Friday, September 30, 2011

More Crater Lake (and Val's artistic side)

Here are some more pics from our Crater Lake hike and ride.

And Val's artistic side.
From the Personey Falls hike.

And from our current campground in Isleton, California this morning.  I can see where our kids get their artistic talent (it wasn't from me...).

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Crater Lake

We arrived at Crater Lake RV in the early afternoon and had time to explore the immediate area.  The folks at the campground sent us to two locations that were pleasant surprises.
Pearsony Falls

View of Takelma Gorge from the bridge.

But the real prize was our trip around Crater Lake and our hike to the top of Mount Scott, the highest peak at Crater lake and the tenth highest in Oregon.  It was not the toughest hike, but the views were spectacular.
The clouds covered the mountain as we approached.

We learned a lot from the South Sister hike so we traveled a lot lighter.  It helped.

The approach to the top with the look-out.

Before I forget...  For Kathie.  A little friend at the top that tried to explore my pack as we were eating lunch.

View from near the top.

Sign at a switch-back.  Um, no kidding.  Where else would we go?  Over the edge?

A fellow biker offered to take this photo. 

We were a little tired as we left Crater Lake and made a left instead of a right somewhere along the way.  As we headed out of the mountains and down into a valley with farmland and cows all around, it hit us that we were not where we were supposed to be.  We stopped at the Klamath Falls General Store and a man commented how nice a day it was for a ride.  I aggred, explained that we had been to Crater Lake and now we were lost.  He looked at me and said "you're not lost".  And then he went on to say that the great explorer Daniel Boone was once asked if he had ever been lost.  Daniel thought for a minute and said "No, I can't say that I was ever lost, but I was once a might bewildered for several weeks once."  So no, we were not lost, just turned around.  We got directions and returned to our RV after a wonderful day.  A really wonderful day.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

An Eye Opener: attempting to climb South Sister

We left for the South Sister trail-head at 6:45AM expecting a 20 mile ride.  As it turned out, Mapquest was wrong and it was a 47 mile ride to Devil's Lake.  That put us behind schedule on what turned out to be the second hardest climb I've ever done (Hurd Peak is number 1).
The South Sister is the 3rd highest mountain in Oregon and encompasses 10,000 feet of elevation change over the 12.5 miles to the summit and back.  I think we realized in the first 1.75 miles that this was going to be harder than we imagined.  By the time we had hiked up the first forested mountain, we were 1200 feet higher.  Since we started at over a mile high, we were really feeling the elevation.  Our legs ached and our hearts were pounding.  South Sister loomed in the distance.

We stopped for a short break and then headed out toward the mountain on the only fairly level part of the climb.  As expected, there was beauty in all directions.  To our right was the drop to Moraine Lake (with Mt. Bachelor in the background), what many people consider a good day hike on its own.  

A look back from further up the trail.

It wasn't long after we started the next hard uphill climb that both of us realized that getting to the top was probably out of reach on this day.  Between my repaired knee, recently sprained ankle and Val's knees, we knew that the trip back down, always the hardest on the joints, was already going to be painful.  By the time we got to around 8000 feet on the rocky slope we had had enough for one day.  In our defense, we only saw one person our age or older the whole hike, and there were a lot of folks on the trail.  Almost everyone seemed to be college age.  Did it make us feel old?  Maybe for me, a little.  But it also made us feel fortunate to be able to be out there.  But it was definitely an eye opener for me.  I realized that 10 years older and 10 pounds heavier makes a difference.  And I must admit that I'm not in the aerobic shape I was when I climbed Mount Washington and Mount Dana. That was my marathon time.  Time to work harder.
Anyway, it was a great experience and worth every minute of the 9 miles we hiked.  Next time we'll make it.

Looking west toward volcanic rock.

A couple of short breaks on the trail.

Looking down at the flatter part of the hike.

