Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Middle Sister via the Hayden Glacier

This weekend I returned to the Sisters Wilderness for my fifth climb on Middle Sister, located in the Central Oregon Cascades.  We started at the Pole Creek Trailhead and hiked about 4.5 miles to our base camp near the base of the Hayden Glacier.  It is a grand place to set up camp as Broken Top and the Three Sister formed an arc around us.  Looking West could see our route on the far right of the glacier, that led to a saddle, with Middle Sister on the left and Prouty Point on the right.

All of that was obscured by the cover of darkness when we departed from camp at 4am.  The sky was studded with stars as I led the group up a valley to the foot of the glacier.  As we donned our climbing harnesses and roped up it started to lighten up, revealing the grandeur surrounding us.  The snow was just right, so we did not need to put on our crampons.  At the saddle our two rope teams clipped out of the rope and ascended up the snow free North Ridge.  While it is just a walk up, the loose scree was mentally and physically demanding.  About 9:05 am we were at the fifth highest point in Oregon.

I chose Middle Sister since I climbed here last year in similar conditions.  The big exception was the lack of snow of the North Ridge and the fact that it was my show to lead this time.  I felt fortunate to have good weather and a good team along with me on this climb.  And I did observe signs of teamwork, such as those supporting those who were new to climbing up scree or helping someone remember how to clip through a running belay.  To be part of a functional team is a very meaningful experience to me.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Hop to it Kangaroos! High School 20th Reunion

The day I knew would be coming finally came, the 20th anniversary of my high school graduating class.  I had enjoyed the 10 year reunion, so it was a no-brainer to attend this one.  I departed Portland Friday evening at got to Bellevue, WA  just in time for the class photos and dinner.

In some ways it was overwhelming to walk into the hotel reception room.  There were so many familiar faces, but do I really know any of these people?  Then I started to talk to people, some of which I had gone to school with since my elementary school days.  I started to feel at home again.  It was also fun to catch up with one of the Music Hall gang, the group that I so identified with during high school.

Saturday morning I went to part two of the reunion, a picnic at Marymore Park in Redmond.  There was a smaller crowd than at the reception, but it afforded me the chance to talk with those who were outside of my social circle.  We even got some musical entertainment, since the picnic took place right next to the concert area.  Death Cab for Cutie was warming up for this evening, so we got a preview of the show.

There was also a reminder that our graduating class is not immune from the fraility of life.  At the reception there were photos of those from our class that have passed away.  One was David Johns, who earned his Arrow of Light in Cub Scouts along with me.  It was a reminder life was meant to be lived.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Mt. Stone

For my second Provisional Climb lead I chose Mt. Stone, which is a double peaked mountain located in the Olympic Mountains near the Hamma Hamma River.  I had been here four years ago and felt it would be an appropriate place for me to lead a climb.  This would be a step up from leading up the trail on Mt Ellinor as Mt Stone has a handful of places where we would be off trail and scrambling up rocks.

After scheduling the climb I learned that there was a washout across the road 2.5 miles before the trailhead.  So when we discovered that the road had been fixed, our climb got off to a great start.  And it continued to get better as the weather was good and the wildflowers were spectacular.  A major route finding challenge was solved when we figured out where to go once we got to the Pond of the False Prophet.

For me it was a treat to see how much my rock climbing had  improved since my last visit here.  I was amazed at the great hand and foot holds that I was finding.

Our climb did have a scary moment when one person fell and took a tumble.  Fortunately that person was OK and  able to continue down.  It was a reminder to me of some of the fine points of accident management and first aid.

Thanks to Doug Briedwell for the second photo. 

Sunday, July 5, 2009

July Garden Report

This morning I was tending my garden.  The backyard is on the North side of the house, it is a very cool, pleasant place to be in the morning.  I find it kind of peaceful to be back here, looking over the plants and checking on their progress.  Well, there are little interruptions in my tranquility whenever I see aphids and cabbageworms.  Then again, gardening is like life, it throws curveballs and aphids your direction.  Things do fall into place, even if the cabbageworm nibbles on the Kohlrabbi.

I am starting to see Zucchini growing and really have enjoyed the flowers that this plant has bloomed.  It was fascinating to see that this flower closed when the temperature got hot and then opened up again once it had cooled down.

While I have had a stead diet of leafy greens, I am starting to get broccoli as well.  It has been a regular ritual to step outside with my basket and scissors and clip something off for dinner or lunch.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Trapper Creek Wilderness

For some time I have wanted to hike in the Trapper Creek Wilderness, which is located in the Southern Cascades and is part of Gifford Pinchot National Forest.  While I did trail maintenance in this area last year, I have not hiked up to Observation Peak.   So when the question of what to do with my day off on July 3rd came up, scheduling a hike there seemed like the natural answer.  As I planed the hike, I decided to follow the grand tour suggested by Paul Gerald's 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Portland.  With the three day weekend I figured I could dedicate the whole day this 13 mile loop along the Trapper Creek Trail, up to Observation Peak, and then returning via the Observation Trail. 

Most of this hike was under tree cover, which was ideal for a day where the temperature got into the 90s.  The first 4.5 miles did not have any serious elevation gain, but then it took off in a hurry.  And we were not following the trails that the author described as 'a butt-kicking good time' that the Mazamas built and maintained.  At one point we crossed over some patches of snow patches and then the mosquitoes came out in force.  I had smashed bugs smeared all over my legs and arms.  But then their numbers dwindled and we made the final push for Observation Peak.  Up there the Bear Grass was blooming and we had a stellar view of the forested valleys, the local volcanoes, and a couple of familiar high points in the Columbia Gorge.

I really have to hand it to the four who signed up to join me.  This was a long, demanding hike on a hot day.  However we all worked hard and I am certain it was worth the effort.  One gal was preparing for an upcoming Mt. Adams climb.  It felt meaningful to me to help her towards that goal.  It also felt good to prepare myself for my upcoming climbs in addition to enjoying a great day in the outdoors.