Tis a lovely day for a walk in the mountains -- Friday, 9/25/15

We really, really like the Sierras, especially on a warm, early autumn day, with blue skies and a breeze to keep us cool as we hike along.  Donner Summit is about an hour's drive from our place, uphill, of course.  The summit is over 7,000 ft, so a little huffing-puffing as we climb the rocks might be allowed.  This is our second Friday hike up in these parts.  Last week we explored Royal Gorge, a new one for us.  Today's trek is one we've done before, at least some of it, and it's a trip!

We parked at Donner Summit Bridge (Rainbow Bridge) and set out for the China Wall.  I'm not going to delve into the historical aspects of the area, but a pretty good informational read can be found here, and it's not boring at all.  I hope you can see Jimmy with his glow-in-the-dark shirt, which actually came in kinda handy when we entered the tunnel.

Our route to the China Wall led us past Native American petroglyphs and this neat view of Donner Lake.

Here you see the China Wall and the entrance to the tunnel and snow sheds.

Sort of eerie to walk atop the China Wall and enter the tunnel.  Maybe less so because others have paved the way with their "mark."  Is graffiti art?  Some of it is, tho most of what I see either I can't read or don't understand. These tunnels and snow sheds are covered in color, but only so high ... only as high as a person can reach unless they haul a stepladder up with them (not easy!)  We peeked a little way into the snow shed the last time; today we went hiking, into the tunnel and beyond!

We didn't know till we got to this point that there were "escape routes" in the snow shed.  We discovered this one after walking a good distance.  Returning inside, we kept on going and found another giant doorway. Probably there are escape doors like the one above the entire length of the snow shed.  We covered a great good part of it, but not all of it.  Save some for next time!  We calculated the height at between 25-30 feet!

Look at the size of this thing!  Something you don't notice till you're up against it, or - better yet - inside the darkened shed, is the slits into the concrete near the top.  These let in just enough light to make it okay to be inside; otherwise, it would be pitch black throughout, and you wouldn't find us in there then!

I liked this one, even tho it was right inside the escape door (see the photo above this one), which made it hard to photograph.  You can see how high the graffiti reaches on the wall.  (Notice the window slit at top?)

Enough of that snow shed!  We turned around, came out in the sunshine and continued in the other direction, to this shed and into the Summit Tunnel beyond. This was surprisingly long, dark, and wet, with standing water on the ground.  We had to use our phone flashlights to make it to the other side.  Did NOT want to trip and fall this close to our Big Trip.


Leaving the tunnels, snow sheds, and graffiti behind, we crossed historic Highway 40 and continued hiking up toward Lake Angela, most of the time on crushed granite or "rock-hopping" on granite slabs.  We paused at the lake to eat our lunch and rest a spell.  Part of the time we were on the Pacific Crest Trail, which is a cool concept to us old farts.  

Back in the sunshine!

Oh yes, the switchback down to the car at Donner Summit Bridge.  We will have made a giant loop by the time we get to the Prius.  We are tremendously fortunate to be able to hike in these parts, and I mean that in every sense of the word.

A humongous Jeffrey Pine and my Jimmy in his neon-green shirt.  Love them both!

Jimmy's on the trail down.  We calculated this hike at about five miles with lots of ups/downs, except for the tunnel and snow sheds, which are flat.  What a glorious day!  Next Friday we hope to come back, weather permitting, and do one final 7,000+ ft hike, maybe Alpine Lakes, as high-altitude practice for our upcoming trip.

And we are getting so excited ....


Rockin' on to Rocky Point, OR -- Sept 10-12, 2015

From the Valley River Mall in Eugene, Oregon, we drove the "back roads" (Hwys 58 to 97) to our friends, Sue and Mo, in Rocky Point. Sue had texted directional maps for us to use, but when we needed them most, we had no cell service!  Darned ol' road construction delayed us close to an hour (and we are always appreciative of our motor home where we can get up, move around, go potty, eat, etc).  Jimmy was at the wheel first and I spelled him halfway.  The road signage on Hwys 97 and 62 to Rocky Point was nonexistent.  I managed to do one of my infamous bat-turns in mid-highway when we missed a turn.  We truly had no idea where we were, but we saw lots of cows!  I parked in the middle of a farm road so Jimmy could walk to the farmhouse and ask directions for Westside Road.  Little did we know that we were spot-on.  As you see in the photo below, we made it!  Squirrely drive!

