To celebrate a good friend’s birthday, she wanted “to go on an adventure.” I thought that may have meant a long hike or day trip to the mountain, so naturally I signed up. I quickly learned when she said adventure, she meant “Adventure is out there!,” and a trip would ensue. I couldn’t be more grateful to join her on this journey.
I don’t mind admitting it, I’ve become somewhat of a pro when it comes to packing my hiking snacks. Something sweet, something salty, punch of protein, and carbs to keep the tank full and fuel to burn. You can expect I’ll have some Babybel cheese, energy bites, beef jerky, and now, fruit nut bars.
The beautiful thing about these snacks is how incredibly easy they are to make and in short order. Using the base recipe of three ingredients (dried fruit, nuts, and chia seeds), you can easily modify the snack using a variety of fruits, keeping it new and refreshing.
Common sense seems like a typical response to how to behave on the trail, but you’d be surprised how many have no clue. My friends over at Modern Hiker kindly put together a few tips that everyone should consider while adventuring outdoors.
(Read the full article on REI’s blog. Bullet points below are quoted from the article.)
Hikers vs. Hikers
- Hikers going uphill have the right of way. This is because hikers heading up an incline often have a smaller field of vision and may also be in that “hiking rhythm” zone and not in the mood to break their pace.
- If you’re about to pass another hiker from behind, announce your presence, even with a simple “hello”.
- When passing, always stay on the trail to reduce erosion.
- In group hiking, always hike single-file, never taking up more than half the trail space, and stay on the trail itself. Over time, those off-trail boot prints can badly erode switchbacks and destroy drainage diversions.
- When a group meets a single hiker, it’s preferable for the single hiker to yield and step safely to the side.
Hikers vs. Bikers
- Bikers are generally expected to yield to hikers on the trail, though it’s usually easier for hikers to yield the right of way—especially if a mountain biker is huffing and puffing up a tough incline.
- Bikers should never expect a hiker to yield.
- Bikers should call out as they come down steep slopes or blind switchbacks, and should also let hikers know if there are other bikers following them.
- Hikers should also be aware of their surroundings on shared trails, particularly with mountain bikes quickly coming around any bend.
Well, it’s more than halfway through January, and I noticed I haven’t written since Thanksgiving. Oops. Looking back at 2014, my heart is warmed to realize all that I accomplished, and I am so grateful to have hiked over 30 different trails, traveled to various parts of Oregon, Washington, California, Idaho, New York, Texas and Hawaii, try brand new things (mountain biking made the top of the list!), share laughter with friends new and old, and – of course – cook a ton of delicious food. Thank you to all who made 2014 an incredible year!
Now it’s on to 2015, and it has proven there’s no rest for the wicked! New Year’s Day wouldn’t have been complete without a frozen waterfall hike to Triple Falls, and the next days were kept full with whale watching attempts, snowboarding, bouldering, and lots of new recipes! Over the past few weeks, I’ve been pondering plans for the next 365 days, and without further ado, they are as follows (in no particular order):
- Hike Mount St. Helens – Yes, I’m a native Oregonian and have NEVER been to the iconic PNW mountain. Shameful.
- Hike Dog Mountain
- Solo backpacking trip
- Learn to cook paella
- Teach a cooking class
- Hike in the Grand Canyon
- More mountain biking!
- Plan for Glacier National Park trip in 2016
- Bike along the Historic Columbia River Highway
- Rock climbing and hiking at Smith Rock
- And finally, the POSSIBILITY of hiking Mt. Whitney
It’s Thanksgiving week, which means I’m compelled to reflect on the past year and consider the most wonderful events I’ve experienced. With some recent life changes, I’m reminded of the importance to stay true to yourself and focus on what makes you happiest. For me, that includes hiking a mountain, laughing and enjoying beers with friends, traveling to new (and old) favorite cities, and, of course, cooking up a storm. Below are a few photo representations of my most thankful 2014 moments:
I have wanted for years to see frozen waterfalls, and Portland’s early winter finally afforded me the opportunity to see some beauties. The Columbia River Gorge has over 100 waterfalls, and many of them freeze over during the cold snaps. This excursion takes us to the E Columbia River Historic Highway to view Horsetail Falls, Ponytail Falls, Multnomah Falls and Bridal Veil Falls.
