Category Archives: Hiking

Cape Lookout

I have hiked the Cape Lookout Trail many times so I suppose it is time to actually do a trip report.

Cape Lookout Trailhead

I was in Neskowin and had a free day to hike and I am so glad I opted for a return to one of my favorite hikes, Cape Lookout. You may notice the Cougar warning at the trailhead. Yes Cougars have become a problem along the Oregon coast but I would not be overly concerned about a cougar encounter on this trail. However, this does tend to spook tourists not familiar with Oregon hiking.

 

Here is the trip report as I recorded it with Natural Atlas.

 

This is a very popular coastal hike that epitomizes the beautiful Oregon Coast. The sign says this is a 4.7 round trip but it is really a 5.2 mile out and back with enough vertical to make the hike back a bit challenging. The other trail issue can be a muddy root slippery trail that will get your pretty shoes dirty and requires attention not to slip and fall.

One of your first great views South of Sand Beach and Cape Kiwanda

Otherwise the trail condition is as good as it gets on the coast. A beautiful thoroughfare with breath taking views up and down the Oregon Coast.

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Early on in the hike if you as you are walking along the south side you may spot a plaque on the north side of the trail that serves as a memorial to the crew of a WWII plane that crashed into the side of Cape Lookout.

The trail does have a few spots that will challenge those afraid of heights and you definitely want to keep you dogs on a leash so they don’t chase a chipmunk over a cliff. I completed this hike on May 30, 2019 but I below are a few photos from previous hikes to show what you might see.

After the hike the Pelican Pub is a great way to finish the day.

BayOcean Spit

I finally backpacked the Bayocean Spit that is known as “the town that fell into the sea“. After researching the history of Bayocean I was amazed that I camped in solitude on ground that once hosted a significant resort community in the early 1900s.BeachGrassBayocean is a small stretch of land that forms one wall of Tillamook Bay which I have neglected for many years as a backpacking option. The Bayocean trailhead offers a large parking lot which mostly accommodates day hikers. What I found was one of the most beautiful coastal backpacking option available on the Central Coast. TrailSign

The name defines the the route either on the bay side or the ocean side. I started out on the ocean side mostly by accident but had no issues with the ease on walking on the wet sand. As CampsiteMapI checked the map I realized that trails were coming off the bayside trail and I was not sure if these trails connected to the ocean or ended up on the various hilltops. However, I did find that the trails connected and were very well marked. I decided to hike to the furthest trail cutover and look for a good campsite. Hiking in the bayside tide was low but beautiful. LowBayWhat I found at my destination was an awesome sand dune beach with many great campsite options. This was ridiculously nice. The weather was perfect and I was the only person here on a little slice of land surrounded by many coastal communities.

TentBrookI setup camp and Brook and I settled in for a beautiful evening waiting for a possible sunset. Brook had plenty of fun chasing sticks and digging in the sand.BrookDune

This video captures some of the experience showing Cape Mears in the distance.

Sunset was not going to be great due to the distant offshore cloud bank, but it was still pretty amazing.Campsite

Temperature got down to 45 making for a great night for sleep. Brook slept out in the grass and looked wet and sandy in the morning. FreshWaterWe took our time hiking out. I checked out the other trails knowing that I will definitely backpack this spit again. I even found some fresh water which would probably only be available in Spring or Fall. Each time I ventured back out to the beach I had to snap more beach photos.

Beach

The tide was up on my hike out which made for beautiful bay side photos.

Scotch Broom dominates the fauna of the start of the spit but it probably provides good soil stability and it is rather attractive.BirdOnScotchBroom

The overall loop is 7 plus miles long and for not having much vertical I still got a really good workout.

Grand Canyon Boucher Trail

Boucher Trail SignMy Grand Canyon Trek turned into the GC Boucher Trail Trek. Instead of 4 nights from Boucher to Bright Angel it ended up as 3 nights on the Boucher Trail. I had planned the trip based on my ability, however, I took on a backpacking partner who had difficulty and by the second day it was obvious we were not going to be able to keep our permit destinations. Hence, a GC Ranger modified our permit which basically turned us around. However, we did get 3 glorious nights on the Boucher Trail just above the Tonto Shelf.

