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About The Evolving Outdoorsman

This is the post excerpt.

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Greetings,

Thank you for taking the time to check out my blog

A little about myself.

I am father of two that enjoys the outdoors, I am constantly seeking new adventures and looking for ways to connect my kids to enjoying the outdoors. I am a teacher and love spending time enriching the lives of not only young people, but people of all ages with knowledge and the self motivation to seek new experiences.

I have been called an autodidact, renaissance man a worldly person. I am fascinated by everything, this could be due to the fact that I am easily brought to boredom by repetition, or because we have such a rich and diverse world to explore. In addition to being a teacher, I have been a welder, machinist, maintenance mechanic, meat cutter and a salesman. I have worked a broad range of jobs in my short life. I have enjoyed such hobbies as historical reenacting, traveling, playing guitar and most importantly the outdoors.

My outdoor experiences come from an early age, my grandpa, who was a all around outdoorsman, introduced me to much of my early experiences, adding to this, my dad continued to fuel my fire, with camping, hunting, fishing and hiking. I spent many seasons in the high mountains ,costal estuaries, and farmlands of Oregon. I have spent many seasons afield hunting and fishing.

I want this blog to be a reflective journal of these experiences that I am now passing along to my children, and hopefully, this will lead more mothers, fathers and grandparents to share their experiences and interests with their children.

 

Reaching for the sky

This week, my youngest daughter and i decided to take a semi-impromptu trip to one of our favorite places, the cascade lakes. The main intent of our trip was to climb to the summit of South sister, the third highest mountain in Oregon. At 10,358 feet, we knew it would be very challenging and would test our internal fortitude to its max.

We camped at Elk lake for the week, Elk lake in it’s own right is a spectacular place to visit. We spent evenings kayaking on the lake and enjoying riding the whitecaps in the wind that cascaded from the surrounding mountains around us.

After a somewhat sleepless night (due to some noisy neighbors in our campground getting drunk and playing trivial pursuit) we woke up early and set off from Devils lake.20180710_064848.jpg

We filled out our wilderness permits and started the journey up to the plateau that would lead us to the base of the mountain. We were giddy with excitement, even though the first approach was a little steep.

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When we reached the top of the trail, we continued to push ahead, all the while distracted by the incredible views of South Sister, Broken top and Mt. Bachelor.20180710_081611.jpg20180710_080257.jpg

We continued for about another mile, where we stopped for a brief potty and snack break. The break point had a spectacular view of moraine lake, which is a fun day hike in it;s own right.20180710_082609.jpg

After the break, we hit the mountain with full fury, pushing to the base of the approach for the spur below the summit, this is where you start to get a feel for what you have decided to tackle. It is a unrelenting uphill of scramble for the next two miles to the summit, luckily, we did not encounter any major snow fields.20180710_094813.jpg

We did however decide to try out our micro spikes that we picked up specifically for this ascent on the approaching snowfield, we were happy that we did, it is always good to field test your gear. We plowed through and reached the small alpine lake at the spur after a fairly vertical climb.20180710_113433-1.jpg When my daughter saw the distance to the summit, she almost gave up, but ended up saying, “screw it, we made it this far, and i am not a wimp!” so we began the ascent to the summit, up red cinders and through swarms of monarch butterflies which did not show up in any of my pics.20180710_122834.jpg

As you can see, the scramble or scree was fairly insane, but we pressed on, higher and higher to the crater rim.20180710_130133-1.jpg20180710_131821.jpg

When we reached the top, my daughter was so pumped, but when i told her we had to cross the summit crater to get to the actual summit, she was not super excited, however, she had a point to prove and pushed through the last  little stretch to stand directly on the summit.20180710_140035.jpg20180710_141109.jpg20180710_145335.jpg

After reaching the summit and hanging out with a bunch of awesome people, we ate our peanut butter tortillas and had some water. We took in some of the most spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.20180710_140925.jpg

We headed out after an hour, unfortunately, teardrop pool was still froze over and we could not see it. None the less, we conquered our first cascade summit and will now be looking for our next!

Kayaking with your teens

No Better experience can be had with your kids than taking up recreational boating. This year we have stocked the family coffers with four kayaks. We accumulated these slowly and have been using them heavily since we have purchased them.

We live next to two rivers, The Clackamas river, and the Willamette  River. Both rivers are easily accessible by kayak and provide endless adventure.

