Went snow camping for the first time. Learn some new skills and had a great time with a bunch of awesome women! We backpacked out to Trillium Lake in the Mt Hood National Forest. The trip was organized by PNW Outdoor Women Group (PNWOW), a self-explanatory facebook group. Through PNWOW happy hours and hikes, I’ve met some badass women. If you are interested in joining check out the facebook group, it’s a great resource for all you outdoorsy women!
I had taken the Friday before Independence day off work to kick start a backpacking trip to the Wallowas. I got up and let the cat out. I figured some outside time would give us some time to finish packing. The cat cannot see us packing. This is important.
The cat has figured out that packing means 1 of 2 thing. Either she is going for a car ride or that we are leaving her, both of which she cannot stand. She has 2 tactics for this situation. The first is to be “heavy” which consists of becoming a rag doll and letting her body hang limply as you try to move her. Next she’ll look up at you with the cutest, saddest eyes that say, “Why?” Much like a child pretending to be sick to get out of going to school. When this doesn’t work, she’ll begin to yowl and try to escape. This sometimes works, but not today! She has no idea of our plans to leave for the weekend.
Once packing was nearly done we went to an early brunch with my cousin. When I got home I called for the cat. Usually she bounds up to the apartment any time I come home. When this doesn’t happen I’ll give and call and whistle and she’ll ramble up in a few minutes. I went into the apartment to finish packing.
In a perfect world we would leave in half an hour around 10 and leaving around 10:30 would not be the end of the world. We finish pack and 10 O’clock rolls around. No cat. I call her again. 10:30. No cat. Now I take a turn around the complex see if I can find her. I look under cars and decks and in bushes. No cat.
At 11 my girlfriend calls the cat. That little devil pokes her head out from under the neighbor’s car. We make eye contact and we both know she’s wise to the situation. She knows somethings up and she’s suspicious. We try to coax her to come in. But she give us a look that say, “No, thank you. I prefer it under this PT Cruiser.”
Now is a time for action! If she is not going to come to me. I will have to wrangle her, mono-y-mono, back into this apartment. It is at this moment that the garbage truck pulls up. All lit up with flashing lights and emitting beeping that indicates it’s backing up. My cat bolts around a corner and I chase after, but like in a good chase seen I turn the corner and… No cat.
Finally around noon she dares to show her face and I snatch her up. We head out. We hit traffic. Our 6 hour drive turns into an 8 hour drive. But once we get out into the woods, it really doesn’t matter anymore.
Camped in the Opal Creek Wilderness! Got rained on quite a bit, but stayed dry for the most part. We stayed in one of the dispersed camping spots and whoever stayed there before us left a mess. Plastic bags, boxes, propane canisters, and a rug to name a few. There was also a 5 gallon bucket, which we filled with as much trash as we could. I will say that I did enjoy the water logged rug, which I used to smoother the fire each night. But really who brings an over sized welcome mat with them camping? I digress, people going to keep leaving trash and I’m going to keep picking it up.
On the first day we hiked Henline Mountain, which is not in the video because I forgot my SD card at home. Whoops! I had to run home that evening to get it. Anyways, it’s a pretty hard hike, but the views are great! Also, there were flowers blooming along the trail! Here is a video of Henline Mountain I took back in May.
The Next day we went out to Opal Lake. The gravel road drive was beautiful, as we had a break in the weather. At the trail head we had blue skies and the map said the trail was only 0.5 miles. When we got to the lake the water was still, but with in moments it was pouring with big gusts of wind. We got soaked on the way back to the car. I’m pretty sure the trail to the lake is longer than 0.5 miles.
By the afternoon we had the weather was on our side again and we hiked to Henline Falls. This is a nice short and easy hike with a sweet payoff. The falls are great and there is an old mining tunnel off to the right. The Henline Falls trail just reopened earlier this year. It had been closed to allow the forest to recover after a fire. You can see some remnants of burned wood and lots of saplings.
On the last day of our trip we hike out to Opal Pool and a waterfall no too far past it. It was too cold to get in the water, but we had sunshine all day! Great way to end the weekend!
We set out late Friday evening, since it was dusk there was no one on the trail. Tish Creek was super easy to cross, no problems there. We hiked until it was dark and set up camp just past the High Bridge. I noticed a small critter scurry about in the dark, so we half heartily hung our food bags to get them up off the ground.
The next morning I got up early and palled around, waiting for everyone to wake up. I noticed a cute chipmunk and watched it climb up to our food bags. I scared it away; it only got into a bag of trail mix. Soon there were multiple chipmunks running around the camp and they were relentless. We had to take down the food bags and someone had to sit guard over the food! We tried tossing rocks at them, hoping to scare them off. However they would run to the stones, thinking we were tossing them food. Clearly people had been feeding them, which is a bummer for camping near the critters.
We packed up camp, 1 bag of trail mix down and hit the trail. It rained most of the day, which kept the crowds away. Set up camp, including an extra tarp for cooking and drying wet clothes. Sans packs, we hiked down to the bottom of Tunnel Falls, which was awesome! We spent the rest of the day getting rained on, but we kept dry for the most part. On our way out the next day we had the best weather of the weekend. The sun even peaked out from behind the clouds for a bit.
Once we were off the trail we hit up Full Sail in Hood River for burgers and fries! So tasty!
If you are not familiar with Kelly Cordes’s The Fun Scale, you should be. Go do your Googles then come back… Good now we are on the same page! Today we will be looking at Type II Fun. Which is an activity that was NOT fun while it was happening, but when looking back on that memory you think, “Yeah, I’d do that again.”
Such as, hiking 12 miles in the rain, only to have waterfall run right though the trail. Forcing you to climb up a muddy embankment to cross, up-river. Now you are wet, dirty, and on the other side of the waterfall. You trip, ripping your pants. Exacerbated, you decide to turn back now and the first thing you have to do is cross that DAMNED waterfall!
Whenever I recall this memory, I think about how epic that waterfall looked, how badass I felt climbing it, and how much I miss swing season hiking in the summer. In hind sight I forget that my map disintegrated in the rain and I almost got lost or that I cried a few times.
So, Type II Fun can be, well, not fun sometimes and Type I Fun gets a little boring after a while. This is why I have come up with something in between, a Type 1.5 Fun, as it were. It’s that idea someone has and it sounds hard and unenjoyable, but while you are partaking it is awesome!
I deployed this tactic on my last trip to Smith Rock. I decided to hike every trail in the park. The first day was no big deal, about 5 or so miles. A hike along the River Trail with the otters and the eagles. It was awesome, I felt like Pocahontas when she sings All the Colors of the Wind. We hiked up the Mesa Verde Trail, which is pretty steep, but not too long.
Day two was more of a challenge. Now for me 7 miles is not a long hike, but when the first mile is called Misery Ridge… Yeah, that makes a difference. This hair-brained scheme was my idea and half of the group was all for it and the other half not so much. We decided to at least hike Misery Ridge and if we got tired we could cut our losses and hike back the flat way.
We got to the top and it was sweet! We hike down the other side, back down to the river. Decision time. Hike back the flat way along the river or continue up to the summit. Oh! Have I not mentioned the summit? You know, that high point we looked up at from Misery Ridge. Silly me, obmitting the highest point of elevation on the trail.
With some cajoling and understatement about how “long” and how “high”, we are off to the summit!
Was it a hard climb?
Did we get sunburned?
Are there other people on this trail?
It seems we are the only fools who think this is a good idea. And when we look at peak after peak after peak of the Cascades, we know it was the best idea.