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South Sister Summit + camp

13 miles of hiking • 5000' elevation gain • 1 night

This was a hard climb for me, I don't do well with hot weather and elevation gain. Add to that our climbing party had two different speeds, one of which started out with way too fast of a pace for me.

We left Portland Saturday morning around 7:30 am, stopping for breakfast near the Zigzag ranger station. I tried to fuel up but my stomach was in knots and I felt a bit nauseous. I thought it was just nerves and that I shouldn't worry about it. I saved half of my breakfast for the trail (trail bacon!) and off we went driving towards Bend.

It is never a good sign for me when the climb leader is tall and lean, since I'm short my steps can just never keep up. I feel like sometimes I have to run to keep up. Either way, I wasn't alone, and our group soon split in half into the speedy group, and I'll just call the rest of us, the "It's fucking hot guys this isn't a race" group. We were camping at the summit crater, so I knew we didn't have a strict curfew for summit. Starting at noon in the heat of the day with loaded packs on such a sun exposed climb really zapped me right away. It didn't help we made a mistake and went down the wrong trailhead at the start, adding around an extra mile in the end to our day. Luckily the mistake was quickly realized but the damage was done.

So off went the fast group, while I lead the way with the slower group. Our leader Terry kept us in view, and checked in on us from time to time. Our sweep was a strong and steady Kate, a long time Mazama member who has summited all of the major 16 peaks. We had one member who was having trouble breathing/feeling nauseous and sadly was eventually turned around.

We took an extended break in the shade after the initial forested section, hoping for some cooler weather. It helped to have a break before the hard stuff began in earnest.

Basically, I trudged miserably along swearing at the sun, with the remaining slow and steady group right behind. But slow and steady still gets there, and we all reached the summit in time to get some dinner in us and watch the sun set.

Absolutely exhausted I went to bed, though part of me wanted to do some night sky watch walking along the crater rim. Instead I opted to get up for sunrise and what a treat it was!

I felt much better and less nauseous after some rest, and the downhill today felt much easier. It felt great to be coming down and watching all the new climbers make their way up. (I saw so many people with hardly any water!) I felt strong coming down, but still couldn't keep up with the trail runner crew even though I was going at a pretty good pace.

Whatever, I'm fine hiking my own hike.

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July 14 – July 15, 2018

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Heart_bw

Ape Canyon

11 miles of hiking • 2000' elevation gain •

Felt sluggish, fat, crampy, and my fingers felt like sausages today. Forced myself to get up and we headed out to Ape Canyon.

It was a fairly gentle climb, dodging mountain bikers through an old growth forest spared by the Helen's blast. Views were spectacular today as the clouds lifted. It always amazes me seeing the power of our planet in person. Great hike.

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July 7, 2018

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Heart_bw

Mt Ow! I mean Mt Wow!

8.3 miles of hiking • 4000' elevation gain •

What a trip!

This exploratory Mazamas climb was lead by Mike Levis with assistant Walter Keutel.

First off, if you do this climb, make sure you start a beer pool for afterwards, based on whenever someone utters the words, "Is this a trail?", "This looks like a trail..." or "This might be a trail." Perhaps even every time someone falls down or utters, "Are we on track?"

The route seems straightforward enough on paper - with a car shuttle we started near the Nisqually entrance of Mt Rainier National Park, intending to go up the park boundary "trail" to the summit, and then back down via Lake Allen. Easier said than done.

Almost the entire route was bushwhacking/route finding through steep terrain, with some class 3 and 4 scrambling thrown in there to boot. I spent many hours on my butt, using the technique never taught to me in BCEP, called the "butt slide". Also widely used by all, the veggie belay, in which any and all vegetation became fair game to keep you from tumbling down the mountain side. The bear grass provided excellent handholds on our descent. Thank you bear grass, for saving my ass.

Sadly, in the end, we had no Wow!, only OW! as the clouds stubbornly stayed over top of the mountain, and it started lightly drizzling on our descent.

