Off The Grid in the East Cascades Written by Lindsey on June 27th, 2011

Mountain Hardwear Pacer Short and Microchill Zip Tee

I read, “Into the Wild” by Krakauer way before it became a Sean Penn movie. I’m that cool!

The non-fiction account of a wealthy young man’s search to become not only his own man, but a better man than the country club sort he grew up with in Virginia took him off the grid. 

Chris McCandless cut off all communication with his family, gave away most of his possessions including his college fund and began tramping around the continent all the way to Alaska.

Planning to hike into to the untouched wilderness, McCandless grossly underestimated the thick, thorny Alaskan undergrowth. He wanted to hike far into the woods were no one would find him. Instead, he crossed a river, found an abandoned trailer and called it good. That’s were I grew up! Off the grid. Not in that particular trailer, mind you. Still, I was deep in the devil’s club and fireweed of Alaska. You don’t get anywhere unless there is a trail, plane, or snow that puts you above the brush.

Off the grid trekking.

Now I find myself in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. My house might be wedged in between two others with a grocery store just down the street, but two hours away

 I can pitch a tent all summer long where no one will find me . . . free and legal! Central Oregon, particularly on the east side of the Cascades, south of Mount Bachelor, there are lakes galore with dirt tracks veering off the main roads.

Follow these narrow dusty ribbons into a lake, pitch a tent or hang a hammock, and enjoy the sound of an Osprey calling from a nearby tree-top. Best of all, once you are in central/eastern Oregon, underbrush is nil. You can walk wherever your will takes you. Just make sure you keep  a close watch on your compass. Better yet, bring both a compass and GPS. Every juniper and red ant hill will start looking alike and getting lost is a given. So even though you are off the grid, bring your own so you can find your way back.

Keep in mind as you wander that the climate on the east side of the Oregon is vastly different from the west with its notorious rain. The dry, high desert in central and eastern Oregon is not only hot and sunny but freezing cold at night. Even on a hot day, bring a warm base layer, like this moisture wicking Mountain Hardwear Microchill fleece in case your trek takes you into the evening. Soak with water in the hot part of the day to stay cool and protected from the sun. By evening it will be dry and warm.

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