A light, but well-stocked day pack is essential to an enjoyable hike. Snacks, first-aid supplies, water, camera, notebook, rain poncho – these are just the basics. Most supplies are small and light, so you don’t have to carry a heavy or bulky pack.
After hiking the Cumbres, my new plan is to walk or ride our bikes into town every day and go hiking at least once a week. Not sure how that will work out, because the forecast is for rain every day for the rest of the week. But that usually happens in the afternoon and evening, so maybe if we can get it done before 2p.m. we should be okay.
I have made a list of stuff I need to replenish, and in addition, we each definitely need a decent day pack. My tote bag straps and the boy’s string back pack straps cut into our shoulders and hence, are very uncomfortable. Not sure if I’ll make padded straps or just fork over the $60+- for a good day pack or two from Costco (if they still have them). I will check the local thrift stores in the meantime.
Some items I did not have with that I intend to put in my day pack kit:
hand sanitizer (left it in the car)
collapsible cup (for scooping water to drink with the life straw)
plastic bags and trash bags
sunscreen and bug lotion
life straw for the boy
small stool for sitting up off wet ground (must fit in daypack)
Items I did have that came in handy or would have:
hand lotion and lip balm
rain ponchos and emergency blanket
toilet paper and feminine products
umbrella (doubled as walking stick, very handy for sore knees)
scarf and fleece jacket (nice to sit on and wear on way out)
water bottle and extra water in car
insulated lunch bag with high protein snacks, fruit and ice pack
camera and gps
pen and paper
small sewing kit
Choose multi-purpose items wherever possible, not only to cut down on space but also weight. For instance, a large 30 gallon garbage bag can be used as a rain poncho, ground cover, and, well, a trash bag. An ice pack in a lunch bag can also be used to treat a sprain or bruise. Hand sanitizer can also clean a wound, if it contains alcohol.
My list varies with the season and location, but most of the basics are the same. Sometimes I put unneeded items in a ziplock, so I can quickly remove and replace them if I need the day pack for something else.
We took the rv for a test drive to Creekside City Park, Sisters, OR after it came back from having the transmission repaired. We wanted to give it a good distance test with some mountain climbing. It did just great and we had a nice day trip.
We meandered through the mountains and stopped here for a bit of exploring. At Sisters, we found Creekside City Park, where we pulled in for lunch. There is also a campground there. Creekside is nice and green (like most of Oregon) and has lots of shady trees. There are picnic tables but no barbeques and there seems to be a lack of trash cans. I ended up putting our trash in the dumpsters, inconveniently fenced off. At least they had doggie doo bags and scoopers. Of course, Mrs. Susie was on her own doggie dude ranch vacation back in Colorado.
From the picnic area you cross the covered bridge to get to the bathrooms in the camping area. The bridge is an impressive work of art, sturdily built and beautiful to look at. We trekked down to the creek and dipped our toes. I found it very relaxing to close my eyes and listen to the gentle burble of the stream which seemed to wash away all my cares. Wanting to share this experience with my companions, I dragged them down to the creek and made them sit and listen with closed eyes, also. They giggled and squirmed and didn’t get it. I guess you just have to mentally be in a certain place to appreciate it. I tried.
At a stretch stop on the way back to Portland, we found this pretty critter stuck to our front grill. He was still barely alive when we peeled him off, but didn’t survive long.
2016 is starting out with sunshine and mid 60’s in Southern California. Not as warm as I’d like it, but not as cold as we’ve been. We’ll be heading back to sub-zero temperatures soon enough, so time to soak up that sun!
We’re enjoying time with family and friends; reviewing what worked and didn’t last year, and making plans for new projects this year. Two things in particular for Catholic Traveller: the first is to start offering “Pilgrim Guides” to specific areas. The first will be “A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Grand Canyon”, currently in the works. Sign up for updates via our FREE newsletter, Catholic Travels, in the box to the right, or on any page of the website.
Our other major project for the year is to start posting short, travel related videos on our long, inactive youtube channel. I have wanted to do this for a long time, but it is a lot of work shooting, editing, and polishing videos! Updates on that will also be included in Catholic Travels newsletter.
We hope you, too, are enjoying time with family and friends, and making exciting plans for 2016! Don’t forget to plan time to make a pilgrimage, even if it is just to the Holy Doors of the nearest consecrated “pilgrimage church”.
