Category Archives: Hiking

Haugen to Svolvær

After doing Matmora Jakob realized that something was wrong with his foot/heel. There should not have been a problem, his boots were fine and he did not remember a misstep. But he needed to figure out what was wrong so we got a cabin at the Sandsletta campground. Jakob decided to go into Svolvær the next day and I would take on the Haugen to Svolvær segment which is basically a crossing of the the island of Austvågøya. I took Jakob’s Garmin which could provide me a GPX route, so I felt confident that I could handle this segment. The actual trailhead is located down a dirt road past some farm houses, but I was having trouble with the Garmin. Finally a farmer across his field figured out that I was lost and waved me over to the other side of his farm. He said just walk through his farm. Actually he had a border collie who was extremely friendly so it was a nice mistake having to cross through this farm.

Once I got on the trail I was feeling good. A lot of the initial climb required navigating through wet bogs and plenty of mud. You hate to get your dry boots wet but once you do it doesn’t matter if they get wetter. Once I got to the first lake, I got a bit confused as to which side of the lake I was suppose to take. Actually the Garmin was giving me a lot of trouble and we later figured out that it really did have issues. So I did head up the wrong side only to finally determine that I was not on the correct trail so I think I wasted a few km and probably 70 meters. I think it was the Norwegian Mobile App “OUTTT” that finally showed me where I was at and suppose to be.

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I think this is when I started to question just what I had gotten myself into. I always backpack alone so there was no reason to be concerned except I was starting to realize that I did not have all of my typical data support plus I was on some island out in the North Atlantic. As I approached the second lake, know as Ice Lake, it was apparent why. This area had the most snow that I would experience the entire trip. Helpfully a day hiker had come from the other direction so I was able to track his footprints.

Heading Down to Svolvær

Heading Down to Svolvær

Nothing tough about getting through the snow, but the descent into Svolvær was not so easy.

I had just taken this selfie before the final descent. The trail was just OK going down and I was probably going a bit to fast when my left foot did not hit trail and I went into a double roll down the mountain. The small birch trees cushioned my fall.

Nina-Erik

Nina & Erik

Whoa, I was surprised that nothing was hurt other than the backs of my hands were all gashed up and bleeding profusely and I snapped a trekking pole in half. I was a bit shaken trying to figure out how to deal with all of the blood when a couple of Norwegian hikers happened by. Nina & Erik helped me bandage my hands and allowed me to finish the descent with them.

 

 

Matmora Summit – Lofoten Islands

Our first segment or day corresponded to the Great Crossing’s first day which was to cross over Matmora Mountain from Delp to Sandsletta. We did have to add a few km due to hiking to the Delp Trailhead from Laukvika but the trail was well marked and my Lofoten Adventure had begun. I quickly realized that the trail tended toward difficult since it essentially went straight up, no concept of switchbacks in Norway. Soon we were greeted by the local free range sheep who had deposited many poop landmines along the trail.

The trail started out in a steep climb up to about 400 m where the first summit flattened out with fantastic views to the South, West and North.

A large cairn marked this first plateau where we signed the log book. The trail then stretched out over ridges and shoulders before the final accent to Matmora.

At the summit we got our first 360 view out over Austvågøya Island. Overall the weather was excellent but we did need to pull out our backpack covers for a short rain storm.

The trail down was steep but dependable and the lower areas were drier then we expected.

The hike to Sandsletta was not bad at all.

Backpacking the Lofoten Islands

I can’t believe I did it. Many years ago I saw photos of this amazingly beautiful place called the Lofoten Islands in Norway. I then found a website that talked more to the backpacking opportunities. Then an opportunity arose to join a group that was to backpack the Long Crossing of Lofoten, but that fell apart. However, out of the process I did hook up with another senior backpacker from Switzerland who was interested in taking on this Long Crossing so the commitment was made. My earlier post Outside My Comfort Zone detailed some of the hopes and fears I had leading up to the actual adventure. In this post I will give an overview of the entire journey and then add specific trip reports for the various 1-2 day treks that comprised the overall adventure.

