Snow in the Mountains Still

First signs of snow on the trail. It was exciting to see.

I gotta say this past weekend was a perfect spring weekend here in Portland. The temps where in the low 80’s with a good breeze coming off the coast. The sky was a crystal clear blue without a cloud in sight. Saturday and Sunday I got outside for extended periods of time and so did a bunch of others.

I started my morning as I often do on a Sunday. The Post, coffee, and music on vinyl before getting my act together and heading up into the mountains. I gathered the last few items for my day bag and hit the road. Such a beautiful weekend for a drive into the mountains.

Initially I plan to hike up another trail but I ran into a problem getting to the trail head. You have to take the fire road which wasn’t a problem for my car. It was the bridge being out over the water being blocked that was my problem. I have no problem going around the sign but when it’s used to close a bridge I will trust the sign and not cross. I headed back to 26 and a near by ranger station a few miles down the road to look for a new hiking spot.

I just wanted to hike in the mountains. If I could get a good view of Mt. Hood all the better but it wasn’t a requirement. It was too nice of a day to not be out and that was my only objective. A few miles up 26 I found another trail called Hidden Lake. This is about a 5 mile hike up to the Pacific Coast Trail further up the mountain. Some recent posts on All Trails indicated this trail was covered in snow which eventually made it impossible. The fact that there was snow intrigue me and was a big reason why I hiked this trail. It’s the middle of May, a perfect spring weekend, and there’s still snow on the mountain? I had to see for myself.

Near the end of the turn off is the trail head. Plenty of parking but its also secluded to be careful not to leave anything in your car. The first portion of the trail was really nice. Steep at times but no visible snow. Nice and cool under the tree canopy this high in the mountains.

Hidden Lake

About 1 or 1.5 miles up the trail I hit my first patches of snow. It was mostly off trail but they started to appear regularly as I got further up the trail. The snow soon started to cover the trail but I was able to follow the path of those before me and make my way up the trail. By the time I got to the lake I could no longer follow the trail. I couldn’t head further up the trail but I could see the lake so made my way over to it.

There was no trail around the lake so it took a bit of work for me to reach the other side but eventually I did. The side of the lake is pretty steep and the snow made it slow going but worth it. I found a nice spot under a tree and had lunch while I soaked up nature. The entire hike to the lake I never saw another person which was nice. It was cold here too so the misquotes and other bugs where not around to pester me. I ate my snacks and enjoyed the solitude. I managed to get some writing done and even a drew on the cover of one letter I sent.

This late in the season it was awesome to see snow in the mountains. Honestly I should expect this but coming from the lowlands of Virginia we never got this. I certainly want to come back and see the lake without the snow. Also to make it further up the trail with the goal of reaching the Pacific Crest Trail.

High Into the Mountains

It was yet another nice Saturday. The weather was cloudy early which allowed me to catch up on a few things and enjoy some coffee. By late morning the skies had cleared and it was going to stay like this the rest of the afternoon. Hard to pass up the opportunity for nice weather so I decided to head to the Tillamook State Forest for a high along Elk Ridge up into the mountains.

Not far along the Elk Creek Trail there is a small footbridge crossing the creek. This is the Wilson River Trail and leads to the Idiot Creek Loop Road near the summit of the mountain. I have been past this a few times but never had any interest till this afternoon. I didn’t know what I would find but I was excited to find out.

I think I ran into one person who was coming down rather close to the trailhead and that was it. It was a very quite trail this late in the afternoon which was really nice. Not long after the bridge the trail quickly starts to climb. The switchbacks are numerous as the trail snakes its way up the mountain. Most of the hike was in the shade and it was getting cold outside with the slow sun on the horizon. Near the top as I got closer to the ridge line sun was finally peaking over, making an appearance. One last switchback and into full sun.

Neared the top of the trail I found an small opening in the trees. I followed it for a few feet as it bursts through the last of the brush to an amazing view looking across the valley. This late in the evening I was treated to a spectacular view of the sun as it slowly set in the west. There was no foliage on these rocks so a perfect place to site and watch nature. I was awe struck by what was in front of me. After the long hike to get here I welcomed this break.

I took off my gear and settled in for some writing and drawing as the sunset. I could have spent hours on this perch but as it got into early evening the sun would be completely behind the mountains and I didn’t want to get caught out on the trail in the dark. While I had plenty of day light from on top of the mountain that would quickly change long before last light.

