Archive for July, 2009

Oregon Can Keep Its Coast (Day 18)

July 31st, 2009 2 comments

I figured out what the problem was. When you’re in New York City and it’s wall-to-wall people, it’s cool — you’re in NYC, it’s supposed to be crowded, that’s why it’s NYC. When you’re out on a remote sea coast in a forgotten part of the country and *that’s* crowded? Just wrong.

I think it was the Portland weather (106 a couple days ago) that chased everyone that wasn’t already occupied out of town and down the coast. Meaning: crowded, no campsites, hotels charging maximum rates, and people not used to having to deal with the outside world struggling to cope with the outside world. I had multiple occasions where someone would be staring at me, I’d say hello to them, and they’d act like they didn’t hear me. Odd.

Plus it was foggy.

cape meares lighthouseCape Meares lighthouse — so stubby, even a morbidly obese man can consider climbing it!

oregon coast fogIf you look hard enough, you can just about make out one of the rarest of sights — ghosts eating marshmallows in a snowstorm.

three capes drive shorelineShoreline along Three Capes Drive — and the scene only barely ruined by litter!

cannon beach in the fogHard. Up. My favorite is the guy out in the surf wearing his rain jacket.

In short, then: too many people, too much fog.


Fall Creek Falls (Day 17, Part 0)

July 29th, 2009 Comments off

Should’ve posted this yesterday maybe since it’s another site on the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway but I forgot I had these photos on the other camera so I didn’t oh well.

Fall Creek Falls was a 2-mile hike round-trip to a small waterfall. Very unassuming. Reminded me of a hike you’d find in Hawaii, though, and the waterfall falls into a small pool that you could swim in, or in which you could, like, bathe in the waterfall. Although I didn’t because it was early in the morning and that would’ve been cold.

fall creek falls trailA photo of the trail leading up to the falls. This way, when you get to the photo of the falls, you can feel like you’ve earned it.

fall creek falls lowerThis is where you’d take the waterfall shower.

fall creek falls upperTurns out there’s an upper part to the falls, too. Sorry for the grainy-ness, but there wasn’t much light (ISO = 400).

And then I got to the coast and you know what happens from there. Partly.


The Oregon Coast Would Be Better with a Date (Day 17)

July 29th, 2009 4 comments

At least, that’s what I’m figuring. I’m realizing there’s a certain class of activity on this trip that is not ideally suited for individual travel and the Oregon Coast seems to be in that class. So were Monterey and Carmel.

Also, seeing all these sights in such close succession leads me to, well, compare them. Oregon Coast seems similar to Big Sur, thus I compare. And I think Big Sur wins. Way more drama, at least so far. Nothing much to *do* at either of them (I guess I could go collect sand dollars), but still — I like my Big Sur photos better.

‘Course, today I’m probably going to a flight museum. That oughtta speed things up. And I’m thinking I’ll be at REI in PDX tonight getting my broken down brand new shoes replaced (less than 50 miles and the soles are coming off). So things are looking up! And maybe the coast gets more drama once you’re north of Lincoln City. Ah well.

It’s still way better than working and the coast is very beautiful, even if I’m forced to recognize that it’s not my favorite part of the Pacific Coast. (Plus all these little towns are very tourist-trappy, until you hit the Wal-Mart, at which point they also lose some of their charm. Meh!)

umpqua lighthouseThe Umpqua Lighthouse, bravely keeping Coast Guard family housing safe from errant U-Haul trucks.

sea lions on rockIt costs $11 to look at these sea lions. And then all they can do is just writhe there.

heceta lighthouseThe Heceta Lighthouse, which — credit where due — is at least near the ocean.

beach with guy and dogIt’s not that it’s not pretty — just: (a) better with a date and (b) not as pretty as Big Sur.

cape perpetua shoreVaguely reminiscent of the Na Pali coast, what with the fog in the distant cliffs and all.

