Memorial Weekend

Doing It All + Then Some

Yay for long weekends!! I got off work a little early on Friday (not by much) but it was enough to beat some of the traffic getting out of downtown. Michael and I chilled outside on the deck in the sunshine after Logan went to sleep and it was so lovely!

Saturday I went to the gym and did some weights. Then that even some friends came over for dinner. Michael made homemade pizzas and we ate outside on the deck.

They brought some salads from Pizzicato (they make amazing salads) — I had the pear and bleu cheese salad with candied walnuts–and we all had some beers. It was my “cheat day” so I happily ate REAL pizza and had beer! Carbs!! YAY! 😉

It was a really nice night–a little on the hot side but I’m not complaining. Memorial Day Weekend is notoriously rotten in Portland. It’s usually cool and rainy. But we lucked out this weekend and it was sunny, hot and clear.

Sunday I went for a swim and then we went to a friend’s 1st Birthday party. It was in a park over by SE Hawthorne.

Ice cream face!

Sunday night we had another dinner party! Two couples came over, one was visiting from Seattle with their kids. We BBQ’ed outside. I made two baked beans, a srichacha one (very spicy!) and regular.

We did chicken drumstricks–half spicy, half not spicy. I love the srichacha BBQ sauce from Trader Joe’s. It’s one of my favorite sauces.

The corn and the baked beans put me WAY over my carbs for the day! Ooops. 🙁 But it was all very tasty. And it felt like summer! We had gelato for dessert.

On Monday I got to sleep in a little bit and then we packed everything up and went for a hike. We drove to Estacada to do the Clackamas River Trail. Michael and I attempted to do it a million years ago, when we were first dating, in January of all months. It was horrifically freezing with an icy headwind so we didn’t make it very far.

This time the conditions were much better! It was kind of overcast and misty on the drive there but once we arrived the sun was coming out.

The trail starts pretty easily. It’s across the street from the parking lot and it’s flat and wide through the forest. Then it starts to get narrow and it goes along the river. 

There were a few spots you had to cross on rocks over a creek.

There were some beautiful views of the Clackamas River:

Then the trail started to climb and it went up and up and got narrower and narrower and there was a sheer drop off on the side. It was very freaky! I hate these kinds of hikes. I have a fear of heights and I can do ok as long as I’m not right on the edge of a cliff and the trail was too edge-of-the-cliff for me.

I didn’t get any good pictures of the narrow, scary, edge-of-cliff trail because I was too freaked out to stop and I was trying not to look down!

The trail did some switchbacks and then switchbacks down and we stopped for lunch at a little picnic/camping area right by the water.

We were about a mile from the waterfall but we decided to turn around after lunch and head back. And good thing we did! We climbed back up the trail and got just passed the cliff area and some hikers told us a tree had fallen across the path–they hadn’t seen it happen but they heard it fall! We were like “ok thanks” and continued on. We honestly didn’t think anything about it. Like–it’s just a tree we have to climb over, or go around or something, no big deal.

Another couple told us about the tree and we started to wonder how bad it was. Well, we turned a corner and there it was. No more trail. I did not get any good photos of the fallen tree or what we had to do to get over it because–it was freaking HARROWING!

That picture doesn’t do it justice at all. So I gave Bella to Michael and scouted it out. I went down and tried to break some branches and stomp on things to get through. Then I got to the actual tree and it was HUGE. And it covered the entire path. There was no going down to get around it. Another couple was climbing up and over the top of where it fell and it was precarious-looking on the side of a huge, steep hill.

FUCK.

There was really no good, easy or safe way to get across. But we had to. There was no other way to get out of the canyon and back to our car. I decided to go first. One of the other hikers helped me up and then I grabbed hold of a tree branch that wasn’t going to snap off (after falling several times, scraping up my arms and getting thorns and splinters in my hands). There was no where great to put your feet, either. You couldn’t tell what was solid ground, rock, or just moss and leaves. UGH!

