trail”… we were really going down a dead-end logging path.

But we had fun, and were nicely worn out by the time we did head back to the Condo.  With a quick stop in to get ourselves some coffee… since clearly that’s what needs to happen before sitting and hanging out, eating BLTs… We actually arrived back at the same time as Mike’s old friend Ryan, so we sat around and caught up /relaxed with Ryan while waiting for the night to really start.

And the start of the night?  Dinner, of course!  Mike’s step mom cooked up some fish that they had caught off their boat earlier in the year, and put into deep freeze for the winter – she fried the fillets up with potatoes and some other deliciousness, and we all scarfed them down right quick.

And with food in our bellies we head out onto the town!  The Funky Red Barn is calling to us, and we must go.   Ryan and I start the pool-hall challenge – it starts out well enough, with a few amazing rounds… then Mike lays some smack down, and Ryan and I play a single game that lasts nearly 45min, since we can’t hit anything for crap for some reason.

We continue on through the night at the Barn – the original plan was to move on another bar, but we hear stories that it was pretty dull from the other patrons, and we get to see a bit of a cool ski movie where they get a first descent on a hellishly steep mountain, so… may as well stay until it gets late, and we head home, right?

Well, then it gets late.  So we take the bus back home, and somehow convince him to stop in at a gas station to get us some snacks.  Snacks in hand, we then spend the night drinking and watching more Archer.

 

Sunday, 28-Dec-14

 

Since Mike and Ryan are skiing today, I get dragged from a pleasant dream by the sound of two rhinos putting on ski clothes.

No, honestly they weren’t bad – but I’m a light sleeper after a night of partying.  Not sure why.  But the result is that we got moving fairly early on Sunday – before I was really completely awake, we’d already had breakfast, packed up, said our goodbyes, and I was heading out to do some final hiking before the drive back down to Boston.

The goal of the day was to actually summit The Roost – forget the long walk, forget the snow, forget everything.  It’s a simple, short hike.  I refuse to let something I’ve walked up a dozen times beat me just because there’s 6″ of snow on the ground.

So… I did.  I walked along the river for most of the trail in, thanks to the snowpack being pretty brutal on the actual road.  It was quicker, and rock hopping is always a fun way to move along a trail – somehow it just seems quicker and more fun, I’m not sure why.  Probably because I’m running and hopping half of the time.  But the danger of rock hopping along a frigid river… well, my boots were already a bit wet by the time I found the suspension bridge, and started up the main trail to the summit.

But, while my old boots aren’t as waterproof as I’d like, they stayed warm… probably due to some good wool socks.  Take note kids: wool socks while hiking in the winter.  Pretty key.

The summit was pretty, though the exposure definitely dropped the temperature down ever farther than I’d expected.  So I took my pictures, listened to some music, relaxed… and made tracks back toward the car.  I dunked my feet into the water a few times on the way back (totally on purpose… yeah right), so I was definitely thinking about the dry sneakers sitting in my trunk for the last mile or so.  

And after that last mile was done?  Warm socks and shoes, and a gas pedal that brought me back home to Boston.