I cannot stress enough how difficult and steep this climb was, but even though I slightly feared for my life half of the day, I still thought it was a great experience and I got to collectively practice route finding skills using both gps and a paper map. We passed many piles of fresh bear scat, and saw many trees with telltale claw marks, but didn't actually see any of the beasts themselves. We saw a large family of goats, and happened upon what must be the goat barber shop near the summit, because the entire hillside was filled with discarded goat hair. My photos don't even begin to show the struggle, the fear, I was so often just trying not to fall down the mountain and didn't snap many photos of any of the hairy situations we got ourselves in and out of.

Would I do it again? Absolutely! Now, time to go ice my knee and relax with a beer.

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June 30, 2018

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Heart_bw

Abandoned Railroad

8 miles of hiking • 500' elevation gain •

A few friends of mine who are non hikers asked if I would take them on a hike. Each suggestion I made was turned down for being "too hard", a "death hike", too many people, more elevation gain than they could handle... So, I opted for something mostly flat, with enough of a danger element to be exciting for us. I've been on the route a few times, and it is one of my favorite weird post apocalyptic hikes. The earth is slowly taking back the railroad, one landslide at a time. This route is technically trespassing, and it considered unsafe due to the conditions on the trail. Most guides now warn of its closure. Hence, me being very vague but a quick google search will find many sources of information about this "trail." One more thing - my friends should have told me that they had an intense fear of heights. This probably was not the best place to test their will crossing suspended tracks, but everyone did great and we all came back in one piece.

I forgot to put my card into my camera, so I just have a couple of phone pictures and a few photos my friends took.

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June 23, 2018

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Heart_bw

Clackamas River Trail

9 miles of hiking • 1500' elevation gain •

Rainy rainy day down the Clackamas. Felt guilty for not hiking last weekend so I thought I would head out and brave the rain for some solitude on the trail. Had originally planned on tackling Mount Defiance, but the thought of coming down something so steep in the rain just didn't sound safe. Especially not knowing how the gorge fire has affected the trail.

The nice thing about hiking on rainy days... you find out what gear is failing. I wore my summer mountaineering boots I'm still trying to break in, with gaiters and rain gear and still managed to come off the trail with soaking wet feet. My partner got quite grumpy and wet, and refused to hike further so we turned around just before reaching Pup Creek Falls. It truly was just one of those days where no matter the gear, wading through waist high foliage is going to soak through and get you wet no matter what.

My dog is happily snoozing away on the couch now that she is dry, so the effort of the day was not wasted. The Clackamas River is still a gorgeous hike, even with wet feet.

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June 9, 2018

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Mt Ellinor via upper trailhead and Winter Chute

3.5 miles of hiking • 2500' elevation gain •

This was a Mazama's climb led by my former BCEP instructor from last year, George Shay, with Dirk Lakeman assisting. I was happy to see another familiar face on the climb team, with one of my assistants from BCEP Guy also on the climb. The rest of the team was very friendly, and many recent BCEP grads themselves.

We took the heavily pot holed dirt road up to the upper trailhead in the afternoon on Saturday, setting up camp in the parking lot around 6 pm for an early am start. We watched as cars came and went, with some folks getting a late start up the trail. We grew concerned as it got dark and a few people still hadn't made it back to the parking lot. At one point, a sheriff came to the parking lot, concerned by a 911 call where someone reported they had heard a whistle call for help.

Eventually, two hikers came down by headlamp after I had turned in, but one car still remained that wasn't part of our group by morning. My sleep was a little uneasy, a few random trucks had pulled in the parking lot in the middle of the night and then pulled away, and I also heard someone making camp/talking loudly way down in the valley chopping wood into the night. I can only assume it was holiday campers, celebrating into the wee hours by campfire. Maybe I should start sleeping with ear plugs.

In the morning we quickly tore down camp, and we were off for our short but steep ascent. Crampons, ice axe, and trekking poles were all used. The snow conditions are deteriorating - many snow bridges collapsing with running water underneath. Some tricky spots that proved harder to come down than go up.

We arrived at the top to a beautiful view, 4 major peaks making an appearance. (Rainier, Helens, Adams, and even Baker). A couple of mountain goats were spotted, but thankfully they kept their distance. It was nice to have such a spectacular payoff for a relatively easy achievable climb.

