Goat Rocks Wilderness and Iron Creek Campground

My friends and I spent the final weekend of July camping in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, with day hikes in the Goat Rocks Wilderness. Our campground of choice (this is the second year we’ve been there) is the Iron Creek Campground. It’s well-maintained, laid out in such a way that it never seems crowded, even when every campsite is full, and has the added bonus of proximity to the lovely Cispus River, perfect for cooling off after those hikes! In short, highly recommended. Our evenings were spent around a campfire at the “main” site of the three our group had. An innovation this year was a group dinner on Saturday night of campfire nachos, which were great!

On Saturday, I joined the majority of the people in our group in a hike toward Heart Lake/Johnson Peak, up and along a ridge overlooking Packwood Lake and Mt. Rainier. Getting to the trailhead involved some self-doubt, as I was driving the lead car and the directions our thirty-year-old guidebook gave along the twisting snarl of Forest Service roads were sketchy. We had a modern map to help things along, but it was still very much a case of “just as you start to think you should turn around and go back to x turn and take the other choice, you arrive at the trailhead.” We may have cheered.

The guidebook said that the trail runs, “up and down, but mostly up” on the way out, and that was certainly the case. Truthfully, the first few miles of this route aren’t a lot of fun. They aren’t horrible, either – mostly just monotonous. The trail in all its late-summer bushiness would have pleased the Knights Who Say Ni, but miles of dust and leg-whacking shrubs wasn’t the most fun I’ve had on a trail.

Magenta paintbrushes. Oh, and a mountain.
Magenta paintbrushes. Oh, and a mountain.

That being said, the views from about mile 3.5 onwards made up for it. Continue reading

Getting there

View of trail, river, and fogOn Sunday, I went on my second hike since breaking my ankle. Did Dog Mountain in the Gorge with a friend. Took about three hours round-trip – including very little time at the [blustery, foggy, quite cold] top. It’s only been about four and a half months, and the Dog Mountain hike is about 7ish miles long (there’s some disagreement about this), with 2800′ of elevation gain (thus sayeth the Washington Trails Association). So I am content.

Some thoughts on GMOs

A family member recently shared with me an article/opinion piece that said that Monsanto (the Big Ag company) is slowly dying, and asked my opinion about it, and about genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Fields of goldTo borrow a very good phrase from Ramez Naam, “GMOs are neither poison nor panacea.” I have several reservations about them that mean I cannot embrace them freely, but I think that they should not be dismissed out of hand, simply by virtue of being GMOs. Some, like golden rice, or drought-resistant corn, seem like they have some good arguments to accompany them, as being “simple fixes” to endemic issues. Additionally, as climate change becomes an increasing factor in everyday global life, I am loathe to get rid of any potential tool.

BUT.

My reservations about GMOs can be divided into two main categories: uncertainty of effects, and dislike of monopoly.

Perhaps Jurassic Park had too much of an effect on my impressionable mind, but Jeff Goldblum intoning “life finds a way” sounds in my head on a fairly regular basis.

Continue reading

If you can’t take the heat… get out of the city

Sunday saw record-high temperatures, beautiful blue skies, and my first hike since breaking my ankle! My friend Paul (author of The Guide) was in town, and seeing as he’s both an exceptionally experienced hiker/backpacker and understanding of what it means to be recovering from serious injury, I asked for his recommendation on a hike in the area that would be somewhat challenging but not too bad. After a bit of back and forth, we settled on Tom Dick and Harry Mountain, out in the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness. I had heard much about this hike, but had never been. Time to redress that insult to my local Oregon wildlands!

We set out from Portland around 7:30, and got to the trailhead at 8:30. The limited parking was already almost full, and the day was already quite warm. We strapped on our various braces – both of us now have dodgy ankles – and set off. Continue reading

A few thousand small steps for a woman…

Hydrangea 2016-06-01

I walked home from work yesterday. 4.2 miles in about an hour and fifteen minutes may not seem like much. But since I fell and broke my right ankle (and badly sprained the other) in late February, this was a small but significant achievement! I’d walked some of the distance from work to home before this, but never the whole distance. And, even more pleasingly, I’m not actually all that sore today. My ankles are a little stiff, but not actually painful. So, when I get cranky about not being able to do all the activities I was doing before I fell – bouldering, trail running, walking down stairs easily, etc. – I need to think of this and remember how far I’ve come in just over three months.

The daunting blank page

Tea and blog (Portland, OR)

I have a new camera, a new look for my (relaunched) blog, a head full of musings, and nothing to say when presented with a forum. Classic.

Eventually, I hope that this blog will be a nice mixture of photos and entries, some of them even well-composed and/or well-written. For the time being… hi, world.