The pre-trek plans went well. We got to the rim around noon, checked in at the Backcountry Information Center, took the Red Shuttle to Hermits Creek Trailhead and hit the trail around 2:30.

Hermits Creek Trail

Hermits Creek Trail

Of course the first day started to dictate that we were not making the time we would need but I still had hope. The first night we ended up about a mile before Yuma Point with an excellent campsite and view of the Grand Canyon.

I was able to get water out of the potholes in the rocks. Weather was good but during the night the winds roared and based on the positioning of my tent I had an active night trying to keep my main tent pole from snapping. This is all part of backpacking, loss of sleep is only a minor problem.Agave Victoria I did learn that cacti quills could penetrate hiking pants but I did enjoy the desert flora. The second day would now be tough if we were going to make it to Hermits Creek. The known challenges were the 2 black diamond descents that we would have to navigate. The tougher of the 2 descents at the Turpentine Canyon was truly a challenge, but I kind of liked it. Sure it was steep but it was no real problem unless you were not prepared.

 

Turpentine Canyon Decent

My partner had a bad shoulder and some equipment problems which impacted his ability to make good time. It became obvious after this first descent that we were not going to make Hermits Creek. I opted to spend the night at White Butte to take advantage of the spectacular view.

Not only did we get the view but it was one of the most awesome star gazing nights I have ever experienced.

Pan from White Butte

The next morning we met a GC Ranger who I worked with to salvage the trip, However, Hermits Creek was booked so we had to turn around. Thankfully the ranger allowed us another night before hiking out via the upper Hermits Creek Trail.Pan Near Yuma Point

We spent our last night at the Yuma Point overlook taking in some nice sunset and sunrise views interspersed with rain and more wind during the night.

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The hike out started out fine with the rain stopping around 8:00 am, however, the winds really picked up as we climbed out via Hermits Creek Trail.

Pan View from Yuma Point

Last morning in the Canyon

 

Near the top the winds were so strong we could hardly walk. The Hermits Creek to Boucher Trail is actually quite nice, however, it does have some scrambling.

The real value of this area is that nobody is there.

All in all it was a good trek with good immersion into the canyon, however, I will probably return someday to do my original plan.

Timely Documentary “Into the Canyon”

It is so timely during the Grand Canyon National Park’s Centennial Anniversary that the documentary, “Into The Canyon”, produced by the The Redford Center is now being shown on the National Geographic Channel.

In 2016 filmmaker/photographer Pete McBride and writer Kevin Fedarko set out on a 750-mile journey on foot through the entire length of the Grand Canyon. INTO THE CANYON is a story of extreme physical hardship that stretches the bonds of friendship and a meditation on the timeless beauty of this sacred place. It is an urgent warning about the environmental dangers that are placing one of America’s greatest monuments in peril and a cautionary tale for our complex relationship with the natural world. 

GrandCanyonTimely as well because next week I will be backpacking on the South side of the Grand Canyon for 5 days to go from the Boucher Trail to Phantom Ranch and then out or up to the rim. But this documentary is more than just a trip log for the 750 mile trek through the Canyon from East to West. It is a great story about two friends who continue to take on adventures like this even if it means stretching their skills to the limit. Pete McBride is my kind of guy, no adventure is to large, while Kevin Fedarko provides the reality check and they end up complimenting each other for the good of the adventure. For backpackers the documentary is very realistic about the trouble you can get into. Thankfully for this team they have plenty of logistical support, but it is still realistic enough to be able to relate to their trials.

I am a Northwest backpacker where I primarily backpack up mountains. The Grand Canyon is about descending to the river. I first visited the Grand Canyon as a typical rim tourist last year. Even then I was not overly interested in taking it on as a backpacking trek. But as usual I watched a few videos and my interest was peaked. I started researching trails and connecting with forums to acquire the base information needed to commit to a trek which basically means I had to figure out where I would hike and camp daily so that I could submit a request for a permit. This was a bit challenging until a NP Ranger responded with some advice to allow me to select a trek route that a couple of old guys could accomplish.