Today we ventured to one of our local wetlands called Smith and Bybee lakes. While the boat launching was tricky and quite muddy, the paddling was not all that bad, except for the grass and lilies getting tangled in our paddles we had a great time hitting the lakes.

Today reminded me however, what it takes to get your kids setup to enjoy paddling. Here is my unbiased guide to outfitting your family for an affordable price while being comfortable and safe.

1. Selecting a boat

Selecting a boat is the most important item in the quest to get your family paddling. When i started paddling at 12, my dad had owned multiple canoes, If i recall, my dad never spent over $25 on a canoe, until we picked up our Clipper 16′ canoe. We loved that boat and it was an awesome lake cruiser. We even took it out in the straight of Georgia in the San Juan Islands. None the less, we didn’t need a $3,000.00 Nigel Dennis kayak to do this. I took the same mindset when outfitting my kids.

While my wife and i have a couple of middle of the road perception roto-molded boats, the kids have two Dicks sporting goods specials. I picked them up used for $100 each, and they love them.

When you go out to look for your first kayak, don’t buy the first ones that you see. Look up some of your local kayak shops. We went to a couple of “paddle fests” when we started looking for boats. A good reference to this was that my wife was dead set on buying a sit on top kayak. After trying a few, she quickly changed her mind to a recreational sit in type boat.

I did the same thing with the kids, they of course loved the Current Designs and Eddy Line boats, but after some reasoning, they were able to conclude that starting small and working their way up would be a better idea.

Research the boats, and know that you can easily outfit your family for a reasonable price when it comes to kayaks.

2. Accessories

Of course accessories are a must. Good and comfortable life jackets are a must, along with signal whistles and dry bags to keep your valuables dry are essential to making your trip fun.

Once again, search for used first, see if you have a local used outdoor equipment vendor where you can pick up some of the gear at a fraction of the original cost. Do a thorough check of the gear and make sure it is fully functional. My advice would be to go new on life jackets, the only reason is that damage from weathering, poor storage or maintenance and abuse tend to reduce the functioning life of a life jacket. There are lots of great life jackets, get one and use it!

3. Selecting good beginner paddle spots

Of course, taking on a river of class 4 and 5 rapids right out of the gate might not be the best plan, not at least until you have the opportunity to get some lessons and practice for that type of water. Start by picking up a few guide books for your local area. Look for the calm and shallow lakes to start, preferably no motor or no wake lakes. A big reservoir can turn into the north pacific in January on a busy summer weekend, typically wake boarders, water skiers and jet skiers are the big wave generators. These are not good places for beginning or skidish paddlers. Calm, slow moving rivers with someone to drop and pick you are great ways to get beginner paddlers into touring kayaking. A good 6 hour day on the river will reveal a lot about the comfort and performance of your gear.

If you are into tour kayaking, much in the same way of multi-day floats or Odysseys though salt water archipelagos, you will want to start small, do a one night float, figure out which sleeping pad gives you sciatica,  or which tent is a pain in the backside to setup. Also learn which foods suit your pallet and which ones give you a bowel obstruction. Take baby steps and know that this is not a competition, it’s a cooperation, especially when it comes to teens.

If you are looking for a great way to reconnect with your family in the outdoors, try out some recreational paddling. It’s great exercise, the independence to explore is lots of fun for your teens and the amazing wildlife that abounds is incredible to behold.

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The home stretch!

With the arrival of spring break, there is finally time to sit down and make a post. I know that my posts are far and few between and I like it that way.

I find myself wondering around, sometimes aimlessly marveling at the outside world. It is incredibly huge and there are so many cool things to discover. Last week, was the end of winter term. With the end of the term, it was almost like hitting a reset button, the next 11 weeks will probably be some of the most challenging in my teaching career.

Over the last 7 months, i have discovered that my dream career of teaching has it’s rewards and punishments, the satisfaction of helping people become self supporting through education is paramount, the defamation of these people on preconceived notions is depressing and honestly uncalled for, and knowing that my coworkers are very narrow minded and extremely racist gives me no comfort.

We as people have an obligation to each other to make our world a better place, whether it is in a classroom, at our workplace or in general, we should be trying to help each other, not put each other down and draw hasty conclusions about someone based on their personality.

My hope is that more people connect in real life, not through electronics or in a virtual world. We are people, we need each other, it is at the very foundation of our being human and being social animals. I think we will come together in the right ways, the mentality of seclusion is fading and i am seeing people starting to find their place.

Until next time, get out and explore the world!

