Dalton Point Recreation Site October 2020

I just needed to get out of the house. I wanted to do some writing in a new location outside and after thinking about it, and delaying for a while, I headed to Dalton Point Recreation Site along 84W. It was just the right distance from home to get a nice drive in but it wouldn’t take all day to get there or back. It was also late in the afternoon so I decided to pick this place to watch the sunset since it was along the river.

I wanted to take back roads for part of the trip but the directions took me straight down the highway. Coming from the west you actually have to drive past the entrance and turn around. There is no way to get here directly coming from the west. Even with the double back I still made it there in very quick time.

It’s a boat launch so I parked in the lot for the trailers. From here I found a trail and just followed where it went. Eventually it opens up to the water front. It was low tied so the shoreline was exposed. I was able to find a spot and catch the sun as it set that evening. It was cloudy but I knew it was there.

This is an easy spot to see the sunset. Depending on the year it will set right over the river so you can see it pretty far down from such a low angle. On my way off the beach I found a spot for a camp fire if you got some wood. The fall weather along the water was a little chillie that evening so a fire would have been nice. If you get out here its worth the short drive.

Tualatin Hills Nature Park September 2020

Old Wagon Trail is partially raised and well maintained.

Today was a typical lazy Sunday. I only had two errands on my list which took me out west towards Beaverton. Since I was going that far I stopped by the Tualatin Hills Nature Park to get a quick walk around the forest. Never been to this park before and its honestly not that far from my house, about 30 minutes if you take the scenic route.

This is a 222-acher park right in the middle of suburban Portland. As you walk around the trails you are never that far from civilization. The park is right next to the Merlo Rd station on the Max blue line. Makes it super convenient to get to from public transit. When things settle down this is a park I will certainly visit via Max. A good afternoon out.

Its a small park but easy access makes it a great place to visit. You can certainty walk the entire park in an afternoon if you wanted to. Most of the trails are well maintained and by that I mean they are either paved or wooden planks. Saw lots of older people and family’s with young children out enjoying a beautiful day.

Spent a good couple of hours here writing and drawing. There are some benches along the trail which are nice. No open fields to have a picnic in but there at other parks for that. A nice afternoon at the park that you can get to from Max. When I’m out on that side of town it’s a good place to visit.

Road Side Adventure

Quarantine was starting to really set in and get to me. It has been weeks since the city shutdown almost completely. I was still walking around my neighborhood but it was so depressing to see everything closed and no people in the streets. When this started it was mostly cold, rainy, and crappy but the weather was finally starting to change. All the parks were still closed but I just had to get out of my apartment and as close to nature as I could get.

I drove out towards Mt. Hood and followed the Clackamas River. Looking at the area from a map it was far enough out of the city that I felt like I had escaped and there was nothing but green trees around. I didn’t have a spot in mind when I got out there and just decided to feel things out. Finding whatever pull out that looked good to setup camp.

First day I found a nice spot close to the river. There was a small path that lead down to the water. Looks like this spot is occasionally used by kayakers when they get out of the water. I saw a group go past me to the bend in the river and pull out there. Probably just easier I guess. I spent a lot of time down at the water just hanging out listening and observing. The weather was decent and it was so peaceful. The sound of the river rolling by. I really enjoyed that cigar. Eventually I got my camp chair and sat next to my car to do some writing and reading before I had to head back home.

It was so nice getting out on Saturday I went out again on Sunday to a different spot for more nature. View wasn’t as nice but that was just the spot I picked. I was just happy to be outside and enjoy some nice weather for a change. Get back to some what of a normal weekend. Sunday had a little more sun and the cigars where good as always.

Following week was Memorial Day. Didn’t have to work and the weather was pretty good. It was time for another trip out to the forest to relax. Went back to the same spot the first weekend which has a little trail down to the river. I again found a rock to sit on and enjoy a cigar while nature just did its things around me.

Just being out side and in nature was so nice. Cooped up I was going crazy. Three trips in ten days was a lot of fun and necessary. Take a step back, relax, and enjoy nature. It is the simple things in life that I miss the most and took for granted now that we have a world wide pandemic going on. I know it will eventually end but I am so ready to get back to a normal life again. When taking a trip to the forest to experience nature was not hazardous to my health. I will continue to make trips like this and just try to appreciate what I can during this time.

Mother nature is so cool. She can also kill you without batting an eye.

Mt. Hood National Forest May 16th

Mt. Hood National Forest May 17th

Mt. Hood National Forest May 25th

Elk Creek Trail July 2020

Northwestern Garter Snake (Thamnophis ordinoides)

Another weekend and time to get out of the house. Jenny was on call this weekend and sticking close to home so she couldn’t hike. I decided to head back to the same area of the Tillamook State Forest and hike the Elk Creek Trail. No giant climb up a mountain or anything this time around. What I was searching for was a spot next to water to get some writing done.

