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Oregon

All of our adventures exploring the vast wonderland of Oregon can be found on this page. Go ahead and dive in!

 

Adventures in Oregon: Columbia Hills State Park

Posted by on Apr 30, 2016 in Adventures in Oregon, Columbia Hills State Park | 1 comment

Adventures in Oregon: Columbia Hills State Park

**Technically, this should be titled ‘Adventures in Washington’ but just go with it. ** Last spring, I joined a little facebook group interested in Oregon wildflowers. I would see photo after photo of the most amazing flowers and I begggggged/pestered/nagged Andrew to make the long drive up into the heart of the Columbia Gorge so I could see them. Well, a year later, he finally agreed. Maybe it’s because I’m pregnant or maybe it’s because my mom is visiting (or maybe just because he got tired of me asking) he agreed to make the 3.5 hour drive to Columbia Hills State Park, located across the river from the Dalles in Washington. We chose to cross over into Washington at Portland so we could see the Gorge in a different light and it was certainly beautiful. Along the way, we saw the lovely Cape Horn (another place I hope to visit in the future). We eventually pulled into Columbia Hills State Park and set off into one of the most magical and beautiful places I have ever experienced. Yellow balsamroot and purple lupine blanketed gentle hills and I felt like I should be holding my arms out and spinning around just like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music. (Don’t worry – I didn’t do that. I figured the little human in my belly might not appreciate me losing balance and tumbling down a flower-covered hill.) See those hills in the photo above? If you look closely, you can see yellow – that’s all flowers (!) We headed down the path towards a branch of Eightmile Creek. Here, the flowers thinned out but the scenery was just as lovey with rolling green meadows. Annie paid a quick visit to the creek. I get excited by wildflowers, Annie gets excited by creeks … to each their own. Sasha hates creeks and could care less about flowers but she sure does love heading down (or up) a trail. We wandered around, soaking in the beautiful views and being thankful for a sunny day. Just look at all those gorgeous flowers!! It still blows my mind that God creates such amazing beauty. I had to include the picture above because Annie absolutely struck a pose when she looked over and saw me. Such a model dog – ha! Mount Hood looms up to the southwest of the hills. Sadly, clouds had started to take over the sky which means I’ll have to return next year for the classic shot of Mount Hood against a blue sky with wildflowers in the foreground. Oh darn. After frolicking in the flowers, we stopped at the southern part of the park to check out petroglyphs. Long ago, a Native American village stood on this site and the Lewis and Clark expedition camped there.  So much history. We only saw a portion of the park and I hope one day we can return and camp at the campground so we can really take our time exploring. A few tips if you plan to go: Part of the park is off-limits to dogs.  A large area is the Columbia Hills Natural Area Preserve and not the place to take your four-legged companion. Check for ticks! If you pay a visit to the creek, be sure to check yourself (and...

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Adventures in Oregon: Smith Rock State Park

Posted by on Apr 28, 2016 in Adventures in Oregon, Hiking, Smith Rock State Park | 1 comment

