Take a Hike!

Mt. Jefferson 01

I feel pretty fortunate to live in close proximity to dozens of snow-capped peaks. Many hikes in Oregon and Washington take you above the tree line and offer majestic views of mountains in all directions. But, you have to hope for clear-ish skies and you have to be willing to climb, climb, climb. It’s all worth it if you pack a protein-rich lunch to enjoy at the top. I like to relax for a bit before the much easier (unless you have wonky knees, like me) descent back to the car.

Last week Tim and I took advantage of a nice day and went on a hike to a place called Table Rock. The last time we hiked this trail, it was foggy and rainy and viewless at the top. This time? Well, let’s just say it was scenic!

Table Rock Summit 02

In the photograph above, you can see Mt. Jefferson on the left. We also saw the Three Sisters range, but they are hard to distinguish from the clouds in this photograph.

Mt. Hood 01

Mt. Hood is one of the most recognizable Pacific Northwest mountains. Clouds and mountains are the best of friends in case you didn’t know.

Evidence of Logging

Here you can see evidence of logging, in various stages of growth and recovery. It makes me sad to witness this because it is happening everywhere.

We also saw plenty of wildflowers, heard chirping birds, and stepped over babbling little streams. We went on a Saturday which means more people, but we still had some solitude at the top after a massive group with lunch-snatching doggies left. :)

It’s the season for hiking (in the Northern hemisphere anyways!). Get out and enjoy nature.

Hello October!

I am writing this post in the final dwindling hours of September. It is still warm and sunny in Portland, but I long for clouds, rain, and cooler temperatures. I am hoping that by eating comforting meals, the weather will take a hint! For example, a few nights ago Tim and I made the Snobby Joes recipe from Veganomicon. I turned mine into a bowl meal by adding roasted potatoes and chunks of avocado. It was pretty spectacular!

It’s been a remarkable past few weeks. I am falling into place at my new job and loving every minute. Tim and I went on a hike a few days ago and enjoyed lunch amidst lots of waterfalls.

And finally, I will be participating in the 2012 Vegan Month of Food! I always hesitate because it is a big time commitment, but I love the motivation and challenge it provides me. I tend to be a creature of habit, often cooking and baking my favorite recipes over and over. So, my theme for Vegan MoFo will be to make recipes I have never made before, making sure to use a different cookbook/magazine (from my ever-growing collection) each time. It should be fun! Check back tomorrow to see what sort of nonsense I stir up.

Over the River and Through the Woods

The sunshine made an appearance today! Tim and I took full advantage of abundant blue sky and went hiking in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest (located in Washington state). The snow levels this time of year can make finding a trail difficult, so we opted for a lower level hike we had done before called Siouxon Creek. Despite our careful planning, we still encountered snow! It was primarily on the forest roads leading to the trailhead, but it dotted much of the trail as well. We weren’t deterred though-we had the trail to ourselves for most of the day!

This area is absolutely gorgeous. There are plenty of waterfalls, lush greenery, tall trees (Douglas Fir and Red Cedar), and chirping birds to keep hikers company. Plus, the trail parallels Siouxon Creek most of the route. Even though the sun was shining overhead, the forest was COLD! Winter hats, gloves, and fleece pants kept us cozy. And, monster-sized veggie sammies kept us fueled for the 7.5 mile roundtrip hike.

My favorite spot on the hike:

Horseshoe Creek Falls

Unfortunately, the last stretch of the hike was impassable due to a creek crossing over a massive slippery rock. The water level was too high for a safe crossing, so we stopped just shy of the last waterfall and had lunch before turning back to the trailhead. Want to know the funniest part? I was looking through old photographs and discovered that the last time Tim and I hiked this trail was exactly 5 years ago (well, minus 1 day, but still!)!! We didn’t plan that, it was simply coincidental!!

This hike was just what I needed to get me even more excited for warmer weather and lots of hiking and backpacking. Nothing compares to being surrounded by the comforts and sounds of nature.


Recent Eats and Happenings

Time keeps prancing along ahead of me, and I simply cannot keep up. These last few weeks have been busy, adventurous, and challenging. Most recently, I finished my first freelance photography project with a series of wedding/celebration cakes. It is so much fun to photograph pretty things that I didn’t have to create myself!! Here is one example:

Isn’t that a beautiful cake?

Tim and I also went on a day hike last week and spotted this waterfall hidden in the trees:

We had to step over a lot of fallen trees and slippery rocks (click the link, that’s where I went to university!!!) in order to get close, but it was worth it. We hiked a mile further down the trail and had lunch in a dwindling patch of sunshine that eventually disappeared.

I also photographed some recipes for the Food Empowerment Project website. This is an absolutely wonderful organization that “seeks to create a more just and sustainable world by recognizing the power of one’s food choices. They encourage healthy food choices that reflect a more compassionate society by spotlighting the abuse of animals on farms, the depletion of natural resources, unfair working conditions for produce workers, and the unavailability of healthy foods in low-income areas.”

The Food Empowerment Project website has a small, but growing recipe database. If you have vegan recipes (preferably with an accompanying photograph) you would like to share, definitely contact them. They would appreciate it so much!

Hazelnut Pesto (one of my recipe submissions!)

Champagne Risotto with Tofu & Portobello (I actually made this recipe without the alcohol since I don’t drink, and was still delicious!)

Next week I will have a new vegan product review, and quite possibly, a new vegan cookbook review too!!! Happy Spring (almost!)!!

Hiking in December

Hello everybody! It is hard to believe that December is coming to a close already. Sunshine has been making an appearance nearly every single day this month in Portland. Bright blue skies and some much needed warmth make hiking in December the perfect activity for escaping the holiday chaos.

Recently, Tim and I took advantage of a particularly gorgeous day and ventured off into the Opal Creek Wilderness in Oregon. We were the only people on the trail. It was chilly and icy patches dotted our path, but we still had a wonderful day admiring the beauty surrounding us.

I love when the sun’s rays cut through a dark forest!

By the end of our 7 mile hike I was losing energy. We usually pack a lunch to eat midway through the day, but it was too cold to stop for more than a few minutes at a time. Tim did make the mistake of asking me to carry a ziplock filled with tortilla chips. I greedily devoured them while he climbed down some wet rocks to take a photograph. Lesson learned? Never leave me alone with a bag of tortilla chips.

Can’t wait for snowshoeing!