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!

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