Dog Mountain, May 2019

Jared and I found ourselves in Hood River OR, on the way to Bend, in mid-May. So we hiked Dog Mountain. 6 miles roundtrip. 2800 feet of gain. A high point at 2948 feet. It was a niceish day. A bit clouded in, some rain, and very, very windy on the mountain. The clouds parted on our way down for some great views of the Columbia River Valley. Spring flowers were in full yellow bloom. We originally thought we might make a go for Augsburger Trail – which would have been 15.5 miles roundtrip, 4400 ft of gain and a high point of 3000 feet – but upon discovering the wind and getting rained on, compounded with the fact that Jared forgot to pack a jacket of any kind and only had a rain kilt-as-cape, we opted for the shorter hike. A swell hike though! Plenty of other people out there on a Saturday. We ran down the trail. And we discovered that with all our extra time we could consume a lot of food, beer, and cider. On a clear day, it would be sweet to hike all the way to Augsburger for the excellent Mt Adams views.

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Paradise Snowshoe, May 2019

Cousin Kristy and I just had to visit Rainier while she was in town from Boston! Early May, lots of snow, 100″+ of base snow at the Paradise Visitors Center. Snowshoes. Buttsleds. Warnings of avalanche danger. Sunshine, warmth, lots of tourists. Skiiers, mountaineers, folks in bluejeans. Amazing views of glaciers. Horizon views of St Helens and Adams and more. Parking lot snacks. Sunburns. Amazing.

Lena Lake, May 2019

My folks, Nancy and Charlie, along with cousin Kristy came out to visit Jared and me at our home on Vashon Island. Thanks for the visit, fam! Being early May (much snow at at most elevations) and on an island (thereby not super close to many hikes) we decided to take a leisurely 7.2 mile roundtrip hike to somewhat nearby Lena Lake in the Hood Canal region of the Olympic Peninsula (maybe a 2 1/2 hour drive for us each way).

The high point was 2000 feet and the gain 1300 feet. N&C and Kristy regularly crush the New Hampshire 4000-footers in spring, summer, fall, and winter, so this lil’ hike was a breeze. Charlie might even call it a “knoll”.

The hike was gentle and tree-filled. Some waterfalls and streams. And the lake sure was perty! We spied freshwater oyster shells on the shore of lower Lena Lake. Were we hallucinating? It was a nice walk with the family, a good time to chat and catch up and learn about Kristy’s latest goings-on. This is also the route to climb the prominent 6800+ foot Brothers which sounds intriguing – not something I could do right now but certainly something to dream about for another day…

Enabling Exploring…

Doesn’t #vanlife look p sweet bra? Chya.

I am sometimes tempted by the pretty instagram pics and glamorous YouTube videos on #vanlife. Exploration all the time, a life of freedom and fun, not a care in the world, it’s all sunshine and rainbows as far as I can tell. Especially alluring after a dark winter, doesn’t it look like a mirage of sunshine on the horizon?

Ok yeah, realistically it’s probably more like bickering with your partner in cramped quarters, pooping in a vehicle, and trying to hide and pretend that you’re not in there at night so nobody calls the cops. Maybe not wholly glamorous…

Besides, I get the impression that many people drop tens thousands of dollars on a tricked out Sprinter van, hop in, then realize – oh wait… is this really what it’s all about? While there are certainly pros and cons, I still admit, there are some days when I think it would be super convenient to have mobile living quarters to drive to a trailhead on a Friday night, or maybe even crash in spur-of-the-moment on a road trip or impromptu escape into the mountains. But wait – do I need the finest and most-decked out of Sprinter vans with tiled kitchen walls, a vitamix, queen sized bed, swivel seat, and solar shower to find what I seek? Do I? No. I don’t.

Remember – perfect is the enemy of the good. KISS – keep it simple, stupid. Sometimes scraping by and scrapping by with the bare minimum will suffice to achieve the goal. Let’s back up a sec. What exactly is it that I is it that I need to achieve what I’m looking for? What AM I looking for? Goal: mobile sleeping quarters to crash at a trailhead. Needs: privacy in a car. Semi-stealth ability. Moderate comfort. I own a Toyota Matrix. With the seats down, it’s kinda almost long enough for me to sleep when I position my 5’2″ self at a diagonal – which means it’s totally impossible for Jared at 5’10-11″ to get a wink of sleep. I sometimes hang fabric curtains with safety pins in the most rag-tag way if I want to car-sleep. And it’s really not comfortable or cutting it. Unless…

Let’s rethink this…

Problem: Cramped quarters. How can I extend the sleeping space? Solution: Scootch front seats forward as far as possible and use a sturdy piece of plywood across the end to lengthen the space to a grande 77″! Winner.

