After a long (lonnnnnnnnnng) hiatus from blogging, I’m ready to get rolling again with weekly blog posts about my weekend travels and adventures around the Pacific Northwest. But, before I jump right in with a post about our next big excursion, here’s a recap of all the new places I discovered in 2014, and a few favorite spots I revisited too.
I started 2014 off with an epic adventure and some seriously sore muscles. In January, we packed up our bags, threw snowboards on our backs and snowshoes on our feet and made our way out to the Hemlock Butte Cabin at the base of Mount Bailey. The next morning, we started the steep climb up the mountain, that had everyone imagining they understood the struggle of climbing Mount Everest. In reality, we were just slowly poking along, 10 steps at time, then heaving in pain for a few breaths before doing it again, and again, until we gave up.
The descent was short, but fun, and although we definitely earned our turns, I wouldn’t say the climb was worth it, it was just worth it on its for the amazing accomplishment it really was. That night we nursed our sore muscles around a roaring bonfire in the snow and hiked back out the next morning. Stay tuned for the sequel, “Mount Bailey 2.0-I’ll pack lighter and stretch more this time” coming in March!
Splitboarding to Timberline
In February we finally tried splitboarding on a day hike up to Timberline. We rented splitboards (a snowboard the converts into to touring skis with skins) at the Mountain Shop and then drove up to Government Camp.
We followed the West Leg Road Trail most of the way… (okay we got horribly lost, detoured, zigzagged up and over hills through the woods and ended up hiking about 5 miles) and ended up at the top of the Alpine Trail.
After snapping our boards together, we raced down the alpine trail and were sipping beers at the Ice Axe before dark.
Snow Days in Portland
Once every few years we get a real good snow day in Portland, not just a light dusting before the sun rises, or a few microscopic flakes that somehow everyone caught and instagrammed, but a whopping few inches. So last February, when we had a couple inches fall, we went out and found a few great spots to enjoy a snow day in PDX. Living in John’s Landing, we’re lucky to be a two block walk to Willamette Park, where we found loads of cross country skiers, and beautiful views on the beaches.
The next day, we put the chains on and headed across the river to Sellwood and wandered the paths at the snow-blanketed Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden.
Tilly Jane A-Frame
In March we snowshoed about 3 miles up the north side of Mt. Hood, from the Cooper Spur Ski Resort to the Tilly Jane A-Frame cabin, an historic Forest Service cabin, where we’d booked 4 out of the 20 “beds” for the night.
In the last few hours of daylight, we hiked about 10 minutes, past the Tilly Jane Guard Station, to the old Cloud Cap Inn.
Sitting around the campfire at night we met lots of local ski bums and learned quite a bit about this side of the mountain. The next day my group climbed up to the rock shelter on the Cooper Spur, and skied down, while I nursed a sore knee and scoured maps in the cabin, already making plans for the next Tilly Jane trip.
Astoria-Fort Stevens-Cape Disappointment
We got in a quick and comfy spring camping trip by booking a yurt at Fort Stevens State Park and spent a weekend in Astoria. On Saturday morning we drove across the gorgeous (and nerve wracking) bridge to Washington and checked out Cape Disappointment and stopped for a coffee in Long Beach.
Later back in Astoria, we drove up to the Astoria Column for a spectacular view.
Then we spent an hour doing the mandatory photo ops at the Goonie House and going on a tour of the movies made in Oregon museum, followed by a walk and trolley ride along the river stopping for taster trays at Fort George, Astoria Brewing and the just opened Buoy Beer Co.
Before heading out on Sunday, we spent a few hours exploring the military barracks and historical sites at Fort Stevens, although I’ve been told by my boy scout brothers that these cool military sites are equally fun to visit on a warm summer night, in the form of an epic game of flashlight tag.
