Sunday, October 16, 2011


One of the things we love most about the west coast are the mountains and open vistas, in addition to expansive stretches of wilderness in the valleys.

Mt. Rainier, Washington
We finally got to see Mt. Rainier (above) on a sunny day! Kule has been waiting for this for years, after several trips to see his brother Joel’s family in Seattle. The mountain has a beautiful majestic yet peaceful energy. If my knees could handle it, I would love to climb to the top, a doable climb for many. We spent some special time in an old-growth grove of giant trees.

Mt. St. Helens. Washington
We couldn’t go back to Eugene without stopping out of our way to see Mt. St. Helens. The visitor centers’ movies are so worth seeing, to get an appreciation for the incredible geological shift this mountain and its valley underwent in the minutes after the 1980-something eruption. Trees were ripped out with the atom-bomb-like explosion, lakes were displaced, and the molten bolders and ash raced down the river, flooding the valley and creating vastly underestimated destruction. There’s a stark eeriness about the mountain; my son Jason would have gone wild photographing this!

Three Sisters, Oregon
I had the opportunity to hike with our Eugene friend Cedar to a stunning and diverse trail up to South and Middle Sisters near Bend, Oregon. From the peaceful colorful meadows to the lifeless lava beds to the glistening obsidian decorating the cliffs, ledges, and scree,  the Obsidian trail is on of my all-time favorite trails. The ten miles and 1400 ft change in elevation were gentle on my knees, affording me the kind of hiking experience I have been missing when I can’t do steeper hikes with my knees. I love the west!

Tahoe National Forest, California
It’s always a treat to visit my brother Alex’s family in Truckee, CA to be in the Tahoe mountains. We camped out in a remote campsite that his massive sportsmobile could reach on its huge 4WD tires, climbing over boulders on something that looked like a dirt path in the pines.

Our peninsula site hosted beautiful scenery with snow in nearby peaks, mountain-clear swimmable water (I wasn’t numb), a cozy hammock, and great campfires and cookouts.

My morning ritual was a kayak around the lake exploring waterfalls and receiving visits from the river otters that are making a comeback in the area.

I got to sleep in my sister-in-law Nancy’s bivouac, with some space for my head, arms, and a few belongings, and the rest of my body in a snug cocoon.

Nancy and I took a hike up the mountain to step on some snow in July!

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