The warm welcome we received let us fast forget about that drive!  Sue suggested a walk with Rattie Mattie, so off we went, walkin' and talkin' and walkin' some more.  Mo stayed home to take care of needed yard work. Look at the gorgeous green grass!  They have the absolute best well water this side of the Mississippi (other side, too, probably).  Long shadows were falling by the time we got Tergel squared away in their driveway, and dinner preparations were underway in the house.  Sue fixed grilled salmon, a confetti coleslaw, and basmati rice with shredded raw zucchini, beans and corn and everything was delicious.  And then we had mouth-watering apple galette for dessert.  All the while, we talked and visited and laughed and enjoyed each other's company.

Funny how you meet people via blogging and you become friends, like you've known each other for years.

At dinner we four discussed what we might do the next day (Friday).  Kayaking on nearby Recreation Creek seemed to please everyone.  Instead of me and Jimmy hauling our inflatable Sea Eagle kayak out of Tergel, we were free to each use one of their extra kayaks.  Whoa!  Nice!  That's what we did.  Mind you, it's been years since either Jimmy or I have paddled our own kayak and we weren't sure how shoulder issues would react.  I'd be lying if I said we didn't feel the EIGHT MILES we paddled, but we really and truly loved being out there on the water.  L-R above:  Sue, messing with her camera, Jimmy in the blue kayak, and Mo on the right.

Even Rattie Mattie joined the fun.  She's a relatively new dog to Sue and Mo, and still unsure of some things. One thing for sure, she wore a life jacket, and thank goodness she did -- 'cause she jumped in (the water is spring-fed and cold), and Mo had to reach down to haul her bad-self out by the life jacket.  Maybe a lesson learned?  She shivered in Mo's kayak till she dried off.  (She's a rat terrier, hence the name)

We put in at Malone Springs Boat Launch on Recreation Creek, paddling north against a gentle current, to Crystal Springs.  This section of the Upper Klamath NWR is not heavily traveled and we saw no one else on the water. Sandhill Cranes and White Pelicans were the only wildlife we identified, but we scared up a few flocks of ducks and annoyed a Belted Kingfisher.  The shallow creek was bordered by tules for much of the way.

We came across several of these huge beaver houses.  I've never seen anything like it.

Enjoying the ride!

Sue and I beached our kayaks and got out to stretch.  Crystal Springs was amazing -- we paddled over a number of fissures with deep, clear and intensely turquoise-blue water, marveling at each one.  This was our turn-around point -- now we'd be gliding back with the current, oh boy! -- tho, truthfully, I didn't feel much of an assist!  

What is this?  The creek was lined with what appeared to be giant arrowroot leaves or something like it, but this is called a Wocus, which is a large yellow water lily found in the northwestern US.  Wocus was one of the main nutritious food staples of the Klamath Tribes, and the dried seed shells were used as a dye for the tules used in making baskets. This was all that was left of the yellow flower so late in the season.

We were so busy doing and eating (yum-yum) that I neglected to take more pictures.  We all retired early and were up early, making breakfasts and dinners.  Jimmy and I napped after kayaking, and then went right into eating dinner!  But this pic above was one of a set of pictures, taken Friday evening, with four adults and one dog, and this was the only one that at least one of us wasn't either making screwy faces or something!  We were all laughing and having a good time!  We really did have a good time.  Thanks, Sue, thanks, Mo for everything! (I made sure to fill up our water bottles with that pure well water before leaving!)

