I went climbing in a new place last weekend! Not Leavenworth or Smith Rock, nor even Carver or Ozone, but Frenchman Coulee, a charmingly obscure name for a charmingly remote set of walls near Vantage, WA. Remote, but nonetheless very busy during the three-day weekend. The first three of us arrived around 2 pm on Friday, and were able to find a camping space large enough for our whole group (eventually totaling five people), but groups that arrived later were definitely struggling. In all, I would guess that there were about 100-150 people in the main camping area, where we were, and an additional 50 or so in the secondary area, over the Feathers to the northeast. It wasn’t much of an issue, although the vault toilet was very, very, very full and kinda gross. (But I’m so glad that it was there!)
I didn’t climb on Friday – I wasn’t sure how many climbs I would be able to do and wanted to save them for Saturday/Sunday – but J and D headed up to the Feathers after we all set up our tents, and got a couple climbs in each. (It got dark around 4:45 pm.) Having been joined by B, we huddled around the campfire for a couple of hours…without any firewood. Instead, we had a string of solar-powered LED fairy lights that D had brought, which we draped around the ring of stones. Continue reading “More climbing”
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.
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).
To 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.
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.
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!
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.