Sunday, March 21, 2010

Hamilton Mountain

This year I signed up to lead of group of students for the Mazamas Basic Climbing Education Program. The past months I have been assembling other instructors to assist me and ironing out the big details. The first lecture was this past Monday and today was our first conditioning hike. For the next five weeks we will be hiking, practicing knots, learning snow climbing skills, orienting ourselves with map and compass, and climbing on rock. It is going to be a busy time.
One aspect of the class to take a series of conditioning hikes to physically prepare for mountain climbing. As the class goes along we will take progressively harder hikes. I had our group take its first at Hamilton Mountain on the Washington side of the Columbia River gorge. At the trailhead I had everyone (including myself) weight their packs. The hike was a wet and windy one. As we were crossing one ridge we had to contend with a wind that was numbing one side of my face. It would have been interested to weigh our packs and see if the rainfall had added weight.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Megaband 2010

My folks visited me this weekend and helped me out with various projects around the house. But I think the real reason they came to Portland was to go Contra Dancing at the Megaband Dance. :)

Here is good description of Contra Dancing.

"A dancer and his or her partner dance a series of figures, or moves, with each other and with another couple for a short time. They then repeat the same figures with another couple, and so on. The figures are similar to those of old-time square dancing. The figures are combined in different ways for each different dance."

Imagine sharing this experience with 550 dancers. To add to the experience there is live music thanks to a band of 70 musicians. Put all of this together and you have the Megaband. During the course of the evening I danced with women from Seattle to Corvallis. The dancing was fun and invigorating, the music was a treat.

In 2005 Oregon Public Broadcasting's show Oregon Art Beat televised a story on the Megaband. It showed the band rehearsing and then ended with some shots of dancers twirling around at the dance. Only recently did I learn that I was one of the dancers filmed in that episode. You can find the link to that episode here.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Winter Daphine

The garden bed by my front door is dominated by a Winter Daphne. In late winter it has an aroma that will stop you in your tracks. In April 2008 my mother and I transplanted it from the pot into the garden bed, feeling it would thrive planted directly into the soil. The move must have shocked the plant, because its sweet fragrance was absent the next winter. For a year I waited and crossed my fingers.

Well this year the Daphne is back. I have been enjoying the aroma for the past couple of weeks. Often it catches me off guard, when I least expect it.

In addition the daffodils and bleeding hearts have bloomed and the tuplips are on their way. Spring is just around the corner....

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Teacup Lake

We were quite concerned as we drove to the cross country ski trails at Mt Hood's Teacup Lake. Passing through nearby Government Camp we saw very little snow on the ground. Thankfully conditions were better at our destination. The sky was blue, the snow was not too fast, and the crowds were light. Perhaps everyone had hear about the lousy snow conditions this year and forgotten about the ski trails.

This was my first time skiing for the year. I had signed up for the Mazamas Nordic class in January, but missed all sessions due to illness. Until last November, it had been more than a decade since I had clipped into a pair of XC skis. I was delighted how fast all the skills that I had learned as a boy came back to me. As I fell into a steady rhythm and glided along I savored every moment.