And I’m still wondering if I’m just getting jaded from seeing too many great places. Ah well. Maybe I just need to get into another more-kinetic part of the trip. Maybe I should’ve just hiked the PCT instead. Maybe next year. No, really.


The Rogue-Umpqua Byway Is Like New Zealand, But Not So Far Away (Day 16, Part 2)

July 28th, 2009 1 comment

It was kind of like going to a movie you haven’t heard anything about and then really, really liking the movie. I don’t have any photos that really do it justice, but the drive along the Upper Rogue and then the Umpqua Rivers heading out of Crater Lake was pretty fantastic. About every five miles or so there’s something spectacular — waterfall or mountain peak mostly.

rogue river gorgeThe Rogue River Gorge — the colors are reminiscent of NZ. To me. No kauri trees, though.

mt thielsen oregonMt. Thielsen and Hwy. 230. I’d never heard of the mountain, but — man, that’s an evil-looking mountain. IMHO.

lemolo lake and thielsenLemolo Lake and Mt. Thielsen in the distance. The sign posted at the lake said that the fine for swimming in the (public) lake was $10,000. Mussolini would feel *so* vindicated.

watson falls umpqua oregonWatson Falls — I think it’s the second-highest waterfall in Oregon.

hwy 138 and umpqua riverWhat Hwy. 138 looks like.

island campground umpqua riverMy private beach for the night at the Island Campground (only $8!).

Anyway: I thought it was pretty cool, favorite drive of the trip so far. I need to take up fly-fishing just so I have a reason to come back here. Would probably be a good place for rafting or whitewater kayaking, too, and I’m guessing the North Umpqua Trail would be worth hiking, too.



Crater Lake Is a Big Crater with a Lake in It (Day 16)

July 28th, 2009 10 comments

I didn’t catch the vision. Or, well, the vision I caught was this: they created an entire National Park to celebrate the color blue. To that end:

crater lake blue

I don’t mean to imply that it’s not an exceptional shade of blue.

I dunno. Maybe I’m just getting jaded from seeing too many national parks one on top of each other or something. Just that there’s not much to do at Crater Lake other than look at the lake. There are hikes to various spikes around the crater, but the only point to hiking them is to get another view of the lake. So, to that end, here are more views of the lake. It’s very blue.

crater lake east rim viewYep, still blue. A little darker when it’s in the shade.

crater lake blue alsoIt’s sort of like being at MoMA. In this all-blue canvas, I see the struggles of the working class to overcome the forces of nature (and so forth).

crater lake east sideEven from the East Rim, still blue.

Crater Lake llao rock

Llao Rock, which is not blue. Neither is my truck.

watchman at crater lakeThe Watchman — not blue, but certainly a little glum.

crater lake from rim villageBut still — mostly about the blue.

I didn’t end up spending much time at Crater Lake. Just not that much to do there, like I said. They have a $27, two-hour boat ride you can go on, but the guy selling tickets explained that it’s mostly interesting for geologists or vulcanologists. He seemed disappointed when I did not self-identify as either.


Crossing Into Oregon: State #3!

July 28th, 2009 Comments off

welcome to oregon

There’s probably a reason great photographs aren’t usually taken through car windshields.


Categories: west coast Tags:

Journey to the Center of the Earth: Subway Cave (Day 15)

July 28th, 2009 Comments off

Heading north out of Lassen, stopped at the infamous Subway Cave:

subway cave near lassenIt’s not actually infamous.

Bullet points:

  • The last cave I was in was at Mittelbau Dora in Germany. I kept thinking this cave should also be a solemn tragic place, and so was probably much more reverent toward it than it deserved.
  • Subway Cave was the result of lava flows and slave labor never built V-2 rockets inside.
  • It was dark when you turned your flashlight off.