Mount Saint Helens National Monument is an easy day trip from either Portland, Oregon or Seattle, Washington. From Portland we headed up the freeway through thick forests and past numerous rivers, streams, and lakes. Once on the road heading up the mountain, you can see the numerous areas that had to be evacuated in the days leading up to the eruption in 1980 (the mountain is a volcano). At least one old mountain man refused to leave his cabin, knowing that he was not long for this world anyway, and preferring to die on his mountain. There are many stopping places in between, but we waited until we were in the Mt. St. Helens area to stop for lunch. The visitor’s center at Hoffstadt Bluffs is nestled in a small valley just below the volcano. There are viewing areas, picnic tables, and a nice, grassy knoll, perfect for children (and some adults) to roll down. You can walk down to the river or sit in the sun outside the café next to the visitor’s center. This gift shop is very limited, but it is the only one open in late April, so we made do.
We continued all the way up to Johnston Ridge Observatory, where a ranger was giving a talk, despite the facilities being closed. We walked part of the trail, but only a little ways. This was an outing with abuelo, so no extreme hiking today. Much of the trail is paved, but there is a longer version that turns to dirt and gravel. We’re saving that for next time.
Watching the clouds play around the mountain was fascinating. At one point, a cloud formation made it look like the cinder cone was actually steaming! But it finally shifted and we could tell it was just clouds. Our pulses raced for a few moments.
On the way down, we stopped for an early dinner at The Birth of a Lake Trail. This lake was formed as a result of the 1980 blast and is still protected as it continues to grow and nurture water and plant life. The crystal clear blue waters sparkle in the sunlight. Spiders spin their webs unmolested. The trail goes most of the way around the lake, with plenty of stops for sitting and viewing.
Abuelo and Tia did a good section of this trail with his walker/chair. After a couple hours of relaxation at this quiet spot (until the guy with the leaf blower showed up) we continued back to busy Portland, scenes of mountainous beauty and visions of the frightening power of nature filling our minds to be pulled forth for future mental getaways.
Every big city that I have visited has its hidden escapes. Portland, OR is no exception. One such delight is the Chinese Garden, in the heart of downtown. Surrounded by high rises and parking meters, one does not expect to be swept away to a natural sanctuary, but procure your ticket and enter the garden gate.
Everything about the Chinese Garden is intentional. It is designed to transport you from everyday life. Step into the Courtyard of Tranquility and shed the cares of the world. Fill your eyes with the wonders of rock formations and waterfalls. Breathe in the heady scents of multitudes of flowers. Let the soothing sounds of the water and the birds and the breeze melt away your anxieties. Feel the warm sun on your shoulders (okay, so the sun does, indeed, come out in Portland) and the cool tiles under your feet.
There is an order and a flow to the garden. Windows and doorways frame views, guiding the eye from one peaceful scene to the next. Enter the Hall of Brocade Clouds and admire the wealth of your hosts. Carved ginko wood panels, ornate furniture and food offerings to the ancestors fill the hall. Proceed to the Terrace and take in an overview of the garden, patterned after the city compounds of wealthy Chinese families who wanted to live with the comforts of the city, but also wanted to surround themselves with the beauty of nature.
Knowing the Fish Pavilion has lots of shade and seating for gazing at the koi which populate the lake. Many of the fascinating and unique rock formations and most of the garden’s building materials came from China. Reflections in Clear Ripples is the name of the lounge house, or game room. Visitors can try out a game of Chinese Fortune Sticks and keep their fortune. Yet another pavilion, Flowers Bathing in Spring Rain, offers sweeping views of the lake and garden.
I sat in the Scholar’s Courtyard and soaked up the sun while I ate my lunch. Inhaling deeply of the spring blossoms, I listened to the water falling gently down the rocks across the lake. I listened to birds singing and arguing. I pondered human nature as I observed 2 women, frowning and gossiping about my friend, who took a phone call from her brother inside the Scholar’s Study, discussing our trip here with their dad, my son’s 91 year old abuelo. Such is the nature of the Chinese Garden. It is a place to think deeply and also a place to let your thoughts take flight. The Scholar’s Study is interesting. Writing implements and accessories are on display along with several piles of scrolls. Buddha boards are set up with water and brushes for visitors to practice Chinese characters.
The Moon Locking Pavilion would be the place to stand on a clear, moonlit night. The reflection of the moon is said to be locked in by the pavilion’s shadow. Relax with a steaming cup of tea, served in traditional Chinese cups from delicate porcelain teapots, in The Tower of Cosmic Reflections. The Rock Mountain and Waterfall crown the tour of the Chinese garden, followed by Painted Boat in Misty Rain, the final pavilion. Inside its boat shape you are meant to feel like you’re being gently rocked on the water.
Rather than proceed out through the gate, we decided to wander leisurely back through the gardens. Stopping and enjoying each view once again and drinking in the tranquility before returning to the craziness of the city.