North Cascades National Park, Washington

Summer in full swing, and time to get our first camping trip done. I found a picture of the North Cascades N.P. on Instagram, and I was like “we have to go there now”. And so we did. Late Thursday afternoon we left boiling PDX and headed north.

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Our first stop was at the Shell at the Winlock/Toledo exit for a road trip late lunch of chicken tenders and jojos. For some reason mine was dry and not as tasty as usual, Mary insisted hers was as good as normal. Anyway, onward and forward.

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Our timing leaving Portland was perfect and we managed to avoid Seattle traffic – a first! The sky as we drove northward was looking more and more apocalyptic. Wildfires in BC were blowing that distinctive orange smoke south, and the haze grew thicker the further north we drove. We stopped in Mt. Vernon to hotel it overnight with a king sized bed and HGTV before 3 nights of tent camping. It felt like a good transition from town life to ‘out there’. We ate a late dinner at the local Applebees (yuck). A family across from us was celebrating their sons 21st birthday, and mom and dad were plying him with shots of bourbon. It was amusing and weird to watch that rite of passage similar and yet so different from our own.

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In the morning we left Mt. Vernon around 9, ate breakfast at the hotel (yuck) and stopped at Fred Meyer to fill the cooler, gas tank, and pick up a new Barbie for Mary to model crochet prototypes dreamed up in the car. She has been named Travelonda d’Boocoupe. Mary crocheted up a hoodie sweater and a pair of shorts for her on the way into North Cascades.

We arrived at Colonial Creek Campground a little later than I wanted, but snagged site #106, one of the last remaining ones aside from walk-ins. After setting up camp in our bower for the next 3 nights we drove back to the ranger station in Newhalem.

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They had a nice exhibit describing the geological features and wildlife of the park, including this large stuffed slug that I loved! I stamped my national parks passport book, and we checked out the trails there for possible future hiking. On the way back to the campsite we stopped at the village and picked up some drinks and snacks, and then headed to the Gorge Overlook. The half mile or so trail was gloriously wooded and shaded, a welcome relief from the lingering heat wave. The haze was obscuring some of the scenery, but the views were still fabulous.

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We dropped in for a brief peek at the beach across Highway 20 from the campground, and snapped some photos. I waded into the water to mid-calf. Shockingly cold at first but quickly got used to it, and I was looking forward to a nice long float the next day in our favorite tubes. We also scouted the trail in the campground that we also hoped to hike the next day.

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Travelonda, the new raven that we picked up at the ranger station, and our favorite travelling companions watched over while we made a dinner of hamburgers with grilled onions, mac and cheese,  baby carrots, and MOOSE DROOL! Finally some yum! Hurray for camp food! After getting everything stowed away in the provided bear box we settled down at the picnic table for some serious crochet and journaling. Kids and dogs barking in the campground kept the night pretty loud. A group camp across the road from us had a birthday party including cake and a “damn-the-ban” campfire, their previous relative mellow turned to raucous sugar high quickly.

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We hit the sack early for some cot reading, but I fell asleep after 20 pages or so. Mary said the sugar highers went on for ages, but since I didn’t sleep well the night before I crashed hard and slept through it. There was a brief thundershower overnight, but the remainder of the night was delightfully dark and quiet. We woke up the next morning to a 3 hour thunderstorm.  After nearly a month of no rain, and many years since experiencing a decent thunderstorm it was very exciting! The thunder echoing off the steep mountains surrounding us was amazing. The rain finally tapered off enough for us to get out of the tent around noon and make some coffee and eat breakfast.

Since the weather continued to look iffy and was significantly cooler we decided to skip floating and  jump straight to hiking. We drove to the Wilderness ranger station in Marblemount to ask about moderate ~3 milers near our campground. They directed us to the trail in camp, and another very popular trail right across the road. We popped into the Newhalem store again on the way back to Colonial Creek so Mary could pick up some Calamine for a palm sized evil fly bite she got on her leg. Once back at camp we made a late lunch of hot dogs rolled up in grilled cheese halves with more grilled onions, yummers!

