Saturday, November 18, 2017

SOBAD 2017--Mt. Rainier!!

 forest fire smoke and natural misty clouds kept Mt. Rainier out of view most of the time, but I caught it in a semi-clear moment up from Devils Dream camp

Our annual SOBAD (Sisters Of Backpacking Adventure Divas) backpack trip was spectacular this year, but we missed our fearless leader, ML. On the day we left for Mt. Rainier she was in an operating room undergoing back surgery.

That came about with no warning. Ten days before SOBAD we hiked 12 miles on Mount St. Helens, our planned backpack destination, to scout out the trail, check for water availability, assess the campsites. 36 hours later ML was in the ER for a ruptured disc, in the hospital for a nearly a week, then had surgery followed by in-hospital recovery time. We were sad. The other three of us amended our plans. We'll save St. Helens for next year, and 2017 became a pack trip on Mt. Rainier instead.

On top of that, the day before we left for Rainier, we discovered that the area of our planned trip in the National Park was closed due to forest fires. Those dang-blasted forest fires were burning everywhere this summer. We rearranged to hike on the south side of Rainier.

Day One: We day-hiked up a trail in the Paradise Park area. With little forest to hide the view, the mountain looms huge and magnificent here. Bounteous evidence of former glacial presence could be seen in the plethora of boulders and rocks scattered on slopes all around (got rocks?). Melt-water flowed in tumbling, cascading streams down steep mountain inclines.

 so huge!
 wildflowers and snowfield

Day Two and Three: From Longmire, we forged up forested trails, up, up and more up (just an aside: along this trail we met a Mr. Large from Large PA, who had actually been to my Dad's tiny hometown of Perryopolis). Our camp was at Devil's Dream. No fires allowed in the park but we had a mighty good meal cooked on a rocket stove. Through-hikers** were also camping at Devils Dream that night and one after the other they came pumping up the mountain at a pace that would have killed me, even if I had been their age. This area of Rainier is not on the PCT, but those nasty forest fires caused major trail detours in Oregon and Washington both.
[**Pacific Crest Trail hikers who do the whole thing, Canada to Mexico]

A highlight of the third day was visiting the ranger cabin:

Our sleeping bags and tents were wet from an overnight drizzle. We packed up camp, hiked to the ranger's cabin, and hung out our things to dry in the breeze. While they dried we hiked down to a nearby lake. On our return the gear was dry, and bonus, the ranger was there and gave us a "tour" of his one-room cabin.

We headed down the mountain through a canyon teeming with evidence of a violent upheaval. Enormous trees were uprooted and strewn at crazy angles, colossal boulders had smashed other trees to bits. Over 60 years ago Mt. Rainier experienced a glacial flood outburst that must have been a sight to see, although you'd be dead if you had been close enough to watch it.

We knew that miles below at the bottom of the trail, that we would have to hitch a ride to our car, or walk three or four miles on pavement. Our valiant Chris went on ahead with another group to get a ride back to our car so she could return to pick us up.

Day Four: We took a day hike along a river whose name slips my mind right now--Nisqually, I think--up to a waterfall area.  I loved this year's backpack trip through varied landscape and natural features. Few places have the grandeur of Mt. Rainier.

are we really gonna cross that stick that subs for a bridge?

Friday, November 17, 2017

Mt. St. Helens--Again

 St. Helens from the north; we climb from the south and stand on the rim at the center top; the bulge in the upper center is the lava dome

After summiting Mt. St. Helens some years ago my friend and I decided we should do it about every five years or so, just to see if we still could. It's a brutally hard climb for me. Others who have strong constitutions and fabulous lung capacity breeze up the slopes easy as I climb a flight of stairs. But that is not my gift, and really isn't even within the realm of my capability. I do it anyway, in my own snail-ish plodding way, because: active volcano plus geology freak = must experience.

I climbed successfully for the first time about 1997, then 2006 and 2011. Back in 1994 I got maybe halfway when climbing with a group of high school students. The wind was terrible that day and when snow began to fall we aborted the attempt.

In 2016 it was time to try again, but my knee was giving me trouble so we put it off. This year I was not excited about making another effort, and didn't think it was possible for me to summit. But what the heck, why not give it a go.

My friend and I camped overnight at Climbers Bivouac, same as we have done previously. We hit the trail at 5:30 a.m. and watched the forest gradually grow light as the sun rose. The weather was biting--probably in the 30s and windy. Never fear, I wore a thin wool long-sleeve base layer over my shirt, base layer leggings under hiking pants, a thin wind-proof shell, wool socks, hiking boots, gloves and head cover.

 let's hit the trail!
sun's up!

After about 2.5 miles on the upward forest trail we began the climb through the rocks.  Out in the open the wind shoved us around. My sunglasses kept the blowing ash and cinders out of my eyes. The huge rocks take a ton of energy to navigate. My short legs keep me from leaping gracefully from rock to rock like a mountain goat. I'm more of a lumbering groundhog straining to heave my bulk up to the next level.

Out of the rocks and about a thousand feet from the summit, I bonked. My blood sugar hit the basement which startled me, because I had been eating the right foods at regular intervals all the way up. My progress was halted within sight of the goal. Elated climbers were lined up on the rim above. So close and yet so far.