 

Following in the footsteps of history

20180112_102918.jpgYesterday, I decided to take a weekday journey down to the northern Oregon coast. The place was Sunset beach and the trail was the Fort to Sea trail, a 6.2 mile trail stretching from Sunset beach, just north of Gearhart, Or to Fort Clatsop, where famed American western explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark wintered in 1805 with the corps of discovery, which we all know now as the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

The fort, named for the local Native Americans of the area, the Clatsop’s, was constructed by the corps of discovery, during their time on the pacific coast, they gathered scientific specimens, flora, fauna and made detailed maps of the Columbia river and surrounding estuaries.

Today, Fort Clatsop is a national historic park, just south of the town of Warrenton, Or. The fort is a replica of the original built by the corps of discovery, and there is a tourist center in which you pay a fee to enter the fort area, where interpreters put on displays and show what life was like for the corps of discovery.

After starting out on the trail, I crossed a large dune area, and ran into some deer. The deer are not all that uncommon, but with the proximity to Camp Rilea, a national guard training facility, it is somewhat surprising to see animals in the proximity of a live fire training area.

Once you pass through a series of cow pastures, you cut under hwy 101, and proceed into the temperate rainforest, during this hike, you get to see all kinds of trees and plants, namely the spruce and Douglas fir, there is also Oregon Grape and a variety of ferns.

Most of the forest understory, as much of the pacific northwest coast is know for, is a solid wall of vegetation, we call it brush. The distant views are obscured by dark, wet forest and many sheer cliffs and ridges, signs of the volcanic past of our area.

Close to the fort, you come out on a overlook, which is the top of Clatsop ridge, on a good day, you would be able to see the ocean and surrounding features, unfortunately, there was remnants of a storm that had not quite cleared out. So the view was less than perfect, none the less it does give one a good idea of how high they have climbed from the beach.

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After summiting, it is fairly downhill to the fort, along the way, you enter more of a classic northwest canopy of trees, and the trail is very well maintained. One across the main road that takes vehicles to fort Clatsop, you enter the actual fort site. there is a covered picnic area with trashcans and restrooms to use.

After having a quick snack, I returned to the trail to start back for the beach. On the way back I ran into a herd of Roosevelt Elk, an icon of the coast ranges of Oregon and Washington.

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After a 10 minute stare down with two of the cows, I was able to proceed through the cow pastures and back to the trailhead.

I wondered, as I sat back at the trailhead, what did Lewis and Clark see? Obviously their journals give detailed accounts of their time at this location, but what was it like then? What did a Lower Chinook long house smell like? How was it to attempt translation through so many interpreters and how did they survive the cold, driving rains, gale force winds and constant hunger. It only misted and blew yesterday. Likewise, could the local natives see their demise coming with the arrival of the early Europeans? Never had they before seen white people come from upriver and what was the first impression? So many questions lost to the folds of time, yet it seems all lived hard and challenging lives of which we will only theorize.

The fort to sea trail is a great way to get a small glimpse of what early 19th century explorers traversed in an effort to explore the vast, western frontier.

 

Thinking of grandpa today

After taking my dog out for a run at the park, and having a good conversation with one of my colleagues, I started thinking about my grandpa. He Passed away in a memory care facility in 2014. He had all but forgot about many of the different adventures he had been apart of or made for himself.

He was born in Needmore, North Carolina to a family of 15 in 1926. He was raised in the Appalachian mountains and in his own right, was one of the last, true mountain men of  Oregon. He only had a 4th grade education, but was nothing short of a full blown professor of the land. He spent most of his youth helping his dad and mom with the family and farm. He was no stranger to hard work, and was not afraid to step up when the country needed him most. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps just days after  the Pearl Harbor attacks. He spent the war in the pacific, going from atoll to atoll as a marine infantryman. After the war, he came back to the states and decided to settle in Oregon. He became a logger and spent his days in the old growth stands of Douglas fir and Hemlock, cutting the wood that would build our homes and develop our communities.

In his free time, he spent his time hunting, fishing and trapping all over Oregon and Washington. He was married once before and had four children, he spent his time with them deep in the woods, sharing his passion for the outdoors, when he met my grandma, he married the perfect match, she had went back to school to learn taxidermy, and the animals he harvested soon turned their home into a pseudo natural history museum. Growing up, I can remember the full mount bears, cougars, deer and elk that graced his small trophy room, a converted bedroom in their house. We ate wild game meat like most families eat from a supermarket, he gardened the best corn, lettuce, tomatoes and berries one could ask for. He and my grandma raised chickens, pigs and cows as well, when I watch the shows on TV talking about the frontier and homesteading, I think about growing up eating cornbread and elk roast cooked on an iron cook stove, sure he and my grandma had a regular electric range, but that was reserved for boiling meat scraps for the dogs!

