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)┬ádescent 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.

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!

Coastal Exploration

On Sunday, Tim and I went to the central Oregon coast for a bit of exploration and photographic opportunities. It was a chilly day, but beautiful nonetheless. We packed sandwiches and cupcakes to keep us nourished and then cruised along the beach taking pictures and admiring all the sea creatures visible at low tide. We even saw a massive heap of lazy seals sleeping on some high rocks, inevitably waiting for the tide to come back in so they could immerse themselves in the cold ocean.

Love the coast.

I’ll be back later this week with a delicious, hearty bread recipe – perfect for dunking in soup!

 

Huff-n-Puff

(dreary day outside my apartment window, taken with a make-shift pinhole camera)

Portland is being awfully stubborn by withholding warm weather and doling out plenty of cold, gray days instead. My immense love for cloudy skies and raindrops on the roof is fading into a deep abyss – I need some sunshine!

Tim and I thought we could capture some warmth by heading out of the city and onto our bikes. Well, we definitely worked up a sweat, but the cold weather followed us as we pedaled uphill and downhill. Where did we go? We went to the Banks-Vernonia State Trail: a beautiful, old, abandoned railroad path in Northwest Oregon’s coastal range. The trail maintains a relatively gentle grade with the exception of two mighty steep parts. It is 21 miles one way and we chose to ride the trail out and back, making for a long 42 mile ride. Needless to say, I was pooped when we finally crashed at home after the ride. Smartly, we started the ride in Banks, OR and rode to Vernonia Lake (our halfway point) for a lengthy lunch break. We were in company of red-winged blackbirds, osprey, and other sweet chirping creatures.I wanted to stop along the ride and photograph more beauty, but I wasn’t up for losing my momentum – which was keeping me warm!

(Banks-Vernonia State Trail)

(Vernonia Lake)

We snacked on some gluten-free vegan sambusas (a test recipe for Kittee’s almost-done cookzine!) before dinner to warm ourselves. These are amazing – pure, spicy, snacky, goodness that is portable, for folks on the move.

Speaking of Kittee, have you seen the new website she and two other amazing women launched yesterday? Well heck, you better go check it out! It is a 100% vegan and gluten-free website filled with everything you could ever wish for. Seriously. So proud of them.

Up, Up, and Almost Away!

Last week Tim and I went on a backpacking adventure. Our original plan was flattened when the trail we chose turned out to be a mess of overgrown, tangled, scratchy brush that towered over my head in most places. It was disappointing to say the least considering the area we were in was gorgeous and crowd-free. Oh well.

Lost in the brush – can you see me?!

We turned around and immediately scanned our hiking book for another option. Luckily we weren’t too far away from Bend, OR, one of our favorite outdoor recreation destinations! Yay! So, we settled on camping that night on the banks of Devil’s Lake and then climbing to the summit of South Sister (Oregon’s 2nd highest mountain) the following morning. Good choice!

Full moon keeping us company by our campsite

Despite the never-ending steepness of the trail, reaching the top was a mighty wicked reward. We hiked the same trail six years ago and it was fun to revisit the area. The best part about the South Sister climb is that you don’t need any special mountaineering equipment (depending on the season, of course). You just need determination, lots of water, sustaining snacks, and a good set of lungs! The trail is 12 miles round trip and takes a whole day, but it doesn’t matter because the beautiful scenery makes you forget the struggle. Take a peek!

Early part of the trail – flat for maybe a mile…

Climbing higher…

A gorgeous glacial lake about a mile or so from the summit – Tim and I actually dipped into this lake on our way back down – it was FREEZING (literally). The day was hot and sunny and all the climbing made the quick dip a worthwhile decision!

Getting closer (see the trail cutting into the red rock near the top of the photo?)…

Tim climbing…

Tim walking across the crater of South Sister – we’re almost to the summit!!!!

We made it! Top of South Sister: 10,360 feet. You can see Middle Sister and North Sister behind us. If you look closely, Mt. Jefferson is a tiny speck above the point of North Sister. The smoke on the left of the photo is from a forest fire nearby. It was WINDY!

An unobstructed view of Middle and North Sisters

That’s the trip! The way back down was much faster, but harder on the knees. Thank goodness for trekking poles!

What are some of your favorite hiking places?