LIVIN’ ON STILTS
My goodness, I can’t believe we’re already into August. In Bend, we landed at the first Starbucks we saw and hunkered down for a good three hours. Fred and I watched some of my beloved Bravo TV and worked on our site outside while Matt worked on a few projects inside. It was a much needed work day, and I’m so glad we ended up in Bend on Saturday. It was definitely meant to be. As we pulled into Bend, Matt’s long time friend, Dusty arrived back in town after a work trip. Dusty is one of the kindest and welcoming people I’ve ever met. Not only did he let us park in his driveway, but he opened up his home and refrigerator to us. He’s a badass with great stories, and I could listen to him talk all day. My only regret is missing his wife on this trip.
Our first night in town, Dusty took us to a restaurant called Worthy Brewing. So, the beers are great, and the food was good, but the best part is their Hopservatory. It’s basically a small observatory, with a powerful telescope on the third floor of their brewery & restaurant. How sweet is that!? I ordered sweet potato fries with my burger and a sour beer before the viewing.
Matt, Dusty, and I got to check out Saturn, which is already cool, but even cooler after a couple of beers. Here’s a link to their site if you want to check it out. www.worthybrewing.com
I did a nice little city hike trail run up Pilot Butte on Monday. Got my juices flowing for the rest of the week. On Tuesday, Matt and I set off early to hike Green Lakes Trail in the Three Sisters Wilderness. The hike was a moderate 8.5 ish miles to the lake and back. Pretty much the entire path follows along Fall Creek, with calm, untouched waters that flow into violent rapids. We had to put Fred in the front facing carrier a few times. He never complained, but we’re trying to save his little legs when we can.
Following along the trail, we were crowded by sweet-smelling lupins. The creek was crystal clear and the views of Broken Top and South Sister were breath taking. Large chunks of obsidian spattered throughout the trail on the South Sister side, guiding us like a sparkling beacon as we climbed closer to the lake. I was so inspired by South Sister. I started thinking about the mountain as a conscious animal rather than a mineral, watching over us as we walked. Maybe it only takes a couple of weeks on the road to get weird, but I feel encouraged like I never have before.
So, obviously the next morning I set out early to summit South Sister alone. I can tell you it was the most mentally taxing hike I’ve every done. Just past six miles to the top with about 5,000 feet elevation gain, I knew I was in for some fun for the 12 mile roundtrip hike. By mile two, I gained around 2,000 feet. The trail mellowed out for the next two miles allowing me to float along with the lake views to my right and extraterrestrial-like lava to my left.
It took everything to stop myself from skipping along the trail, BUT the the next major gain had me second guessing my earlier 3mph pace. It was the type of climb in which you need to stop every few feet to make sure you’re still walking up some semblance of a trail, plan your route, and hope you don’t slip along the way. The ground was made up of loose rock and sand, with multiple unavoidable snow crossings. I charged on, staring at the crest until I made it over and up the summit. Unfortunately, it was a false summit and I still had around 1.5 miles with 2000 feet elevation to go. I was crestfallen and slightly humiliated in thinking I had already made it. The summit still loomed ahead, beckoning me forward. I pulled out an apple and contemplated my next move.
Thankfully, three guys on their way down from the real summit saw me and assured me it’s worth it. They gave me some advice on where I should go for the best views at the top, and then sprinted off, jumping into the glacial waters about 100 feet down from me. I said goodbye to those psychos, held tightly to my poles and ascended up the loose pumice pebbled trail. Except, there was no real trail. You had to just kind of figure it out as you climbed. The ground was so loose, I lost a few inches in every step. If I didn’t see other ridiculous people climbing it, I would have thought I was doing it wrong. I’m so grateful I didn’t experience any altitude sickness. A girl I climbed by could hardly make it past her nausea.
I did make it to the top. The rest is really hard to describe without sounding super weird, but after cursing myself over and over in that last mile and a half, I couldn’t help but laugh hysterically once I made it to the top. My legs were dead but I wasn’t winded, so I took that as a sign to keep going along the rim to the highest point of South Sister. I plopped my pack and my butt down on some volcanic rock and soaked in the views. The energy South Sister radiated was so palpable. I greedily drank in every last drop feeling renewed in my decision to make this climb. Any guilt I felt from leaving home was easily quashed by the empowerment of the mountain. This is where I’m meant to be in this divine moment, and I’m sure South Sister is alive and giving.
The descent was doubly dangerous. You make it down that part of the mountain in half the time since you’re basically sliding rather than stepping. I was completely humbled by my poles, and I’m sure I couldn’t have made it without them. My knees were on fire by the time I made it to the trailhead. At one point, I even knelt in a snow patch and let them cool off.
Seeing Matt and Fred in our camper at the bottom was such a relief. I immediately stripped off my hiking gear and walked into Devil’s Lake up to my hips. My legs throbbed in the icy water, but I couldn’t get over how perfectly clear it was. It’s nice to know what I’m capable of and I think I can push myself ever further if need be. I’ll never forget the extreme pessimism I felt at the false summit, and knowing I pushed myself beyond that left me with a great sense of pride. I even called my mom at the top.
That same day, Matt and Fred went to Redmond with Dusty to pick up a ramp for the super cool dirt jumps he’s building on his property. Matt also happened to get several work projects in, so he was definitely busy and will be throughout August.
We left Dusty’s on Friday and headed to Mount Hood. We found a great County campground called Toll Bridge just outside of Mount Hood National Forest. It’s $25/night for partial hook ups, and we have enough Verizon service for Matt to work. We hiked a nice four-mile roundtrip trail to Tamanawas Falls with Fred. At the trailhead, there were a few warnings about an impassable rock slide about a quarter mile from the falls. Obviously we passed the impassable and were happy we did. The waterfall was spectacular and the overspray welcomed. We also finally bought our blow up paddle boards, and gave them a shot at Columbia River. The paddle boards were easy enough to blow up, but holy cow, was that river windy! Great for wind surfing, not so easy to paddle. That rounded our last day in Hood. On to Portland!
In Bend, we camped around 5 days in Dusty’s driveway. He’s the best, and can’t say enough good things about him, but I’ll stop there since this is just a highlights section. Made some new friends and drank some yummy beers. I summited South Sister, my second summit on this trip. It was a huge challenge, but I made it, and it was worth it. After Bend, we drove to Mount Hood. Hung out there for a few days, hiked to Tamanawas Falls, SUPed the extremely windy Columbia River.
- Bug spray amplifies the sun, leaving you with a nasty painful sun burn as well as super sweet tan lines.
- Farm fruit stands are the same price, if not pricier, than grocery store produce.
- Starbucks makes a “Puppuccino” for dogs. Order one to find out what it is.