After lunch the sky cleared and we set out to do an out-and-back three miler up the Thunder Creek trail, the ranger had told us a bridge over the river was a good turn around point. The trail was through dense forest next to the creek with that fresh after rain smell – earthy and unbelievably delicious. The water in the creek was a smoky teal grey from rock flour and moving quite rapidly after the morning rain. There were quite a few people on the trail, but it never felt too crowded. A nice soft easy trail to get the legs warmed up after the long drive.

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Once back at camp we were greeted by a slug army. What is this slimy brown cat turd climbing up our tent!?! I had to evacuate several slugs and a few green stink bugs from our general area, hopefully they all enjoyed the nice trees I placed them on. Meanwhile in camp there was a dude who kept yelling out “Yaaaaa-Hupp” over and over. It went on day and night so I don’t know if he had Tourettes or was just a loud arsehole.

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After eating an ungodly amount of grilled onions in a third meal of chicken tenders with curried noodles our stomachs rebelled all night long in the tent.”Yaaaaa-huuuupppp”. Fortunately we didn’t asphyxiate ourselves, and lived to hike another day! No internet bliss! No campfires allowed though, so no night time s’mores activity either. :( Our loop of the campground quieted overnight, the group camp aka “the human zoo” left, and we had a passed out biker (bicycle kind), and a quiet couple on either side.

Sunday morning we woke up around 10 to sounds of the campground packing up and leaving for the work week, no more “Yaaaaa-huuuppp”! Yay! We talked a bit about the weird noise in the middle of the night we both heard and after research what I think was a barred owl call. After breakfast we got our hiking duds on and headed across the road to hike the Thunder Knob Trail.

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METAMORPHIC ROCKS!!! WOOHOO!

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We danced a true groove at the top of the trail, and picked up a few interesting metamorphic rocks, don’t find many of those round these parts, very exiting! I’ll let the pictures of the hike speak for themselves, but in a word –  spectacular. After the 3.6 mileish hike we boogied back to camp for cheeseburgers and carrots, but didn’t linger too long as our camp bower was cold and clammy. We decided to get our creative gear out and found an awesome pier on the river to relax on, watching birds and people try to fly and paddle on the extra breezy waters. Watched some kids throw rocks in, and just lazily drew and crocheted in the sunshine until it got too chilly. Back at camp I set up the hammock for Mary to crochet in, and I took a nap in the tent.

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The next morning we packed up our camp and hit the road. We drove east on highway 20 and stopped at the amazing Diablo Lake overlook. WOW! There are some awesome metamorphic swirls on the road cut across from the overlook so check those out too if you’re up that way.

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Washington Pass is the last pass before hitting the east side of the cascades, and we had to stop and grab some pics. Next time we’ll hit the trail there that supposedly has a 700 foot cliff and amazing views as well. We turned south on 97 and drove back through central Washington as I had never been that route before. Through the eastern edge of the Cascades and into high desert country rolling over its golden ridges. We passed countless fruit orchards, cherries, apples, pears, peaches, etc. and through a number of apple maggot quarantine zones. It was a slow route taking over 9 hours to reach home, but it was totally worth it for it’s ever changing geography, topography, temperature…so many trees.

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We ate lunch in Wenatchee, and I captured a cloudy halo in the back window as we packed in for the final push to Cascade Locks and home!

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We arrived in Cascade Locks a little after 8 pm, and drove up to a closed sign at “The Cone”.  We both screamed NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! But I noticed a girl with two sodas standing at the window so I told Mary to jump out and see if we could still get cones! The woman at the window told Mary she just cleaned the machine, and Mary said we just drove 9 hours for this cone – but then the girl (her daughter) said “Mom, let that lady have a cone, she really wants one. And it’s money!” So she did, and we coned! YAY! East Wind Cafe you rule!

26The final bit of the drive was a golden sunset through the Gorge, and then home to happy cats. Another fun adventure in nature – relaxing, rain-filled, cool, full of gorgeousness, full of hiking and challenging ourselves to wander!