I wasn’t to concerned with time so I slept in and took my time getting out to the forest that morning. It must have been around 11am by the time I started making my way to the park. Stopped for some coffee at Coava and then I was west bound along with everyone else. Thankfully I was headed out on 6 and everyone else was taking 26 to the coast. I had very little traffic to deal with that morning to the forest.

In no time I was in the same parking lot we used to hike up Elk Mountain. Today was a beautiful day so while a lot of people were headed to the beach people still were getting out into the forest. The campsite is closed but the lot outside the gate is available and was full. I ended up parking on the other side of the road. Took a minute to cross because of all the cars. It was nice to see so many people out enjoying the day. Just everyone wear a mask.

There is an option to cross Elk Creek and take another trail that follows along another creek run off from the mountains. This trail I think is only open part of the year. I have to look at the trail map again. But this would be a fourth hike to do in the same general area in addition to staying at the camp site which is pretty nice. First come first serve on the Elk Creek Campsite which is pretty cool.

The trail starts along the creek and follows it for a good long while. Elevation change isn’t that drastic early in the hike. You walk through an interesting area in the forest. Lots of underbrush along the creek. You can see some of the original trees before the forest was cut down and replanted years ago. One thing I noticed was an abundance of garter snakes. I kept coming upon them bathing in the sun, trying to get warm. They would freak me out when I finally saw them. Often they wouldn’t move till I was right on them which startled me as much as it did them.

Eventually the trail climbs up the mountain. The trail is longer but a less difficult way to reach the summit of Elk Mountain. Be aware that if you go this route you are probably hiking 5-8 miles or something like that. Eventually the sound of the creek fades away the higher into the mountain you get. Till you can’t hear it at all but you know it is there. Finally the trail wraps around a valley and continues up the mountain. The old logging road continues and the foot trail heads up the ridge line to the summit of Elk Mountain.

One of the better views across the valley. Most of the trail is tree covered but at the higher elevations now and again you get a decent view.

I continued on the logging road for a little longer. There was only one decent spot by the time I decided to turn around. A good view across the value but it was difficult to see for any length of time or get any sort of panoramic. I relaxed for a bit before starting my way down the mountain. For some parts near the top I ran as it was easier on my knees.

I was hoping to find a place to write on my way up but nothing jumped out at me. As I walked down the mountain I made a point of scoping out the creek once it became visible along the trail. Unfortunately the majority of the creek is difficult to get down to with steep cliffs preventing access. Where the trail splits is where I stopped to do some writing. I walked a little up the creek and found an uncomfortable rock to write on. It was getting late and I didn’t have much time to write.

When I made it back to my car I noticed a trail. This was a short couple hundred feet before it opened to a great section of the creek. Definitely a section that salmon run. Lots of flat sections to site with a fire while you fished. The creek is pretty deep in this section which I guess is a good place for the fish to gather before continuing up the creek. I wish I found this earlier as it was a really nice spot to get some writing done. Just pop open my chair and get writing. I would come back here just to write.

A long day in the forest but a really good one. The weather was good and I enjoyed the drive out and back from the forest. The hike was long which was something I enjoyed. It wasn’t much of an elevation change all at once which was also nice. At the beginning of the hike it is very tranquil with the creek right there. As that fades the height of the mountain starts to kick in. If you have the time and the stamina you can summit the mountain from this trail. Definitely worth coming back to check out the other trail along the split in the creek.

Elk Mountain July 2020

Another good weekend to get outside and hike. I didn’t give it much thought besides knowing I wanted to hike with Jenny. The easiest thing was to just hike Elk Mountain that we talked about the week before. We knew where to go, it was close, and Kings Mountain had a good view from the top. As Jenny pointed out this was a much more extreme hike. It was 1.5 miles and a 1900′ elevation change.

We got a super early start. Some coffee from Coava and we arrived at the trailhead by 8:30am. The deeper into the forest we got the worse the weather looked. For half the hike it was raining. It wasn’t hard and what got us soaked was the narrow trail and all the water on the leaves.

This trail had many good spots on the way up to stop and look across the valley. With all the rain clouds you would see it following the wind patterns down the valley and up mountain sides. As we got higher up the mountain the weather cleared up. Near the summit the tree cover never really clear up but it was still a decent view. Here we cracked open a beer and toasted our victory. The extra weight was worth it. This hike was shorter and I thought not as difficult getting to the summit compared to Kings Mountain. Even coming down wasn’t that bad on my knees.

With the early start and short hike we again stopped at Cornelius Pass Roadhouse for a drink. Way more crowded this time but we found a secluded spot on the lawn to enjoy the sun, nice weather and a beer.

Another good hike in the Tillamook State Forest. Still thinking about that full loop. Its doable I think. Just need to see if we can camp and plan out a visit. The summit trail head starts at the Elk Mountain campsite so if we can’t camp on the mountain we can at least camp at the base. A sunrise or sunset from this area would be pretty cool.