As we descended the snow became very slushy, wish made one steep section a little sketchy for me, but George was very patient and let me take my time as I descended. I did have to dodge one fall from another climber - conditions got very slippery and crampons weren't really helpful in the conditions. Glissading was not a safe option - many hazards/boulders uncovered and holes to fall into and just wasn't worth the risk.

I did ungracefully fall through the snow once unexpectedly and left behind a big hole where my leg went through. Let's hope no one saw that. Just a bit of a scratch on my finger and a nice bruise on my arm, but otherwise it was a wonderful day.

I do want to note, while we never saw the car that was left in the parking lots occupants return, we did spot a tent set up near the summit. I assume this was the car we saw - and that no-one was ever in any trouble.

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May 27, 2018

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Heart_bw 1

Capitol Wash + Tanks Trail, Capitol Reef National Park

2.4 miles of hiking • 250' elevation gain •

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May 21, 2018

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Heart_bw

Rim Overlook - Capitol Reef National Park

4.5 miles of hiking • 1000' elevation gain •

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May 18, 2018

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Heart_bw 1

Upper Calf Creek - Grand Staircase-Escalante

2.8 miles of hiking • 750' elevation gain •

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May 17, 2018

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Heart_bw 1

Zebra Canyon, Devil's Garden - Grand Staircase-Escalante

6 miles of hiking • 500' elevation gain •

Slot canyons, hoodoos, crazy rock formations, oh my!

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May 16, 2018

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Heart_bw 1

Dry Fork Narrows Slot Canyon, Spooky Canyon - Grand Staircase-Escalante

5.5 miles of hiking • 500' elevation gain •

The road to this trailhead is BAD, we added an extra two miles to our hike because we could not reach the trailhead. 4WD only for the last mile.

This trail was well marked with cairns, but the opportunity for exploring is awesome. Many different slot canyons in this area, being late in the day we opted for Spooky and Dry Creek Narrows. Peak a Boo looked a bit technical right from the get go, involving a scramble just to get up and in. We stopped when it became apparent that the rest of the canyon would require more scrambling/climbing, for fear of losing our remaining daylight.

Spooky lived up to its name, immediately becoming very narrow and dark. Remnants of debris from flash floods hung overhead giving me an eerie feeling, much respect to the power of water.

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May 16, 2018

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Heart_bw 1

Cottonwood Canyon, Grosvenor Arch, and Twentymile Wash Tracksite - Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

4 miles of hiking • 250' elevation gain •

Let me be up front, driving a Prius in Grand Staircase-Escalante is not recommended. We ran into many roads we just could not travel down, many we shouldn't have but attempted anyway, and miles and miles of washboard roads. However, a careful driver can make it to many interesting places if you care not about the wear and tear on your vehicle. Prior to our trip we had made some costly repairs, and I'm pretty sure this trip is going to have an affect down the road. That being said, next time I hope to have a different vehicle.

It was hot, dusty, awful on our car, but an amazing place, even though I only saw such a tiny part of it.

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May 15, 2018

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Heart_bw

Fairyland Trail, Bryce Canyon National Park

8.2 miles of hiking • 1500' elevation gain •

This hike was pure fun, a magical descent into the Hoodoos of Bryce, complete with David Bowie Magic Dance stuck in my head as I looked around at all the goblin castles. Starting at the North Campground, we had a convenient entry point in which to start. We ran into a few people going the opposite way at the start of the hike, but otherwise pretty much had the trail to ourselves for the rest of the day. I can't even begin to explain how cool Bryce is, it is just one of those places you have to see at least once in your lifetime. It looks like another planet. Probably one of my favorite hikes I have ever done.

