NYE – OUTDOOR EDITION

I know, I know, New Year’s resolutions are cheesy. We all make them, at least in our heads, and hardly ever live up to them. But this year is different because I’m talking outdoor resolutions. My New Year’s outdoor resolution is inspired by, or rather in spite of Kenny. Kenny works in the board shop. He’s a snowboarder and surfer, but his true gift is fly fishing, and thus he is my arch nemesis. Now if you know Kenny you would say how can he be anybody’s arch nemesis, he’s no Darth Vader or Lex Luthor, but you see Kenny has caught three Steelhead on a fly rod, and I have caught exactly zero. So my New Year’s outdoor resolution is to catch a steelhead on a fly.

Kenny on the Clackamas River

I spoke with three of U.S. Outdoor’s most intrepid outdoor explorers and these are their hopes for the New Year.

Kareen is a 27 year old native Oregonian that works in the camping and climbing department. This year she has three goals. She is planning a trip to Glacier Park in the spring with a good friend. She also picked up a used whitewater kayak last year and is planning on taking classes to learn the basics before she takes the plunge on going down a real river. But the thing she is most looking forward to doing is ski jouring with her dogs Gucci and Floyd. Gucci is a Husky German Shepard mix, and Floyd is a Black Lab and Rottweiler mix. These dogs were made for the snow.

GUCCI AND FLOYD

Ski jouring is where you harness up your dogs and they pull you in the snow. Ruffwear even makes a harness specifically for ski jouring. She plans on going to some of the mountain lakes around Mount Hood like Timothy Lake and Frog Lake. I asked her if she has anymore goals for the new year, she said, “Not get broken.” She broke her ribs last year snowboarding and it took her five months of rehab to get better. Not get broken. Good advice. Have fun this year Gucci and Floyd.

KAREEN AND GUCCI

KAREEN AND GUCCI ON THE TRAIL

Jen is another 27 year native Oregonian that works at U.S Outdoor. She works in the board department. Her main goal is to come back stronger than she has been in the past five years. She has had a full knee replacement and ACL reconstructive surgery in that time. Two summers ago she was skateboarding a bowl in Alaska when she went up to the top of the bowl and did a feeble, a skateboarding term for all you squares out there, as she came back down she landed wrong and heard a loud pop. A blown ACL. Since her surgery last year she has been on the road to recovery to accomplish her main goal this year. Splitboard Mount Shasta.

JEN SKATING A BOWL

JEN AFTER ACL SURGERY

She has been biking, walking and even doing a little running in her preparation for Mount Shasta. She is planning her trip for October of this year. I asked her what the hardest part of recovery was for her. It was not being able to do the things she loves the most, skateboarding and snowboarding. But she gave some great advice, “Surround yourself with positive things”, she said. She told me she has other things she loves to do, watching movies, doing her artwork, and just hanging out with friends. She also said that loving where you work helps. She may not be able to do the things she loves right now, but she gets to help people get into one of the activities she loves the most. Snowboarding. Surround yourself with positive things. More sage advice from another young lady at U.S. Outdoor. Good luck this year Jen.

JEN AT THOMPSON PASS IN ALASKA

Daniel is another U.S. Outdoor employee with an adventurous spirit. I’ll let him tell you in his own words.

DANIEL AT THE SOUTHERN TERMINUS

Plans for Summer 2018, The Pacific Crest Trail

This summer, Starting on May 18th, I will be hiking the Pacific Crest Trail through California, Oregon and Washington.

My first encounters with “Thru-Hiking” came in the summer of 2000 when my science teacher, Mr. Ryan sponsored a backpacking trip through the Three Sisters Wilderness Area in Central Oregon. The route was a simple one, heading south on the PCT from Lava Lake to Devils Lake 26 miles away. When we were unloading our gear and checking our equipment, two ragtag bearded men came to the parking lot looking for a ride into town. My Father, who was shaperoning the trip had been reading the Oregonians articles covering the journey that the two men were on, ironically. We gave them Snickers bars. They talked about their life for the three months the had been on trail. We said our goodbyes and on the final day of the trip in Wickiup Plains near South Sister I had decided that the seed had been firmly planted, and that I should probably hike the trail someday.

