Monday, March 28, 2011

Driving Up the Coast

After our five days at Smith Rock, we made a plan to cross over to the Oregon coast and drive northward, stopping for a couple of seaside hikes and nights spent in cottages. We left Friday morning, rather early, and the drive got off to a rough start as we climbed to high elevation and eventually ending up driving in an incredible blizzard and white-out. As the road lines disappeared under sheets of snow, our speed slowed to a crawl. Luckily, it didn't last too long and we were soon down into rain and generally miserable weather.

With only one or two wrong turns, we eventually reached the coast and, miraculously, the sun came out! Our destination was a hike along Cape Lookout, a point just south of Tillamook, Oregon. We tumbled out of the van and collected our gear. Since time was tight, I shouldered Elise and we set out on the trail. Although it was sunny, the rain had been falling all winter long and the trail was literally a mucky mess. I was wearing my new trail running shoes, which quickly got plastered with goo. Elise chattered in my ear the entire time and exclaimed "great" (with a tone of sarcasm) each time we reached a new section of muddy swamp. She's heard me use the term "great" in response to a situation that's generally distasteful, and continually echoed this sentiment throughout the muddy walk. The hike was 2.6 miles to the end of the cape, and the trail did a fair amount of climbing. But when we arrived, the views were worth it.

The air was warm and some flowers were already in bloom. Elise spotted this flower, salmonberry plants and a bald eagle on the way back.

After the muddy, but pleasant hike, we jumped back in the car and blasted north to Cannon Beach, where we had a cottage reserved for the night. After checking in, we packed up and walked two blocks to the beach to enjoy the rest of the evening.

The beach stretched for miles and the waves were quite forceful. Despite the weather remaining clear, the wind was howling and it was cold. We beachcombed and found a number of shells, and generally just enjoyed the ambiance. Beautiful houses lined the beach and the views were, once again, spectacular.

Pam and Elise with Haystack Rock in behind.

Elise and a friendly little boy discovered a sand bank on which to slide. We had to literally drag her away, despite the cold, windy conditions. This came after she decided she wanted to wade in a small creek.

We had a nice dinner out and all fell asleep quickly. Someone DID NOT want to get up off her little cot in the morning. That's a tired girl.

We jumped back into the van and blasted north to Olympic National Park in Washington. The drive started rainy, but once again the sun came out. We made some more wrong turns (I'm blaming it on our poor maps), but eventually reached the coast and the park. We continued north to a small fishing village outside the park called Sekiu, where we had another cottage reserved. We checked in and Elise was delighted to discover a basket of shells on the table!

One of the two bedrooms. It was old, but quaint and clean.

Again, we jumped back into the van and drove another 20 miles to Lake Ozette and the start of our second hike. We quickly packed our gear and set out on one of the two ocean-bound trails, as our time was once again limited. The trail we followed was three miles of perfect boardwalk and stairs through a very lush, moist forest. The amount of work that must have gone into building it was staggering! It was interesting to watch the subtle changes in vegetation as we neared the ocean.

It was great to finally reach the beach, and we were once again blessed with a miracle - sunny weather! The hike was a loop, and continued down the beach for three more miles. This hiking turned out to be quite difficult, as the walk stayed on the beach and there was a lot of blow-down and rock to navigate around. Regardless, it was beautiful and we collected shells and looked in tide pools.

Bull kelp wrapped around a fallen tree.

When we reached the end of the beach portion of the hike, we discovered a lovely stretch of sand. We were hot from the long, strenuous walk and I decided to swim. It was cold, but very invigorating. We enjoyed a quick lounge on the beach before embarking on the final three miles back to the car. We only wish we'd had more time to relax and enjoy the surroundings, but darkness was setting in. We marched back to the parking lot at top speed, racing the coming night. It was close, but we made it just as dusk settled into the thick canpoy. Did I mention I hiked nine miles with Elise on my back? I was exhausted and my back was aching but, regardless, it was a good day.

We are back in Squamish and rejuvenated after a busy week away from home. Elise starts her next set of swimming lessons today. Stay tuned!


Friday, March 25, 2011

Spring Break at Smith Rock

Our spring break trip to Smith Rock is coming to a close. Today we'll head for the Oregon coast and spend the next three days making our way home. We have cottages rented in Cannon Beach and the Olympic National Park and look forward to two hikes and some beach combing. We've never driven through the Olympic National Park, and we are interested in seeing the scenery. We've got our fingers crossed that it doesn't rain too much!

We've had a nice time here in Smith Rock. It wasn't a climbing trip for me because of my shoulder injury, but Elise did some routes and we enjoyed skiing, hiking and socializing with our friends. The main goal was to get away from Squamish and the daily grind, and I think we accomplished it.