Categories: west coast Tags: , ,

I, Mountain Climber: Lassen Peak (Day 15)

July 28th, 2009 3 comments

Fully acclimated to the extreme elevation (8,500′ at the trailhead), I went ahead and hit the peak trail. The Lassen Peak hike is notable for being one of the easiest-to-access 10K+ foot peaks that exists anywhere. It’s a 2.5-mile (each way) trail — but it gains 2,000 feet in elevation, so it’s a little steep.

brokeoff mountain and friendsThe Three Stooges — or something like that. The one on the left is Brokeoff Mountain again and this view is the hike’s constant companion as the trail switchbacks all across the south slope of Lassen.

lassen peak trail lake helen

Lake Helen, the hike’s other constant companion. The lake is right next to the three peaks above, just that you (I) can’t get them into the same photo frame.

lassen peak topLooking ahead to the final assault!

shasta from lassen peakMt. Shasta from the final Lassen Peak snowfield.

lassen peak me at topMade it! My head is higher than the highest point on the mountain, which I’m calling good enough. Even if I weren’t acrophobic, I’m still not stupid (based on recent GMAT scores).

Other random notes:

  • I think I’m getting better at hiking uphill. Which I suppose makes sense.
  • There was a surprisingly large bee population at the peak.
  • This is the highest peak I’ve ever climbed, easy hike or no.
  • And it’s only easy in terms of length…



Bumpass Hell Trail, Lassen (Day 14)

July 26th, 2009 3 comments

Was originally planning on hiking up Lassen Peak, but I got to the parking lot, couldn’t breathe, realized I was at 8,500 feet, and decided to give myself another day to acclimate. So I went and did something easier, instead: hiked the Bumpass Hell Trail to Bumpass Hell (the name kept me thinking about the movie A Christmas Story — I think the Bumpasses were the neighbors with the dogs) and then continued on to Crumbaugh Lake (8 mi. r/t).

bumpass hell from aboveEr, so in case it wasn’t obvious from the name (?), Bumpass Hell is this sort of geothermal fumerole place, apparently named after its discoverer who fell in twice and ended up losing a leg. So it’s more of a personal hell than a universal one.

bumpass hell fumarolesAnd, yes, it smelled like rotten eggs.

bumpass one-armed gunfighterAnd then I was confronted with the shadow of a one-armed gunfighter.

crumbaugh lake lassenCrumbaugh Lake — looks idyllic when you aren’t there to hear the bugs in your ears (no, that’s not a Kafka reference).

brokeoff mountain lassenBrokeoff Mountain (actual name), where Northern California’s gay cowboys would be going to get married if Prop 8 hadn’t passed.

lassen peak from bumpass trailView of Lassen Peak from the Bumpass Hell Trial Trail (just a typo, not a Kafkaesque slip).

Bumpass Hell was pretty cool-looking, well worth the first half of the hike. Going on to the lakes was fine, but I would’ve been okay without it. Maybe just because I’d seen more picturesque lakes very recently.

And now I should probably leave before the Taco Bell employees in Klamath Falls get nervous about me being here for an hour and a half.


Tahoe to Reno to Lassen (Day 13)

July 26th, 2009 Comments off

Woke up late, had breakfast at the Red Hut in Stateline or whatever the Nevada part of South Lake Tahoe is called. Fantastic bacon. Really, just exceptional bacon. If I could have bacon again like that some time before I die, I’ll consider myself lucky.

Spent the afternoon at Pyramid Lake with Hal Brown’s wife and kids. It should’ve probably been more awkward than it was.

Then headed up to Lassen Volcanic National Park for camping and all that.

highway 89 to Lassen national park

On the drive up to Lassen Volcanic National Park. The photo kind of reminds me of those glass birds they used to sell at state fairs, the kind that you put layers of colored sand into. Maybe it’s just me.lassen peak californiaLassen Peak, the 10,500-foot volcano the park’s named for.

It was oddly like coming home to drive into Lassen — moving from the Sierras to the Cascades. The landscape looked more familiar and like what a mountain “should” look like (based on growing up in Washington).


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