Archive for the ‘Event’ Category

Backpacking on the PCT Day Zero and One

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

Several months ago, I started planning a trip to Oregon with Jeff and Dan. Jeff had moved out there several years ago and neither Dan nor myself had been out to visit. Also, since Jeff has missed all the backpacking adventures Dan and I have gone on, it made sense to also make it a Backpacking Adventure — a trip for Guys, with Guys.

And so, the Great PCT Adventure was hatched. I mapped out Section 11 of the Oregon portion of the PCT — Mt Hood to the Eagle Creek trail head at the Oregon/Washington border. Not entirely PCT, Eagle Creek was supposed to be more scenic than the PCT. I made food, Jeff bought his first set of backpacking gear, flight reservations were made, and life was good.

Life continued to be good the day Dan and I went to the airport. We got a nice, early start and took public transportation the entire way (Metronorth to Grand Central, walk to Penn, LIRR to Jamaica station, Air Train to JFK). We got to JFK and a nice Delta employee helped check us in. That same Delta employee then informed us that even though our seats had been “confirmed”, we would actually be sitting in totally different seats, each at one end of the plane. Apparently, in the year 2010, Orbitz and Delta can’t figure out how to make sure confirmed seats are actually confirmed. Pretty amazing.

Anyway, I considered it a minor annoyance. We get through security without too much trouble (despite Dan’s best efforts) and find ourselves with hours to spare. Maybe our start was a little too early. Dan and I retreat to a bar and spend an hour or so talking to various passengers and a pilot. That hour was probably the most enjoyable one we would have for the next 20 hours or so. After we’ve quenched our thirst, we head towards our gate only to discover our flight has been delayed an hour. Since we only had an hour to catch our connection in Seattle, that’s a problem.

After a six hour flight that felt far longer, we finally get to Seattle. Of course, we got there far too late to actually make our connection. We get on standby for the next flight to Portland and don’t make the cut. Next flight — 6:30 am the following morning. We call Jeff to fill him in and go off in search of food and shelter for the night.

Turns out, sleeping in airports is only fun on television or in the movies. I ended up sacking out on the floor while Dan tried curling up in one of the seats. Neither of us slept much and were up in plenty of time for our flight.

The flight to Portland was fairly uneventful and quick. Jeff was pulling in about ten minutes after we arrived. By 8am we were at Jeff’s place, packing and sorting our gear. By 10am we were leaving for Mt Hood and the Timberline Lodge. This had been the original starting point until about three weeks before the trip when Jeff scouted the area and discovered it was covered by several feet of snow. We had decided on an alternate trail (Paradise Park) as our starting point, but we still wanted to see the Timberline Lodge. When we got there, we discovered that all that snow was gone and the trail was mostly clear, except for some large drifts of old frozen snow. We decided to leave from our original start point and by 12 we were heading North.

Also, just a note — there’s a Park Ranger at Timberline who was nice enough to tell us that the entire trail was completely closed. While I’m sure she was telling us that because, let’s face it, we look like the Three Stooges most days and she didn’t feel like having to rescue us from some ravine, it was pretty obvious that the trail was clear and that tons of people were using it.

Snow on the Timberline Trail

The Timberline Trail on the first day mostly stayed level, traveling around Mt Hood on a ridge line. Every so often, the trail would dip in the a ravine, usually with a stream or river flowing through it, and then back up onto the ridge.

View from the ridgeline

Stream in ZigZag canyon

About an hour before we reached the Sandy river, we ran into another hiker coming from the North. He gave us some beta — apparently there were some logs across the Sandy that only reached about 2/3 of the way across the river. We’d need to jump the rest. Around this time, Jeff found an unwitting companion — a hiking stick he planned on using to help him cross the Sandy. We got to the Sandy around 6pm or so after hiking roughly ten miles. Jeff scouted the crossing while Dan and I cooled our heels (literally, the water was freezing, being glacial melt). The Sandy crossing looked rougher than we felt like doing, particularly given the time of day and the distance already covered. Luckily, there were plenty of nice campsites along the river and we made camp for the night, complete with a camp fire. For dinner, Dan had Cheesy Tuna and Ramen, while Jeff and I had Cranberry Chicken and Rice. That turned out to be a tactical error — I didn’t have my hiker appetite yet and it ended up being too much food. However, my cook kit (complete with Unican alcohol stove) performed flawlessly).

The Sandy River

After dinner we hung the food bags and sat around the camp fire for another hour or two before retreating to bed.

Back from the DIRT…

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

This year’s DIRT went pretty well. This year’s Wiffleball game became Boys vs Girls (and the Boys won, despite claims of cheating and illegal performance enhancing drugs).

Stefano, Joanne, Pete, and Michelle

Stefano, Joanne, Pete, and Michelle

The Horseshoe portion started fairly late (7:30 or 8pm) and went until 1:30am. The normal 10 rounds, followed by the playoffs, had to be shortened to 8 rounds (and we ended up playing only 7 games due to the late hour). We also only played to 8 instead of the normal 11 and the playoffs were played to 11 instead of 21. I made the playoffs but ending up placing fourth, but still had a lot of fun.

Too bad I didnt throw these...

Too bad I didn't throw these...

Not just the President, they're also members

They're also members

Going to the DIRT

Friday, August 7th, 2009

This weekend is the 2009 DIRT, otherwise known as the Dylan Invitational Recreational Tournament. Among the festivities is the traditional “Kids” Vs Old People Wiffle Ball game (kids being not so much kids as we were when the tradition first started, but the Old People are still Old…) and of course a horseshoe tournament; this is the summer edition of the AWSHIT winter horseshoe tournament, held for the last twenty years.