A Hike That Rocked More Than Just My Muscles

Our guest blogger, Kathy, has been continuing her 2014 resolution to try a new hike every month. Here’s her installment for the month of July:

After accomplishing the hill climb that was Mt. Pisgah for my last hike, I decided to choose one that would challenge me even more. Since we had plans to be in the Sisters area (Central Oregon), I chose Smith Rock. If you’ve ever passed it from Highway 97 near Terrebonne, you’ll know that it rises ominously up out of the landscape, with several jagged points across its top. Let me just say that it’s MUCH bigger from the parking lot near the many different trail heads than it is in passing from Highway 97. Perhaps I was a bit overconfident.

I started off anyway, with Brian, my ever-positive and encouraging partner—though I think this time, he was hiding his own apprehension about the climb. We choose (gulp) the Misery Ridge Trail. Looking at the trail from afar, there appeared to be one steep section, then a turn around a corner to a more modest incline. Of course, when we rounded the actual corner, we learned that that the more modest incline was a complete visual deception. It was actually very steep, leading up to an even steeper section, even with switchbacks to soften the blow.

At this point, we thought of turning back. Even some of the younger folks with their brightly colored sweat-wicking shirts were huffing and puffing. But here’s the thing: I had challenged myself to COMPLETING 12 hikes—I didn’t want to quit on this one. And thanks to my goal—I didn’t give up!

Slowly and steadily, we made it to the top for a breathtaking view of the high desert around us—then down the back side, with views of the Three Sisters and Mt. Bachelor. The view was worth every ounce of sweat that dripped off my brow. The hike rocked not only my muscles, but my resolve, and the reward was not only the view, but the powerful feeling of accomplishment. Can’t wait for the next challenge!

Smith Rock

What’s so “mountain” about Mt. Pisgah?

Our guest blogger, Kathy, has been continuing her 2014 resolution to try a new hike every month. Here’s her installment for the month of May:

PisgahMt. Pisgah? “What’s so ‘mountain’ about it?” I thought as I spotted it from the freeway upon our approach to the turn off. For my May monthly hike, I was looking for something that was close to home and that my family and I could knock out in an hour or two. We decided to visit Mt. Pisgah. I’d never been there, and with the first signs of a warm spring sun peeking out from behind the clouds, it was a perfect day to try it out.

I’ll tell you what’s so mountain about Mt. Pisgah—or better yet, let my sore muscles speak for me: 1500 foot elevation climb in 1.4 miles, with few switchbacks to soften the blow. Talk about huff and puff.

Unfamiliar with the various routes, we choose the steepest way up. As we started the hike, I kept looking at the faces of the people coming down. They were so happy. No—relieved was more like it. Not a good sign. Climbing up the steep gravelly path in my jeans and hiking boots (yes, I was overdressed) getting passed by joggers, kids, even lean and mean grandparents in the first half mile, I began to wonder if I would make it to the top.

But step-by-step, encouraged by my cross-country running, swim team daughter, and in better-shape-than I significant other, summit I did. And the panoramic view of the valley? A great payoff. And, as we made our decent, I smiled at everyone on the way up, wanting to say to them, keep going–it’s worth it! Now I know what’s so mountain about Mt. Pisgah (though I think I’m going to start calling it huff and puff hill).

Spring Break – Hiking Like Hobbits

Our guest blogger, Kathy, has been continuing her 2014 resolution to try a new hike every month. Here’s her latest adventure:

A Hobbit-worthy trail

A Hobbit-worthy trail

Have you ever passed by a random spot on the highway with a lot of cars parked but no people in sight? Chances are, it’s a trailhead. There’s a spot just south of Carl G. Washburn State Park on the Oregon Coast that my family and I have passed countless times, but this time, while at the coast for Spring Break, we finally took the opportunity to stop (being on vacation was no excuse for skipping my monthly hiking goal). Sure enough, there were trail heads on both sides of the road, and as we were told by another hiker, dubbed the Hobbit Trail.

“I wonder why they call it the Hobbit Trail,” my daughter Sarah asked, as we were putting on our hiking shoes. As we all came up with our various theories, but it wasn’t until we hit the trail that we began to understand. We chose the trail on the west site of the highway, thinking the trail might meander its way to the Ocean. Instead, it headed up hill, through lush, green woodlands, definitely Hobbit-worthy, toward the north side back site of Heceta Head. Being spring, there were a few challenging spots where the rain had turned the trail into a nice bog that only a true hobbit, with his oversize bare feet, could appreciate. But at the top, we were treated with a beautiful vista of the beach—a perspective of Carl G. Washburn beach that we hadn’t experienced before.

View of Carl G Washburn beach

View of Carl G Washburn beach

Since the trek was short (you can continue on around the bluff to Heceta Head Light House) we decided to turn back and try the trail on the east side of the highway. After a short distance, you come upon a meadow that opens onto a pond, providing a great spot for a snack (or second breakfast for hobbits). We continued on, and again found ourselves surrounded by just about every hue of green, including some areas completely carpeted with moss. Just beyond, we came upon more ponds, and a particularly pungent smell—ah, skunk cabbage in bloom. Spring was definitely a good time to experience this trail.

All in all—the hike was just enough to make us feel like we got some exercise, without being hard core, and we all now have the impression of what it must be like to be a Hobbit on the Oregon Coast. A perfect vacation hike experience.