Critter Watch:
Slugs, inch worms, chipmunks, Stellars Jay, robins, ravens, loons, canadian geese, other ducks, other water birds, warbling birds, tiny bees, flies, mosquitoes, green stink bug, 3 small deer including 2 with tiny new horns, 2 elk, heard a barred owl, various unidentified butterflies and other insects.

Summer Project Launch!

I’m finally exited to share with you the launch of my summer (and beyond) project A Field Guide to Wondrous Things. A few of you are aware that for the past 3 years I’ve been doing a semi-secret Youtube channel. I’ve posted over 100 videos on that channel and have over 2000 subscribers, and it’s served as an awesome way to connect with others, and experiment with video content creation. It’s been quite an adventure, but only plays to two of my passions. Now I’m looking to connect with more of my life-driving passions, and a much wider audience.

That’s where A Field Guide to Wondrous Things takes over. On AFG2WT I’m going to focus on the intersection of art/science/storytelling and the natural world. These are topics I’ve been interested in exploring in the past, but I’ve never had a super clear vision of how. I’ve thought about a magazine (TBD), I’ve thought about an art space, and I’ve thought about longer animated pieces. Video is the happy medium for me for right now, but I do plan to roll out content in other mediums as the project unfolds.

So without further ado I present the first introductory episode of A Field Guide to Wondrous Things called The Green Between:

If the project excites, stimulates, intrigues, or makes you do a happy dance please consider supporting the channel in some fashion. I’m specifically looking for any or all of  the following:

  • gas or equipment $
  • a GoPro camera
  • sound equipment upgrade (wireless lavalier mic)
  • a 10 sec introductory tune
  • collaborators & other creative wanderers
  • smiles, encouragement and spontaneous dance parties!

Contact me if you would like to donate equipment, or you can donate directly through my Youtube channel or right here! Thanks for your support!



You can find AFG2WT on the web at :

A Field Guide to Wondrous Things (Youtube)

WondrousFieldGuide (Instagram)

AFG2WT on Hargie.com (PDFs & Links to other content)

 

Veda Lake Trail, Mt. Hood N.F.

Veda Lake Trail – ~2.4 miles

On July 1st to escape the heat and get our float on one visiting Jimbo, Mary, and I headed up to hike the Veda Lake trail on Mt. Hood. The drive up to the trailhead includes ~3 miles of super bumpy road – high clearance vehicle is absolutely necessary. If it’s a clear day you get a fantastic view of Mt. Jefferson about half way up. There seem to be quite a number of trails off this road, and a large number of former campsites with fire rings and some picnic tables. Seems like a great place for a first primitive camping or backpacking overnighter not being too far from Government Camp but still feeling plenty “out there”.

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One of the highlights of the trail, besides being blissfully short, are the incredible views of Mt. Hood. We lucked out with an SCUV day (severe clear unlimited visibility), the kinda day that always reminds me of 9/11, and from the top of Veda Peak enjoyed the vista above with our first peek of Veda Lake. From this vantage point the lake looked like a long slog downhill, but the trail has very gradual switchbacks and it didn’t take nearly as long to get down as expected. In fact the only “tough” section is right at the beginning with a 1/4 mile pretty steep uphill, but the overall trail is rated as “easy” and I think that’s a fair grading.

lake

Once down to the lake it didn’t take long for us to get in the water. It felt wonderfully cool after the hike in, and we floated around for a good 1/2-1 hour. This summer has been unusually and incredibly hot, and even escaping to the mountains hasn’t been much of an escape from the heat. Having a lake to swim in (and not being too cold) mid-hike was perfect. We passed a couple backpackers with their kids on the hike down, but there was no one there when we arrived. Another couple of backpackers with kids arrived while we were swimming, and we passed another couple on the way up – so it seems like a pretty popular place to take kids and people for a first backpacking adventure. There are a number of level campgrounds located around the lake, but sound travels, so if there were a lot of kids/people there it might be loud on busy weekends.

crawfish

I read that there were crawfish in the lake, and there was a trap left on the “beach” but I didn’t see any until I finished my float. Then two decided to crawl right up to the shoreline and I managed to get a good shot in. Funny to see them in the lake, and I imagine that their population gets pretty scarce by the end of the summer.

lily

The locally known Mt. Hood lily, actual name Washington lily (Lilium washingtonianum Kellogg), has a colorful and interesting story. Wonderfully fragrant and varying in color and speckled texture they livened the switchbacks down to the lake, picking up where the rhodie and bear grass blooms were fading.

