Sherpa Pacin’ in Oregon

Mt Hood as seen from Trillion Lake

It’s been a busy two days that started with our departure from Portland to begin the “adventure” phase of the trip. Once again we woke up to almost perfect weather… just a bit warm. More importantly it’s been clear, so we continue  to enjoy all the fabulous views unabated.

Day one of this two day post included a full itinerary that included a visit to Mt Hood, the highest mountain in Oregon; followed by a drive into eastern Oregon to visit Smith Rock State Park, a hidden gem and international rock climbing mecca; and finally an overnight stop in Bend, and the opportunity to visit with my high school buddy John Warinner and his lovely wife Amy for a wonderful dinner.

Mt Hood was majestic… and a busy hub of summer recreation and tourists. Snow boarders were busy heading up the lifts to enjoy some summertime skiing on the Palmer Glacier, and mountain bikers were mounting up to ride the many trails. Of course many tourist like us were simply there to enjoy the views and see the historic Timberline Lodge. We learned about its 15 month construction in 1937 by the Civilian Conervation Corps, an FDR New Deal Program. It was amazing to learn how this hand built masterpiece was constucted entirely from materials found on the mountain, from the massive Douglas fir beams to the stone work using the mountain’s own volcanic rocks.

There are actually quite a few folks skiing on that glacier behind us!

Then we headed southeast across the Cascades to the arid open vistas of central Oregon. Our 125 mile drive highlighted the natural diversity of the 33rd state. After a quick lunch in the small town of Madras, we arrived at our second destination for the day, Smith Rock State Park. This beautiful and rugged landscape features towering, sheer-faced basalt rock walls rising from the peaceful Crooked River; a place that climbers from all over the world visit for its accessible and challenging climbs.

Although it was easily 100 degrees with little shade to be found, we hiked down to the river and among the massive  walls, and were once again be stunned by so much natural beauty. The hike back to the top wasn’t quite as fun, but we all survived. More importantly it reminded me that I needed to incorporate the lessons learned in Nepal from Kalden Sherpa into our more ambitious outdoor excursions… so tomorrow’s hike at Crater Lake will most definitely feature “Sherpa Pace!”

Hot, sweaty, and tired we drove the last 30 miles into Bend for a quick stop to freshen up, followed by a tasty dinner with John and Amy. All in all, another good day on our Oregon adventure.

Today started for me, with a 6 am trip to Walmart to buy some shoes for Joanie… during yesterday’s activities she blew a tread on her sneakers and they had to be unceremoniously retired into the trash can. On the way back from Walmart, I decided to find the last remaining Blockbuster video store in America… which just so happped to be located within a mile of our Bend hotel. Pic snapped to record the momentous location, I headed back to meet up with Joanie, Sue, and Marty for breakfast.

The last Blockbuster in America!

Then it was off to the main event of the day, our visit to the brilliant deep blue hues of the always stunning Crater Lake National Park. Our goal was to hike from the rim, down the steep 1.1 mile trail to the lake itself at Cleetwood Cove. This hike begins on the rim of the crater at an elevation of 6,831 feet and descends the wall of the volcanic cauldron to the lake’s surface at 6,175 feet. We carried plenty of water and a picnic lunch to enjoy at the lake.

Crater Lake National Park

After reaching the lake, there was an immediate urge from one of us (not Joanie, not Sue, and not Marty) to jump into the crystal clear, cold, but absolutely refreshing water of this 1,949 foot deep lake. I joined other intrepid souls at the jumping rock to make two dives into the lake and was immediately refreshed and energized.

Nice form!

We then all found a nice shady spot for our picnic lunch and some time to simply enjoy the location we were at. Then it was time to make the inevitable climb back to the top, and the application of yesterday’s lesson… Sherpa Pace.

Lunch on the lake!

I think my Sherpa teacher and friend, Kalden Sherpa, would have been smiling with approval as we slowly and deliberately made our way as a tight group up the daunting and difficult trail. Sherpa Pace ensured that we all arrived back at the top, able to talk and breath normally, and still smiling!

The final part of the day was our drive to Klamath Falls to hook up with Karen and Larry (sister and brother-in-law) for the next leg of this adventure, rafting and camping on the Rouge River. On the way we were caught by surprise when the traffic ahead of us was stopped. We too came to a stop and then quickly discovered the reason for the delay… two horses walking directly up the highway, then right on past us!

Just two horses strolling down Hwy 62 to somewhere!

Finally, we arrived at Karen and Larry’s home where they hosted us for a wonderful fresh Chinook salmon dinner made with fish that Larry had caught during last fall’s salmon run at Gold Beach, OR. The meal, memories and laughter are to be cherished.

For the next three days we will be off the grid, on the Rouge River… please tune in later for our rafting stories.


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