The subtitle of this hiking blog is “a journey to find myself.” I haven’t spent a lot of time thus far talking about that. I was with my ex my entire adult life. You better believe that is a crazy adjustment. It still is. I really got to know my friend Lacey Wroblewski in Vegas. When I went to Vegas four months after the break up, I was a broken shell of a human being. When I saw Lacey recently, she told me how much I have changed, grown. And I have. It’s true. I have a lot of amazing people in my life. But these last two weeks have been really hard and I’m struggling. My aunt Patti died. It was unexpected and I loved her very much. I found out my best friends, who are mostly responsible for my ability to cope with this new single life, are moving away, and I had my first single Thanksgiving. There has been a lot of joy, but more tears. I’m really looking forward to the new year. I need a new year. Knowing that every Sunday my sister and I will wake up and hike keeps me grounded. Sometimes when it’s cold or raining people ask me, “Are you guys still hiking this weekend?” Yes. The answer will always be yes.
It was an uncharacteristically cold week in Portland. When we hit the trail on Sunday, it was in the 20s. We had to account for that so we stayed close to town. We hit Forest Park at the end of Upshur and took mostly the Wildwood Trail up to the Pittock Mansion. Funny story, I’ve actually spent quite a lot of time on this trail in the past. My friend Jeremy Charlson used to like to travel up to the Stone House (which we called Witch’s Castle) in the middle of the night. We liked to scare ourselves and fancy it haunted or some such nonsense. It was good time. One time there were these amazing bio-luminescent bugs and we spent a long time watching them. In all the times I had hiked the trail in the past, I had never gone past the Stone House. It was really a great trail. It was a little bit tricky to negotiate due to ice hidden beneath the dirt. It was, however, the only time we have ever seen a park ranger on a hike. He was warning people about the ice. We stayed safe, but my sister did have a close call. The visible ice wasn’t a problem. It was the dust-covered hidden ice that was only revealed when someone slipped on it that gave us trouble.
Hiking is harder when it’s cold. I don’t know the actual science of it, but we struggled. It could have simply been the six layers of clothes that we were wearing or our topic of conversation which was mostly house-buying. The hike is only five miles total, but it felt longer. It has 900 feet of elevation. There are some pretty steep switchbacks and we were again surprised by the remoteness of the trail despite its location in the middle of the city. We saw a lot of people at the beginning and end of the trail where they could enter or exit quickly, but there were very few people in the middle. It was extremely cold out. People were very friendly though. So apparently, my theory about Forest Park making people nervous is a fail. It’s just Leif Erikson Drive. People are only jerks there. Weird.
Many of our hikes this year have featured beautiful views. Many of those views have been obstructed by crazy fog or other such weather. The view from Pittock Mansion did not disappoint. We could see all of downtown and majestic Mt. Hood in the distance. It was lovely. The two seconds it took me to take a picture were too long to have my mittens off though. Did I mention it was cold? Because I waited so long to write this, I can’t remember all of our conversations. That’s my favorite part. Darn. The variety of hikes available to us in or near Portland never ceases to amaze me. Twenty hikes down. Thirty-two to go!
For information about the Pittock Mansion hike click here.