Distance and Difficulty: Total of 3 miles across all the waterfalls, with the longest stretch being 1 mile round trip. Easy.
Elevation Gain: up to 350 feet gain
Directions: From I-84E, take exit 28 at Bridal Veil and turn right onto the Historic Highway. Drive for about 4 miles until you see the Bridal Veil parking lot. After you’ve enjoyed the Falls, head back east on the Historic Highway and stop at the various waterfalls (you’ll see them all the way down). Choose the falls I’ve noted, or go even further down toward Ainsworth to Elowah and McCord Falls, Latourell Falls, or Lancaster Falls.
Tip: I strongly recommend cramp-ons for this kind of a trek. The snow is very packed, so snowshoes aren’t necessary, but regular hiking shoes don’t offer the right amount of traction. I immediately picked up a pair from REI after NOT having cramp-ons and am very excited to test them out.
There’s something special about the first hike of Fall. The air is cooler, filled with the smell of retired leaves and dampness, and the multi-color visual display is heart-warming. I celebrated the new season with a simple hike to the Gorge’s Elowah Falls. This destination is a gem – far from the Multnomah Falls crowds, and simple for the whole family, no matter what age.
With one of the hottest summers on record, I found myself extra incentivized to find ways to cool down and enjoy outdoor time. Hiking is a standard practice for me, but I also expanded my horizons and added mountain biking (a first!), stand up paddleboarding and a Wildlife Safari to my summertime activity.
Write ups are still in the works for some of these adventures, so in the meantime, enjoy this little gallery of my hiking, biking, and paddling over the past three months.
- Hike: Tom, Dick and Harry
- Hike: Hardy Falls and Hamilton Mountain
- Hike: Punch Bowl Falls
- Hike: Oneonta Gorge (twice!)
- Hike: Horsetail Falls, Ponytail Falls and Triple Falls
- Hike: Mt. Scott, Crater Laker
- Hike: Historical walk in Kona, Hawaii
- Manta Ray “Dive”, Kona, Hawaii
- Bike: Providence Bridge Pedal
- Bike: Sunday Parkways
- Mountain Biking: Post Canyon
- Mountain Biking: Cascade Locks
- Wildlife Safari
- Stand up paddleboarding, Willamette River
If you’re searching for an iconic view of Oregon’s tallest mountain, Tom Dick and Harry must be added to your “must hike” list. A mere hour from downtown Portland, the Mirror Lake trailhead will take you from trafficked Highway 26 to an impressive overlook granting views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, Mt. Saint Helens, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington, and even Mr. Rainier on very clear days.
I have twice hiked the Mirror Lake trail during the winter months when the lake is coated in beautiful white, but this was my first excursion in the summer time and first ever to the upper division of Tom Dick and Harry. Surprisingly, when you’re not trudging through snow, this hike goes quickly to the lake, but is absolutely worth the added jaunt to the top.
The Columbia River Gorge is chock full of hikes at various skill levels, and one of the harder ascents I’ve just added under my belt is on Washington’s south side of the Bridge of the Gods. Seven miles from the bridge is the more famous Beacon Rock – a towering boulder with striking views of the Gorge (and a portion of the distance you will usually have to hike to get the same views). Directly across from the Beacon parking lot is a sign for campgrounds and access to Hamilton Mountain. Luckily this hike could easily be split into three lengths and difficulty levels: 3.2 miles (medium), 6 miles (difficult), 9 miles (more difficult). Having done the whole thing, I might opt for the 6 miler next time, but it’s still worth all the work.