Fast forward to 2013. I had recruited the help of my dear friend M. Charlie Garros of Toulouse. I had met him in Turkey and whilst I was in Peru during the new year I had made the goal to shoot out around May 1st of that year. He flew in after reading my Facebook post. We hiked from Campo, where the the southern terminus is located, to Bishop Pass together, 846 miles in. I distinctly remember the Joshua Trees of the Mojave and the Western Junipers that grew ancient in the High Sierra, along with the many beautiful and dynamic individuals who shaped my ideas of friendship along the way. A combination of physical, mental, and financial stress had gotten me off the trail as Charlie continued to nearly the border at Manning Park, British Columbia, until an early winter storm cut off the final stretch in early October for him and many others.

Now, in 2018, I have felt a debt to the dream of hiking the trail. Spending not weeks but months in the wild is such a demanding goal that it has changed my reality in the city. Saving every penny, quitting smoking and drinking, and getting into a physical condition that would warrant hiking 30 miles a day for months are not only goals but necessities if success is possible. The gear that I’ve accumulated from a life suited to outdoor living will carry me to the southern terminus, but food resupplies, budgeting, and discipline will hopefully carry me to Manning Park. I look forward to the desert section of 700 miles with great anticipation. Crossing through 25 National Forests and seven National Parks, I look forward to long days and quiet nights in the backcountry. With some light mountaineering I can climb several non-technical peaks along the way for views, and the trail passes by Portland, my hometown, for inevitable beers with pals. When or if I finish will determine future plans to possibly accomplish the Triple Crown of hiking, which combines the PCT, the Continental Divide Trail (3100 miles) and the Appalachian Trail (2180 miles).

Wish me luck!

DANIEL AND CHARLIE ON THE TRAIL

Daniel asked us to wish him luck. I wish everyone luck in all their endeavours this year.

Even you Kenny.

Tree Camping Above Salmon River by Jenna Kuklinski

The first time I found myself higher than six feet in a tree happened as my second summer working at High Cascade was coming to an end. I was helping to pack up skate ramps, move vans into storage and deep-cleaning all of the houses that campers and staff had lived in for a whole summer season. At the end of one of these long, tiring days, my friend Anastasia called me from Portland and asked if I would want to camp out in the branches of a giant old-growth tree for a night. What? Yes. Of course I would.

After spending another day or two scrubbing, sweeping and packing, I was finally freed from my summer post. Anastasia cruised up to Government Camp, swept me away from the place I’d been living for the past 2 ½ months, and steered us out towards the Salmon River. We made a quick pit-stop at a climbing spot called, “Salmon Slab,” a mild face of rock set against the woods and overlooking the nearby Salmon river. [I’d taken my La Sportiva Miuras with me to camp and though I’d left them in the back of my closet all summer, it felt great to lace back into them and find myself on a rock face once again.] We happily sent a few routes while her ornery shitsu watched us from the open hatchback of her Saturn. Once we’d absorbed as much of the view as possible at the top of the route, we loaded back up and drove further into the woods.

Jenna kuklinski climbing

Tree Base Camp

Big tree arboristEventually, we reached a small dirt parking lot. After parking the car, shouldering our packs and hiking about a mile in, we found our group of enthusiastic arborists. They were happily milling about the wooded floor, chatting about the amazing arborculture that surrounded us. They were excited to see us and immediately took us over towards the tree we’d be sleeping in that night. It was massive. It stood just over 200ft tall and our friends estimated it was somewhere around 500 years old. That’s a highly respectable tree in my book.

After learning some quick information about how we’d be sleeping and checking that we had on hard-toed, high-ankled hiking boots, we were shown exactly what we’d be sleeping in. The beds, or as they’re better known, “tree boats” looked like army-green reinforced hammocks. They were ridged around the edges, holding themselves out to be rectangular and giving the sleeper some room to roll around in. They were currently lodged 190 ft up in the branches of this old growth doug fir; tucked so far away that we couldn’t see them as we squinted up from the ground.