So I JUMPED to get momentum, flung my body on top of the tree (it was huge), held on to a branch, scooted up a bit to get some more traction, flung my leg over the side and straddled the huge tree. Then I looked down to try and figure out where to put my foot. Again, it was impossible to tell what was solid and what wasn’t. So I figured it out and got to the other side, hanging on to the fallen tree and the side of the steep hill, trying not to fall down.

We tried to get Bella to go underneath the tree but she was freaked out and too scared. So Michael had to pick her up and kind of fling her up onto the tree, I caught her and then she jumped down and scrambled up the side of the mountain. Then Michael took the backpack off and lifted Logan onto the tree and I lifted him over and rested him on the branches and rocks next to me. PHEW. I stopped freaking out a little bit once he was safely with me on the other side of the tree.

Then Michael had to climb over the tree. He got over and got Logan back on his pack and then we had to scramble up, over and then down the side of the mountain–nothing really to hang on to, footing unsure, I basically just kind of crawled and butt scooted from rock to tree and tried to get down.

The photos don’t really show how big the tree was, how deep the gully was around the tree or how steep the hillside was to get down!!! It was quite the adventure. We were safe, we got over and down to the trail with minor scrapes, bruises, cuts and splinters but Logan and Bella were safe so that’s important. It was FREAKY!

We hauled ass back to the car. I had splinters all in my hands, Logan started getting fussy, the strap on the baby backpack broke, and we were all just done with the day!

4.6 miles hiked, 706 calories burned, I think part of my calorie burn was the panic attacks I had on the cliffs and then having to traverse the fallen tree!!

I’m not exaggerating when I say the tree part was pretty freaky. I think we were both rattled. And I was particularly rattled about the idea of being IN the forest, on a hike, at the exact time a tree falls on the trail. Scary! There was no cell service for at least 5 miles and once I had service I tried calling the local ranger station to let them know but they were closed for the holiday, so I called the Estacada Fire Department and they said they’d let the rangers know. I really hope no one got hurt or stranded on the trail!

Anyways, that was our weekend!

That Time We Almost Died in the Desert

Okay maybe that’s a little dramatic, but let me back up. 🙂

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Anna and I had planned on going for a hike while we were in Tucson so she reserved a Zipcar for the day on Monday. We got a little Dunkin Donuts breakfast and coffee (god I adore their iced coffee) and we got the car. It was parked in Zipcar parking at the University so it was a two block walk from the hotel.

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We drove to Oro Valley and stopped at Trader Joe’s to grab food for lunch. We planned on doing a hike in Catalina State Park. I did one with my parents last time I was in Arizona. This time we did the Romero Pools Trail. It was classified as “moderate” and sounded like a nice way to spend the day. (I looked up the trail info for more details when I got home and apparently it was 5.6 miles roundtrip to the Pools, over 7 if you do the whole canyon trail. 1000 feet elevation gain.)

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It was a lot hotter out on Monday than the rest of our trip. We packed a ton of water and I had one bottle of Gatorade, too. We were definitely well-hydrated, which was good. (Last trip to Arizona my family hadn’t hiked long because we didn’t pack enough water.) Us girls got a later start in the day than ideal but it worked out alright.

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We set out on the trail through the wash and the easy, wide part where the horses were. We even saw some horses!

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The trail started to go uphill a little. We were blazing a trail in the beginning and as the hike went on, the elevation climbed and the day got hotter we slowed down. There was a part of the trail that had “stairs”, which was nice.

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Then the trail started to turn into a rock “scramble”. It wasn’t rock climbing, but there were many, many parts of the trail where it felt kind of like it!

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Thankfully most of the trail wasn’t on the edge of a cliff, which is a no-go for me. I felt relatively safe for most of it.

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We saw some creatures. Geckos and lots of hummingbirds! Whenever I reached out to use a rock for assistance in the climb I ALWAYS looked first to make sure there weren’t scary or deadly critters waiting to get me. This little guy looked harmless though.

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There is something kind of magical about being in the tan, brown, gray desert and all of a sudden seeing splashes of color. The desert flowers that bloom are particularly colorful and pretty!