My Deuter Backpack

My Luggage

The adventure really began when travel commenced. In fact, I was probably most concerned about the travel. The three flights from Portland, OR to Oslo, Norway did not go as I would have hoped. My glitch occurred when my backpack did not make the connection in London to Oslo. In Oslo after diagnosing the problem I felt good about my backpack catching up to me that evening so that I would be fine for my flight the next morning to Bodø and then on to the Lofoten’s via ferry. That assumption was based on how lost baggage is handled in the US, but this was Saturday night in Oslo and nobody was actually concerned about my lost bag. So on Sunday morning when I realized that the process was not going to deliver me my backpack in time for my flight, I decided to find my backpack myself. I believed that my pack was on a late flight from London but no confirmation had been issued. The airport started waking up around 6:00 am but nobody could let me into the International baggage claim area until 8:00. My flight was at 9:30. Once I finally was able to speak with a baggage claim representative I was running out of time and they were not motivated to help, instead it was easier for them to assure me that my bag would be sent to me. Of course that was not going to work for my wilderness address on the Lofoten Islands.

Lofotens from my Ferry

So I resorted to serious begging and was finally able to motivate a handler to go search for my backpack. Thankfully, they did find my pack and I was just able to make my flight to Bodø and then catch the ferry to Svolvær. A lot of stress, but all part of the adventure.

I met up with my new backpacking partner, Jakob, Sunday night June 30th and we set forth our plans to hitch hike to the beginning trailhead at Delp. Hitchhiking didn’t really work, but we met a kayaking group who were headed in the right direction. We then got lucky where they let us off by catching a ride from a Swiss freelance writer who was working his way through the islands.

View Waking Up in Laudvika

However, the weather was not cooperating so we decide to rent a cabin in the town of Laukvika and start the trek on Tuesday. We were basically trying to follow the stages laid out in what was referred to as the Great Crossing of Lofoten.

Matmora Summit Trip Report

Stage 1 was a hike from the hamlet of Delp to the hamlet of Sandsletta over Matmora mountain.  This would be about 15 km and 1000 m vertical with the high point at 766 m (2546′). The trail was rated medium/difficult. The day’s trek was great, some rain and some sun and amazing views. This trek helped to define what hiking would be like in the Lofotens. Difficult typically meant more difficult than a trail in the US. And if the listing was medium/difficult then it meant half of the trail was difficult.

View from Matmora Summit

It was difficult because the trails are laid out for the shortest path, as in, straight up a mountain, the concept of trail switchbacks does not exist. Unfortunately Jakob developed a problem with his foot on this first day and the injury would influence his participation throughout the rest of the Crossing. After spending a night in Sandsletta Jakob decided to seek medical advice in Svolvær and I set out to conquer stage 2 by myself.

Leaving Sandsletta with Matmora Behind

Haugen to Svolvær Trip Report

Stage 2 Haugen to Svolvær takes you from one side of the island of Austvågøya to the other over a snowy mountain pass. I was not concerned about taking on this segment alone, however, I did borrow, Jakob’s Garmin which could utilize a GPX file. Unfortunately his Garmin was starting to whack out which did cause me trail confusion. The weather was good and the trail was decent but the scenery was stunning which totally motivated my tiring body.

Navigating by Ice Lake over to Svolvær

Hiking in the Lofoten’s is a lot about avoiding muddy wet trail sections which probably contributed to what could have been a very serious tumble that I took on my descent into Svolvær. A misstep caused me to take a couple of somersaults ending up without anything broken except my trekking pole. The backs of my hands were scraped and bleeding, but a couple of Norwegian hikers, Nina & Erik, happened by to help me compose and bandage myself. Now I was a bit more concerned about my ability to backpack in the Lofotens, plus I was hitting that second day exhaustion. Thank God, Jakob decided to rent a car and was able to pick me up at the end of the trail. We regrouped in Svolvaer to plan out the next few segments. Jakob needed a few more days to rest his foot so I decided to head out on my own again.