The documentary takes on the Canyon from the extreme Northeast through to the end in the Southwest. My route reflects many of the challenges for which they encounter, however, I will be in a popular and somewhat supported section. It was great to see areas to the NE and SW of this main area for which I may very well need to return for future adventures. I like how they refer to the western section as the GodScape, however, as they progress west they also expose the over saturation of the helicopter tour business. The documentary also exposes the environmental concerns that have arisen from Uranium mining operations near the rim. I will have to deal with this by having to avoid acquiring water from certain uranium contaminated creeks.

Overall I highly recommend this documentary even if you are not a backpacker. The scenery is breathtaking and the message is important. And again I thoroughly enjoyed watching these guys make mistakes, because backpackers can relate.

I Am a Backpacker

I recently updated my Linkedin Profile which I have not visited for a few years. I added that I had joined the Board of Directors for an Augmented Reality Art Marketplace company. That triggered many responses from my contacts with congratulatory comments. This seemed a bit odd but that is how Linkedin works. It was rather fun trying to figure out who really initiated the comment vs which ones were automatically generated. PCT 6-23-15021However, this got me thinking about how I might edit my occupational information to target a more representative audience for what I really do. I had listed that I am retired with many interests and activities. But what should really stand out is that I am a backpacker, a Serious Backpacker. And that realization prompted me to write this post.

I have been a backpacker for a long time but I have only ventured fully into the pursuit of backpacking for the last 4 years.  What I mean by that is I have found that it’s something I enjoy so much that I want to do it like it’s my full-time job. 

I went back and read the post I wrote before my first backpacking trek. It was titled Backpacking Tomorrow – Yes, and reading it brought back all of the excitement and anticipation that I felt on that day. I was starting a new job and I was not sure how it would turn out. I was also unsure about whether I could really commit to this job or would it continue to be a hobby. That was June of 2015 and I was 61, considered a bit young for retirement, so I was noncommittal about this career change. That first year of backpacking is documented in my book, A New Path.

In 2016 I did return to my previous career, committing to a year as an interim CIO in higher education which proved to be pivotal in my decision to officially retire in 2017. I wrote a post then expressing a more definite commitment to follow a career as a backpacker. In that post, What Retirement Means to Me, I had better formulated what a backpacking career might really mean. I referred to a post by Cam Honan, author of “The Hiking Life” entitled “A Natural Progression which is the best description I have ever read about why I am drawn to the wilderness. This is about the time that I transitioned my blog away from technology in higher education to become The Adventure Continues. And I formalized my life Philosophy in a post, Strong Finish, where I equate life to a basketball game.

Retirement became official for me 2 years ago and I was totally at peace with the decision to transition to a new career as a backpacker. Now this decision definitely puzzled various friends and family, but they kept quiet and let me give it a whirl. Sure I could have worked a few more years which would have given us additional financial security, but I knew it was time to move on. Backpacking would require excellent health and fitness which I knew I still had, but I also have some health liabilities. Both of my hips are made of Chrome-Cobalt and I have a history of back problems which motivates and requires me to stay physically fit. It was this concern about health that has been a recent issue and another stimulus to reflect with this post. Improper lifting combined with skiing resulted in a sore lower back which I do believe will be OK, but I take these scares very seriously.

I do enjoy watching the many strong young backpackers out on the trail. I was once one of them and I often wonder what if I hadn’t been lured into a professional career. Of course the desire for a family does influence those decisions, but I have no regrets. My professional career in technology which allowed me to be a part of the computer revolution has been a great adventure. Which is why “The Adventure Continues”.

Over the last couple of years when people ask what I do, I reply that I am retired and I do a lot of backpacking, and I typically get a look that solicits more information. I give them a few more details about backpacking but soon offer up that I am also helping Habitat for Humanity ReStore’s with online sales, or mention my involvement with some technology startups. On the ski bus last week a lady told me that her husband was a golfer and I gave her that questioning look and she reiterated that he is a golfer, that is what he does. Maybe that is when I realized that I am a backpacker, that is what I do, I am a Serious Backpacker, or my occupation is Backpacker. And I cherish every moment I have left in this career.