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May 14, 2018

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Heart_bw 1

Observation Point and a little bit of The Narrows, Zion National Park

10.5 miles of hiking • 2250' elevation gain •

We rose early to try to beat the heat and the crowds into the park, and managed to find a parking spot at the Visitor Center to leave our car for the day. The parking area quickly filled up, and after a quick breakfast at a cafe, we got into line to wait for the shuttle. In the short time we were in line, the crowd grew, and we had our longest wait to board a shuttle. Once aboard, our stop was #7, Weeping Rock Trailhead. From there, it was an immediate up on well built switchbacks, each turn giving us even greater views. Finally after climbing for a long while, we got a bit of a break and shade though Echo Canyon, but it didn't last long and we were going up again. I thought I had packed shorts to change into in my pack, but I was wrong. So, up I went in tights, swearing at myself for not having packed an alternative now that the sun was on full blast. My Portland skin yelped and cringed but I managed not to burn. When I finally felt like the heat and elevation gain was really getting to me, we reached the top of the canyon, and the last mile out to Observation Point was relatively flat and easy. Views were big, and Angel's Landing looked tiny below. While I had skipped the famous hike, I felt like I had picked the better of the two. If I wouldn't have felt so zapped from the sun, I would have taken the side trip to Hidden Canyon on the way down. Instead, the idea of splashing around in some water sounded amazing, so we took our tired feet onto a shuttle to the last stop on the line.

The water was cold, but felt amazing on our tired feet. While most tourists had on rental water shoes from the outfitter in town, we got along fine with some simple water shoes. At times, the water was up to my waist, but mostly stayed around knee deep. At each bend we kept telling ourselves that it would be our turning around point, but the further I went I couldn't help but wonder what was around the next bend. Finally, we knew we really needed to turn around and get some food in us, so we reluctantly headed back into the crowds and back into Springdale for some much needed pizza.

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May 13, 2018

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Heart_bw 1

West Rim Trail to Angel's Landing, Zion National Park

4.3 miles of hiking • 1250' elevation gain •

At first, entering Zion in the afternoon was a little overwhelming. Crowds, cars, no parking. Once we figured out that we just needed to find a place to park anywhere in Springdale, and that the shuttle to the park and within the park was free, we were all set. We loaded up our daypacks and set out into the park. The shuttle system was efficient, we never had to wait more than a few minutes for one to show up. Many visitors opted to cycle to car free roads with the shuttles, and I felt a little sad I had not brought my bike along for this trip.

Being too late in the day for a long hike, we opted for a quick jaunt up the West Rim Trail to see the famous Angel's Landing hike. Pretty impressive seeing the engineering that went into Walter's Wiggles, the steep switchbacks that lead up up up into the park. The trail was fairly crowded, and upon eyeing the line of hikers going up Angel's Landing, we decided we would rather not dodge inexperienced tourist hikers on steep drop offs, so we ended our journey there and headed back down in search of dinner and a place to camp for the night. Camp spots in Zion are pretty hard to come by so we opted to head out of the park and camped for the night on BLM land.

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May 12, 2018

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Heart_bw 2

Juniper Gulch Trail, Owyhee

2.2 miles of hiking • 500' elevation gain •

Forgive me while I document all of the hikes from my vacation last week.

I had been wanting to visit Owyhee, the lure of its isolation and remoteness intrigued me from the first moment I heard about it. However, being cursed with a Prius as my only vehicle, I had doubts I could make it out there. After a bit of research I found that the Leslie Gulch area is accessible by passenger vehicle, and so our planning began. The gravel road was well graded and pothole free, but certain areas did have a fair amount of washboarding.

We left Portland in the am and headed on the road, getting to the trailhead in the late afternoon. Dodging various animal crossings through open range, we chose a short hike with our remaining daylight, and we weren't disappointed. The hiking was relatively easy, multiple routes were found through the gulch, many looking like they could lead to some exciting off trail adventuring. Gain on this was minimal, but it did bring us to a nice view of the surrounding area. We could have gone further - but needed to get camp set up for the night.

We headed for what was the only campground at the end of the road, but we were caught off guard finding that it was filled with RV's, ATV's, and what looked like a big party. No tent spots left, we turned back and found an established camp spot in Dago Gulch, and enjoyed a windy but clear sky with an amazing light show of stars. It was only on the way out that I read the sign that camping was only allowed in the campground. Unfortunately at the late hour we arrived, we would have had a hard time getting to another area where camping was allowed. Lesson learned, but the spot we camped was obviously frequently used.