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It was great getting out of town for the day, visiting with Jimbo for another PNW hike, and getting our float on! Can’t wait to come back for a little backpacking adventure some time. It’s a toss up between Bear Lake and Veda Lake now…

Critter watch: Crawfish, chippies, insects, birds

 

Never thought in my lifetime

red

orange

yellow

green

violet

purple

Red: for the beatings, bullying, and blood shed.
Orange: because anything is possible.
Yellow: to waking in sunshine to new perspectives and possibilities.
Green: for go, forever progressing.
Blue: to never forget the role that sadness plays.
Purple: for those who stand and fight in the face of adversity. Then, now, and always.

Back on the trails

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Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.
– T.S. Eliot

Larch Mountain Crater Hike – 6.06 miles

On Tuesday I set off for a new to me solo hike up at Larch Mountain. Longest hike of the year so far was 5 miles back in April. The year started off really well with walking and hiking on a daily/weekly basis, but around mid-March the routine fell completely apart. Coincidentally, or not, my stress levels during spring quarter were way off the charts compared to winter quarter, despite a lower course load. It’s taken the past couple weeks of school detox time to notice the impact of daily walking and weekly hiking on overall stress levels. It’s way past time to hit the trails again!

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Larch Mountain (4,061 feet and sans Larch trees) an extinct shield volcano that last erupted about 4 Ma ago lies within the Boring Lava Field and dominates the skyline east of Portland, OR. The stories I’ve heard about Larch Mountain revolve around biking. It’s an infamous 14 mile climb from the Vista House split. Someone once told me a story about a buddy who was flying down the road screaming with success after his first springtime climb. He wasn’t wearing glasses and was directly nailed in the eye by a large bug at 30+ mph. RIP eye. His friend informed me the accident did not deter his love of riding one bit (good reminder to always wear some sort of eye-protection while riding!). So Larch became “Eye-loss mountain”  – bugs, hills, “dannnggeerrr”.

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But when I started hiking down into the crater, the second growth forest embraced me and the smell of flowering bear grass and cedar changed “Eye-loss mountain” into “eye-full mountain”.  The crater loop is an excellent trail to practice some forest bathing, or as the Japanese call it Shinrin-yoku (森林浴). A calm, gentle stroll to tune back into the natural world. Roots and rocks, and pebbles keep your toes dancing down the trail, while sections of perfectly flat railroad grade ease the pain of climbing back up the crater wall.  I believe that a trail that puts you a little off balance creates a greater connection to your surroundings. An enhanced awareness so to speak.

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It was a great opportunity to put my new shoes to the test. The approach shoes that i’ve been hiking in the past couple years finally lost their traction. They were great, never had a blister, but always felt my toe box was squished at the end of hikes. So, I did some research, and switched to some Altra Lone Peak 2 trail runners.  After my positive experience hiking hundreds of miles in the approach shoe I’m never going back to boots (if I can help it!). The Altra’s are big yellow paddle shoes, but my feet felt great after these 6 miles – so far so good. We’ll see how they fare over the long haul.

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June is a great time to be hiking in the PNW. The wildflowers are still in bloom, and you can still find some pretty interesting fungi if you look closely. Because it’s been extraordinarily dry the past several weeks the bugs have not been too annoying. The trail drops from the Larch Mountain parking lot through a second-growth forest to the crater floor which can house a temporary pond if there has been enough rain. If not it reverts to a marshland, with skunk cabbage, and marsh marigolds (which I did not see), and other wetland vegetation. The trail skirts around the edge of the marsh under an old cedar canopy. You’re under shade nearly the entire hike. The trail switchbacks up the crater wall, a decent climb but never too challenging, until a completely flat one-mile section that used to be an old railroad line. There are a couple open spaces here that provide an excellent view North. Mt. St. Helens was in view, but the hazy conditions didn’t allow for a good photo. Another mile plus of gradual climbing takes you back to the trailhead through bear grass and rhodie land. The rhodies were past prime it seemed, but you could still find the occasional pink bloom.