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It was a really popular trail. As we were climbing up, most of the people we saw were heading down the trail. Whenever we found shade (which wasn’t very often) we took advantage of it and took a break. We stopped often for water breaks, too.

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I was wearing the sunshirt I bought in Maui and wearing lots of sunscreen! Thankfully neither of us got too burned on the hike and re-applied sunscreen several times.

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We seemed to be near the top of the ridge. We asked a few hikers if we were close to the pools. We got different answers from everyone. Some people said we were almost there and it was worth the hike. Some said we were halfway! Some said it was another 15 minutes…well, we finally arrived at the top and then the trail went downhill.

Then we were at the pools!

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The secluded canyon had a lot of shady areas, which was nice, and there was a cool breeze that felt wonderful! Here is the calorie count for the hike up:

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We set up our picnic lunch in the shade on the rocks and relaxed. Lunch was courtesy of Trader Joe’s: a small loaf of Asiago and black pepper bread, sliced Gouda cheese, sugar snap peas and Rainier cherries. It was the perfect lunch!

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After relaxing, cooling off and eating lunch, we explored the pools a little bit. I really wished I’d brought my swim suit! It looked like a wonderful place to cool off.

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We decided it was time to head back down. It was getting hotter in the day and would soon be the peak. We had enough water to last us the hike down, so that was good. I never felt dehydrated, also good.

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We hiked back up to the top of the ridge. Then started to come down the trail.

Then I stopped.

And took two steps backwards.

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Anna was behind me and said “OH MY GOD IS THAT A SNAKE?!”

Um, yes, yes it is a snake. And it’s a big one.

So I’m gonna just stand back here and let him pass by his merry way and not bother him.

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I let the snake slither across the trail (it was moving VERY slowly) and took a photo of it. Thank goodness for zoom lenses because eff that! I’m not getting close to that thing. But I wasn’t going to make any sudden movements, either. So I just stood there and waited. Once it was in the brush I decided it was okay and I ran (leaped) down the trail past the snake and then coaxed Anna to follow. She freaked out a bit and then followed.

Further down the trail we came across some other hikers who asked if we’d seen a snake. Apparently they’d heard Anna’s screams. 🙂

Here is Anna before the SNAKE INCIDENT:

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Carefree and happy…It was definitely a heart-pounding experience. I don’t know what kind of snake it was. I wasn’t looking too closely. I showed the picture to a friend later who’s local and she thought it was a Diamondback but I’m not sure. I don’t recall if I saw rattler at the end of it. I wasn’t looking too closely.

OKAY. Ready to exhale now.

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The rest of the hike was pretty uneventful. It was kind of harder to go down the mountain, honestly. My knees were doing okay, but I had to take some very long, high steps to climb down. I pulled my thigh muscle a little bit but didn’t hurt it too much, thankfully, and there was no lasting injury. Both of us were experiencing shaky legs as we climbed down.

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There were many spots where it was just safer and easier for me to sit down on my butt on the rock and slide down to get sure footing. I’m surprised at how long it took us and how many calories I burned climbing back down the mountain–nearly the same number as the hike up!

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Finally we were off the mountain and back to the wash, then the parking lot. We high-fived and congratulated each other on NOT dying and then we guzzled some water in the car. On the drive back to the hotel we made a stop at In-n-Out for the most amazing milkshakes ever. It was so tasty and cold after being in the hot hot sun (91 degrees) for four hours. (I’m kicking myself for not getting a burger at In-n-Out).

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After cleaning up after the hike we met a friend of Anna’s from the Peacecorp. He saw some of her Facebook posts and they arranged a meeting. We met them at Thunder Canyon Brewery for happy hour and had honestly the worst food I’ve ever had. It was truly atrocious (and it made me kick myself even harder for not getting In-n-Out!!!). But the company was fantastic and it was fun meeting him and his girlfriend.

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Anna and I flew home to Oregon on Tuesday mid-day, feeling refreshed and happy and sunkissed and both wishing we didn’t have to go back to reality. It was a fantastic trip and I had so much fun. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the desert a little bit!