Adventures in Oregon: Smith Rock State Park

One of the places that has been on my bucket list from the time we first set foot in Oregon is Smith Rock State Park. Located in Central Oregon, the park is home to some amazing rock formations and is a popular destination for climbers. A climber I am most certainly not – I enjoy having my feet on the ground, thank you – but all the same, I’ve been itching to check one of the Seven Wonders of Oregon out. We crossed over Crooked River and took a left down the River Trail. Looking up at the rocks, I would catch little pops of color moving along the face and then realize with a jolt that those were people. See that guy in blue? It never failed to impress me to catch a glimpse of a tiny dot moving far above me and realize that was a human being. See that rugged ridgeline above? There are some tiny dots at the top of it. And those dots are people…. people who are far braver than I. We followed the river around, taking in the impressive walls of rock stretching up, up, up. We even had our first encounter with a rattlesnake. Multiple people coming from the opposite direction informed us that there was a rattlesnake ahead near a big rock and that people had tried to mark its location to warn others. I immediately shortened Sasha’s leash, pulling her close to me. I’m sure if she could have rolled her eyes, she would have. We approached said rock and saw that someone had written in the dirt of the path “Rattlesnake” and drawn an arrow to the rock. We stood stock still and scanned the area but guess what? No snake. Sasha and I tiptoed through and I just as I open my mouth to say ‘Guess the snake left’ I hear SsssSsssSsssSsss (that’s the best rattle I can make with letters). I jumped in the air and took off running down the path, pulling Sasha along with me. I looked back and sure enough, there was the rattlesnake – a good distance from that darned rock, mind you – and I swear it was laughing. Andrew tossed a few rocks in its general direction and it slithered away, probably to go tell its snake friends that it had succeeded in scaring someone good. We continued on our way (always vigilant for other snakes looking to get a good scare out of me) and saw plenty more climbers scrambling up the walls of rock. We turned onto the Mesa Verde Trail and began climbing up. Our upward trek revealed new, incredible views. We caught our first glimpse of Jefferson, magnificent in its snowy splendor. Up ahead, Monkey Face loomed with a few brave souls scaling its features. Mesa Verde transitioned into Misery Ridge and yes, the trail earns its name at times. This is mostly because there is no shade in the afternoon (and it gets hot!) and the ascent is pretty steep. Luckily the views are almost enough to distract you from the effort of the steep, dusty trail. Mount Jefferson and Mount Washington each vie for attention. When we did this hike, I was about 12 weeks pregnant and still in the throes of morning sickness...

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Adventures in Oregon: Yurts!

Posted by on Feb 26, 2016 in Adventures in Oregon, Birthday, life in general, Yurts | 0 comments

Adventures in Oregon: Yurts!

Way back in January, we headed to the coast for an overnight trip to celebrate Andrew’s birthday. We’ll just ignore the fact that ohhhh, a month has gone by and dive right into telling you about our little adventure. Our destination for the night was Nehalem Bay State Park and along the way, we made a few scenic stops that took our breath away. Our first stop was Cape Kiwanda. We’ve been here before but the weather was very different this time, shrouding everything in an eerily beautiful mist. (No, that’s not Andrew but this guy stood in the water for so long, I began to wonder if he was a statue). We continued north up the coast and made another stop in the teeny tiny town of Oceanside. The clouds began to part and sunshine painted the hillsides with color. Oceanside is a quaint little place with what appeared to be maybe three roads total. Definitely the spot to get it away from it all. We carried on to Cape Meares and made the short but lovely walk to the lighthouse. The sky put on an exquisite show as the sun set behind the edge of clouds.  The drama of such darkness and such light in the same vista was completely mesmerizing. To see that light gleaming from behind the clouds like a beacon was nothing short of incredible. We walked over to check out the Octopus Tree. This enormous Sitka spruce is 105 feet tall and estimated to be between 250 and 300 years old. We continued our drive along the coast until we reached our destination for the night, Nehalem Bay State Park, where we would be camping … in a yurt! We picked up some crab cakes in the nearby town of Manzanita and cooked them on our little propane grill. We had also picked up a tiny container of ‘ice cream’ to have with the cake I had made. I distinctly remember I used to love this stuff when I was vegan …. but I have to say, this time it was … well, less than satisfactory. Not sure if this container was just off or if my taste buds have grown accustomed to regular ice cream but I do know this will not find its way into our shopping cart again 🙂 On the bright side, it stayed frozen much longer than regular ice cream would have, so it has that going for it. After several rousing rounds of checkers, we hit the hay and settled into our bed. You might be wondering – does a yurt have heat? Technically, yes, this one did. However …. it was still pretty darn chilly. It was chilly enough, in fact, for the dogs to abandon their beds in the middle of the night to crawl into our sleeping bags. After some investigation the next morning, we discovered one of the “windows”  was no longer sealed at the bottom which had let in the cold air we felt the night before. So here’s a tip, bring a roll of duct tape and check your windows if you do any winter yurt-ing! One of the coolest things about sleeping in the yurt (no pun intended) was being able to stare out of the clear ‘window’ at the...