The harshness of the high mountains, and the beauty of the forest streams.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Oregon weather

We've been in Seaside Oregon for a few days now, and although we've had the chance to play a little pickleball and explore the town of Seaside, the weather has not cooperated for a bike trip to Portland. I wanted to take Val to a Japanese garden that I visited when I flew out here to buy the RV.  But that will have to wait as rain has plagued this entire stay.
On Tuesday we head to the area around Bend and a trip or two to Crater Lake.  The weather is supposed to be great.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Olympic National Park (Part 3)

Friday afternoon we went to the coast a few miles north of our campground.  We had talked to the ranger in the morning and wanted to be there at low tide.  He advised us to get there about an hour early to watch the changes on the beach.  We arrived at 4:30 to see fog rolling on and off the beach as the tide receded.  Val and I had never seen tide pools before so the next couple of hours were a real experience as we explored the rocks.  The ranger told us to let the anemones close around our finger to see what it felt like.  He assured us that it would not hurt and there would be no lasting effect.  I told him that I could picture him drinking a beer late that evening with his friends laughing about the stupid tourists who actually stuck their hands in an anemone and now had hands the size of footballs.  But he chuckled and said it really was alright.  And it was.  It was odd to feel how sticky the tendrils are as the anemone closed up on your finger.  I can see how they capture their prey.  

The fog made the beach seem enchanted at times.

Saturday meant a return trip.  We made some stops while heading to the ferry.  This is where we ate lunch.

I took this Saturday morning right before we left the campground.

And a couple of parting shots.  There was a wooden boat festival at Port Townsend where we caught the ferry so we got to see some beautiful boats as we crossed the water.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Olympic National Park (Part 2)

We woke up to a beautiful but foggy Friday morning.  We took a walk on the beach and took in the views before heading to the Hoh Rain Forest about 40 miles northeast.

Being used to the east coast beaches, it was strange to see the huge trees and rocks on the shore. 

It was an easy ride and the temperature rose steadily as we went inland.  It was fascinating to see the change in the landscape as we approached the rain forest.  We did two hikes, but will have to return another time to do the 36 mile round-trip hike to the blue glacier.  Next time we hope.

I found the nurse logs one of the most interesting aspects of the rain forest.  With an average yearly rainfall of  more than 140 inches, the trees don't need a deep taproot so even the oldest spruce, cedar and hemlocks can fall over.  When this happens, seedlings start to grow on the fallen tree, and eventually roots travel to the ground.  These trees decay very slowly, maybe a couple of hundred years, so when they are finally gone, huge trees are left with tunnels underneath.

Not the largest tree we saw, but it gives you an idea.

The Hoh River fed by glaciers.

Plants in the water with overhanging air-ferns.

And my "what's up with that?" moment.  After hiking along rock walls with 1000 foot drops with no railing in Glacier, this trail was a gentle 15 foot slope down to a creek, yet it had a railing.   Hmmm.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Olympic National Park (Part 1)

Thursday brought a cool, clear 50 degrees as we set out at 7 AM to catch the Coupeville/Port Townsend ferry.  The bike was loaded with all our camping gear and food for the trip and it felt like it.  We had our ferry tickets so we were taken right aboard for the 30 minute crossing. Then it was a short 45 minute ride to Port Angeles where we visited the Olympic National Park visitor center below Hurricane Ridge.  After getting our maps, we drove 17 miles to an elevation just over a mile high.  The views were spectacular and we took two short hikes that the ranger recommended.

Then it was back down to the coast where we headed to Kalaloch about two and a half hours away.  The weather was clear, and as we passed by rock walls heated by the sun, the temperature hit 92 degrees.  As we  traveled on, we imagined clear views of the Pacific when we arrived at our campground.  Then as we approached the coast, we could see what looked like a cloud bank through the trees.  I told Val that it looked like it was right on the coast.  When we turned south to parallel the shoreline, the temperature plummeted and we were quickly enveloped in fog.  By the time we arrived at the campground, the temperature had dropped 40 degrees and we couldn't see the surf even when right on the beach.  

Looking back toward our campground.

I thought the campground would be mostly empty since it was the Thursday after the Labor Day weekend, but I was wrong.  By nightfall it was almost full.  And Friday night was full.