Though our stay was just a quick jaunt on our way to National Parks in southern Utah, I can't wait to come back and explore again. Just not in a Prius.

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May 10, 2018

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Heart_bw 1

Table Mountain via Bonneville Trailhead

17 miles of hiking • 4250' elevation gain •

This was probably one of the most grueling hikes I have done in recent memory. The closure of the trailhead at the Hot Springs resort makes this a very long trek indeed. Being my first time up to Table, I wasn't sure what to expect.

Weather prediction from the night before called for showers all day, so we all dressed for what we thought would be a cooler experience. On the way out, I checked the weather and saw the forecast had changed to sunny and 70 degrees. Suddenly, I worried whether I had enough water for such a long trek under the sun with my dog, but multiple streams to cool down in on the way helped and gave the pup plenty of water to drink so I didn't actually run out until we were about a 1/2 mile from the trailhead.

The first part of the trail is pretty uneventful, meandering up and down through clearcut land and over private gravel roads. The way is fairly clear if you pay attention to PCT symbols. Eventually, we reached where the trail really begins, the choice between Difficult and More Difficult. We chose the steeper ascent of Heartbreak Ridge, which is very appropriately named. I cursed my way up, giving the stink eye to every heartbreak symbol I saw on the way up. Then came the grand view of where we were headed - the top of the cliffs of Table Mountain. A few switchbacks later and we were to the boulder field. This part I actually found kind of fun, scrambling up on all fours and encouraging my pup to follow. After that, it was a short ascent to the summit, where I was greeted to our first contact with other hikers all day. We saw another Mazamas group, this one an official hike, and I ran into another fellow hiker I had an outing with on Meetup. (Small world.) We watched as one weary hiker walked to the very edge of the cliffs where just a bit of grass was hanging on, and warned him to step back and that nothing was below him. Stay away from the edge folks. I did crawl on my belly to get a bit of a glimpse over the edge, but very warily. A fall here has and would be fatal.

Then came the descent, we looped around the top to get a view from the other side, and followed cairns to the very slippery/rocky trail down. This side had a little bit of a display of wildflowers, but by this time the sky all around us and the surrounding hills became a very brooding dark blue. We thought we might get a bit of rain, but it held off and we enjoyed the little bit of relief from the heat.

After the hard down, it was time for the long but easy way back to Bonneville. We hiked hard without breaks for what seemed like a long time, finally resting at a large bridge. I made the mistake of looking how far we had to go - 4 more miles!!! With feet feeling like we might be developing blisters, we continued on, trying to ignore the pain.

The last bit seemed to take forever, but after a final gps check, we saw we were within a half mile of the end. Beer and pulled pork was calling in Cascade Locks at Thunder Island. A beer rarely tastes as good as when you sip it along the Columbia, the mountain conquered looming in the distance. I'll never look at Table the same way again. Very satisfying to have made this trip, and I can't wait to see what the rest of this summer brings as I embark on my vacation to Utah later this week.

This hike is not recommended for anyone who isn't a very hardy hiker - the distance makes this quite the miserable experience if you aren't used to the mileage.

Pictures on my gps track below.

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May 6, 2018

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Heart_bw 1

Catherine Creek, Coyote Wall Loop, Our version not official

10.5 miles of hiking • 2000' elevation gain •

Decided to try to Catherine Creek/Coyote Wall Loop. Initially started out exploring and looking for the natural arch on a side trail. Went a little further than we wanted but the trail was pretty so nothing lost. Backtracked and went up the way we needed and took a little side trail to check out the "old stove". Turned around and continued on the old road heading towards coyote wall. Looked for some relics along the way, an old homestead turned out to mostly be a pile of wood and no wildflowers yet.

Continued onwards on the old road till we hit the edge of coyote wall, and then the wildflower show started. Not quite Dalles Mountain ranch display, but a very nice show so far.

My hiking partner was a little tired from trail keeping on Wygant the day before and I was a little tired from a long week at work, so we opted for the road as a return, but quickly regretted it. Very little shoulder. In hindsight, we should have just sucked up the 1000 ft of gain and went back along the Labyrinth trail and met back up with the trail that would take us back down to the Catherine Creek.