Tree Boat

We were also told that we should try to drink minimal liquids over the next couple hours leading up to our airy camp-out. Our friends explained to us that we’d be wearing a harness the whole time we’d be up there (meaning, yes, even when we slept). If we had to pee, it’d be an awkward endeavor of scooting our butts to the side of the boat, shifting the harness to the side of our thighs and getting our pants out of the way. Not so easy to do in pitch-dark at 1am. Other than that, our friends gave us few warnings. They were taking care of all of the technical stuff, all we had to do was listen to what they told us and enjoy our evening.

Arborists

Pretty soon, it was time for Anastasia and I to leave the ground and begin making our way up to the topof the tree. We grabbed our packs, slipped on the harnesses and clipped onto our friend that would be running us up the “elevator.”As I was slowly hoisted into the air, my surroundings changed dramatically. The world became simultaneously quieter and louder. You know how trees sound when they sway in the breeze? From the ground it’s a low, comfortable creaking. When you’re in the tree itself, that same noise becomes far louder and far less comforting. You move with the tree. You’re in space, in the air, over 100 ft from the ground. You have one lifeline and it begins to move. And so you move. You’re softly swaying together, undulating in the breeze. It’s at the same time a very unnerving very amazing feeling.

Jenna and Friend On Tree Elavator

We reached our beds easily, slid into our respective tree-beds and allowed our friend to unattach us from the elevator line and then link us in to our individual safety branches. Once looped in, we’d be anchored to the same branch until morning.

We brought snacks to share and even a little whiskey. We giddily munched on some cookies while we took in the rest of our surroundings. Looking out from our beds, we could see across what seemed to be the entire Mt. Hood wilderness, with tree tops stretching out in front of us for miles upon miles. We chatted as the sun dipped lower on the horizon and although we broke out our headlamps to continue keeping each other company into the dark, we soon all fell into comfortable silence, allowing ourselves to be rocked to sleep by the swaying tree that was delicately suspending us above the ground.

Jenna asleep in treeDaylight came fresh, crisp and beautiful. There is no greater way to be greeted in the morning than by the energizing mountain air above such an expanse of wilderness. One of our friends had a jetboil and brewed us coffee in the branches of this ancient doug fir. I don’t remember if it was instant Folgers or hand-ground Stumptown, but I know it was one of the best coffees I’ve ever had in my life. There’s no better place to sip dark coffee and nibble leftover cookies than after sleeping in the branches of an ancient doug fir.

Jenna awake in tree boat

Finally the time came to lower back down to the forrest floor (Anastasia and I couldn’t deny the fact that nature was finally “calling”). It was sad watching our temporary beds shrink away and get swallowed by the mass green needles that steadily grew above our heads. We were leaving behind the first experience of something so unique and inexplicable. But of course, we were overcome with excitement of what we’d just done and couldn’t wait to talk with our other friends about what we’d gotten to do!

Once we’d reached the ground, we spent the rest of the morning playing around with some silk fabric and drinking as much water as we wanted. After a few hours, we loaded all of the gear back into our packs and hiked back out to our car. Anastasia and I happily tossed our bags into her car and clambered into the front.

As we began the dusty drive back to the city, I watched the trees slowly shrink and change outside the car window. I couldn’t help but feel I had a new and deeper understanding of the woods around us, one that I would hold onto for the rest of my life. There are no words to describe exactly the feel that I have about this adventure, except for the words that urge you to make friends with a talented arborist and convince them that you need to spend a night suspended in the arms of a Doug Fir that’s last nearly half a century.

Mt. Hood Summer Sanctuaries and Family Vacation Destinations

“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.

Mt. Hood Vacation Destinations

A quick search lead me to mthoodmagazine.com and an article on the Villages Of Mt. Hood. The article lists a handful of vacation destinations that are family friendly, romantic, and luxurious ways to beat the summer heat. Read the list of destinations here at mthoodmagazine.com

Keeps Mill Campground

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