Hike 47 – Oxbow Park Loop

Friday was not a very pretty day in Oregon. Although it’s officially summer, someone didn’t get the memo. For those of you who are from Portland, everyone knows that it isn’t really summer in Portland until July 5. I have some very beautiful hikes in mind that I want to do this summer. I do NOT want to do them in the gray rain. As such, I decided to look for something new and different.

I have noticed in the many times that my sister and I go swimming at Oxbow that there are several hiking trails around so I looked it up. It turns out there is a complicated path of trails that wind together and eventually take you through all of the areas in the park. They are alphabetically labeled A through O and if you follow them at the end you have seen everything. Unfortunately, following them requires some rather intricate navigation and I did not read carefully. When we paid our fee at the gate the woman asked us if we wanted a map. Of course I said no. Oops.

We found A really easily and nestled Sid into the plant life. I actually took a pretty great picture because I mention our trusty steed quite frequently, but I never give him any photo cred. Pics or it didn’t happen, right? Anyway, we headed down A, which led to B and we thought we were doing awesome. That is until the trail just ended. Then I went back and read the hike description (which I always save in the notes on my phone in case there is no service) and we had totally screwed it up. We needed to cross the road and hit C like 2 miles back. We walked back on the road and looked for B so that we could do it right. We figured we would just backtrack a little. Then, we couldn’t find B and we were all the way back at A. We got back to Sid and we thought about just calling it quits but we had only hiked for an hour, so we trudged on. There was a mama and two baby deer right by Sid. The mama wanted to eat our faces because we were too close to  her babies. We scampered away. We like our faces.

Sooooo, we started the exact same hike over again. The second our feet hit the trail is started to pour down rain, just soaking us. My sister did not bring rain gear, because “it’s summer.” In solidarity, I left mine in the car against my better judgement. This time when we hit B we followed the directions. This side of the hike was WAY better. It had awesome views of the river and amazing plant life including the creepy alien plant life pictured above. There was no one in Oxbow Park. It was a ghost town.

We continued to follow the trail hoping we weren’t missing some crucial turning point again, because quite frankly the directions were garbage, until we hit the boat ramp. Then I did look up the directions and they led us into oblivion. By that time we were done with directions and really regretting not taking that damn map, but oh well. We got fitness and beauty, our always overarching goals. We saw deer. We saw “baby bunnies” which is what my sister kept calling chipmunks, for some reason. There were almost-ripe raspberries and LOTS of nettles. Pro tip – do not wear shorts on this hike.

My sister and I know rivers. We have spent a lot of time on them. The Sandy is wicked right now. It is still cold and brown and churning. Wait until it’s green. Brown equals snow-melt equals hypothermia death.  Officially this hike is 7.9 miles and only 600 feet in elevation change. It is basically flat and totally kiddo friendly. I have no idea how much we hiked because when the trail disappeared into nothingness we just walked back to Sid on the road…again. Hikes have names: in and out, loop, lollipop loop. We decided our hike was boob shaped. My sister called it a tata hike. I’m on board with that label. Oxbow Park is kind of amazing and well worth the $5 entrance fee.

Conversation-wise, I spent a really long time telling my sister about the last episode of season 2 of Orange is the New Black and how satisfying it was. If you’ve seen it, you know. The thing about Jessie and me, and to a certain extent our mama, is that we don’t care about spoilers. We love storytelling so much that we can hear an entire intricate plot and still want to see it or read it for ourselves. We have a policy that it doesn’t matter at all to totally ruin a movie, book, or show by exposing the most twisted plot. It’s just how we roll. I have to work very hard to tell people about things without giving too much info because of that.

We have five hikes left; there are three that I know I want to do. We are definitely open to suggestions for our last few hikes!

For information about the Oxbow Park Loop Hike click here.

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Hike 46 – North Portland Sunday Parkways (Again)

Last July I started this nonsense, not only hiking every single week, but also blogging about it. I made a decision to get healthier, physically and in the mentals. The thing about exercise, it kinda helps you work out the other. You get out of your mind and into your body. It’s the best form of therapy.

