Tag Archives: winter

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

Back to Deschutes River

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 storm was rolling through behind us.

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.

Ahead we could see a beautiful rainbow.

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.

Marys Rock March 2017

I knew the trail would be bad. I had no idea it would be this bad.

I needed to get out of the house for a few hours for reason that are not important.  There are a couple of ways I like to kill time, beer and hiking.  Today I choose a hike since it has been late fall since my last hike.  In the winter months around here it can be quite nasty and not worth getting outside to hike.  The forecast mentioned a possibility of afternoon rain and a high in the mid-50’s.  Not great, but also not to horrible.  On the mountain its colder but as long as you are prepared the cold doesn’t have to be a problem.

As I arrived at the 211 entrance I could see thick storm clouds enveloping the mountain to my left.  Despite the very real potential for rain I decided to just keep going.  All over the mountain there was still a thick layer of snow on the ground.  I was hoping it would have melted a little more but it was fine.  As I started up the mountain I quickly realize how much my boots are not water proof.  They are very old and have hundreds of miles and yet for reasons unknown I still haven’t replaced them.  It just made hiking the mountain a little more interesting.  The best I could I tried to hike on the exposed rocks.  This at least kept me out of the puddles of ice cold water that had started to collect.

The weather was the biggest thing to deal with while on the mountain.  Not long after I got going it started to rain but thankfully nothing serious.  Later when I finally had cell service I checked the weather radar.  The storm I originally saw when coming in split the mountain I hiked.  By the time I made it near the top of the mountain I could see the weather was changing again for the worse.  I did manage to find a clear spot near the top that allowed me to get a pretty good shot of the valley.  Not far from here is where I planted myself for a while to relax on the rocks.  I spent a little longer then I should have sitting around.  Eventually I noticed the clouds coming from behind me around the mountain.  The top of the mountain was splitting the clouds in half so they were coming from both my left and my right.  After a few minutes it dawned on me that the weather was coming from my back and when I turned around a storm was quickly approaching.

I gathered my crap and headed down the mountain as quickly as I could.  Coming up was pretty difficult but I knew that going down would be harder.  I would have to follow the same path but the snow made the trail slippery.  I was constantly worried about losing my footing and slipping on the rocks.  Just as I made it to my car it started to rain.  I had enough time to get my boots off and then the heavens opened up.  It was actually pretty incredible as it rained all the way home.  While I was sitting in my car I noticed a group of hikers to my left.  At first I thought they just an overnight and where packing to leave the park.  By the time I left I realized they where actually getting read to head into the forest.  I love camping but hiking or camping in the rain sucks.  Good love them for doing it however.

I knew the weather wouldn’t cooperate with me and that the trail would be a mess but I didn’t let it discourage me.  That day I actually ran into a lot more people then I expected for such a crappy day.  One couple in fact was out hiking with their 6-month old baby which was pretty cool.  This hike was only a couple hours but the view near the top was pretty kick ass.  Makes me eager for nicer weather and the opportunity to get out for more hiking.

Rapidan Camp and Hazeltop Loop

rapidan_camp_mnt_3_2015-13Technically a really late winter hike in the wood. I believe spring started in only a few days. While not all that cold the ground was still we from the early morning frost. The upper part of the trail was certainly wet and not until later down the hill did this trail dry out.

Starting from the main road you head down the mountain. The trail sloops down the mountain to Rapidan Camp which was originally occupied by President Hoover. The camp is right next to the intersection of two streams and offered Hoover exactly what he was looking for in trout fishing. Hoover wanted a summer retreat that he only had to step feet to a good trout stream.

Carefully on your way to the camp. Just past the small falls you have to cross the creek. The trail blaze is not well marked and I missed the cross over. I made my own trek through the woods and quickly realized I lost the trail as the terrain got more treacherous. Doubling back I found the trail and then the camp. Three historic building that have been full restored, the NPS offers rangers programs that talk in depth about the cabin. From the camp you get some really nice views of the surrounding mountains.

Looking up at one of the mountain tops from Rapidan Camp. No wonder Hoover made a mountain retreat here.
Looking up at one of the mountain tops from Rapidan Camp. No wonder Hoover made a mountain retreat here.

From the camp I followed the trail a little further down the mountain before catching back up with the Appalachian Trail. This portion of the trail takes you to the submit of Hazeltop Mountain. Finally the trail got difficult as I headed up the mountain. At the submit there are some pretty amazing views of either side of the mountain. The trail literally bisects the top of the mountain. When I got to the top the sun hung low in the horizon and offered some great views even with the slight cloud cover.

I think this loop was about 7 mile in length. The first part is all downhill as you head toward the camp. This offers a great picnic area for those looking to extend their hike. Continuing up the loop reaches the submit of Hazeltop Mountain and its great view. Moderate hike but totally worth it.

Hightop Mountain January 2015

hightop_mnt_1_2015-03It was MLK day and my company was off but Nancy had to work.  I took this opportunity to do a little hiking in the Shenandoah.  It has probably been a year since I hiked someplace in Virginia.  I have done hiked while on vacation but have not hiked any local trails for a long time.  Living in Loudoun county now, I am much closer to the Shenandoah National Park.  I took this opportunity to visit a trail in the southern section of the park.

hightop_mnt_1_2015-08The day was cold and windy which I hope would keep most people off the mountain and the trail empty. One nice thing about hiking in winter is you never get hot. In fact you have to be careful not to sweat because you could freeze.  Near the top of the mountain in the shade I actually could find patches of snow lingering around.

From the parking lot I headed down the trail. I went in the direction I thought I was supposed to but after about an hour of hiking down the trail, I heard a strange sound. After taking a second to listen I realized I went the wrong way from the parking lot. I in fact was headed away from the summit! My first clue should have been how easy the hike was, it was mostly downhill. I was pissed I wasted so much time going down the trail because I knew I would just have to hike back up it. I quickly turned around and headed back up the hill.

what ever you do, take care of your shoe
what ever you do, take care of your shoe

After what seemed like an eternity I made it back to my starting point and started the actual hike up the mountain. It was a peaceful hike up, I didn’t run into to many others who ventured out to the park that day. Eventually I made it to the first over look. The views were nice of the valley but the wind was really whipping around at the top. I spent only a few minutes here before heading to the second overlook and the summit of the mountain. Here the view was much better but the wind made it unbearable for any length of time to enjoy the view. Another couple I found at the summit was hungered down behind some rocks enjoying a picnic.  Only crazy people would expose themselves in this weather.

I decided to head back to the second overlook and relax here for a while.  The view wasn’t as good, the trees are a little overgrown obstructing the valley, but it was a little less windy.  Still froze my nuts off but the view was worth it.  It was great just to relax for a while and enjoy the scenery on a quite afternoon in the park.  When I was done I was surprised at how quickly I hiked down the mountain and back to my car.  What seemed to take forever going up, I descended in approximately 30 minutes.  I think what skewed my perception of time was hiking all the way up the trail from my earlier mistake.

A worthy hike with not a lot of traffic on the trail this fine winter afternoon.  The views at the top where great but the biting wind made it a little unbearable to stay for any extended period of time.  I can see coming back in spring or summer and really enjoying the views from the top.