A couple of friends and I went climbing in Leavenworth, WA this past weekend, eager to get in one more good session of bouldering before the outdoor season pretty much ends. And apart from my mood tanking on Saturday evening (PMS + recent death in the family + allowing myself to get cold, hungry, and dehydrated), we had a really good time. It only rained at night, when we were all nestled snug in our tents, and although the rain did mean a few climbs were untenable, we still managed a good selection. Highlights included B flashing “The Physical” (a V4), E flashing “Lovage” (V3-) and me getting my first-ever outdoors V2 (“Machine Gun Funk, AKA Susan’s Arete”). That was particularly nice because I tried it repeatedly, getting about the same distance each time, then took a big, long break, actually really looked at the problem and did some beta-thinking, and the next time I got onto it and tried my new beta, which I had worked out myself, I finished it.
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.
On 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.
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 →