So, Saturday morning (9/12) we hauled out at first light and hit the road, aiming for home by late afternoon.  Our time on the road -- indeed, spent mostly near water -- was over and we needed to get back.  We had a grand time visiting with family and friends, walking beaches, listening to foghorns and nighttime raindrops (happy sounds), biking and hiking and being alive.  The trip mileage was 1,991 miles for the four weeks.  Jimmy said we should've driven another nine miles, make it an even two grand!

Next up?  Getting ready for The Big Trip!


Back to the Mall ... Tues-Wed, 9/8 - 9/9, 2015

Leaving Seaquest in Castle Rock WA, we had maybe a 160 mile +/- drive to Valley River Mall in Eugene OR -- not too long or strenuous.  We hoped to get to the mall early enough to get a boondocking spot, and, as it turned out, we were the only campers in the lot.  One other rig pulled in after we did (not close), which made us feel a bit less prominent. (That rig was a very long trailer, pulled by a massive pick-up truck, and it held Mom & Dad, three young kids and two dogs -- one Saint Bernard and one English Bulldog.  How would you like to travel like that? No thank you, not ever.)

I brake for all kinds of things, including parachutes, especially tandem droppers.

We really like stopping at this mall (we were here once before).  First of all, we're right on the bike path, which is right next to the Willamette (pronounced like dammit) River.  The view above is from our dinette window -- we love it!   No cheek-by-jowl crowding, very quiet, and security that patrols the lot.  No hookups, either, but plenty of sun to charge the solar panels.  The mall is a few short steps away, with theaters and restaurants and plenty of stores (Macy's, etc), if shopping is on your mind.  Our only shopping was at Trader Joe's, but we drove Smartie there; groceries, doncha know.  Our main target here is riding our bikes on the 19.5 mile Ruth Bascom Riverbank trail that lines both sides of the sparkling river.

We saw a number of herons at Delta Ponds along the bike trail, inc this Green Heron, who was looking for a bite to eat, I'm sure.  A Belted Kingfisher darted ahead of us (repeatedly) and then flew back and forth to the other side of the river.  Birding and biking seem to rank high in Eugene.  Win-win.

And then there was this:  A gaggle of geese milling around the above apartment complex yard, listening to a guy in the doorway (left, nearly invisible) playing a flute.  So help me, I kid you not.

My friend and I enjoyed an up-close, but brief conversation.

Jimmy and I remembered walking thru Owen Rose Garden, and it was just as lovely today, with meandering paths, benches, and roses, roses, roses, as well as a number of beds with other colorful flowers.  We ate our lunch near the gazebo (background).  This is such a nice side trip off the bike trail -- we parked our bikes and just wandered along, sniffing and admiring.  Even at the end of summer, the display was stunning.

Back on the bikes and crossing one of the several bridges, we found that some enterprising folks had built a slew of cairns in the shallow water.  Enlarge the picture.  I guess it's a way of saying, "I was here."  The river has deep areas, others not so much, but it's fast moving downstream, with areas of rapids, too!

Today's weather couldn't have been any better.  Not hot, nor smoky, clear and sunny.  Perfect for a bike ride. When our ride was over (and after Jimmy put the bikes back on Smartie) and we'd showered, we decided to eat at one of the nearby restaurants, settling on Olive Garden.  Pasta would fill us up!  We walked to it and then to Barnes and Noble, just two retired people enjoying a sweet evening stroll.  Surely enjoyed our day.  Tomorrow (Thursday), as we continue to make our way south toward home, we're off to see Sue and Mo in Rocky Point, Oregon.  Oh boy! 


Friends in Port Angeles, WA 9/4 - 9/7, 2015

After we pulled out of Hoh Ox-bow C/G, we stopped in Forks WA for gas and laundry ... into each life falls the mundane, and then we had a short drive to Port Angeles.  PA is located on the Strait of Juan de Fuca which separates the State of Washington and Vancouver Island, BC.  Jimmy and I had been invited by our friends, Marianne and Steve, to "camp" at their beautiful place in PA, so, by gum, we took them up on it.  The RV parking site was under construction when we arrived, so Steve suggested we park "on the grass."  We enjoyed three blissful nights camped here -- isn't it lovely?  I took the below picture early, early, just as the sun was rising.

