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Climbing Mount St. Helens


When I moved to Oregon almost 3 years ago, I thought that I was "outdoorsy". Until I met people who were doing weekly adventures of climbing Mt. Hood, rock climbing at Smith Rock, backpacking in to camp at some remote lake, cycling down the 101, etc. etc. 

Being outside and having experiences and adventures in nature is what drives me and makes me most happy. I've realized that I haven't been in the physical or mental shape that I would prefer and it's been holding me back from accomplishing the more challenging outdoor adventures that I'd like to do. After all, they both go hand-in-hand.

I've been making major positive changes in my life over the last few months. HUGE revelations and HUGE changes. Everyone has their own idea of what is a happy, complete life. For me it's having a few lifetime's worth of experiences in my own lifetime. When I'm old I hope to be saying "I DID that!" instead of blowing out more candles and saying "I WISH I would have done that." 

While recently seeing photos from my friend Peter's countless trips up Mount St. Helens, I commented that climbing it was on my list. He said, "I'll take you! Let me know when and I'll get the permit!" Suddenly I felt overwhelmed with a nauseating feeling of "Holy shit! I am in no shape to climb an 8,365ft mountain, but I REALLY REALLY want to!"

So screw it!...I made a promise to my friend Peter and myself to climb Mount St. Helens soon! There's no time like the present and the past sure sneaks up on us before we know it. No doubt that many of my friends have climbed it as no big deal. But it's a big deal for me because I haven't climbed a mountain this high. Having the goal to climb it also means that I need to get in shape to do so, which is long overdue for me. Two birds, one stone.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I plan to do weekly challenging/difficult hikes as well as smaller/easier hikes to better prepare myself for the climb up the big mama volcano. If anyone wants to join me on these adventures, get in touch. Here are some of the hikes on my list:
Dog Mountain
Saddle Mountain
Hamilton Mountain
Mirror Lake to Tom, Dick, and Harry
Burnt Lake
Ramona Falls

I'm writing about this on here so it's out there, I've committed to it, and now it needs to happen!




Da Bears

Just yesterday after saying that we can't compete with Mother Nature no matter how prepared we are, I decided to go buy some bear deterrent for hiking in grizzly bear territory....




One day on the Oregon coast

I had to make a trip to Corvallis earlier this week to meet with my accountant.  You know, that lovely time of the year when you give the government your arm and leg in taxes and leave weeping.  

I've begun to make the experience a little less stressful by coupling it with a trip to the coast.  South Beach State Park in the area of Newport, OR has been my go-to spot.  Camping in the forest on the coast with the smell of trees and the ocean...and the distant sound of sea lions...while sitting around a campfire.  This makes me extremely happy.


My favorite tidepools on the west coast are just north of Newport at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, managed by the Bureau of Land Management.  There's a beautiful historic lighthouse there, but some of the most amazing intertidal species can easily be viewed in this small nature sanctuary.

There are always a great number of sea stars, giant green sea anemones, and purple urchins.  If you look even closer, you will spot chiton, limpets, barnacles, mussels, and more.  On this particular trip I even had a short, rare glimpse of an octopus hiding out under a rock!


As with all tide pools, you will want to visit during low tide.  The tide charts for this particular area can be found here.  If you happen to visit when the tide is coming in or going out, the rocks on the beach make a really cool sound when the water washes over them!  (My feet got wet--oops!)


Be sure to also visit Quarry Cove on the way to/from the lighthouse.  At both locations, you will often have the opportunity to spot some really cute harbor seals!  And if you keep your eyes peeled, gray whales can often be spotted here....or even the rare orcas!  I've seen plenty of migratory birds and even nesting peregrine falcons.  So take your binos along for the journey!

Note that there is a fee for the Yaquina area, but it's well worth it as far as I'm concerned.  Because it's managed by BLM, it is free if you have a U.S. Parks and Recreation Pass


If you head north from Yaquina, Devil's Punchbowl is another fun spot.  Not only are the views of the coastline quite amazing from the lookout, but so is the geology of the punchbowl.  When the tide is out, you can take a small hike to the beach and explore more amazing tide pools and the inside of the punchbowl.  When the tide is in, you can listen to the thunder of water entering the punchbowl as you watch from the viewpoint above.