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It felt great to be back on the trail despite feeling incredibly out of shape and maybe pushing the mileage a little. It feels good to push right up to your edge sometimes (as the T.S. Eliot quote says above), then you know how far you can go. I’ve been stuck at the 6 mile limit (mosty self-imposed) for a while, and this is the summer to push a little farther. I can’t wait to get out for another long hike soon!

The only minor bummer about the trip and that was that I forgot my CF card for my good camera and had to use the cell phone for these shots. But… any photo taken is a good opportunity to get back into the practice of observing!

Until next time, keep walking, and get outside!

Critter watch: insects, one lone chippie.

Shaking the dust off, getting dustier

Thistle and Bee
Thistle and Bee

Last year the caretaker of the Alvord Hot Springs told me a story about a enormous R.V. bus that pulled up to the springs. The caretaker was surprised when a large Mennonite family emerged, and the wife said “what and who would live in this God-forsaken place”.  This may have not been her actual words but I immediately understood the sentiment. Many people, myself included for a long time, have a common misconception that the desert or near-desert is lifeless, barren, and completely unlivable. The challenge I took on myself and now pass to you if you carry this belief is to take a closer look, a much closer look.

Wind Farm, Eastern Columbia River Gorge
Wind Farm, Eastern Columbia River Gorge

I’ve been itching, positively electric, with the need to get out of town and into nature. I’m taking the summer off from school after 2 years straight non-stop studying. With 16 weeks of freedom and a rough plan for wander we needed a warm up. A kayak adventure to Sparks Lake near Bend was a possibility, but after seeing some beautiful wetland pics on The Hike Guy‘s Instagram I asked him what the mosquito condition was out there, and he reported a 7/10 (10 being unbearable). The choice was then Coast or Desert, as our favorite place to primitive camp is also unbearably buggy this time of year. Cool conditions at the coast eventually turned our sights to the Painted Hills of the John Day National Monument.  There are a number of available camping options in the area, but we prefer 1) Free, and 2) Out there, so I focused in on available BLM sites northwest of the Painted Hills.

Campsite on the John Day River
Campsite on the John Day River

A few miles past the Painted Hills is the turn off for Priest Hole Recreation Site. If you don’t have AWD and high clearance avoid this road, if you do, carry on. We ended up at the campsite above, with an amazing view and our own quiet swimming hole. The hills around the site glowed in the golden hour as we sat down with bullfrog surround sound and Swifts doing their aerial acrobatics in the fading light above the basalt cliffs. The mosquito level was completely tolerable despite being right on the river.  A quick dinner of turkey burgers and fresh zucchini, and we settled down in the tent for some reading before bedtime. The tent walls were clicking and crawling with earwigs in the light of my headlamp, and the bullfrog symphony was in full bloom but sleep finally won out.

Painted Hills National Monument, Painted Cove
Painted Hills National Monument, Painted Cove

The next morning after a simple cereal breakfast we headed back to the Monument to hike several small trails. As opposed to the land surrounding the Monument the actual hills are mostly lifeless (at least vegetation wise), but you can see insects, snakes, birds, and game tracks crisscrossing the hills. We’ve been out here 3 times, and each time is a completely different and unreal experience. The colors against the intense blue skies is spectacular.  You get lost traversing the crackle texture of the hills, the painterly stripes of color across the landscape, and the utter desolateness and remoteness of the place. The trails around the unit are mercifully short – usually no longer than 1/2 mile, which is great because there is little shade, and the afternoon sun and temperatures can be brutal. We hiked the Painted Cove, Red Hill, and Leaf Fossil trails, and ate lunch back at the picnic area next to the guard station which has deliciously cool grass and shade to lie in before retreating back to the swim hole for the afternoon.