Our first official Sunday together my sister and I walked the 9.5 miles of the North Portland Sunday Parkways. If you scroll down, a loooong way, you will find it. We did it cold. Neither of us had really been exercising at all. It was so hot. We ran out of water. I almost fainted in Subway afterword. It was really really hard.

Well, today I got a chance to come full circle. It was the exact same route. It was hot. I still only brought one thing of water and ran out, but none of that mattered. I did it lickety-split, literally an hour faster. I walked alone this time. My sister had to work. I didn’t tear up when I walked by the dream house that used to be my house and was taken from me. I didn’t yearn for it to be over. I just walked it. It was awesome. One little girl even said, “Mama, we saw that lady last time! I remember her stars!” She was right. I remembered her too. She was a cutie-pie. It was a brilliant walk. I can’t wait for next year!

I got to see the beautiful and wonderful Emily Baumbach. I also got to see her daughter, but she was mostly crying and walking away and not appreciating that her Mom and me were catching up. I get that. Bike crashes are terrible and adult-talk is the most boring thing ever.

I took a picture of myself after I finished. It’s above. I used to hate having my picture taken, like really a lot. Because of that, I don’t really have any before pictures. I’m okay with that. The after picture is good enough. When my sister and I reach 52 hikes, I will definitely post about how this journey has changed me physically. It’s pretty substantial. But like I hoped, it has also helped me to find myself. I’m the type of person who goes out in the community and walks 9.5 miles surrounded by crazy cyclists just because I want to. Who knew?

For information about Sunday Parkways click here.

Hike 45 – La Jolla

In 2004, my sister and I went to Europe. We had a flight into London and a flight out of London 70 days later. We had a reservation in a London hostel for our first night. We had 60 lb backpacks and we had the cash we had been saving for five years. Beyond that, it was all up in the air.  In the 70 days we went to so many amazing places and met so many amazing people.  Our journeys included: London, Leicester, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Manchester, Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Trieste, Venice, Brindisi, Corfu, Naples, Rome, Sorrento, Cinque Terre, Nice, Lyon, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, and some more I can’t remember without getting out my journal. When we were in high school, she and I started the “old maid” fund. We are hard to get along with. We assumed we would be naggy, old ladies who lived together some day in the distant future. We contribute to it each month. That is what we used to go to Europe. That is also what we used to go to La Jolla! I went to Vegas with my girls last year. My sister went to Austin to visit in-laws. Beyond that, neither of us have taken a vacation since 2004. What is wrong with us? We obviously need to re-prioritize.

We knew we wanted a beach. We knew we wanted sun. We had a budget and we just made it happen. La Jolla was a fantastic trip and it was worth every penny. You may be asking, why are you putting your beach vacation on your hiking blog? Because, it’s my blog. You’re not the boss of me! We didn’t hike. We had every intention of hiking. There are great hikes in the Torrey Pines State Park. That park is 7 miles away. On our low budget trip to Europe we learned a lot of things and we apply them in our travel today. Never pay for a ride when you can walk. Never pay for a restaurant when you can cook. Never take a guided tour when you can do it yourself for free. We could have walked to the State Park, but it just seemed silly to walk so far for a hike.

We did walk. We took the stairs to our fourth floor room every time. The pool was two flights up. The continental breakfast was one floor up. The beach was all the way across the street and down a hill. We went to the grocery store a mile away at least once a day. We also walked to a gluten free Italian restaurant that was all the way on another beach, 1.5 miles away, and back. See, we exercised. I’d guess we walked about 5 miles each day. We also ate as much food as I normally eat in a month, but who cares? We were on vacation!

Our daily schedule was this: sleep until we wake up, get breakfast, go to the beach (swim, lay around, read, people watch), go to lunch, go to the pool, drink beverages on our balcony, go to dinner, go to bed around 9:30pm because we are so tired from laying around all day. It was a hectic schedule. I’m not really sure how we maintained it for four days.

