Oregon houses a patchwork of awesome ecosystems within its borders and we spent just over two weeks exploring from the misty and perpetually damp forests of the western Cascades to the high desert and Owyhee Canyonlands in the southeast. As always though, it was the inspiring people, friends old and new, that enriched and shaped our experiences in ‘The Beaver State.’ Here are some of the highlights from our time in Bend & McKenzie Bridge.
A wet hike around Paulina Lake. We spent a few days in Bend at the house of Rob & Echo, bike-loving friends of Remy’s and fellow Sprinter-owners. Though Bend’s weather mostly thwarted biking or climbing plans, Rob championed the idea of a ‘damn the weather’ hike to hot springs in the Newberry Crater, a shield volcano about 20 miles south of Bend and nearly 3,000’ higher in elevation. The springs are located at the far southern end of Paulina lake, maybe ¾ of a mile from the main parking area and trail head. If you go, do not be discouraged by the stinking and slime filled puddles that you first encounter along the lake shore. These are not your springs – keep going. After our walk through heavy snowflakes, along a lakeside path streaked with obsidian, we spent almost an hour at the pools. Polar plunges were made between the freezing lake and the hottest of the springs and we watched the clouds slowly lift to reveal the caldera’s ridge line and lava flows. A great day with great people.
Mexican Train Dominos. Following the Paulina Lake hike, five of us stayed up till 2:00 am to complete nearly complete all 13 rounds of this game, and woke up the following day with abdominal aches from laughing so hard the night before. Trying to recount exactly what was so funny will only make it unfunny in retelling, though I swear that there was less tequila involved than this photo would lead one to believe. I have since introduced this game to my family in New York over Thanksgiving.
Hanging with Jennie Neahring: In 2012 I attended a Chicks With Picks ice climbing clinic in Ouray Colorado, learned the fundamentals of ice climbing and met a lot of rad and inspiring women. Jennie Neahring is one of them; she is a mother to two amazing young women, a physician, a climber, a devoted sister and daughter and a fellow Pittsburgher. She also maintains an insatiable curiosity and thirst for new experiences, fun times and knowledge. This year, in celebration of her 50th birthday, she chose to embark on one new adventure a month to stitch together a year that included a climbing trip to Kalymnos, canyoneering in Zion, surf camp in Costa Rica and a canoe trip through Canada’s Boundary Waters, just to name a few. We spent time with Jennie both on the initial move from Washington to California and again on this trip through Bend. Thanks for opening your home and table to us, Jennie. I admire you so much and am thankful to call you a friend.
Tyler’s Traverse with Ridgebacks: What’s more fun than the flow trail on Tyler’s Traverse in the Wanoga Trail System outside of Bend? Riding it with two Rhodesian Ridgebacks loping behind you on the trail. The sun finally broke in Bend and we took Echo and Rob’s dogs, Emma and Bodie, for a fun ride up Dinah Moe Humm to Tyler’s Traverse and then back to the van shuttle via the Deschutes River Trail. Giant grin on your face, perfect berms, needle-padded flow trail fun.
Riding the O’Leary Trail. Towards the end of October we left Bend and headed to McKenzie Bridge to reunite with Campbell and his hard-riding college buds from Montana. The goal was the Ollalie & O’Leary Trail Loop, an IMBA Epic ride with a brutal 4,000’ climb to kick things off. I don’t like to sit on the sidelines while the boys play, but my skill set on two wheels just was not on par for this grunt at the pace the crew was going to keep. So Moby and I spent some quality time together mushroom hunting, cooking and writing and Remy partook in the ride, which he deemed one of the best and most challenging in his life. Pictures tell the story best. Many courtesy of Campbell Diebolt.
What We’ve Read, What We’ve Heard, What We Learned.
Rob shared his collection of Audio Books with us, so I am cheating here and combing the Read/Heard category into one with In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides. We are particularly fond of the author’s careful description of various character’s hands and facial features. Also, we learned that those men were so much tougher than we will ever be.