Problem: Crappy curtains. How do I improve the privacy and minimize the space occupied by curtains? Solution: Window coverings with blackout fabric and velcro. Yessss.

Ok then. A successful solution. I have the plywood. And it’s in the car. Check. Curtains are 70% complete. Just need to sew a few more and add the velcro. Almost check. All I need to do is sew some more, hit the road, and try to sleep!…

 

Not QUITE Hiking…

As this is a “hiking” blog I feel obligated to stick to the subject! However, I have not been hiking at all lately. Sadly to say. Being a home owner on Vashon Island in the southern Puget Sound is great and all, but it leads to some distance from mountains. Especially in March and April. And winter. I have several hiking trips on the horizon: a few weeks on the PCT in northern OR/southern & central WA, the ENCHANTMENTS! in mid-July (google it. Thank you Heidi for scoring the sweet permit!), and hoping for weekends and who-knows-where/what trips here and there.

What have I been doing, if not hiking? Well – making quilts and wall-hangings, and working a few gigs: gym job (front desk at the local athletic club a few 4 am mornings per week), substituting at the local schools (the preschoolers were particularly adorable the other day), covering shifts at the local consignment store (Luna Bellas), and TEACHING KIDS CLIMBING at the local climbing gym. Hence my post….

Teaching kids climbing:

It’s an interesting and fun job. New to me, teaching and working with kids. It’s 5-6 hours per week. Teaching is fun and hard. Kids 4-11 years old. 3 classes, 2 days/week. We have the beginners, the intermediates, and the advanced. Each class is 45 min-1 hour long.

The kids have a free climb for 5-15 minutes.

Then warm up movements and climbing.

Then games and/or climbing instruction depending on the age group and attention + focus of the individual kids.

Games like: Monkey and Tiger (climbing wall tag), Shark Attack, Pointer, Add-On, Simon-Says, Red-light-Green-light.

Then a few minutes of free time if they stay focused.

Ending with cooldown stretches.

And voila! That’s it.

Anti-Leg Cramp Elixir

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I drank this many cool nights after a 20-30 mile day on the AZT this past October-November. Magnesium, in Natural Calm, is great for leg cramps or generally achy, tired, restless legs as it replenishes depleted muscles and helps with recovery. And of course electrolytes help with hydration and recovery as well.

Ingredients:
1 packet Natural Calm
2 tablespoons Skratch Labs hydration drink mix

Mix the powders into 8-12 oz hot water and enjoy.

The Next Hike

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After feeling antsy last week, low in the winter blues, things are a bit on the upswing now. The increasing light has been nice. I feel like a cranky bear coming out of hibernation. Or the groundhog. Light is peeking on the horizon. I visited my close college buds this past weekend and the NW escape plus time with friends was uplifting. I also revamped my resume and applied to a few jobs close to home within the past week – and in the process realized that many of my resumes from previous years have also been created in February – a pattern in my life that has surely been driven by the seasons. Late winter is time for change and reinvention. (Note to self: how to spend all winters in New Zealand to get that perpetual sunny disposition?)

So I thought that with this more optimistic attitude and creative energy I would delve into planning my next hike. My thought is to keep it to a section of the PCT. After all, I started the PCT in 2014 need to finish it. Time to make a little more headway. Jared and I hiked the southern 1,100 miles in 2014 and I’ve since hiked a few hundred more miles in Washington. (Only ~1,200 miles to go!) This summer could be a good opportunity to hike a slightly bigger 250-700 mile chunk. The section I hike will ideally be easily accessible by bus or train to get to the trail (a ride that is relatively inexpensive, reliable, not terribly inconvenient for anyone, and no sketchy hitches necessary).

The hike I’m thinking will start somewhere in Oregon and I’ll hike northbound to Snoqualmie Pass. Start as far south as Ashland or as far north as Cascade Locks. Snoqualmie Pass is at mile 2,393 northbound on the PCT. The starting point options and numbers look like this:

  • Cascade locks at mile 2146 (247 mi hike)
  • Government Camp/Mount Hood at mile 2091 (302 mi hike)
  • Santiam Pass/Bend and Sisters at mile 1983 (410 mi hike)
  • Willamette Pass at mile 1907 (486 mi hike)
  • Crater Lake at mile 1823 (570 mile hike)
  • Ashland at mile 1718 (675 mi hike)

I’m leaning toward starting at either Government Pass, Santiam Pass, or Willamette Pass, which would mean a 3-4 week hike. A start in late June would mean wrapping up in mid-late July.

The terrain of that section would be the usual ups and downs, maybe more. The elevation ranges from near sea-level at Cascade Locks – actually the lowest point on the PCT – to a high around 7,000 feet around Sisters, Timberline, and Goat Rocks. Lots of volcanoes would be en route. Could be a solid hike. A good tentative plan…