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Adventures in Oregon: Opal Creek

Posted by on Nov 4, 2015 in Adventures in Oregon, life in general, Opal Creek | 0 comments

Adventures in Oregon: Opal Creek

Well, well, well. Here we are again. I think you know the routine by now – wow, how time flies, busy busy busy, the poor blog has been woefully neglected but I’m here now. I have plenty to write about – some serious things and some silly stuff, too. However, my brain does this annoying thing where it wants me to write up events in chronological fashion, so rather than tell you about some of the heavy stuff that’s been going on in the last week, I must rewind to when I last left you and tell you about our hike along Opal Creek. We’ll get to the other stuff in due course, I promise. A while back, when the leaves were first starting to turn and the air was taking on that fresh, crisp edge unique to autumn, we set out to visit Opal Creek. A co-worker had recommended it and her description hooked me. Tall trees, pristine water and the remnants of an old mining camp – that was enough to get us out the door, with Sasha and Annie in tow. One of the destinations along our hike included Jawbone Flats, an old mining camp that grew into a tiny town and is now maintained by the Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center for all kinds of educational programs, ranging from science programs for children to wilderness medicine courses. Along the first section of our hike, remnants of an old sawmill, historic Merten Mill, sat sheltered under towering trees. We took a short side trail behind the old mill to see Cascada de Los Ninos, also known as Sawmill Falls. This was such a beautiful and peaceful spot. I did a terrible job of capturing just how clear the water was here – so incredible. The hounds waited patiently (sort of) for me to put my camera down and get back on the trail. They wear their bandannas well, don’t you think? We continued down the trail, which for the first part is actually a gated road that is used only by the people living/working at the forest center. It was extremely well graded and would be ideal for anyone hiking with children. A little beyond the two-mile point, we turned right to join up with the Kopetski Trail, crossing over Opal Creek and walking along a more traditional trail.   Following along the creek was so peaceful. Our hike seemed to coincide with the first blush of fall color and I would excitedly squeal whenever I saw flashes of red and orange amid the green. I am 100% a sucker for autumn leaves. The massive moss-covered boulders lounging in the creek were pretty incredible, too. Look how clear that water is! We reached Opal Pool and right as I prepared to snap some photos, a huge gust of wind whipped through, scattering about a million and one leaves and fir needles. So much for showing you the crystal clarity of the water. I waited patiently for the creek to move the debris along but eventually I realized the poor dogs (and poor Andrew) were wondering if we would ever continue hiking. So, you’ll just have to take my word for it – the water was gorgeous. That, or come see it for yourself!   We departed...

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Adventures in Oregon: Central Oregon

Posted by on Aug 17, 2015 in Adventures in Oregon, Central Oregon | 0 comments

Adventures in Oregon: Central Oregon

There’s really no good title for our most recent adventure as it turned out to be a sampling of all different places. Our trip began one bright and early Saturday morning as we loaded the car with camping gear and debated whether or not to take Annie with us. We had already arranged for a pet-sitter to stay at the house and look after all the dogs. But Annie was looking at us with that look. The one that says ‘I know you’re going somewhere awesome so won’t you pretty please with a cherry on top let me go with you? Puhpuhpuhleeeease?’ We were going to Bend after all – one of the most dog-friendly places in the country and certainly in Oregon. How could we go without a dog, Annie asked us. There’s really no arguing with that logic. So, we added a few more items to the car and Annie got to pretend that she was an only dog for 36 hours. Our first stop was Bend. Ever since we moved to Oregon, once people learn that we have dogs, like beer and love hiking, they tell us with dead certainty ‘Oh you’ll LOVE Bend!’ We hit up McKay’s Cottage for lunch and it was phenomenal. Their outdoor dining area was perfect – lush green grass, tables with umbrellas and tall trees shading everything from the toasty sun. This was Annie’s first time ‘dining out’ in public and she was so well-behaved that the folks seated next to us commented on what a calm dog she was. They also asked what kind of dog she was and now two more people in the world know the awesomeness of hounds 🙂 We strolled around downtown and wandered through Drake Park. Tons of people were out, enjoying the beautiful day – and yes, every other person had a dog. The Deschutes River was full of people paddle-boarding, kayaking and floating along on inner tubes. I have to say, Bend probably has the most charming homes I’ve seen – so many adorable Craftsman bungalows with neat little lawns and cheerful flowers. I probably could have spent all day just admiring the houses but we had more to see! After a quick stop at a giant bottle shop (for Andrew) and Dutch Brothers coffee (for me), we went off in search of a campground. This was no easy task. Our original plan was to camp along the Metolius River. We didn’t realize this was also the plan of about a gazillion other people. Every single campground was full. So, we headed south of Bend and happened upon Fall River Campground which turned out to be perfect. Situated right next to Fall River, it’s a small campground with plenty of space between campsites. The amenities are pretty spare (vault toilets and no water) but we had everything we needed with us anyway and the site fee was only $10. We pitched our tent and then cooked up a dinner of black bean burgers followed by the absolutely vital camping dessert of smores. I was concerned about how Annie would do with hearing random noises at the campground. She’s our ‘perimeter’ guard at home, always alerting us to any odd noise on the other side of the fence. But the only time she...