My simple definition for a Backpacker is “anyone capable and willing to carry what is needed to survive in the wilderness”. So what defines a Serious Backpacker? Experience is obviously a key so I suppose the many backpacking treks documented in my blog validate my experience. But it is really about the mental, physical and financial priority one places on backpacking throughout the year. Backpacking is seasonal at least for scheduling major treks, but as a serious backpacker I am always planning and doing research to amass significant resources in support of my profession. I’m always watching YouTube backpacking videos partly for entertainment but mostly for research to determine if a specific trek is worthy of my wish list. I have many affiliations with regional backpacking forums and I have cultivated numerous relationships with other serious backpackers. So yes, I am a backpacker.

This upcoming backpacking season is more representative of this commitment. I have been formulating a backpacking business plan made up of opportunities that I want accomplish. It is a wish list for my career which includes some items from my life’s bucket list. I have been eliminating the easier items and adding more aggressive ones. This is about expanding my comfort zone to take on treks that push me physically and mentally. I have realized that business expansion may require teaming up with other Serious Backpackers who could help facilitate and enhance the adventure. But I have also confirmed that finding other capable backpackers in my age group is a bit of a challenge.

GrandCanyonIn 2 weeks I will be backpacking for 5 days in the Grand Canyon from the Boucher Trail to Phantom Ranch and out by way of Bright Angel. And I am doing it with, Judd, a recent backpacking acquaintance who I met on the Timberline Trail last year. I will do the Timberline Trail again in June and will make this trek an annual occurrence as a way to gauge my backpacking health. I will be checking off a trek that has been on my bucket list for a long time, the Lofoten Islands of Norway.

This story is more complicated which I will expand upon when I complete that trip report, but I plan on doing it with a Serious Backpacker from Switzerland who I have met online. That trek will be during the first 2 weeks of July. Then I figure that I will be in good enough shape to complete the season by doing the entire Colorado Trail with Brook of course.

Saddle Mountain

img_3877Another gem of a trail on the Oregon coast is Saddle Mountain. Located east of Seaside off Hwy 26, this is a must do hike if you are in shape for a 5 mile hike with about 1650′ of climb. It is a great trail, but it will kick your butt. I offered encouragement to many as I descended. Saddle Mountain is the highest point in this area of the Coast Range with sweeping 360-degree view from a 3,283-foot summit highlighting the Pacific Ocean, the Columbia River, and inland toward the Cascade Range. On this day I could even see the Olympic Peaks.

The trailhead is located at the camping area which appears to offer some really nice campsites. The trail’s first tenth of mile is paved but the climb is constant until you get to the false summit. You start getting views to the south and then west. And the beauty increases as you climb. The trail is well maintained with extensive effort to prevent the natural erosion problems. Much of the trail is covered with link fencing.

Near the bottom and toward the top there are house sized boulders that offer unique appearances from sculpture or vegetation covering.

You eventually leave the protection of the forest and if wind is happening you do get hit with it. Brook seemed to like it.

You come to the first peak or false summit which offers a imposing view of the final climb. Brook says let’s go.img_3810

The final climb is no more difficult than much of the lower section, but your anticipation and exhaustion get your heart really pumping. I did appreciate the occasional hand rails especially at the top.img_3806

Looking southwest from the saddle you see the timber harvest and the basalt walls that weave around the mountain.img_3827

Once on the top Brook agreed to pose for a photo but she enjoyed her own exploration much more.

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In the above photo notice the Columbia River to the north. As you can see it was a beautiful day and the wind was not that bad with the 50 degree temperature, in January. In the distance behind Brook to the east you can see from right to left Mt Adams, St Helens, Goat Rocks and Rainier. Of course Mt Hood was out there as well.img_3842

We hung out for a while enjoying the fabulous view. img_3882On the descent we came to the early turnoff to Humbug Point about a quarter mile from the trailhead. Today the trail up to Humbug Point was the most vegetated with ferns and moss. The final climb is very steep but rock steps and a cable rail help.