It was time to leave so I gathered my stuff and started my way down the mountain. I didn’t feel tired after that long rest and relaxation period. This was great as I kept a good pace down the mountain trying to bet the light. By the time I got to the creek crossing it was 6 with a decent amount of light left. From here it wasn’t much further to my car. One thing I did after this trip was put my headlamp in my day pack so it is always with me.

I just couldn’t believe my luck taking the Wilson River Trail and finding this rock ledge. Just the most amazing sight and really easy to get to all things considering. The only gotcha is the trail has a limited season. The park service takes down the footbridge at the end of October. Not sure when it goes back up but I have a feeling sometime in late spring. I honestly can’t wait for the trail to open.

Spring is Coming to Silver Falls

Spring is starting to bloom around Portland and the weather was good over the weekend so I wanted to get out for a hike. I went to Silver Falls State Park and do some drawing and writing. This park has a lot of waterfalls that are close to the parking lot so you don’t have to walk far if you don’t want to. I often spend most of my time hiking and not drawing so this time around I wanted to reverse that order.

The only rain on Saturday was early in the morning and close to the city. This caused a flood of people to head outside and I totally understood why. Due to covid-19 restrictions the park has limited capacity so with the nice weather the park was smashed. Coming in from the north I passed several parking lots to trail heads but none of them had any free spots.

It was so busy in the park that none of the lots had available parking. There where just way more people than spots allowed. I wanted to get outside because I’m tired of the pandemic and so was everyone else that day it seemed. Thankfully I found a parking lot in the south west with some spots open right next to a trail head, 214 Trail.

This parking lot is right at the edge of the park. That day it was windy and cold along the ridge but thankfully no rain. It was also sad to see that right next to the parking lots is giant plot of land just on the other side of the park completely deforested, devoid of life actually. This is the only time you see this jarring image as the trail head is on the other side of the lot and you head into the forest.

214 Trail

This part of the forest has some larger loops, a skills challenge for mountain bikes and if you go far enough you will end up at the convention center which is currently closed. While there is not a waterfall anywhere along this trail it is still very peaceful and relaxing walking through the forest. You can head north and eventually get to a fall or take the long loop and enjoy nature.

As I headed down the 214 Trail I think I ran into…..two groups of maybe 3-4 people in total. It was nice not having a crowded trail. I knew if I parked in the main lot I would have run into a ton of people often along the trail. This day I really wanted to get out and just have some peace and quite so finding this lot and trail really worked out.

You start the hike at the ridge line and work your way down into the valley. I eventually got to the convention center and just kept going. From here the trail starts up the hills on the other side of the valley. I kept looking for a nice spot with a good view but never found what I was looking for. I really wanted to get some writing done and color some van Gogh post cards but I could never find right spot. I totally lucked out when I found the cliff on the Wilson River Trail a while back. That was a great view and awesome spot to recharge at.

Finally just sat under a huge tree and smoke while soaking up nature.

Eventually I just found a bend in the trail and sat underneath a huge tree. The picture I took “upside down” on the tree trunk was my spot. I sat here for a long while just soaking up nature. I would look way up into the trees watching them sway back and forth with the wind. Hearing the wind rustle through the top of the trees. And the smell. Just a hint of pine in the air reminding me I’m outside in nature. I couldn’t get enough of it to be honest. I never did do any writing or drawing but it didn’t matter. It was still a great time.

After just sitting there for a long time I eventually continued my journey down the trail. After another mile or so I realized that the trail I was following would loop back but I had MANY miles to go before I would even start my way back to the lot. Instead of plowing ahead I turned back and went the way I came. It was already after 3pm and I was loosing light fast.

What a great hike in the forest. Not what I was expecting but then sometimes the unexpected is what is the most fun. When things loosen up and the park is more open I might head down later in the year. I would love to go back to one of the waterfalls, sit at its base and do some drawing.

Finally Made it to the Beach

As we all know this year has wrecked many vacation plans, not just mine and Jenny’s. Some friends of ours wanted to celebrate a birthday with a trip to the beach and renting a house. Unfortunately the weekend they where looking at didn’t work out but both Jenny and I got excited for the prospect of a vacation to the beach. We couldn’t find any place along the cost and eventually we just gave up looking.

Couldn’t see the sun but we knew it was setting.