On our last day, the wonderful Billy Pallotto came to see us. He drove down from Garden Grove and met us at our hotel. We went to get pizza, a gluten free place that Billy found because he’s my hero, and then drank the day away in the Gaslamp Quarter while watching World Cup games. It was glorious. Billy also offered to take us to the airport which was the coolest thing ever. Get your butt back to Oregon, Mr. Pallotto. We miss you too much. Plus, we have cookies.

We spent a lot of time talking about our baby money. It’s something that has been on our minds a lot recently. In H.A.M. JayZ, while mocking one of his many pathetic fellow rappers says, “Really half a billi? Really? You got baby money.” After some discussion, we decided that we would be more than happy with baby money despite JayZ’s obvious disapproval of it. We are constantly scheming about how to get our hands on some baby money. After lots of resting and thinking, we definitely have some new ideas.

My sister and I enjoy simplicity in our vacations: sleep, sun, swimming, walks, sunset, people watching, conversation,  soooo much reading, laughter, a delicious alcoholic beverage on a parched palate. It was a lovely four days. Upon our return, a Franz Ferdinand lyric comes to mind, “It’s always better on holiday/So much better on holiday/That’s why we only work when/We need the money.”

For information about La Jolla click here.

Hike 44 – Larch Mountain Loop

Larch Mountain is closed for the winter and spring. Due to a tiny amount of snowfall this year, it opened last week. We were so excited. We’ve been wanting to hike it for awhile. There are a lot of options up to and around Larch Mountain. We decided to check out the loop hike. You start at the top and hike down into the crater. Then you circle around and climb back out on another path. My sister is adamantly opposed to any climbing on the second half of a hike. Needless to say, she was not amused by our particular route.

As we headed down into the crater, there were a lot of people coming back out. They had pick axes and shovels and were obviously creating some drainage and doing other trail maintenance. It occurred to us that since we use so many trails each year, we should probably join a trail maintenance team. Maybe we will. Maybe we will continue to be lazy.

The first half of the hike, down the hill, was really a well-maintained trail. It was beautiful and green and sunny. We were really enjoying ourselves but also terrified about how much elevation we were losing. We were scared to have to climb back out. The entire hike is 5.9 miles and 1310 feet in elevation change. Eventually we made it to a really bouncy and not-safe-feeling bridge and were then officially on the uphill portion of the hike.

The trail wasn’t entirely uphill, in fact, it was a pretty easy grade most of the way back up. The only problem was the condition of the trail. It was really precarious. There were roots and rocks everywhere. At certain long portions of the trail we were worried we had actually stumbled off of the trail and into a dry creek bed. That is what it more resembled than a trail. There were beautiful fungi everywhere and flowers we had never seen before. There were also abundant “baby ferns” as my sister decided they were called. It was the perfect temperature for a hike and despite that we only saw two other groups of people. We are really dreading when the summer hikers are all out. We’ve become accustomed to having the trails to ourselves over these last few months.

On the last two hikes we got very lost and very frustrated trying to even get to the trail heads. A repercussion of those experiences is that now we are extremely cautious about the direction in which we are heading and checking directions frequently. Twice on our way to this hike we stopped to check directions and make sure we were on the right track. Both times we were able to determine that we were on the right track, we started going again, and then literally found the turn we were looking for around the next corner. It was silly.

Nothing really magical or hilarious happened on this hike. I can’t even think of a single anecdote to share. We definitely wished that it didn’t end with 3/10 of a mile on the road as the route to get back to the car. That is a terrible way to end a beautiful hike.  We are almost done with this 52 hike journey. I can’t even believe it. In just a few short weeks we will have hiked every single weekend for a whole year. That’s pretty incredible when you think about it. We have laughed more than we have cried. That’s all you can really ask for.

For information about the Larch Mountain Loop click here.