I’ll start by saying this: I wish Dick Proenneke was my grandpa. Also, it would be foolish to think that I’m the only person to ever wish upon that star. But for those of you who are unfamiliar with the legend, here is why I wish Dick Proenneke was my grandpa.
As springtime approaches, it is easy to day dream about “all the great things you are going to do” once that sun touches down: the camping, fishing, the hiking, kayaking, rock climbing and sometimes all of those in a single trip. “LET THE ADVENTURE BEGIN!” is something you’ll most likely be thinking in your mind but can’t shout aloud because it is too cliche. But some of us need a little extra kick in the pants when it comes to removing the quotation marks and actually doing all those great things. I find no greater motivation than watching ‘Alone In The Wilderness,’ the story of a man (Dick Proenneke)… alone… in the wilderness… of Alaska.
This is not to be confused with ‘Into The Wild.’ For one, this story ends well. And second, Dick Proenneke actually knew what he was doing, which is why the story ends well. That isn’t to say that ‘Into The Wild’ isn’t a great story, but I wouldn’t use it to motivate anyone looking to adventure beyond civilization, you know?
That being said, odds are you aren’t going to go out and build a cabin in the remote Twin Lakes region of Alaska, or anywhere for that matter, but Dick Proenneke’s exploits should serve as a building block for your next adventure. He’s America’s grandpa. Yeah, I said that. He embodies the somewhat unexplainable and completely natural feeling that drives us to be outdoors; it brings us back to life. So, enjoy ‘Alone In The Wilderness’ Episode 1. And if you are inspired, check out the outdoor gear we have to offer, not in terms of building a cabin, but other necessities for being in and extending your time outdoors come spring and summertime.
My spring break was spent in South Central Oregon at Summer Lake Hot Springs. The trip was meant to celebrate my ten year wedding anniversary. My wife picked out the hot springsbecause they are in the middle of nowhere, and our dogs could stay in the cabin with us. I never expected to find the entire region another gem of our state. The area offered an ideal combination of dramatic landscapes and solitude. If you haven’t been to this part of Oregon plan a road trip sometime soon.
Summer Lake Hot Springs is located just north of Paisley, OR. Camping and cabin rentals are available on site. The springs sit just under the Winter Rim near Summer Lake. It is similar to the Alford Dessert Hot Springs which sit below Steens Mountain. The main pool is located in a neat, super old barn style structure. Two outdoor pools are also available for views of the surrounding Mountains and desert.
Running at Cove Palisades
The entire region is so huge, and far from any major cities, that we found more solitude than expected. Almost every business was eager to share neat things to see and do since they don’t seem to get enough visitors. We had a hard time picking the best places to hike on our trip down from Portland, and on our trip back. First, I ran the classic Tam-a-lau Trail in the Cove Palisades State Park. Then on our way back we played around at Fort Rock State Park. So many more options are available. We will probably spend a lifetime exploring only a small portion of the area.
If you do plan to take a trip into the Oregon Outback of South Central Oregon, be sure to bring along layerable clothing . The temperatures vary widely. Additionally bring hiking or running shoes , a swim suit , head wear , and sun glasses . Lots of books can give you ideas as to what is available in the region. Just make sure you allow yourself enough time to enjoy settling into the place. Oh, and feel free to keep this place a secret to protect its solitude. I currently feel guilty telling you about it, so heed my warning.
“I need a vacation!” We have all said these words. In fact, I said them yesterday. In this day and age we live to work instead of working to live and most of our routines are mapped out: wake up, brush teeth, endure traffic, punch in, work, punch out, endure more traffic, get home, eat dinner, talk about work, watch television, go to bed… Repeat. It’s a vicious cycle that engulfs us all and when we can endure no more we “head to the hills” in search of a relaxing reboot of the mind, body and soul. Is it simplicity we seek to balance out the complications of employment, or are we just reverting back to a primal instinct? Whatever it is, I went in search of it… online. Oh the irony.
Now, if you’re heart desires more solitude I suggest you take a trip down to Keeps Mill Campground. A few friends and I stumbled upon this great landscape whilst exploring Mt. Hood National Forest. Located on the White River, this neck of the woods is secluded enough to get your bearings back and also is not so far removed that you lose a sense of reality, although sometimes that seems the best route. Visit Keeps Mill Campground
Anywho, those are two of my cents that I can throw into the fountain. Being a resident of the Pacific Northwest and having Mt. Hood in your backyard is an obvious perk. Mt. Hood offers an array of outdoor activities and if I were to list them all I would end up with a ZZ Top beard and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. But to make your search a little easier you can start by researching more Mt. Hood vacation destinations here at www.mthoodinfo.com
Ok class, listen up! Dick Proenneke was a beast of a man! In this timeless documentary: Alone In The Wilderness, he took us on a journey beyond the civilized limits and out into a world where life was/is exactly what you make of it. Where food and shelter are job 1 and everything else is stripped of its meaning. Where status symbols and stock portfolios carry no merit. Where the aches and pains of hard work are real and pristine landscapes and the sound of nature are your reward!
Now, I remember watching this film on OPB as a young kid growing up in the suburbs and thinking that Dick Proenneke was nuts. As far as I was concerned, the baseball diamond was the only wilderness I cared to explore. But as you grow older and the responsibilities of life creep in, you begin to realize the benefits of the great outdoors and the health and wellness it offers. A necessary balance so-to-speak that keeps our everyday lives from imploding. With that said, there are still people out there that will never see Dick Proenneke as anything more than a kook in the woods; so be it. But for those of you who are looking for a little inspiration for your next adventure look no further than: Alone In The Wilderness. Odds are you have seen it before, nevertheless, it’ll give you a good shove out the door. Enjoy!
Listen up folks! As explained in this Sunday School’s video, knowing how to make ‘Cowboy Coffee’ in the back country might save a few of you from those nasty headaches caused from caffeine withdrawals. In fact, this video might inspire some of you to adopt this dusty trail technique and leave your french press on the kitchen counter. Brought to you by Matt Heid; author and caffeine junkie at Appalachian Mountain Club.
With weather on the mend, it is time to get out and fitted with the right gear for summer. So take a gander at this NOLS video on pack fitting. Pay attention and take notes! It is extremely important that you outfit yourself with a backpack that is comfortable and that fits your needs as an explorer. Getting fitted for the right backpack can save you from unnecessary fatigue, muscle aches and pains.