Als ich wisse das Morgen der Erde enden wuerde, immernoch wurd ich mein Apfelbaum pflanzen.

Even if I knew the world would perish tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree. - Martin Luther

"Factory work's easier on the back, and I don't mind it, understand, but a man becomes what he does. Got to watch that. That's why I keep at farmin' although the crops haven't ever throve. It's the doin' that's important." Madison Wheeler in Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Columbia River Gorge, Mt. Hood and Trillium Lake

When we left Craters of the Moon we did a very long driving day (about 12 hours), but since we had plenty of daylight, good driving weather, two folks who like to drive and happy kids (long drives meant McDonald's for supper and two movies - very unusual for us) we were fine.  We stopped at a campground outside of Pendleton, OR.  The weather was very hot and dry, but there was a pool so we were set.  We took advantage of having internet connections for the first time in weeks and e-mailed, updated and downloaded new books.  We also did laundry!  The next morning we were up and out early, headed for the Columbia River Gorge.  

When you are driving through eastern Oregon it is high desert.  Hot, dry, and brown.  But as you drop down into the Columbia River Gorge suddenly you are in different country.  The landscape turns lush and green.  There is water everywhere, and gloriously, there are cherries, and other fresh fruit stands on every corner.  We loved driving through the gorge and stopped at most of the waterfalls, but since we were hauling the trailer it just wasn't possible to find parking at all of them.

Horsetail Falls

Multnomah Falls

Wakeena Falls

View  of the Columbia from Vista House

After a wonderful day in the Columbia River Gorge, we turned south and headed into the Hood River Valley.  We camped at a National Forest Campground - Trillium Lake.  We love staying at National Forest Campgrounds, and this one proved to have all of the things we like.  Simple camping (so usually very cheap fees), quiet spaces, and beautiful views.  The kids enjoyed swimming in the lake and I enjoyed the leisure of having plenty of time to cook supper.  I even had decent cell phone reception so I called my sister so she would know we were still alive (she worries about these things).

View of Mt. Hood taken from the middle of Trillium Lake
 After supper we took a short drive to see the Timberline Lodge and to see the ski area (still open on July 1st).  The kids were disappointed that we weren't skiing, but that wasn't on the agenda this trip.  The Timberline Lodge was built by the CCC and had gorgeous huge timbers and wonderful carvings.
It was kind of a crazy day.  We started in the desert, traveled through temperate rain forest and wound up in snow.  Hello Rain Shadow!  But, as you can tell from those faces, it was a wonderful day!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

45.8 - 70

I got to spend the end of the trail with my favorit hiking partner - the woodsman.  The trail was mostly wet (either from rain or from wet ferns and mud created by the previous day's rain).  

We hiked in a half a mile from the parking lot to the Rt. 30 shelters and were blessed to have a shelter far away from everyone else with a beautiful view through the trees of the mountains beyond.  It was nice to reconnect and hear about what had been happening at home.  It was also nice to leave the fire building and water pumping to him.

I was awoken twice - once in the middle of the night when I thought I heard chewing, but then dismissed it as an over active imagination, and then a second time when I realized the light had changed.  I was delighted to see that I was able to see the sun rise from my sleeping bag in the shelter. We only had 11 miles to cover that day, and the morning was pleasant so we slept in and had a slow start to our morning.  When I pulled the food bag down I discovered that I had heard chewing - there was a hole in the bottom of the bag.  Grrr....

After a few small climbs, the majority of the day was a ridge walk through state forest and game lands.  The trail crews have had fun on this section of trail with several great benches, and even a tic tac toe game.  Ferns, and rocky out croppings abounded.

About half way through the day we started seeing giant bear tracks in the mud, but alas, no bear.

We also suprised a junco off of her nest when coming through one of the rock tunnels.  Poor bird - she probably flies off every time a hiker comes through.  What a poor choice for a nesting spot.

We got into camp shortly before it started to rain again, and settled in for another damp night.

