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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Oh the winter months here in the pacific northwest. They are cold, rainy and you can go for days without seeing the sun. Honestly it can be depressing so when an opportunity presents itself to camp in winter I was in. Just getting outside for a night with friends and family, sit by the fire, it was something I needed.
Razor clams where in season and low tide coincided with a Saturday night. The Calizon’s were heading up and invited Jenny, I and a few others. I needed out of the house so I was in. Jenny was able to switch around a few things so it worked out that we both could go camping that weekend. Look up at the stars next to a warm fire.
Bobby booked camp sites at Cape Disappointment State Park next to the beach. the spot was large enough that we could pitch our tent and everyone had plenty of space. I couldn’t wait to leave my apartment and get some fresh air. Even better would be the salty ocean air which I rarely get to experience.
We couldn’t leave till early Saturday morning and the park is 2.5 hours away. We got on our way mid afternoon. For part of the trip to the coast it was pouring rain. I had been checking the weather the last week and it was going to be clear. We just had to get past a little rain on the way out but after that it was clear.
Before long we made it to Long Beach and met everyone at a scoop shop in town. I knew Ras and Amanda were coming but I was surprised to see Mark and his daughter. Everyone was sitting outside devouring ice cream when we walked up. We quickly said hello and headed to camp.
That night we got our own spot instead of doubling up with Bobby and Tracy. There were spaces next to everyone and we felt it was the least we could do. We were happy to be there so $30 for the night was a bargain. We quickly put up the tent and joined everyone at the camp fire. We didn’t have it lit but we where getting our chairs gathered for later in the evening.
Low tide was going to be around 6:30pm that night. As the sun started to set we put on our boots and headed down to the beach to hunt razor clams. Soon the sun set over the horizon produced a spectacular light show. As the stars stated to come out we got to digging.
Finding the little buggers is much harder than I expected. I still don’t know what I was looking for but with the help of Jenny I dug up two that night. She was an excellent spotter and I was quick with the shovel. I think collectively we caught 5 or 6 which isn’t that much. We were not going to feast at camp with what we caught that night.
The weather got cold quick when the sun disappeared. Not being very successful we headed back to camp to get a fire going. A fire was starting to sound real appealing. We spent hours that night around the fire cooking all sorts of stuff. Spam in a can in a can as Tyson pointed out. Hot dogs and even some hobo chili. It was awesome just hanging out with everyone by the fire under the stars. This is exactly what Jenny and I needed. Get back to nature for and recharge.
The next morning we packed up and did a hike in the park before heading home. We hiked to North Head Lighthouse which was a good hike. It was an out and back of only a few miles. The lighthouse has been there since 1898 and is still active today. Like all or certainly the majority of lighthouses in America this one is now completely automated.
After the hike we headed to Astoria for some coffee. We lucked out and found Columbia River Coffee Roasters right under the bridge. Standing in line I recognized the coffee bags. Grendel’s serves their coffee at their cafe. My cappuccino that day tasted just like it does at Grendel’s. We hung out here for a bit enjoying the passing scenery.
We squeezed every bit of time together we could that day. By the time we got to Portland we were hungry and I had a gift certificate burning a hole in my pocket. We went to Rams Head for a late lunch. I had a craving for a burger which I am happy to report was satisfied that afternoon.
A really great weekend hanging out with everyone at Cape Disappointment State Park. Sitting in front of the fire with the ocean waves in the back ground, roasting hotdogs looking up at the stars really was what we needed. I look forward to doing this again and simply getting out doors with Jenny more as the weather warms.
Last year I did this same hike at almost the same time of year in the Deschutes River State Recreation Area. It was a good hike then and it was a good hike now. This time around the weather presented its own set of challenges I didn’t have to face the first time. If you are prepared it’s not a problem but the swings in weather can be huge out in the gorge during the winter months. This day Mother Nature was not happy and she let everyone know it.
We got an early start and left my apartment with coffee in one hand and boots in the other. I was tracking the weather closely the last few days before the hike. It is still winter around here so when it rains in the valley its snowing in the mountains. My poor little car just can’t handle serious winter weather we have here. I was constantly checking to see when it would rain and if that rain could possible turn to snow.
On the way to the park we really lucked out. The weather was pretty nice as far as the entire day was concerned. Nothing really going on weather wise. You could see off in the distance portions of the storms that rolled through earlier in the day but it was pretty calm at the moment. As we headed further into the gorge the wind started picking up but for the most part the rain was abated.
We got to the park and the sun was actually out for a hot minute. We got our shit together and started walking along the river. The park has several trails you can take. One is a fire/service road that is higher up in the valley and the other is right along the water. We walked along the water for a while before the path slowly starts to raise in elevation. Eventually it meets with the service road to continue the journey. At this junction you can choose to head back, continue down the service road or hike up the hills to a spring.
The walk along the river was peaceful despite the poor weather. With the recent rain we noticed the river moving rather swiftly. No major rapids I would say but I still wouldn’t want to be out on the river since I have no idea what I’m doing. We also noticed that nature was really coming back from the fire several years ago. Even from a year ago there was much more vegetation growing. You can still a little fire damage but it is quickly fading away like nothing happened.
Once we got to the junction we had to decide what to do. The last few hundred meters it started to rain. Enough that we put some covers on our packs. Across the river and up the other side of the valley we could see large, dark, ominous clouds rolling over the hill tops. We wanted to hike to the spring but if the weather continue to change we would be caught out. With the weather turning we decided to hedge our bets and head back. It might have been a short hike but mission accomplished even if we didn’t get to the spring on top of the hill.
The walk back was an interesting one. We ran into a fisherman who was crazy like us coming out. He commented on us being out and was shocked to run into others. He didn’t want to watch football and I couldn’t agree more. The weather in front of us was for the most part clear. We even managed to see a rainbow. Behind us things continued to be cloudy but it never really got heavy like we thought it would.
We hung out along the river before starting the drive back to Portland. Here we ate some lunch and enjoyed what we could of the weather. It was getting windy, cloudy and colder the long we stayed. The drive back was a rather scary one. For most of it Jenny was asleep which was good. It was a downpour with very treacherous driving condition. Standing water all over the place, low visibility and a few assholes not heading the warnings. The mental concentration I needed was draining by the time we got back.
Even with the rain it was a great day of hiking and getting out in nature. We both agreed to try and get out hiking more often this year. We did well on the first day of the year and with this hike. Lets see if we can keep it up for the rest of the year. Deschutes River State Recreational Area is a great place to hike, camp, and fish right at the mouth of the Columbia River.