Tag Archives: national forest

Hunting for my Own Christmas Tree

This weekend I planned on heading to the burbs in a great adventure to find a Christmas tree. I knew I wanted something real and figured I would just find a potted plant like I did last Christmas and not think about it again. When I was over at Bobby and Tracy’s earlier watching the Skins they mentioned going to Mt. Hood to cut their own trees. Anyone can do it. All you need is a $5 permit and your good to go.

It’s a small tree but it looks great in my apartment.

The weather was challenging all day on the mountain. The weekend prior was pretty warm but this weekend was much colder at elevation. As soon as we left Vancouver for the staging house it was raining. Once we got to above 3300′ or so it was all snow. In fact it snowed the entire time on the mountain.

About half way up the mountain we came across this Subaru on the side of the road. You could see the skid marks as the car lost control. Lucky for the two passengers it stayed on the road but just barely. The car had settled on the frame and one wheel. We where in a group of overlanders heading to cut trees so the perfect group you want to run across when you need to be pulled off the side of a mountain. Bobby was second in line with a winch and assisted pulling the Subaru out.

By this point it was already getting into the middle of the afternoon.  The constant snow, cold, and wet was getting to me. Bobby was already not feeling well and the kids wanted nothing more then to play in the snow. We got to the top of the mountain and things feel apart rather quickly within the group. I quickly found my tree but Tracy took a little longer to secure her family tree. She kept wanting these 15′ and taller trees which we couldn’t cut. With our tree loaded on the truck we meet everyone further up the trail. It was so cold and wet I couldn’t get a fire going for warmth. It wasn’t long after this we all abandoned the mountain and headed for home. Mt. Hood has beaten on us all day and we had had enough.

None of us felt like doing much, least of all cook dinner. A nice bowl of pho was in order for everyone. Healthy, tasty and warm soup was the perfect thing to end the day.


Wheeling in Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Before I start my new job I have been taking the opportunity to do some cool stuff when I am not putting my apartment together. On Thursday I had an opportunity to do some four wheeling with Bobby in Gifford Pinchot National Forest. He and a buddy are doing a memorial hike Saturday and wanted to run up the trail in their trucks to make sure it was clear. If any maintenance needed to be done they wanted to do it Thursday and not on Saturday with a bunch of people in their cars. Some of the hikers were starting at the bottom of the trail but others were going to be ferried to the top in Bobby’s truck. With nothing else to do I tagged along for the ride.

Mount St. Helens, Mount Baker, and Mount Adams

First time this far north in Washington and it was something else. It took about an hour to get to the trail head and then what seemed like thirty minutes to the top of the road. Bobby kept saying I could get my car up it but at a certain point you really needed four wheel drive. I haven’t been wheeling in years and it was fun. Let me tell you I utilized the oh shit bar often, trying not to bump my head.

Once at the top we putzed around for a few minutes and did part of the hike to get a better view. The weather was really good and from the parking lot we could see the top of Mount St. Helens. We went further up the trail and eventually we could see Mount St. Helens, Mount Baker, and Mount Adams which was really cool. None of us were ready to finish the hike but it was great getting out before the weather turns real crappy.

Central Oregon for the Total Eclipse

After my cross country journey I arrived in Vancouver to my step-sisters house on Thursday.  The next day we packed up the car and headed to Walton Lake in the Ochoco National Forest for three nights of camping and to catch the total eclipse of the sun.  Central Oregon was suppose to have some of the best watching as it is higher elevation with clear skies.  With all the forest fires going on in the area I was surprised that besides Friday afternoon the entire weekend was clear of clouds and smoke.

We camped among some really tall pines which was cool.

Tracy and I arrived on Friday and the rest of the family arrived on Saturday.  Bobby and the kids had been on a three week journey coming up from southern California seeing the sites and camping all the way to Walton Lake.  It was great just spending the weekend hanging out and not doing much.  After my 12 day adventure across the country relaxing in nature was exactly what the doctor order.  I hiked up Round Mountain with Tracy and that had some spectacular 360 degree panoramic of the surrounding area.  Very impress.  We could actually see the music festival from the top of the mountain.  I heard that 30,000 people attended the electronic festival and witnessed the eclipse.  The rest of the time I spent sleeping, smoking cigar, cooking food, or down by the lake.  Really great time there with everyone.

Come Monday it was time for the show we all came to witness.  We secured a spot on the docks for our group and I spent all morning down there in anticipation.  The eclipse started around 9:20am and totality didn’t happen till around 10:20.  It was crazy seeing the entire area get darker as the sun was covered up.  The temperature dropped noticeably during this time as well.  You could feel the wind shift as the shadow tracked across the state.

I must say that during totality I had goose bumps for the entire 2:30 which was awesome.  it got so dark and so cold during totality.  We could finally take the glasses off and look directly at the sun which was awesome.  We could clearly see the corona jetting out from the sun.  I was impressed with how large it actually was.  It was probably switch the size of the sun.  As totality waned we got the see the diamond ring which another awesome aspect of totality.  I wouldn’t say this was a life changing event by any means but it was so cool seeing totality in all its glory.  Really made me appreciate nature and how wonderful it really is.