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Adventures in Oregon: Jefferson Park

Posted by on Jul 29, 2015 in Adventures in Oregon, Jefferson Park | 0 comments

Adventures in Oregon: Jefferson Park

Another hike that we crossed off our summer bucket list recently was Jefferson Park. This beautiful locale features wildflower meadows, lakes and scenic views of Mount Jefferson … but there’s no easy way to get to it. No matter what, you’re hiking a long hike. Our chosen route departed from Whitewater Trailhead which starts off with an upward climb. The trail then travels across a ridgeline with a creek crossing here and there until eventually opening into Jefferson Park. This particular hike is about 12 miles long but being that we’re gluttons for punishment, or rather gorgeous views, we tacked on an upward hike to Park Ridge, bringing our grand total for the day to about 16 miles, our longest hike thus far. Fortunately, the fact that we (and the dogs) hike pretty much every weekend prepared us quite well. Jefferson Park is, in a word, magical. Mount Jefferson is seemingly everywhere – you feel so close you could hug it. Various lakes reflect its beauty in their clear waters and a pervading peace is all around. We were tempted to stop and rest as soon as we entered the park but we decided to get the remainder of our uphill climb out of the way. So, we picked our way up the rocky trail to Park Ridge, enjoying the views along the way. Annie and creeks go together like peanut butter and jelly. She loves them – anytime we come across one, she doesn’t hesitate: all four paws are in like a flash. Along the way, we bumped into a fellow hiker who has hiked this trail many times. It was the first time he could ever remember not seeing snow on the trail in July. On the other side of the ridge, he had never seen the bare rock that was now exposed … previously it had always been covered in snow. It’s most definitely a hot, hot summer this year. Once at the top, we found a sheltered spot to eat our hard-earned lunch. The dogs were more than happy to scarf down their extra meal (and some of ours 🙂 ). Then, we soaked in the view … and what a view it was. Mount Jefferson might as well have been a painting – it didn’t even look real. But I promise it very much was! From our vantage point, we could see Mount Hood off in the distance as well as the complete lack of snow the other hiker mentioned. We finally tore ourselves away and headed back down the trail so we could explore the park up close. We checked out Russel Lake and Scout Lake, beautiful in their clarity. A long hike indeed but boy, what a payoff! I can’t wait to go back and camp so we explore the park more in depth … so many little paths to follow and other lakes and other views … there’s always more to discover!...