Photos if you click on my gps track below.

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April 28, 2018

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Heart_bw

Mailbox Peak

10.5 miles of hiking • 4000' elevation gain •

With a beautiful weather forecast and a planned trip to Seattle to see Front 242 Sunday evening, I decided to drive out early from Portland and find somewhere to hike. After a little research, I decided to knock off one of the more popular strenuous hikes near Seattle, Mailbox Peak. Since I was hiking solo, I opted for the "gentle" new way up, over the grueling old trail. Looking back at the time it took me with the longer switchbacks, I kind of wish I could have just gone for the more difficult up. I got a bit of a later start than I wanted, leaving the parking lot at 10:40 am.

I passed a few souls on my way up, but had mostly solitude until I hit the big talus slope that one must go up to get to the peak. Then it was trains of people slipping and sliding down, while I waiting patiently to be able to go up. Large amounts of people in tennis shoes and no traction devices or poles. I can see why this trail gets massive amounts of search and rescue calls every year. The trail was very icy once the snow started in the trees, and turned to slippery mush on the exposed slope. It went back and forth between rock and slush, so my microspikes went on and off, as I didn't want to damage the tips on the rocks. I chose to kick step in the snow next to the trail rather than follow the slush mess on the final push. Mountaineering boots would have helped here, but I did okay with my normal hiking boots, spikes, and poles.

The last push consists of 960 feet of elevation gain in half a mile - and boy did I feel it! Slow and steady at the end and I made it.

I didn't spend a heck of a lot of time on the summit, Front 242 was calling back in Seattle and I had to get off the mountain in time to get there. Once past the snow and back on clear trail, I really pushed myself to keep a quick pace and get back after all the time wasted waiting for others sliding on my way up.

Pics on my gps link below.

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April 22, 2018

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Heart_bw 1

Tickattack, Klickatick, Tickitat, Klickitat... aka Swale Canyon

9 miles of hiking • 250' elevation gain •

Gloomy rainy trip down Swale Canyon today.

I won't make the mistake of taking my dog down this trail again. I had heard reports of ticks, but I did not expect the onslaught of bloodthirsty beasts that I came across today. With the misty rain, we did not notice any ticks until we were around 4.5 miles down the trail, the rain had stopped and the dog was dry. The trail became grassy instead of rocky and we think this is where a large number lay in wait for us to come along. As we looked down our dog was attacked by at least 30 ticks, we swatted them all off and made the decision to turn back. Luckily, most had not bitten down, but the few that had we contended with back at the car after our hasty retreat. Dog was not happy, especially with the bath treatment she received once home.

Today was a rare day in which my partner had the same day off as me, and his first hiking trip since breaking his arm. (Driver in Portland drifted into the bike lane, he had to dodge and broke his arm in two places.) An umbrella worked well to protect it, but the act of hiking still amounted to some pain and swelling. Our turn around decision was made by ticks, but probably for the best.

Next time I'll conquer this trail via mountain bike and hopefully a shuttle car. Less chance for ticks to attack and a better chance to see the whole trail.

Photos on my gps track below.

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April 15, 2018

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Heart_bw 1

Wygant Trail

9.4 miles of hiking • 2250' elevation gain •

Newly "reopened" Wygant Trail, one of the few trails on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge not affected by the Eagle Creek Fire. This trail has seen some improvements from Trail Crews since the last time I was here, but it is pretty obvious they have not gotten to the whole trail. There is one spot part way up where you have to climb over a very large downed tree, and a wrong move could cause injury or a tumble down the side of the cliff. Not for novice hikers. Once past the large tree the trail becomes much easier to pass. The creek crossing where the bridge washed out was not terrible, there is a suitable log that I easily scooted across on my bottom. Those who trust their balance could walk across it. Towards the summit the trail becomes more faint, but still easy to follow. The actually summit is not much to see, views are best taken on short spurs on the way up. I did not attempt the Chetwood Loop, as trip reports say that landslides have made much of it impassable.

For photos click on my GPS track below.