After the long weekend and 2:30 of totality it was all over.  We hung out at the campsite for the rest of the afternoon thinking traffic would be horrible as everyone tried to leave at the same time.  Thankfully there was no traffic so it just turned into a long drive getting home that night.  After four hours and stop for dinner we where home.  We all brought some stuff into the house and then I showered to clean three days of grim off me.  That showered was amazing, almost as amazing as totality I have to say.  Really an amazing experience and I was so glad I made it out to the west in time to see it.

Having a total eclipse cross the entire country is a rare event.  I believe they are often in the middle of the ocean or only in very limited populated areas.  Having it track across the entire country was a once in a few hundred years even from my understanding.  Not sure if I will ever get to see one again but if the opportunity arises I will certainly make the effort.  If you haven’t seen totality in person I would highly recommend making it at least once in your life.  Really amazing stuff and makes you appreciate nature even more.


Total Eclipse of the Sun

So I arrived on the west coast on Thursday. That Friday we packed up the cars and headed to Walton Lake in central Oregon to camp for the eclipse. We had a groups site with some other people which was really cool. Spent a lot of time just relaxing and not doing much. I did hike up around Mountain with Tracy. The view from the top is a true 360 panorama which was cool. In the prairie below we could see the 30k music festival which was huge.

As for the eclipse totality was amazing. I know it was only 2.5 minutes but I had goose bumps the whole time. It got so dark and cold. You could clearly see the corona and the stars even came out for a brief minutes. Truly Amazon site to be seen.

If you want a Bette picture go somewhere else. I was to in the moment to worry much about taking pictures.

Green Mountain National Forest July 2012

Big surprise, I went on Phish tour for two days at SPAC and while up in New York I went hiking.  I hike a lot when on tour.  I love hiking and take every opportunity to explore new trails when I am traveling. Even when I am on vacation (Panama, Hilton Head, Delaware, and others) I find a place to hike. Last time I was went to SPAC I hiked Cat Mountain and it was a good hike. You hike to the top of a mountain that overlooks Lake George. It was a little hazy that morning, but you could certainly see for a long time.

I had already hike near SPAC and was thinking about going deeper into the Adirondacks for a place to hike. Then I thought to myself, I should hike in Vermont. I have always heard how beautiful the state is, time to experience it for myself. I have been to the state once before with my friend Jeremy. We attempted to see the last Phish show, Coventry, before their first hiatus. That trip turned into a disaster as the field was flooded and they barred people from entering the site. Disappointed, Jeremy and I headed to Burlington for the day and then home to see The Dead at Nissan Pavilion. I remember buying the tickets for the show while jacking some free wifi in Burlington.

This time around I wanted to make a proper trip of my visit to Vermont and found a trail in the Green Mountain National Forest. The loop trail was over six miles long and lead to Little Rock Pond, then to the top of a mount before returning to the parking lot. Just getting to the trail head took almost two hours but I traveled through some beautiful country to get there.  Starting in Albany I headed west down a major highway that quickly turned rural as I traveled through eastern New York. It was a noticeable change when I entered Vermont. The population became much more scattered and there was green everywhere! Plus as I traveled further north and higher into the mountains the temps dropped to the mid 70’s. On the radio there was a rebroadcast of From the Archives, both days, and I was loving the drive. The windows where down, the music was cranking and I had beautiful scenery everywhere I looked.

I did make one stop on my trip at Manchester Center. This was the last major town before the trail head and I needed to get a few last minute supplies, mostly food. I loved this quaint little town. It was rural yet they had all sorts of modern amenities. Out door stores everywhere you looked, a Kate Spade, Michal Cole, and some other high end shops. All this so close to nature and outdoor activities.

The parking lot was pretty full when I got there. I saw a family with camping gear headed to the pond for a few nights under the starts. From the weather report it was a perfect weekend to be outside camping. The temperature was 75 and perfect for hiking. The humidity was a little high, but at least it wouldn’t be burning my ass off. The trail up to Little Rock Pond was only a couple of miles and passed with ease. The trail was rather busy with a lot of people hiking back from the pond, lots of family’s. At only 2.5 miles, a quick hike with beautiful landscapes.

I spent a lot of time at the pond. It was calm and there was always a breeze blowing off the water. I walked around to a group of rocks that over looked the pond and ate my lunch here. I must tell you, it was a great view to eat my lunch. Around the edge of the pond I could see other people hiking, fishing, and a few playing in the water. I actually saw a couple swim across the pond. The water looked inviting, but it is much further across than it looks.

After my lunch the real hike began. There was some elevation change getting to the pond but it go real steep from the pond to the top of the mountain. For the rest of the hike I sweated a ton. Climbing that mountain was tough but once I got to the top, the views where spectacular. The tree growth obscured some views, but you could still see far and wide across the valley to other mountain peaks. From one spot could you see back down to the pond. From there I got a sense of just how high I had climbed up the mountain.

One thing I loved about the entire hike up and around the mountain was the smell. The forest was full of pine trees and when the wind would blow all you could smell was fresh pine, that smell was intoxicating, I can see why people live in places like this.

After a few hours I made it back to my car. My GPS said I hiked over 8 miles but it was probably closer to 6.5. I drank almost three litters of water and felt like I sweated just as much. The pond was calming and the mountain top was peaceful and serene. After changing into some dry cloths I headed back to Saratoga for the second show on my mini tour and what happened to be the last show of the first leg of Phish’s summer 2012 tour.

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