Vikjorda/Lake Store Krenggårsvatnet Trip Report

Campsite near Storvatnet

We decided I should skip segment 3 which entailed way too much road hiking so Jakob drove me to the start of Segment 4 Vikjorda which would connect with Lake Store Krenggarsvatnet and on to Leknes. This segment was referred to as a mountain crossing connecting with a more tame segment 5. I was planning on taking 3 days to complete these 2 segments so I felt good about the progress I made on the first day. However, this was a strange trail because it stated that there was no trail to get you to a ridge and that was accurate. It was critical to have a GPX route to follow. I found a good campsite which would set me up to go over the mountains the next day since the clouds were not going to allow that on this day. All seemed good the next morning when the clouds lifted but that changed quickly as I neared the peak of Dalstuva. I was only a 50 m from the first highpoint but a cloud was totally blinding me.

Too Dangerous to Continue

Combining poor visibility with a very narrow ridge to navigate, not to mention a steep descent on the back side I succumbed to fear and wisdom and decided to turn around. I ended up back on the lightly used highway 815 hoping to hitch a ride to Leknes. I finally got a hitch after walking about 6 km and was eventually able to meet up with Jakob in Leknes on that Friday afternoon.

On the Trail to Justadtinden near Leknes

Jakob was feeling up for an easy hike out of Leknes so we headed to Justadtinden for an overnight. We did not intend to go all the way to the summit so this simple trek worked out well with a great view and time to come out before rain was due on the next day. As the weather deteriorated the next day we did our reconnaissance work to plan for our next 2 day segment. We did explore the trail options around Nusfjord but were not impressed with what we found or were told about. However, we did manage to give a number or rides to very grateful backpackers on that rainy day.

Selfjord Bay to Horseid Beach Trip Report

We decided to spend the night in Remsberg and then modify Segment 9 by going from Selfjord Bay to the Lofoten’s most remote Horseid Beach and then return. We were entering our second week and the weather forecast was finally cooperating. We had also totally abandoned the idea of completing the Great Crossing at least as it was laid out. Instead we used it as a guide to hit the most impressive hiking areas of the Lofoten’s typically by choosing 2-3 day routes and this next trek was definitely a highlight.

We got an early start with the goal to go from Selfjord Bay over to Horseid Beach for the night. The climb over the pass was tough but the beach reward was worth it. We ended up camping on an ocean overlook with an opportunity to view the midnight sun. The location was magical and my hours of private time on the rocks the next morning totally validated why I wanted to explore the Lofoten Islands. We spent the second night on the mountain saddle before descending back down to Selfjord Bay.

To the Summit of Munkebu Trip Report

Coming out on the third day allowed us time to drive to our next trek which was to be summiting Munkebu which offered one of the most spectacular 360 views of the islands. We ventured down to Sørvågen where we headed up to the Munkebu Summit trail. We decided to camp at about 250 m and then summit the peak the following day with day packs. This worked out well for the 766 m (2510′) summit on this popular trail which did not disappoint us.

Greg & Jakob on Munkebu

The view was fantastic. We had some chats with other hikers on top and I believe this was the first place that I ran into others from the US. We hiked back down to our campsite for a relaxing evening.

Andstabben Above Lake Ågvatnet Trip Report

After hiking out the next day we ventured down to Å to take on the Andstabben hike. Unfortunately we did not have a GPX file for this hike and we never did find the trail up and over the mountain so we settled on camping above Lake Ågvatnet.

Lake Ågvatnet

The following day we relaxed in the village of Å by renting a cabin and having a great meal at Maren Anna.

Village of Å

This brought a close to our Great Crossing of Lofoten. I took the Moskenes Ferry to Bodø where I wanted to do some backpacking but the weather did not cooperate. There were definitely some excellent backpacking options on the coast north of Bodø where I was able to do some hiking on my last day before catching my flight to Oslo. However, I did squeeze in a day of golf above the arctic circle at Bodø Golf Park. I then spent 3 days visiting Oslo where I totally enjoyed that energetic city.

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.

img_3877

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.

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