Marianne and Steve moved from NorCal to Port Angeles last December and have been entertaining friends and family since the move!  We felt privileged to spend time with them at their new digs.

Scout was the almost the first to greet us when we piloted Tergel up their driveway.  She was/is a happy-go-lucky puppy who walks around nearly every minute of every day with a ball in her mouth.  Usually a purple one!  Her sole mission while we were there was to get one of us to THROW THE BALL.  She'd run like the wind, fetch it, bring it back, and drop it at our feet.  Then, THROW THE BALL!  She was lots of fun.

Saturday morning we trooped down to Port Angeles' farmers market, and bought all kinds of goodies.  A small market, but very nice.  This being Labor Day weekend, Marianne and Steve took us sightseeing, up to Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center in Olympic Nat'l Park (ONP). We weren't the only folks driving there today.  The place was full of visitors, parking at a premium.  This section of ONP was new to Jimmy and me; we'd tried to visit before, but bad weather on the ridge kept us away (it's called "hurricane ridge" for a reason!)  The temp in PA was moderate when we left and about 44 degrees on the ridge -- chilly!  

We ate a quick lunch at a picnic table and walked a fairly short distance on one of the trails.  As usual, in the mountains, very little is flat or level.  Marianne was having right knee difficulty and those downhills were very painful for her.  She and Jimmy discussed knee replacement surgery A LOT.  [she's since made an appointment for replacement surgery]  In the photo above, PA is maybe 15 miles away, and the City of Victoria on Vancouver Island is approx 44 miles distant, across the Straight.  

Black-tailed deer licking each other's necks, in public! 

Haha, you guys -- I have no idea why or at what Jimmy and Marianne are pointing (prob just for fun).  Hurricane Ridge is about a mile high and the Olympic Mountains in the background are not especially high (Mount Olympus is the highest at 7,962'), but they are steep-sided and heavily forested.  Very green, I might add.  Lots of moisture falls in ONP, notably on the western side.

How long will glaciers be found on the Olympic Mountains?
A couple of receding glaciers can be seen above.

Scout, you rascal, all pooped out and resting on the couch!  We had a grand day in ONP, and everyone was tuckered out by evening.  Marianne fed us well, thank you very kindly, my friend!  Fact is, we had a great time with you guys (never a dull moment, huh?).

On Sunday, Steve, Jimmy and I drove to Dungeness Spit on the Straight of Juan de Fuca -- it's a narrow strip of sand, rocks, dune and beached logs, and protrudes over five miles right into the Straight.  (Marianne stayed home to rest her knee.)  You can actually hike all the way to the lighthouse at the tip.  The water is tidal, of course, and -- once again -- the tide was on the rise, tho we had no intention of walking all the way to the end. Nevertheless, we put on quite a few miles today!  We watched a big ol' sea lion hanging around near shore, popping its head up in the water.  Another good hike!

Dungeness Spit Lighthouse:  Keeping guard since 1857 ... the best I could do, zooming five miles away.

Port Angeles was our turn-around point, and now we pointed Tergel south.  Driving alongside the Hood Canal before hitting I-5 is very scenic.  We had no particular destination in mind, and now that Labor Day is officially OVER, RV'ers can usually move about without reservation.  YAY!  We ended up at Seaquest St Pk in Washington, on Spirit Lake Hwy (the road to Mount St Helens) in Castle Rock.  No worries, I tell you -- the park was empty (kinda expensive, too, at $40/night FHU!).  Across the highway is Mount St Helens Visitors Center, which seemed more like a museum.  We stopped in, looking at the exhibits and excellent movie treating on the mountain and the 1980 eruption, followed by an easy one-mile loop walk on the tranquil nature trail around Silver Lake.  Then, home to Tergel.

Tomorrow we move on south....