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Adventures in Oregon: Paradise Park

Posted by on Jul 27, 2015 in Adventures in Oregon, Dogs, Hiking, Paradise Park | 0 comments

Adventures in Oregon: Paradise Park

At the start of summer, Andrew and I sat down at our kitchen table and made a bucket list of sorts. We pulled out our guide books, which are entering that satisfying state of ‘well-worn,’ and selected several hikes that we knew no matter what, we wanted to do before summer’s end. At the top of my list was Paradise Park. It has loomed in my mind since I first cracked open William Sullivan’s 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon and saw its beauty gracing the first two pages. It is the subject of much discussion in various wildflower and hiking forums that I follow – and rightly so: stunning meadows dotted with wildflowers spread out before the grandeur of Mount Hood. And the name – Paradise Park … could it possibly sound more appealing? A little while back, we set out to cross this hike off the list, departing early with Sasha and Annie along with plenty of food and water. The Paradise Park loop is 12.2 miles with a 2300 feet elevation gain, so it’s a good idea to be prepared to be out there for awhile. We started off following the Timberline Trail to Zigzag Canyon, making good time since we had traveled this path before and had no need to stop for scenic photos. Once we reached the canyon, we continued on the Pacific Crest Trail, switchbacking for a mile and a half down to the base, dropping about 700 feet in elevation. The Zigzag River greeted us and Sasha balked at the idea of getting her precious paws wet. Sooooo, I scooped her up in my arms and carried her across. So spoiled. What comes down must go back up … so up, up, up we climbed. Forest gave way to alpine meadows and I felt like I should be wearing a dirndl and herding goats. (take at look at the slant of the meadow against the sky in the background – that gives you an idea of the climb!) We came to what I dubbed ‘the most magical stream in all the land’ which is actually the south fork of Lost Creek. I promise you my photos do not do justice to this beautiful little slice of heaven. Despite my reluctance to leave this gorgeous spot, we continued along the trail and were rewarded with more views of Mount Hood rising majestically above a carpet of color. Apparently, the flowers peaked early this year due to the extreme heat we’ve had, so we missed their main performance. However, I was plenty satisfied with the beautiful views we saw. I can’t even imagine what it will be like when we return next summer to see it in its full flower glory. We breaked for lunch, taking in the gorgeous setting and some much-need calories. We followed the loop around, descending through forests and small meadows. We passed Rushing Water Creek spilling out into a narrow waterfall against a spectacular rocky backdrop. (you should click on the above photo to see that rocky expanse in all its glory) More waterfalls greeted us as we passed Lost Creek. Kind of incredible to think the peaceful little creek we crossed earlier is the source of these falls. Zigzag River appeared again and this time, Sasha found her courage...

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Adventures in Oregon: Browder Ridge

Posted by on Jun 22, 2015 in Adventures in Oregon, Browder Ridge, Christmas, Dogs, Easter, Hiking | 0 comments

Adventures in Oregon: Browder Ridge

I am officially a hiking addict. Two weeks passed since our last hike and I found myself huddled in a corner, rocking back and forth, murmuring ‘mustgooutside mustgooutside mustgooutside.’ Not really. But something crazy happens once you get into the habit of seeking out incredible mountain views, colorful wildflowers and ancient trees … you want to see more and more of them! So, that’s what we did. Our destination: Browder Ridge. Tucked into the central Cascades, this spot is often overlooked for the more popular and nearby Iron Mountain. Since we haven’t hiked Iron Mountain yet, I can’t compare the two but let me just say that Browder Ridge sets the bar pretty high. We started from the Gate Creek trailhead and were thrilled to see only two cars when we parked. That never happens! We set off down a woody trail and quickly found ourselves ascending on some fairly aggressive switchbacks – an elevation gain of over 1100 feet in less than two miles is no joke. We spotted some bear grass blooming here and there – such a unique plant! After about a mile and a half, we came to the first lookout which offered up beautiful views of Mount Jefferson and the Three Sisters. We paused for a break and the dogs tested out their new handy dandy collapsible bowl (thanks Grandma!), before continuing on up the trail. Traversing through dense meadows and forest, the path became difficult to follow at times … if you didn’t have a hound in front of you, expertly sniffing out the way. At certain points, clearings in the trees showcased our final destination: the summit of Browder Ridge. When walking through the tall meadows, it was certainly tempting to gaze out at the mountainous view but the random deep holes waiting to sprain our ankles ensured we kept our eyes focused on the path. As the trail climbed, it transitioned to a narrow, rocky path. If loose rocks on somewhat steep inclines aren’t your thing, then tackling the summit might not be your cup of tea. But the payoff is definitely worth it. When we reached the top, a beautiful meadow greeted us along with an astounding view: the Three Sisters , Mount Washington, Three-Fingered Jack, Mount Jefferson and even Mount Hood were all visible. We rested here for awhile, soaking up the incredible views. Quite a few wildflowers were blooming, decorating the landscape with their vivid colors. After enjoying a snack and plenty of water, we headed back down the trail, picking our way over the loose rock carefully lest we take an undesirable shortcut down the ridge 🙂 Rounding out at 8.4 miles and 2100 feet elevation gain, this hike is certainly one that lets you feel you’ve earned the view and the hounds give it four paws. Gorgeous mountain peaks, colorful wildflowers and no crowds … a perfect...