Jenny just couldn’t let it go and made it happen. She found the Gilbert Inn located in Seaside, OR that would rent us a room for a single night on Friday. We left town right at 5:30pm in hopes to beat at least some of the traffic headed to the coast. It was going to take some time to arrive in Seaside but we wanted to catch the sunset along the coast which was around 7:30 that night. Thankfully before we knew it we where checked into the hotel and headed to the beach to catch the last rays of the sunset.

The weather could have been better but it wasn’t that bad. Clouds covered most of the horizon but we could see a small piece of sky as that was orange as the sun set. The cloud cover just made everything dark with the exception of that one spot that was clear. Honestly it was pretty tripy. Jenny wanted to go down to the water so we walked along the surf before heading to find dinner. She ran right down to the water edge. Me, not so much. I preferred to enjoy for a distance but it was fun to see her be 6 year old again. All excited and giddy seeing the ocean. It was pretty low tide and waves can come in blindsiding you if you are not careful. Plus the water is to cold and I was not looking to getting even a little wet.

I loved the trail the cloud made from the wind off the rocks.

Dinner was a little tricky. The difficulty was finding a place that was open for being so “late” in the evening. With the pandemic raging most places closed early and certainly had much less seating. We put our name on the list and killed some time till a table freed up just walking up and down the boardwalk. Food here was good and I would like to go back for another dish. Nothing terrible fancy but it was good and flavorful. I got the crab mac and cheese, I forget what Jenny got but it was excellent as well.

Not much action happening that night so after dinner we headed back to the room. Honestly I was totally fine with that. Just getting out of the house for a quick trip to the beach like this was more important than filling our evening and following day with activities. We watch an episode of Chef’s Table before we both passed out for the evening.

Next morning it was great waking up not at my apartment and with Jenny laying next to me. We cleaned up and got our breakfast from the inn before hitting the town. With it being daylight more places where open and we just wanted to walk around and explore. We found a really cool book shop called Beach Books. I got some stationary and Jenny went nuts getting some books. Also found a nice cafe called Dough Dough Bakery with some cool pastries. I spied this biscuit with jam kinda thing and it was great later in the day when I enjoyed it. There are several antique stores as well which was fun to rummage through. No jewels in the rough on this trip but its fun to look.

It was really windy this morning.

Before we headed back to Portland we had one last mission, ice cream. I would agree that no trip to the beach is complete without some ice cream. Oh the number of times we would stop at Hopkins Farm Creamery on our way back from Rehoboth Beach. Countless scoops of some really amazing and fresh local ice cream. We stopped at Sea Star Gelato for a sweet treat and headed towards the beach. It was windy as crap but we manged to find a bench to sit on for a while and enjoy the lovely morning.

It was to short a trip to the beach but a much needed break and escape from the city. The weather was pretty good and played well the entire time. We got to see the sun set, ate some good food, slept well and enjoyed a beautiful morning at the beach. The trip back to Portland flew by with fresh memories from Seaside.

New Day, New Year; 2021 Edition

I’m happy to see 2020 is finally over. Honestly not much will change in 2021, at least for the foreseeable future, but its a new year. New year means getting out into nature with Jenny!

Some artwork we found while walking in the park. Not sure who made it or the title.

With everything going on and the weather not playing in our favor this year we kept it simple. No trip out to a remote forest or up into the hills after some fresh snow. We went to Washington Park which is super close for both of us.

Early in the morning and on a holiday the park was pretty quite. I could see zoo staff driving around and doing their jobs. The animals in their care don’t care its a holiday. They still need to be tended to. We had our choice of lots so picked one further north and just started wondering around the many park trails.

I knew we couldn’t get lost but I should have taken the picture of the trail map BEFORE we started and not after the fact. It was only a mild drizzle and once we got into tree cover a lot of the rain disappeared as well. It turned into a great hike around the forest. There was an early morning chill in the air that caused a nice layer of fog to appear in the tree tops which contrasted nicely with the rather clear forest floor. The weird winter weather of Portland was simply doing its thing again.

cheers

We didn’t run into many people and those we did were mostly runners enjoying the early morning start to the day and the year. Once we wondered back to the car we opened a bottle of champagne I had to celebrate. I realize now we never actually toasted anything that I can remember. As soon as I unscrewed the metal wire securing the cork the pressure immediately shot that cork off. The bottle then proceeded to vomit a good portion of perfectly fine champagne for its homies.

What a great way to start the new year after a shit year we had in 2020. I know just flipping the year wont change much but mentally its a fresh start which is good. I hope Jenny and I can continue to celebrate life’s little joys throughout this year with friends and family.