I didn't sleep well.  I dreamed all night that the bear would come find our food bag.  I even had a dream about a carniverous deer.  Sleeping on the shelter floor was starting to get to me.

We awoke to rain on the final morning, and hiked the majority of the day in rain or drizzle.  There were a few beautiful sections of rhodedendron in the last few miles, but no views.  After a moderate descent, by about 3 PM, mile post 70 came into view.  I had done it - the end of the trail was here.  The sun came out and the fog cleared away as I neared the end.  It was good to spend the week on the trail, and good to finish my goal.  I was a little sad while cleaning up and putting the gear away when the Woodsman reminded me that the way to fix that sadness was to plan the next trip.  I'll keep you posted.  

Sunday, June 21, 2015

18.8 - 46.5

Day three started out misty, and damp.  We hiked to the Rt. 653 parking lot so that I could trade hiking partners.  Dad joined me for the next 26 miles, but two 13 mile days with full packs was more than he wanted to do.  Mom crew to the rescue.  We traded full packs for day packs and headed out.

The section of trail between Rt. 653 and Rt. 31 starts with very typical sandstone rock formations covered with rocks, laurel, moss and rhododendron.  The trail elevation changes are more moderate in this section as well.  We crossed through the highest point on the LHHT in the Seven Springs ski resort area around lunch time.  By that point, the day had turned warm and humid.  Mom met us around 4:00 with hot supper, and we traded out our light day packs for our big packs.  We then headed off to the Rt. 31 shelter.

We were in shelter #5 - which is very far away from the other shelters.  We felt like we were by ourselves in the woods.  After a pleasant game of gin rummy (Dad beat me every hand), we went to sleep by the light of the fire and listening to the rain on the roof of the shelter.  We were up and out very early the next morning knowing that we had a lot of ground to cover before meeting The Woodsman in the evening.

This section of trail is pretty, but somewhat noisy.  When you start walking you can hear Rt. 31.  Then, the trail passes near a shooting range, then you begin to hear traffic noise from the PA turnpike.  Dad had been looking forward to crossing the turnpike bridge for some time and was very pleased to do so.

The trail was extremely wet.  In some places the water was up over our ankles with no way to reroute.  Welcome to day 4 of squishy feet.

We got rained on several times, but the sun was out on the prettiest section of trail near the Beams rocks area.  This section of the trail is by far my favorite.

 The last six miles were wet and long, but we made it through.  We met The Woodsman at the Rt. 30 parking lot, and I traded partners again.  It's always good to be in the woods with my Dad.  We talk, observe, and of course, I get quizzed on plant names and tree types.  Thankful for the time together and the time in the woods.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

0 - 18.8

My favorite way to let go of a busy school year is to head out away from everything.  This year I decided to hike the entire Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail (70 miles from start to finish).

I started the trip with a good friend from school.  We got rained on (a lot), but there's nothing like being out on the trail.

We started out at mile 0 at Ohiopyle State Park, and hiked the relatively steep section to the first shelter (6.5 miles) in a misty drizzle.  There was sun when we arrived, but we could hear thunder in the distance so we quickly did all of the in camp chores (filter water, gather wood, etc.) and then settled in for a relaxing evening of talk and enjoying the peacefulness of our surroundings.

We headed out early the next morning, knowing that we had 13 miles to cover, and that the first two were very steep (rise of 1200 feet).  We hiked through a mixture of drizzle and fog, intermixed with some sun, and several hard downpours.  So much for dry feet.

Despite the rain, the woods was magical.  The last mile and a half were pretty difficult.  I had gotten very chilled and all of my joints were aching.  Once we made it to the shelter, and I dried out and warmed up the evening was a pleasant one.  We were glad to be in the shelter instead of a tent as there were some very intense thunderstorms.  We stayed nice a cozy, and were glad that our fire building skills were such that we could start a fire with wood as wet as a sponge.