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April 1, 2018

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Cottonwood Canyon Gooseneck Loop

8.8 miles of hiking • 1500' elevation gain •

First time out to one of Oregon's newest state parks. This hike is mostly off trail, and starts immediately UP from the parking lot at the Murtha Ranch Trailhead. The hike was lead by Mazama's hike leader Bill Stein.

Going up we could see a faint trail where others had gone before us, but nothing that is an official trail. Once we reached the ridge crest, we followed around an outcropping of rock on the right side. At Peak 1443, we had expansive views of windmills and the John Day River below. (And the parking lot, which you can spot for much of this hike) We then followed a fence line which lead us down into a steep gully, and back up the other side. This area would be treacherous if the ground was wet, but despite some iffy clouds the weather stayed dry for us. Across the gully we spotted some Bighorn Sheep, but they never got very close to us. This second ascent seemed less brutal than the first, perhaps because I was warmed up or because it involved more scrambling which I find fun. We found a nice spot to stop for lunch out of the wind, and then continued on to the top of the ridge. Once on top of the ridge again, we were able to follow an old jeep path along the fence boundary, with some great views of the red canyon walls across the river.

The descent was very steep, and we took a different route than Bill had scouted the week before. The group divided into a faster scouting group, and a those of us taking it a little slower. (I'm always wary of my knees and like to the take descents slowly.) We all felt a bit like mountain goats as we each made our path down. Eventually, we were in some trees, and I had to guess where the rest of my party was but we all made it through. Once down, we took a long break admiring the scenery as we sat along the river towards the end of the Pinnacles trail. From there it was easy going back to the parking lot on a flat dirt road.

And because the world is so small, I ran into an old college friend from Michigan (who also now lives in Portland), hiking along the Pinnacles trail. A brief hug, and I was off to catch up with the rest of the now speedy hiking crew.

I loved this hike, but I would only recommend to those who don't mind going off trail, and aren't afraid of a steep descent. The way to take is pretty obvious, but a fall here would not be pleasant. Trekking poles are a necessity.

For photos click on my GPS track below.

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March 25, 2018

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Criterion Ranch

11 miles of hiking • 1000' elevation gain •

This hike was recommended to me by local author of hiking guides, Matt Reeder, as being one of his favorite winter hikes. There was no lack of sunshine on the day I was there, and no lack of cows as the area is BLM land and an open range.

Lily (my dog) and my pal Brooklyn joined for an all girls day on the trail. Not a soul out there, which was a refreshing change from Portland area hikes. We did occasionally have to dodge cows who I felt were giving us the stink eye.

This area could be entirely hiked off trail with care taken to watching for rattlesnakes and ticks, but we opted to stay on the jeep path. The path was ruddy with hoof prints from a recent rain, but had dried which was somewhat challenging on our ankles with the unevenness of the ground.

The path is pretty clear, follow the jeep path until you run into a second path that goes through a gate and all the way on down to the Deschutes river. (Which would make for a very long day, we stopped at the viewpoint where the trail really started to go down.)

We were a little early for wildflowers, but I think I would like to come back when the flowers are in full swing. This hike had views of Hood, and the Sisters, and plenty of space for further exploration. Next time, with more energy, I will go a little further.

For photos click on my GPS track below.

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March 10, 2018

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An Attempt to find the Valley of the Giants

1 miles of hiking • 0' elevation gain •

This was an attempt to find the famed patch of old growth in the middle of logging country near the coast of Oregon. Huge Douglas-firs, with a few large western hemlocks, some trees up to 500 years old.

The hike was lead by Mazamas hike leader Bill Stein, with Matt Reeder (local author of PDX Hiking 365 and 101 Hikes in the Majestic Mount Jefferson Region.) It was an exploratory hike as no-one knew if we could actually make it out there.

Sadly, we did not make it. We got around a mile and a half from the trailhead when all hell broke loose and we came upon an active logging site of Weyerhaeuser that halted our way onwards. We attempted to climb over the downed trees but quickly deemed it too hazardous to go on. 3 hours of driving... and so close we could taste it. Just wanted to throw this out there in case anyone was interested in attempting this.... It is impossible with the logging activity currently going on.