Coon Island Kayak Trip
I’ll start by saying, this trip was absolutely awesome, and don’t ever ever do this during mosquito season. So, we loaded our favorite borrowed kayaks (thanks sis!) onto the car and filled our dry sacks (a must on this trip) with a little camping gear and food and headed to Sauvie Island. From the Gilbert River Boat Ramp, we launched the kayaks and paddled downriver, exploring the Gilbert River (narrowly avoiding a fine for forgetting our whistles) ported the boats across the inlet to another little body of water, and paddled back out past a cool rundown floating building. Then it was a quick 30 minutes paddle to Coon Island. This early in the season, we were able to commandeer the entire “gazebo” group gathering area, and put our tent up right on the cement floor, which was nice since many of the campsites were quite overgrown.
Unfortunately, arriving right at mosquito dinner time, we were chased off the island and ended up spending a couple hours enjoying dinner and wine on the boat dock along with a rollicking group celebrating someone’s 50th birthday, so we could wait until the mosquitoes went to bed.
Really, the only reason to take a trip to Toe Island, is just because you can. It also helps to live across the street from this teeny tiny island next to Ross Island, so that you can easily carry your inflatable kayak to the beach, blow it up, paddle for 2 minutes, and be lounging on an island reading a book in a matter of minutes.
San Juan Islands
A summer trip to the San Juan Islands is starting to become a tradition for me. This year we took the car up and drove it on the ferry to San Juan Island, camping at the county park where we I enjoyed one of my favorite camping site views ever, for the fourth of July weekend.
We used the car to get around San Juan Island, fireworks in Roche Harbor and World Cup Viewing in Friday Harbor, then spent a day biking around Lopez Island. This coming summer, we’re finally going bikes only and camping on Lopez Island and island-hopping for a couple days to the non-ferry-served islands via my dad’s boat…stay tuned for pics in August!
For an epic 30th birthday bash, we finally visited one of the awesome BLM land camping spots at Timothy Lake. I won’t give any details on this treasured spot’s exact location, but suffice it to say, it was pretty cool to get away from the crowds and cars, and enjoy free camping at my favorite lake.
North Side of Mt. Hood- Tilly Jane-Cooper Spur-Parkdale
Our last summer camping trip came in early September when we drove out through Hood River to the Cooper Spur area on the north side of Mt. Hood. We followed the winding logging road nine miles up through the stark burned area (gorgeous!) to the Cloud Cap Tilly Jane Historic Area.
After throwing our tent up at the Tilly Jane campground, we raced as far as we could get up the mountain before the clouds came in, towards the Cooper Spur Glacier turning around at the rock shelter.
Before it got dark, we had a couple hours to check out the Cloud Cap Inn and explore the area around the Tilly Jane Guard Station and A-Frame Cabin. On our way out the next morning, we drove the Fruit Loop, passing the orchards, wineries and farms in and around Parkdale, Odell and Dee, then stopped in at Solera Brewery for a beer and an epic view.
Tillamook & Pacific City
Finally, I’ll end with my first little adventure of 2015 a trip to the coast where a weekend of movie watching turned into an unexpected trip to a few places I haven’t been since I was kid. We drove up to Tillamook and visited the mandatory sights: Tillamook Cheese Factory (tour, cheese curds, check) and Blue Heron (sample EVERYTHING, feed animals, check), then we stopped in at the new brewery De Garde, for some souuuuuuuuuur beers. After our gluttonous afternoon, we drove down the coast and had just enough time to stop in Pacific City. First must-do activity: walk across the street to Webb County Park to find that yes there still are wild bunnies wandering everywhere!
Before heading back to the cabin in Lincoln City, we quickly checked out Cape Kiwanda in the rain and then (finally! We’ve been saying we’ll go for years! ) visited Pelican Brewery for some fish and chips and a growler to-go. Fun Saturday on the coast accomplished.
Hope you enjoyed my not-so-quick-recap of my travels around the Pacific Northwest in 2014. I’ve already got some fun plans on the horizon for 2015; as I write this, I’m at T-minus 22 hours until I hit the road for my next big adventure!