Elise posing by the park sign. She insisted on climbing the sign every time we passed it and having me photograph her. We also did some bike riding practice in this parking lot. The training wheels are off and the process has begun. She is not riding on her own yet. Stay tuned!

Once again, we stayed at our friend Rob's house, which is a quaint rancher that's walking distance to the park and the climbing. Here's Elise with incredibly morning hair and face paint, doing a puzzle in Rob's living room.

The first day was sunny, but cold. We opted to do a big hike around the park, over Misery Ridge and around the Monkey Face. It took us 3 hours and Elise hiked the entire way on her own. She is definitely getting more capable.

Striking a pose under the Picnic Lunch wall near the start of the hike. She is really into hamming it up for the camera these days.

The stairs up Misery Ridge. This picture only shows a fraction of the entire climb.

View to the east from the summit of Misery Ridge.

She climbed a Juniper tree near the summit. The face paint is still intact.

Resting near the Monkey Face. It was very windy and we were glad to have warm clothing with us. I considered hiking in shorts, which would have been a BIG mistake.

The Monkey Face. If you look very closely, you can see Elise and I perched on the edge of the Diving Board, the rock that juts out toward the mouth of the monkey. I'm wearing blue.

Pam and Elise hiking down the gully beside the monkey face. Pam's knee is bothering her again (bursitis, we think), so she uses hiking poles for hilly walks.

A very foreshortened view of the Monkey Face with two hikers for scale.

Elise fooling around with a handful of dry grass at the base of the Monkey. In the background, you can see the Crooked River, which eventually flows into the Deschutes. I'm not sure what the bundle of grass was all about.

Looking back at the Monkey Face from the trail.

The Crooked River.

Getting Elise to pose with a nice smile becomes more and more difficult with each trip. I think she called this her "nun face" or something like that. Note the butterfly face paint.

I often have to trick her into smiling by saying something that makes her laugh.

The hiking trails in the park are extremely pleasant. Here we are rounding the Phoenix on our way back to the house. The path stayed close to the river and we saw an otter swimming downstream.

Burma Ridge behind Rob's house in evening light. This is ranch country.

We visited the neighbours, Les and Holly, again. Here is Elise feeding Mally. We came back a couple of days later for riding lessons (pics to come). I also got an impromptu lesson in making bullets. Welcome to the United States!

We climbed on two cloudy, windy days. Elise did well, despite the less-than-ideal conditions. Here she is on her first climb, Cinnamon Slab. The serrated cliff in the background is Ship Rock.

Next up was Bunny Face, a route name she got confused over, calling it "Rabbit Wall". Even she saw the humour in this mix-up and we all had a good laugh. She's wearing her new climbing shoes, La Sportiva "Stick Its".

We had one very pleasant day, and since we brought our skies, we opted to ski. This turned out to be a great decision because the conditions were absolutely perfect. We had blue skies and powder snow - we couldn't have asked for more. The ski area we visited was called Mt. Bachelor and it's a volcano in the Cascade chain. The views were great!

This is the first glimpse we had of the peak while driving up from Bend.

The have over 12 FEET of snow up there this year. The van is parked beside the snowbanks for perspective.

Here we all are at the top of the Sunrise Express.

Looking to the northwest from the summit chair.

Pam and Elise standing at the top Mt. Bachelor. The view is generally to the southeast.

The unload station at the top was totally covered in rime. The summits of these volcanoes get seriously scoured by wind. The are barren and very exposed.

Lunch in the lodge. Somebody is looking a little disheveled. Those are hot chocolate stains on here face.

The midmountain lodge. It kind of reminded me of the Paradise zone on Red Mountain, where I leared to ski. The runs were of similar character and the rime-pasted trees brought back memories.

The lift ticket system was interesting. Each time you lined up for a chairlift, you had to pass through a arch that scanned your ticket (no free rides here!). Since Elise was so short, we had to put the ticket on here helmet so the scanner wouldn't miss it.

Here she is skiing perfect packed powder on a blue run off the Sunrise Express. Her skiing is coming along very well. She can confidently snowplow down blue runs and is starting to get the hang of parallel turns. She seems to really enjoy it. We discoverd a gully-like trail (maybe a creek bed?) that wove through the trees and we skied it over and over again because she had so much fun.

The magic carpet was in a tunnel. Elise really wanted a ride to experience this interesting feature. It was kind of fun, actually.

After skiing, we drove back to Smith Rock and met up with Les and Holly for the horse ride. Elise is on Chief, the horse that bucked her last year. We were all more prepared this time and things went swimmingly. Holly led Elise around the yard in figure eights, and Elise eventually took the reighns and led Chief on here own. You couldn't wipe the smile off here face!

We spend our last evening having dinner with friends at the Terrebonne Depot, a great restaurant some friends of ours built out of an historic rail station. Elise said to me "I want to saty at Smith Rock - I dont' want to go home". I guess that means she had a good time. Mission accomplished!