Hike up Beacon Rock

Beacon Rock is a 848 foot monolith in the Columbia River Gorge, OR. It was a volcano that erupted 57,000 years ago. What you see is the tough inner core cooled and hardened. This lava plug was exposed during ice age floods that ripped away the softer rock around Beacon Rock. The water level was about 300 feet higher then.

Beacon Rock

Beacon Rock

Henry Biddle purchased the rock in 1915 for $1. He had one goal: to build a trail to the top. It took him three years to construct a trail with 51 switchbacks, handrails and bridges. The trail is about a mile up along the sheer cliffs with views of the Columbia River and mountains in all directions.

One of many great hikes along the Columbia River. Step by step, every minute, a view from the cliff edge. Not the best trail to hike on a windy and/or rainy day!

Wait for me!  I see you down  there.

Wait for me! I see you down there.

Gail hiking switchbacks with  Friends of the Columbia River Gorge

Gail hiking switchbacks with Friends of the Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River (top of Beacon Rock)

Columbia River (top of Beacon Rock)

Long Road Trip “For the Birds” Winding Down!

The three day wedding in Paso Robles wine country was lots of fun, entertaining, amazing catering, dancing, wine tasting and mircrobrew. Joe and Jolie’s daughter married outdoors at the scenic Croad’s vineyard.  Their daughter, formerly a trained dancer / ballerina, planned a show for the guests. At the reception, about 10 dancers, some hanging from the ceiling on hoops and long flowing curtains, performed in cirque de soleil style—not nearly as accomplished, but fascinating. There were two classy burlesque performances and a male fire dancer.  On Friday and Saturday, just a sample of main courses were lamb, beef brisket, baby back ribs, BBQ chicken, sushi, mac & cheese, salads, veggies, deserts and a brunch on Sunday.  Good Eats!

Starr winnery (Jolie, Joe, Christina, David, Gail and Roger)

Starr winnery, wine tasting (Jolie, Joe, Christina, David, Gail and Roger)

After Paso Robles and heading back to Oregon, we camped 1 day at Mt. Madonna, Gilroy and 2 days at Red Bluff, CA., next to the most perfect eastern Sycamore tree I have ever seen. The campground borders the Sacramento River, 30 miles south of Redding. There are hikes from camp and mountain biking near by. And at $8 a night with a Senior Pass or Forest Service Pass (4 star camp at All Stays App).

A Sycamore beauty, Red Bluff campground

A Sycamore beauty, Red Bluff campground / Airstream.

Hey, Scrub Jay, what are you doing with the acorn?

Hey, Scrub Jay, what are you doing with the acorn?

That is a good hiding place, storage granary in a log!

That is a good hiding place, storage granary in a log!

We currently are at Emigrant Lake, a reservoir located 5 miles southeast of Ashland, Oregon, at the southern end of the Rogue Valley. Elevation is 2,241 feet above sea level. The lake has an average surface area of 806 acres. Shortly after we parked and set up camp we started off on a short jaunt on a trail that looks like (from where we stand) it goes around the lake—I’ll explore it by Salsa tomorrow. We’ll also head into Ashland for a look around town. We have been here a couple of times. It is noted for fine restaurants, art galleries and Shakespeare festival.

emigrant lakeIMG_2200

Acorn woodpecker

Acorn woodpecker stopped by our camp

Could not identify this colorful bird with my Audubon field guide

Could not identify this colorful bird with my Audubon field guide.  Looking at the beak, maybe, Thrasher family?

Five fantastic weeks on the road took us to Bend/Sisters, Yosemite, Kings Canyon, Paso Robles, Red Bluff and Emigrant Lake. By Friday, we’ll be back in Portland.  Not too shabby!

Soon, I’ll publish the travel plans for December through March 2015.  Stay in touch with us.  Send me a note on the blog when your have a moment. I would love to hear—how you doin!

Kings “Spectacular” Canyon National Park

Yesterday we drove from Grant Grove to Cedar Grove in Kings Canyon National Park. The walls of the canyon tower thousand’s of feet and are covered with high desert flora and fauna—or comprised of granite domes and rock formations. It is 30 miles twisting and turning from 6,600 feet elevation to 4,000 feet. Around most every turn is a spot to pull over and take a picture of rugged Sierra wilderness. At one lookout the Kings River, middle and south forks meet—can be traced out of the steep, narrow gorges.

Kings River, Middle and South fork canyons

Kings River, Middle and South forks converge below

Repose position at a lookout on the road into the canyon

Repose position at a road side lookout above Kings River

Kings river

Kings River, Cedar Grove area

We went down to Cedar Grove two different days. Best hikes were Zumwalt meadow, only 2 miles, but big on stellar views of the Kings River and cliff faces. Also, a short .5 mile hike to Roaring Falls was cool.

Zumwalt meadow

Zumwalt meadow

Above Zumwalt meadow

Above Zumwalt meadow

Roaring Falls

Roaring Falls

A fantastic hike was nearly 9 miles round trip through pines, following the Kings River, up to Mist Falls. Stunning views, left and right, and a gradual climb of only a 1,000 feet, so an easy, long day by foot. We started at 64 degrees and finished at 80 degrees—starting to cook. Good we were in shade maybe 70% of the way. At the Mist Falls, waters streamed down the smooth rock. Water careened through cracks and crevices and in places, crashed the river’s pool below. In front of the falls on a big boulder was a great place to rest and enjoy the spirit of Mist Falls awhile. Of the black bear reports on the trail, we were not lucky to see one.

Along trail to Mist Falls

Along trail to Mist Falls

Hike to Mist Falls

Hike to Mist Falls

Kings River south followed up to Mist Falls

We followed the trail along the river to Mist Falls

Mist Falls

Mist Falls

If you are reading the blog, drop me a comment.  It is nice to hear from you! A good way to stay in touch.

We have been here 8 days.  It’s beautiful!  At our campsite temperatures are 75-80 degrees in day and cools quickly at sunset but the lowest night time temperature was 48 degrees. Perfect for camping. Two more days here, then, off to Paso Robles for Jolie and Joe’s daughter’s wedding!

Sequoia: Walking with the Giants!

Of all the places—camp, hike, walk, bike, kayak, etc.,—in the natural world I’ve experienced; if I were to pick one; one stands bigger than the rest.  The Big Tree does it for me!  In the Coastal Redwoods or the Sierra Sequoia’s (also redwoods), pick any Big Tree.  Mind-Boggling!  On average, Coastal red’s are taller (380 feet) than Sierra (310).  Sierra are wider (40 feet diameter) than Coastal (22).  Coastal age (2,000 years) and Sierra (3,000)—both still growing.  Take a quick walk with just me, next to a Big Sequoia Tree (Grant Grove area).

metreeIMG_6775 bigIMG_6776 metreeIMG_6767 4 treesIMG_6721 mefallenIMG_6779 4 redwoodsIMG_6958You will agree these are pretty big.  Next, the third largest tree in the world by volume (10 minutes from our Airstream camp) I have walked and talked a  handful of times with—the General Grant tree.

general grantIMG_6947

Walk with Giants

I walked with the Sequoia
speak to me, tell me your secrets
immortal you stand
as tall as the sky is wide

foot thick bark, indestructible Big Tree
no wind, lighting, fire and rain
nor insect could
—bring you down

of all my walks, in all my years
I step reverently
walking with giants
and their silence touches me

my head back and eyes vertical
—I salute General Grant
40 feet wide and 268 feet tall
1,700 years, still growing
a humbling moment—being small


This deer is curious why I am talking with a Big Tree.