In addition to the many other things my grandpa did, he also raised and trained dogs. He had walker hounds, beagles and other little scruffy mutts that he loved like a child, when I was going through pictures to post, I noticed that he had a couple of shorthairs back in the good old days, before he got into tracking hounds for bear and cougar.

I hope I can live up to his wisdom and impart some of the same wisdom and life experiences into my children as they continue to grow up and learn some of the same skills I learned as a young man.

 

Adventure to Abiqua Falls

A few weekends ago I took a hike to a little known local gem. Abiqua falls located just east of Scotts Mills, Oregon is an incredible falls that has an unimproved trail for access.

Before I got to the trailhead, I was flagged down by a group of four young women who had managed to get their jeep stuck in a mud hole. While they were attempting to go around, a side of the bank gave way and put their jeep on it’s side. Luckily, nobody was hurt, however, after flagging down a couple of other trucks, we were able to get their jeep unstuck. I now carry a come along and tow strap in my little commuter car just in case.

After freeing the young women from the quagmire that engulfed their jeep, I carried on down to the trailhead. I pushed my little car as far as it could go, parked, and headed off down the road on foot. When I came to the trailhead, I saw a sign that said private property, access was allowed, but respect for the land was appreciated. Later I found out that the owners were part of the Mt. Angel Seminary, the oldest catholic college in Oregon. I could see why they would want to own this land.

I tied the dog to my waist and proceeded to descend into the canyon where Abiqua creek flowed through. All the time, there were squirrels protesting the presence of my dog, in response, my dog wanted to point on every moving object, so it took a little longer than I expected to get to the bottom.

Once by the creek, there was a traffic jam of people ascending and descending, I guess I had picked a popular day to go, as there were quite a few people traversing the unimproved trail along the creek bank.

Once I got on the bank, I found that it was slippery and somewhat treacherous, I could hear the thundering of the falls coming down the canyon, and as I climbed the last outcropping of columnar basalt, the falls came into view immediately. It was a towering cascade of spraying whitewater, enveloped in a canyon of columnar basalt and moss. The spray coming from the falls was impressive. There was a group of people taking photos at the base of the falls. It was quite the sight to see and I was awestruck by the power of this hidden gem.

We stuck around for about 15 minuets and traversed back to the trailhead, ascending the canyon was made easy by a series of ropes tied off along the trail for handholds.

We returned to the car and headed out, not too much later, it started to downpour and we were happy to not be caught in the torrential rain.

This was a fun, fast and simple outing, I would love to discover  new waterfall someday, Oregon is loaded with falls all over waiting to be discovered.

Hiking east Mt. Hood-Elk Meadows and Bluegrass ridge

Since I have been having issues with my computer, I have not been able to post in a few weeks. Now that I have the issues resolved, I can share a few hikes I took while I was away,

The first hike was through the Gnarl Ridge fire area on the N.E. side of Mt. Hood. It was a wonderful mid-fall hike with temps in the 70’s and bright, clear skies. My youngest daughter wanted to get some outdoor pictures for her art teacher at school, and what better excuse to get into the backcountry than taking pictures for school!

We set out and entered the Mt. Hood wilderness area at the Elk Meadow trailhead, we walked through the low country to newton creek, where we had to cross a log to get to the trail on the other side. Once we crossed, we proceeded to climb the side of bluegrass ridge on a developed trail with switchbacks. Once on top, we cut off on the bluegrass ridge trail and continued to the summit of elk mountain, we crossed through an old burn scar from the gnarl ridge fire that almost wiped out two historic structures a few years back. We continued down the ridge and saw tons of life, the camp robbers were landing on our hands, the ravens were crowing in the trees and the chipmunks were scurrying around driving our dog crazy.

We reached the top of the viewpoint and took some incredible pictures on Mt. Hood, after we finished our break at the top, we wondered down the side of the ridge to elk meadow, where we looped back to the trailhead before dark.

All of these photos, except the one with the young lady, were taken by my daughter, the aspiring photographer. She lugged the camera and extras for 12 miles that day through the high country to get these awesome pics.