Disappointing after all the buildup, but not a wasted day. We stopped at Baskett Slough on the way back to stretch our legs and at least get a short hike in. Still fun to get out and meet people, and nice to grab a new hiking guide from Matt (and get insider scoop on unknown hikes on the drive there and back.)

Photos if you click on my GPS track below.

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March 4, 2018

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Baskett Slough

2 miles of hiking • 250' elevation gain •

Just a quick stretch of the legs back when we had an unsuccessful attempt at reaching the Valley of the Giants. Pleasant place to visit, great for bird watchers.

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March 4, 2018

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Saddle Mountain

5.3 miles of hiking • 1500' elevation gain •

Past trip, still trying to catch up on my hikes so sorry for spamming the site as I knock these out.

I love Saddle Mountain, and simultaneously hate it. The grating on the steep parts of the hike always make my footing feel a bit unsure. Chain link fence material has been put on a large part of this trail due to the lack of topsoil, but is in bad shape in many places. On this particular day, parts of the mountain that remained in the shade had sheets of ice still on the trail making us have to watch our step in my places. Hikers with dogs beware - I imagine some dogs would be bothered by the feel of the fencing, but my dog didn't seem to care.

With me on this trip, two friends who hadn't hiked in a very long time, but they were both troopers as I lead them up the mountain. My friend Jim remarked how he had driven past the road to the trailhead so many times heading to the coast, and never imagined that this was up there. Oh, the joy of hiking. I'm hoping this trip will light his fire for more exploration.

As we headed back down the mountain, the weather turned on us and it hailed a bit, and we were grateful for our early start in good weather. Sometimes it works out to skip out on beer the night before for an early start before the crowds kick in.

Back in Portland, a victory beer was had by all with a delicious brisket enchilada devoured from La Taq.

Photos if you click on my GPS track below.

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February 11, 2018

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Tom Dick and Harry

7.8 miles of hiking • 1750' elevation gain •

Parked at ski bowl, which adds to the mileage of this hike.

This hike was lead by my friend Kat (who was an assistant when I took BCEP), who is a new Mazama's hike leader, through meetup. Cold, clear day and a steady pace. Trail was hard packed and snowshoes were not needed. Also along was my fellow BCEP friend and Mountain Dog, Prasanna. (Who is now becoming a hike leader - congrats to him.) The rest on the hike were strangers, which is always interesting. I go back and forth between solo hiking and joining meetups/Mazama trail trips since my boyfriend can no longer hike with me until his work schedule changes this summer. I do highly recommend meetup for those of you who seek company on the trail, and your friends are mostly non hikers. (I know...I know...who are these people? Why do we like them if they don't hike?)

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February 10, 2018

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Ape Caves, Upper and Lower via sno park

6 miles of hiking • 500' elevation gain •

Night hike through the ape caves. Worked a full day, and with a friend in town from Florida, we decided to take him out to Ape Caves because it was something we could do without daylight. Happened to be the night of a blood moon. Did both lower and upper, no other creatures or beings in site.

Icy descent into the caves, and pretty slippery hike back on the hard packed snow back to the snow park parking lot. No microspikes or snowshoes used, we just dealt with it. A few eerie things on this hike - an empty pair of cowboy boots left at the trailhead, and the night hike back in the dark with the blood moon. I always see/hear things while hiking by headlamp, but the thrill can't be beat.

Nothing reached out in the night and grabbed us, I survived to hike another day.

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January 31, 2018

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Rampart Ridge

5.7 miles of hiking • 1250' elevation gain •

This hike was originally planned to be a snowshoe hike... well, we carried our snowshoes but we never actually unloaded them from our packs.

An abnormally beautiful and clear day, we lucked out and had a completely unobstructed view of Rainier. While I was disappointed I didn't get to use my snowshoes due to an almost completely snow free trail, I can't complain about what I saw.

Great little hike, and the drive from Portland really wasn't that bad. I really need to get out to Rainier more.

Photos on my GPS track below.

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January 14, 2018

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Forest Park, Firelane 15

3.7 miles of hiking • 500' elevation gain •

Quick jaunt on a rainy day with my dog through the far end of Forest Park.

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January 7, 2018

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