After a rest I resumed the climb with a sensible strategy. If I put one foot in front of the other and counted out 100 steps between rests, and didn't think about how far it still was to the summit, then it could be done. And the strategy was successful! It seemed like forever, but there I was on the rim gazing down into the smoking crater. Forest-fire haze closed the curtain on the usual views of Mounts Adams, Hood and Rainier. But still, what a glorious place to be.


On the descent we slid quickly down the ash slope, then came face to face with the rocks. It's even less fun going down through them than coming up. This time we skirted below them on the west side until the forest trail picked up to the east. The climb up took 6.5 hours, an hour longer than my longest previous climb, and 1.5 hours longer than my personal best. The descent? Probably 4-5 hours.

As usual we celebrated our success at Burgerville USA in Woodland, Washington. When the server asked if I wanted whipped cream on my hot fudge sundae, I thought: "Heck yeah! I just expended 8000 calories climbing MSH!"

Will I do this again? Craig has his instructions: if I ever talk about climbing MSH again, he is to take me out to the back 40 and put me out of my misery.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Easter Dresses

A couple of times a year Costco carries little girls' party dresses for a great price. I buy one for each of our grand-girls around Easter time. Satin bows, tulle skirts, pleats, tucks, ruffles--is there a little girl anywhere who wouldn't enjoy having one of these dresses?  Costco carries a selection of 10 or 12 to pick from. They are colorful and fluffy and pretty in an old-fashioned way. Right now I can't find a photo of any grand-girls wearing them, so I stole these photos off the internet.   

This year was a little interesting. One of our grand-girls, MSP, marches to a different drummer. From a very young age she has been creative, outgoing, self-directed, and firm in her likes and dislikes. When I pulled out the dresses I had bought for each of them, this girl did not oooh or aaah. She didn't even smile. Not only did she not smile, but tears welled in her eyes and it was obvious she was trying to blink them back in. She was working hard to not disappoint the giver of the gift.

MSP was so not enamored of the dress. Finally she was able to blurt out a poignant teary declaration, "It doesn't fit my personality!" Yeah. An eight-year-old who is so in touch with herself that she could make that statement . . .

She came along on a Costco trip to return the dress. We browsed for a new one without success. But then, on a different rack she spotted a funkier style, one that does fit her personality. It had a peasanty-country-casual feel to it, the type of dress that could go with sandals or cowboy boots or whatever. We brought it home, she tried it on, she was a happy camper. Wish I had a photo of her smile when she wore it later that day!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Summer 2017

With everyone here this summer we squeezed in a ton of activities. Some of them, such as hiking and camping, the Rose Gardens, Tillamook Cheese Factory, Enchanted Forest, and OMSI are traditional activities that we repeat every odd year when the whole gang comes. This summer we added a visit to Mt. St. Helens. We leave time for swimming, trampoline jumping and so on.

Enchanted Forest
Enchanted Forest

bright day at Mt. St. Helens

Portland Rose Gardens
Rose Gardens

Cape Kiwanda tide-pools

lunchtime, Ramona Falls

on the same day that some were hiking to Ramona Falls, Daniel was in hospital after a grand-mal seizure😢

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Sunriver 2017

We held our every-other-reunion with all of our children and grandchildren in attendance this summer. I'm thankful everyone has made our gathering a priority. 

At Sunriver we rented a house large enough to accommodate 22 bodies, rounded up enough bicycles and bike trailers for all, planned meals and bought food for a week, and voila!, had a marvelous time together. The only downer was that the forest fires burning in Mt. Jefferson Wilderness and up in BC made a smoky atmosphere at Sunriver. We skipped our traditional family climb up Mt. Tumalo, yet three hardly souls climbed South Sister in spite of the smoke.

We enjoy the companionship and make memories for a lifetime!

 Finnish lawn bowling--molkky


Holland, youngest member of our clan

 always cheerful Eli

 cycling was our 'go-to' activity

 girls at Benham falls

 an afternoon floating the Deschutes; besides these 2 huge floaters, some of us are out of the photo in a kayak and on a rubber raft (2 photos here, one doctored, one original)

 hot springs at Paulina Lake

 grandies lined up by age

 deep in the lava tube

 mealtime; we ate a ton of Finnish pancakes this summer, courtesy of Bridget

 busy cousins

 more biking

our rented house

 view of Mt. Bachelor

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Fallout

 Read about the Eagle Creek Fire here.

a favorite Oregon trailhead

The Forest Service has said that the Gorge trails will be closed until at least next summer. What a damper that puts on next year's hiking season. I hope the closure doesn't last too far into summer.

The alternative is to hike on the Washington side, which was not much damaged in the conflagration.  The drive is further; the hikes are wonderful. Wildflowers come to the Washington trails earlier than the Oregon trails--Washington basks in sunshine. Coyote Wall, Dog Mountain, Hamilton Mountain, Cape Horn, and other trails are delightful. Waterfalls are not as profuse there, but open views abound.

On another note, those who are responsible for the fire have been charged. I hope their sentence involves working to re-build trails and restore the environment in the Gorge.

another frequented trail in Oregon

this one takes you to Triple Falls and beyond

Dog Mtn is a Washington favorite; it is one tough hike and has killer views from the top at 3000 feet

Hamilton Mountain: I hike up here annually and never tire of the view from the top

Cape Horn extends into the Columbia River on the Washington side and makes for a pleasant hike