Dessicated hills
Desiccated hills at Painted Hills National Monument
Giant puff ball
Giant puff ball
Red Hill, Painted Hills National Monument
Red Hill, Painted Hills National Monument

Once back at the campsite it was into the water which was chilly but we acclimated quickly and it felt amazing in the blazing afternoon sun.   It was too hot to get in the tent and change into my swimsuit so I swam around in my shorts and shirt.  Humptilumps and I rode the very minor rapids into the main channel for a mini-adventure. Swimming in our clothes turned out to be a wise move as it allowed us to lounge in the shade in our wet clothes to bead and read and lazily watch the many boaters and fishermen floating down the river through the most intense heat of the day. Once the sun settled behind the hill across the river we made a quickie camp dinner of mac and cheese with hot dogs and frozen broccoli. It tasted amazing as all food does after a full day playing outdoors.

The hills around our campsite
The hills around our campsite

After our full day of hiking, sun, and swimming we crashed in the tent shortly after dinner about 45 minutes before sun down. About 15 minutes after we got into the tent a car pulled up and out popped three children and their parents. “Let’s go fishing” (with maybe 30 mins of light left?) We looked at each other quietly in the tent like WTF.  As soon as the kids were out of the car they ran around the campsite “we have to go pee” and made a bee-line for the back of our tent until the mother yelled at them “to get away from there right this minute”.  Several minutes later the 5 year old goes into total meltdown mode and the father starts getting terse, hysteria crescendos into a “now Junior’s grounded”.  A few minutes of wailing later they get into their car and finally leave. We looked at each other and were like, who does that? Rude, inconsiderate, and utterly stupid. The only weird and somewhat laughable and somewhat sad “negative” experience of our whole trip.  This is one of many reasons why we try to camp as far out there as possible.

Wildflowers
Wildflowers

After another night of serenading bullfrogs and snoring we packed up and headed back to the Painted Hills overlook via “wildflower avenue” for a quick peek (and spotted another trail we need to do in the future).  You can and should go back to the Painted Hills in many different seasons, and at many different times of the day. There’s always something new to see. After a really quick trip partially up the overlook path we headed into Mitchell, OR to stop for lunch at the Sidewalk Cafe & More. We both had cheeseburgers n fries and I had a super yummy strawberry milkshake. I was shake #411 since May 2015!  Both times we’ve eaten there we’ve had friendly service, and delicious food. They make enormous and tasty sandwiches, and are basically the only restaurant for ~50 miles in any direction.

Painted Hills National Monument Overlook
Painted Hills National Monument Overlook

We drove back west on 26 through Prineville and Madras briefly entertaining the idea of stopping at The Museum at Warm Springs, but being dusty from breaking camp in a heavy wind that started the night before decided to save that for another day.  Once on Mt. Hood we decided to drive through Hood River and make our requisite end of wandering stop at “The Cone” aka Eastwind Cafe in Cascade Locks.

Humptilumps says "Hi" to Mt. Hood
Humptilumps says “Hi” to Mt. Hood
Ginormous 'medium' cone at "The Cone"
Ginormous ‘medium’ cone at “The Cone”

All in all a relaxing and relatively bug free trip to one of the 7 wonders of Oregon. It was a good shake down trip for us, our gear and our ability to hit the road relatively spontaneously. We will definitely return to Priest Hole Rec area, despite the one obnoxious family intrusion, it ended up being an awesome site and the swimming was divine. But maybe next time bring some shade cloth set up. The sun is unrelenting out there. Can’t wait for our next adventure! Remember to always take a closer look and get outside!

Critter watch:
Deer, Bullocks Oriole, swifts, unidentified snake, ground-nesting wasp, earwigs, ants of many types, bullfrogs, bass, minnows, raptors, ravens, bees/wasps/hornets of many types, dragonflies, and too many other terrestrial and aquatic insects to count!