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Adventures in Oregon: Triangulation Peak

Posted by on Jun 12, 2015 in Adventures in Oregon, Triangulation Peak | 0 comments

Adventures in Oregon: Triangulation Peak

Here in Oregon, Mount Hood gets a lot of attention. And rightly so – it’s quite remarkable. However, Mount Jefferson is pretty darn spectacular, and our hike last weekend led us to a view that took my breath away. After driving on some rather questionable roads to get to the trailhead (though nothing like the drive to Alder Springs or Kentucky Falls!), we hiked up Triangulation Peak Trail, which is a fairly innocuous path that remains mostly level until some inclined switchbacks toward the end. Along the way, we walked under dense trees that kept us mostly shaded. Wildflowers were beginning to pop up here and there, and it was lovely to see little splashes of color along the way. As we wound our way up the path, we could catch a glimpse of mountains but the real treat came once we made the final scramble upward to Triangulation Peak: a picture-perfect view of Mount Jefferson. From this vantage point, not only could we see Mount Jefferson but we could also see Mount Hood off in the distance with Spire Rock in the foreground. We could also see (far, far away) the Three Sisters. We lingered for quite awhile, taking in the views and admiring the wildflowers that are lucky enough to enjoy this view every day. At just a tad over 4 miles, this hike is relatively easy but offers up astonishing views. If you have the opportunity to venture out into the Jefferson Wilderness, check out Triangulation Peak – I promise you won’t regret...

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Adventures in Oregon: Zigzag Canyon

Posted by on Jun 5, 2015 in Adventures in Oregon, Hiking, Zigzag Canyon | 0 comments

Adventures in Oregon: Zigzag Canyon

Mount Hood beckoned to be explored again so we headed there with Andrew’s mom during her visit. This time, we followed a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail to Zigzag Canyon, making for a 4.4 mile out-and-back. Things got real as we entered the Mt. Hood Wilderness and I filled out a permit, which asked for the number of heartbeats in our group, where we would be entering and exiting and how long we would be. It makes you think about the folks who backpack through that wilderness for days – it’s good to know that someone, somewhere cares if they make it out alive. Our day hike was a relatively easy hike that took us through some slight climbs and dips in elevation, past towering trees and lingering snow. In the distance, we could make out Mt. Jefferson, which looked much larger in person. I have yet to figure out how to accurately capture these snow-capped peaks off in the distance. I guess you’ll just have to come see it in person to really experience it! We arrived at Zigzag Canyon, carved out by the Zigzag River (which is fed by the Zigzag Glacier – say that five times fast!) We hiked up the rim of the canyon a little ways to take in the sweeping views stretching out in all directions. And lest you wonder whether it’s always rainbows and sprinkles with getting our dogs to behave on hikes, the answer is sometimes they are bratty little teenagers. The dogs were not having it with the photos – Annie straight out boycotted the camera while Sasha went for the try-to-escape-while-the-humans-are-standing-still-method. When that didn’t work, she moved in for the hug … clever, clever. We made our way down and headed back up the trail, making sure to stop and admire the wildflowers that are just starting to spring up. Along the way, the girls decided they wanted their photo after all … go figure. Love those hounds even when they choose to be a handful 🙂 We thoroughly enjoyed this hike and give it a four-paw rating- gorgeous views, easy-to-follow trail, limited elevation loss & gain coupled with gorgeous weather … what more could you ask...

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