The real value of Humbug Point is the view back to Saddle Mountain.

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The Adventure Continues

Neahkahnie Mountain

img_3756I have lived near the coast of Oregon for 14 years and have never visited the Neahkahnie Mountain which is a part of the Oswald West State Park. img_3755I took the hike from the North with the trailhead starting at a parking lot pullout on Highway 101 just North of Manzanita. The trail begins on the east side of the highway and is pretty much an uphill trail. The first section of open meadow of switchbacks offers great views of the coastal cliffs at Cape Falcon. Overall the trail is of moderate difficulty, however, you are constantly navigating slippery roots.

img_3754Once you leave the initial meadow you enter into the a beautiful coastal forest.

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Once into the forest you enjoy a magical rainforest.

Once you approach the Neahkahnie View area it can be confusing about which path actually leads to the top. The easiest route actually wraps around the back side where you still need to climb a fairly steep rock face. Once at the top the view South is fabulous.

Why Backpack?

True Mountain MenHow does an old retired guy end up becoming a backpacker, and why? This passion is not a common pursuit for any age. The older I get the more lonely I find myself in the pursuit of my favorite activity. Lonely is not a bad thing, solitude is actually a huge part of my backpacking pursuit. I just find myself wanting to share my passion with others of similar age and experience. I do love seeing so many young people exploring the backcountry even if it does make the pursuit of solitude that much more difficult. I think it would be great to still have those backpacking friends from my youth, but life intervenes.

I learned how to survive in the wilderness as a young man while living in Colorado. Then, backpacking was more about conquering the wilderness, proving that I could go to these remote beautiful places. And I am so thankful that I did, but life intervenes. Yes, family, job and many other hurdles replace that freedom for a period of time. When freedom returned, backpacking again emerged as a passion, but now with wisdom and some restraint. So the Why? Can be answered by the passion, but How does this happen?

Backpacking is physically demanding and can definitely be uncomfortable which is why most all of my friends do not share this passion with me. Sure, everyone wants to be on those mountaintops but reality does not allow that for most. I believe that getting in shape in order to pursue serious backpacking would be extremely difficult at my age, which is why I am so thankful that I have stayed in shape. This was not really an option. I have inherited a bad back and I have paid the price for not maintaining strength to protect against throwing my back out. So I have pursued exercise throughout my life primarily seeking out games to fulfill the goal. Basketball was my mainstay, however, a lifetime playing roundball rewarded me with both my hips needing to be replaced and that was the end of basketball. Because of the hips I could not participate in any exercise that created lateral stress, however, hiking only creates forward stress. Luckily I have found that backpacking physically agrees with my chrome cobalt hips.

PCT 6-23-15021Without fitness getting in the way, the question becomes, “why would you want to place yourself in such uncomfortable situations”. And this is the real challenge. Committing to a backpacking trip when the comforts of home are so appealing is the greatest hurdle. The pressure to stay in shape especially in old age is a significant motivator, however, it is the reward of the adventure that drives you to the trail. Of course the process gets easier and your experience tends to help you overcome most unnecessary hardships. But it is the defiance of old age that may be the ultimate driver. Experiencing the beauty of true wilderness for as long as possible is the ultimate motivator. 

The reality for everyone is not knowing when your body will finally give out. For me I have to always be concerned about my hips, but that unknown is a motivator as well. Do it while you still can. That is why I am placing the more difficult adventures at the head of the bucket list. The Adventure Continues.

Henline Mountain with Snow

Beginning of Hike

Beginning

Retirement means you can go on a hike when conditions are optimum, which is what I did today Dec. 3 going up Henline Mountain Trail #3352. For some reason we have many days of sunshine beginning here in Oregon so I decided to touch winter by way of Henline Mountain. I really did not expect there to be much snow but I found a good fresh covering.

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No Snow

The route is about a 5 mile round trip  with a 2220′ vertical. Not an easy hike, you are basically climbing at a fairly steep grade all the way and then coming back down does a toll on your knees.

