Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Castle

In 2007 Paul Steger and I retreated from our attempt to cross the Bailey Traverse in the Olympic Mountains. Lousy weather had us looking for greener pastures and we found them in Rainier National Park. One of the places that we explored was the Tatoosh Range. We scrambled up Pinnacle Peak and then hiked up Plummer Peak. Then we started to explore The Castle. After crossing a scary traverse we made our way to the summit block. We probably could have scrambled up there, but I did not feel like I could descend without a rope.

Saturday I found myself in the Tatoosh Range again. This time it was iffy weather in the North Cascades that had me looking for better conditions, so again I found myself at the door of The Castle. This time I was there with more experience and confidence, the necessary equipment, and a team of Mazamas.I had a feeling that there was a better way than to cross than that scary traverse, so I did my homework. This time we hiked below the traverse and I found a place to climb up the ridge. Once we all had climbed this pitch we found easy access to the summit block.

The assistant pointed out a good route to the top. As I climbed up this pitch I found good rock and plenty of places to place my rock gear. I was even able to place my Pink Tricam, which has been used for all of my climbs this summer. I felt like my gear placement was more efficient on this climb. Everyone on the team did a great job climbing up this pitch.

Up on the summit we had misgivings about the location where it appeared that others had rappelled down, so we took the time to set up our own rappel station. Once everyone had rappelled down we carefully made our way down the talus field and started back. Going down I found a better way down than the way we had ascended. Everyone was very diligent about careful foot placement, as there was ample loose rock here.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Planes Trains and Automobiles

It should not have surprised me that I would have found so much of my past in Minnesota. While it is hundreds of miles from the Pacific Northwest, my parents grew up in this state and I have many relatives that live here. So when I made an early morning journey to the PDX airport the stage was set for a visit to the past, present, and future.

I was traveling to the Midwest to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of my Aunt Judy and Uncle Jack. There were friends and family traveling from all over the country to witness this happy occasion. Even Europe was represented. There were so many people at the reception that my Cousin Jeff had to set up more tables.

I was prepared to see relatives that I had not seen for 11 to 16 years. I was caught off guard for the emotional impact that the slide show at the reception had upon me. I was also surprised to see things that reminded me of my Grandparents. Like the luggage that I spotted in my Aunt's hand. The piano that Grandma played as she would sing hymns. The clock on the fireplace mantel that Grandpa had made.

But I did not come here to dwell in the past. I discovered that I was not the only one in the family tree that would travel to the graveside of a dead American President. It was enlightening to see the traits that my cousins and I share due to our common heritage. In addition, it was meaningful to reacquaint with this part of my family. I certainly appreciated them sharing their homes, stories, laughter, and dreams with me.

While it was the automobile that got me to and from the airport (thanks Tanya and Scott), it was the train that was my ticket home. I boarded Amtrak's Empire Builder late Monday night in Minneapolis and de-trained Wednesday morning in Portland. While airline travel is quicker, I appreciated the more intimate view that train travel offered.

I spent most of the time in the observation car and enjoyed the fields of Sunflowers, the wind rippling like waves through the grasslands, and brief glimpses of the peaks of Glacier National Park. As a bonus some Mazamas friends boarded the train at the West Glacier train station. It was a treat to hear their stories of backpacking in Glacier National Park. I really would like to return here.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Nice Ride Minnesota

Monday I found myself biking in the city that is rated the friendliest for cyclists. No, that city is not Portland, although it has had that distinction in past years. This year it is Minneapolis that can make that claim according to Bicycling Magazine.

While visiting for the day I found a public bicycle sharing program that may have impressed those magazine editors. For only $5 per day I could borrow a bike for a 24 hour period. The catch was that I after 30 minutes I would have to pay a $1.50 per hour Use Fee. I could avoid that fee by returning the bike to one of the Nice Ride kiosks. Of course I would be able to check out another bike and reset the clock.

I found this was a good system for short term use. The trick was keeping track of the clock and planning my trip out so there would be a kiosk along my path. I was able to bike along the Mississippi River and across the new Stone Arch Bridge. I also crossed over the Washington Avenue Bridge and was able to explore the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Campus. Since I was just visiting for the day, I choose my path carefully since I did not have a bicycle helmet.

As usual, exploring by bike was more invigorating and I could cover more ground.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Parkways: Southeast Portland

Today we braved the heat and joined the masses to tour Southeast Portland. This was part of Portland's Sunday Parkways, were streets connecting city parks are closed to motor traffic.

Along the way we ran into friends, practiced with the Hula Hoops, listened to music, and enjoyed biking down the streets without cars.

With the temperature in the 90s it was tough to beat the heat. Thankfully many households along the way were running their lawn sprinkers to help us cool off. The free Snow Cones towards the end made a big difference.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Tuesday was a sad day. My housemate's cat Tefnut had been missing since Thursday. Today we learned that she had been killed by a car on a nearby street. Someone in the neighborhood had found her and buried her. When they saw my housemate's Lost Cat fliers they called with the bad news.

Although she had been around for only three months, Tefnut had some big fans in the neighborhood. One neighbor would sit out on her porch in the morning and the cat would come running over and leap onto her lap.

She was a friendly, curious, and playful cat and I will miss her. Here is an example of what is missing from our house...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Red Cabbage

Today I harvested the first of three Red Cabbage that have been dominating the Southern end of my garden.
Last year my attempt at growing Cabbage was not sucessful. This year I planted four starters and three of them have survived so far. Next year I'll give them a little more space.