Thursday, February 28, 2008

Spring is coming!

My Edgeworthia awakens from a winter's nap.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

It's good to be back!

Nearly a week since returning to the northwest, it's as if I never left, except for this feeling of renewal and rekindled love for my surroundings that shines like the Atlanta sun. It also seems that I brought some of that sun back with me, as the weather has improved and we've seen a couple bright, sunny days since I've returned. I've been doing my best to share this inner-light with Maree, making more of an effort to seize the day and be more active.

I've been making up for my vehicular habits in Atlanta by walking to the grocery store daily and going for afternoon walks with Maree to Laurelhurst or Mt Tabor park. We've probably walked 7 miles in the past week, plus a nice Saturday afternoon bike ride through SE Portland.

Sunday looked to be the best weather this year, so I got Maree up early and we headed out to the coast for a day hike. Sunny days on the coast are few and far between, and there were plenty of people out taking advantage, whether it be hiking trails, riding ATVs in the sand dunes (boo for being so loud!), beachcombing, cycling, or fishing the streams in the coast range.

Our hike for the day was the Cape Trail in Cape Lookout State Park, about 15 miles south of Tilamook. The trail was about 2.5 miles each way over a thin strip of land that jutted several miles out into the ocean. The trail starts at about 800 feet and ends at ~450ft, winding it's way through mature Sitka Spruce forest and hugging cliffs with sheer 600ft drops over blue-green waters. A few clicks into the trail, we took a side trail and found a great spot to bask in the sun with a breathtaking view of the coast to the south. The end of the trail, at the very tip of the landmass, is a very popular spot to watch for whales. There are some resident whales that can be seen year round, and then in January and March the whales that migrate along the west coast can be seen spouting and slapping fins. No whales that day, so we found a place to sit on the rocks and have a snack and take it all in.

Maree soaking up some much needed sun

It's 600ft straight down!!!


While Michael and I were out by the airport taking his recycling to a dropoff center (his condo building doesn't recycle anything) we made a stop for lunch. The choice was simple, when you see a place called "Barbecue Kitchen," and it looks like it's been there for 30 years, you pull on in. Even easier was the choice of meal, standing proudly at the top of the menu was their barbecue pork platter. Paired with a tall glass of ultra-sweetened iced tea, I was in heaven.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Cohutta Wilderness Camping

It was the last weekend of my trip, and I still hadn't gone camping with my Uncle Jeff. The forecast for the weekend started out too cold, but by Thursday had been revised to a level we could tolerate. We set off to my uncle's favorite hiking/camping area in north Georgia, the Cohutta Wildernss. The Cohutta, as it's called, is one of the only places in Georgia not to be settled and used as farmland, though logging was performed in the early twentieth century. It's as remote as you can get in Georgia, where hawks patrol the skies, and bobcat, cougar, and bear still roam free.

Our destination for the hike was Panther Creek Falls, a multi-tiered falls that drops several hundred feet over boulders and past mature Eastern Hemlocks. Our hike began on Hickory Creek trail, which descended about a 1000ft to the Conasauga River Trail, a leisurely, relatively flat hike. This trail brought us to the Panther Creek Trail, where we had to cross the bone-chilling Conasauga River barefoot. Along Panther Creek we made six crossings of the 12-15 foot wide creek, each a study in rock hopping, bushwhacking, balance, and teamwork. Our reward for not falling in a getting soaked was a strenuous .25 mile boulder field ascent, gaining 500 of the trail's 1000ft elevation gain to the falls in a heart-pounding, test-of-will, one-foot-after-the-other climb. At the top, we caught our breath and took in the view to the west until the wind put a chill in us, and we made for camp.

A warm meal, sunset at the falls, a great fire, a couple of beers and good company wrapped up an incident-free day of hiking, along with a few grumbles about soreness, the oncoming cold and the boulder field descent/nine water crossings awaiting us the next day. We woke to near-freezing temps, got the camp stove going and made some coffee, scarfed down some muffins and broke down our campsite. The hike back was more enjoyable, since we knew what to expect and had more time to make the trek. We took a little extra time to film some of the crossings for your viewing pleasure. All in all, a very enjoyable and challenging trip. Having nearly forty pounds on my back for six miles each way was a new experience, and the boulder climb section really kicked my ass, but it was good to know I can hack it. Somehow, this was the first time I had ever hiked and camped, all other adventures had either been day hikes or car camping up to this point. Huh.

Ready to go?

This is what a Rhododenron in the wild looks like!

Crossing 1 of 9...Hmm, how to stay dry...?

Problem solved! :P

Conasauga stillness...

Panther Creek Trail

The steep ascent to the falls (not my photo)

At the top of Panther Creek Falls

And happy to have made it!!

Nice fire pit, plenty of wood...

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Menomena: Evil Bee

A great video from one of my favorite Portland bands. Watch for Mt Hood near the end : )