But this hike was a great workout which should help get me ready for skiing. On this day there was no snow at the start however, soon you could tell that there was plenty of snow up on the trees. Some of this snow was coming down as I ascended, but more was coming down as I descended the mountain. I noticed a great overlook site about a mile up which I figured I might use for a break on the way down.

At about this point the snow pack on the trail was becoming real and then the final mile the snow did make the hike a bit more challenging. Brook loved it though.

The sky was blue and the contrast with the trees and snow was stunning. There were a set of foot prints from the previous day but it was obvious that this trail is not heavily used. I had the mountain to myself. The final approach to the lookout spot is even steeper and with the snow depth increasing this was kind of fun.

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Once at the top you have a 360 vista with Mt Jefferson prominent to the East. However, it was probably about 30 degrees with a slight breeze so it was a bit cold.

 

We took out photos, ate some lunch and headed down. IMG_2819While I was at the top a lot of snow must have fallen off of those trees because the snow on the trail was much more pronounced.

 

In fact the snow falling from the various tree branched made for some serious snow dogging. Brook got hit once on her back by a large drop and it totally freaked her out. Once we got back to that overlook below snow line we took some time to enjoy the scenery.

Actually spent a t least an hour just soaking up the sun and enjoying the view. What better place to spend an afternoon.

We did get on the trail in time to get back to the car at sundown. The dirt portion of the road in was in OK shape.

Just returned to climb Henline again on June 11th, 2019. The dirt road sucks again. Here are some summertime photos.

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TDH from New Mirror Lake TH

IMG_2482Brook and I had a great trip up to Tom, Dick & Harry Mountain in the Spring so I wanted to experience it in the Fall. We waited for optimum weather for our return. Mirror Lake & TDH TrailheadWhat we did not realize was that there is now a new Trailhead serving Mirror Lake and TDH. Initially I assumed I had missed the turnoff, but then found the new Trailhead located at the west end of the Ski Bowl parking lot, and it is nice. Not only will this provide adequate parking but a much safer access and departure for cars. IMG_2508The new trail that eventually connects with the old trail is paved for the first .2 miles down to the first of 9 new cedar bridges.

Map from new Trailhead

Map from new Trailhead

The day was partly cloudy but the clouds were hiding all the important objects such as the sun and Mt Hood. The hike up to Mirror Lake is now 2 miles and it is a super highway of trails. Many improvements which will handle far greater crowds of hikers. I do hope that they put restrictions on that traffic around Mirror Lake. I did not get the classic mirror photo of Mt Hood behind Mirror Lake on my way up but here it is from my return.

Mt Hood from Mirror Lake

Mt Hood from Mirror Lake

The climb up to TDH introduced a small amount of snow which created a nuisance of slippery rocks.

Approaching the View Summit

Approaching the View Summit

But it also added to the beauty. It was about 40 degrees with a forecast for east winds later. Once at the top we waited for the clouds to reveal the prize of Mt Hood, but views of the TDH Mountain and the valley with clouds was still fabulous.

 

Tom, Dick & Harry Mountain

Tom, Dick & Harry Mountain

There is one great campsite just past the primary view area but I scouted the entire ridge hoping for something better, but no there is only one prime site. I cleared away the few inches of snow and setup camp. It was a bit depressing knowing that it would start getting dark around 5 pm and that was when Mt Hood started to reveal herself.

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The end of the day did bring an impressive view of Mt Hood and the valley, but it was also getting cold, as in it would get down to about 25 degrees and the east winds started in the early evening.

Brook never sleeps in my tent but I felt like tonight would be different with the deep wind chill cold. Plus I would have enjoyed her contribution of body heat to the tent. But no, she slept outside all night. Once in my sleeping bag I was acceptably warm even after discovering that my patched air mattress would not hold air, but thankfully I had my ZLite foam pad. Morning broke with fabulous views of Mt Hood and the valley under clear skies, and a bitterly cold wind. IMG_2455The views justified the cold night but not enough to hang around and freeze. The hike down was very pleasant.

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View about 1/2 mile up from Mirror Lake

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