Your dirty dusty and overexposed adventurers
Your dirty dusty and overexposed adventurers

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I’ll be starting up videos on A Field Guide to Wondrous Things in the next few days, so consider subscribing over there, and on Instagram for more outdoors goodness!

Walking & Hiking Goals for 2015

legs

At the beginning of the year I set a walking goal for myself to finish 1 mile of walking every day for the month of January. Towards the beginning of this week I passed that goal, and currently stand at an avg of 2.475 miles per day. I also set a goal for myself to hike at least once a week for the entire year – that goal is progressing as planned.

I have decided that I’m going to up my walking game and set a new goal of 75 miles for the month of January, and a total of 1000 miles walked and hiked for the year (~2.75 miles per day). Currently I’m 4.24 miles behind the new goal (yes, I even used my budding Matlab programming skills to write code that will tell me how far ahead/behind I am on any given day!). I’ll check in again at the end of the month and tell you how the walking is progressing, but for now lets catch up on the hiking.

 HIKE #1: Tryon Creek State Natural Area, Portland, OR – 2.03 Miles

bog

Tryon creek is Oregons only state park within a metropolitan area. Because of its proximity to the city, and its quiet nature preserve type setting it’s a super popular oasis from the hustle and bustle just over the hill. There are hiker and horseback riding trails within the park, and a 3 mile paved bicycle path parallels SW Terwillager along the parks eastern edge. The park seems to attract a fair number of trail runners, but there are paths for all levels, and even a bouncy suspension bridge! We’ve been there a few times now, and always seem to take a different route through the park. Our route for this short jaunt was Old Main Trail to Red Fox Trail to Cedar Trail to Middle Creek Trail back to Old Main. A light fog and winter greenery lent a broody atmosphere to the hike, and a recent dry spell meant some of the smaller trails weren’t too muddy. It was a great intro to the 2015 hiking season.

creek

ferns

trail

Other links:
Tryon Creek Naturalist Notes

 Hike #2: Whipple Creek Regional Park, Clark County, WA – 3.5 miles
bridge

Whipple Creek Park is < 20 miles north of downtown Portland. Google maps will lead you to a false entrance, so make sure you turn off 21st Ave where a small parking area is located at the end of the road. The trail is open to hikers, bikers, and horseback riders, and I saw all three out there taking advantage of this semi-secret patch of native forest. The larger trails were graded very well, but the smaller trails were slick with mud from recent rains. Everything was hushed in a typical foggy winter PNW day with light drizzle. I spotted one marginally hidden geocache tucked away on a side trail, so if you’re into that, you’ll have fun traversing the trails to find it. I could hardly believe this patch of heavily wooded forest was so close to the city, it felt so good breathing in fresh tree oxygen for an hour.

path  kiri

mud

Other links:
Whipple Creek Loop Hike

Hike #3: Sandy River Delta, Troutdale, OR – 2.67 miles

trees

We originally intended on hiking out at Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge in Wa, but the traffic on I-5 was bad, so we decided to drive out Marine Drive and walk by the river. We ended up at Sandy River Delta park (after seeing 3 cranes, and a coyote along the way). This is the second time we’ve hiked out there, and once you get past the road noise from I-84 it’s a peaceful wetland area filled with bird song, mud, and blackberry bushes. It would be more peaceful except for the fact that as an off-leash dog park its popularity has EXPLODED, and it’s literally overrun with dogs: diggerdy dogs, fetching dogs, lazy dogs, yapping dogs, smiley dogs. If you don’t like dogs, do not hike here. I love dogs, but I think in the future I’ll brave the traffic to go to Ridgefield rather than coming out here again to hike. It is a great park if you need to get a quick walk in without it being too strenuous, or if you are a die-hard birder that doesn’t want to travel too far from home for a bit of nature.

riverferns

Other links:
Sandy River Delta Hike

All in all a great start to the 2015 hiking season. I’m looking forward to exploring new areas in the coming weeks, upping the mileage, and most importantly snowshoeing!

2015 – Current Mileage: 39.6 miles