Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Eugene Wanderings

This weekend some friends were in town to run a marathon. Some people like running. I hate it. But I do love a good wander.

The marathon in question was in Eugene, a few hours south. I'd driven through Eugene a few times and even visited for a few hours once, but I'd never really gotten a chance to see the city. Even though I was not to be running the marathon (or the half marathon (or any race ever)) I still wanted to tag along to see the place and maybe explore while my wife and two friends made themselves miserable.

It started on Saturday. The 3 running amigos decided to do a little morning fun run then go and get showered for lunch. As a not runner, I decided to take this time frame to explore. We parked up in Alton Baker Park. They ran Pre's Trail. I walked across the river and up Skinner Butte, which is a random dollop of a hill right on the river. The top offered a great view of the town to the south. There was a classic college acoustic guitar douchebag at the top strumming love songs to the wind.

I then walked back down to the river, across back into Day Island, then along the water, occasionally veering off on side paths to the river and to meadows with views of Autzen Stadium. Quack.

I then crossed back over the river and loafed around the University of Oregon campus. They have a cemetery like, right in the middle. It's weird. I found a can of spam. It was nice to walk around an actual pretty campus. RIT was a truck stop of a place. I ended up at about 6 miles worth of wandering.

We then went and saw Avengers: Infinity War. As a non-Marvel fan who has lost interest slowly over the years, it did nothing for me and actively annoyed me half the time. I just don't think I'm the audience for them anymore.

The next day we were up at 5 because runners are the worst people and hate adequate REM sleep. For the race that started at 7 I dropped them off at the starting line at 5:30. I took advantage of my sleep deprived delirium to drive to Spencer Butte for the sunrise.

Spencer butte is a big round hill south of the city. It looms pretty recognizably on the horizon in most of Eugene. It has a small trail system around it, and a couple of short routes to the top. The shortest route is about .6 miles and 800 steep feet of bullshit. But I started at 6am and by 6:24 I was at the top. I was alone. Total solitude. I didn't have much of a view thanks to heavy fog, but the serenity and atmosphere of being all alone at the top made it worth it.


I took a bunch of fog photos then went back down the longer, easier east side. I got back to the car before 8 had even hit. I decided to try to do a double summit and drive to Mt. Pisgah, the other nice big hill in the surrounding area. Sadly, due to the marathon route blocking the only easy access road to the area, I was shit outta luck. Runners: the actual worst? Quite possibly.

With my route blocked and at least an hour and a half before I was needed to return, I drove back to Spencer Butte and climbed it all over again because well, why not? Same route, slightly different explorations, got done just in time. Still didn't get any views thanks to fog.

With both climbs combined I got about 4.50 miles and 1800 elevation gain. Twas a good weekend for a workout. With the stress of the walks, the driving around, and the long trip home with maybe one good night sleep over the previous 4 nights, by the time I reached my home I crashed hard. But it was a good weekend.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

10 Falls Equals 10 Selfies

For an Easter weekend hike, we decided to go back to Silver Falls state park and do the classic Trail of Ten falls, an Oregon classic.

We've already done this hike twice, in both low-water late summer and late spring when the water level was absurdly high, so there isn't much to say here that I haven't mentioned already. The hike was very busy thanks to the holiday crowds and there weren't many moments of solitude. The hike is still great though, and relatively easy considering the distance.

For the first time we went counter-clockwise, getting the boring 2 mile rim trail portion out of the way early. This was probably a smart move on our part as the hike finished with a bang at South Falls. It also gave us a slightly tougher hike as climbing back on the south side brings slightly steeper hills. Not by much, but enough.

Middle North Falls clearly stands out as the best falls to me after 3 visits. South Falls and North falls are really impressive, but MNF is a lot more intimate and it is kind of a secret that it doesn't seem nearly as cool when the water flow isn't optimal.

We also saw some deer at the end of the hike, chilling in an open picnic area that no one was wandering into.

Frenchie Falls, basically a tiny trickle

The mighty South Falls

Lower South Falls

Lower North Falls

Double Falls, double the Rappoccios

The difficult to see and lame Drake falls

Middle North Falls

Middle North

behind Middle North selfie

An unnamed falls

North Falls

Upper North

Winter Falls

Winter falls with a Keeley for scale

The scale of North falls

Middle North

The stairs before Lower South falls, the hardest uphill of the hike

Going behind Lower South

9.64 Miles
1086 ft. elevation gain

Sunday, March 4, 2018

A Much Less Terrifying Visit to Warrior Point

Last time we went to Warrior Point it was a crappy cloudy day that got legitimately scary when a wind storm rolled in on the way back and started knocking trees over next to the trail. We had to run most of the way back because branches were falling down. We didn't have much chance to enjoy it.

Yet for the next few years I kept forgetting about this place when thinking of a hike to go back to.

Well I finally remembered it. We needed something easy and close but I didn't want to go back into Forest Park. Well Warrior Point is about 20-30 minutes from our new home and the day was nice so off we went!

Warrior Point is the far northern tip of Sauvie Island. It has a lighthouse. The trailhead is at the very end of Reeder rd, past where the pavement ends, past the "clothing optional" beach. You need a 7 dollar parking permit to park at any of the recreational spots. I wouldn't chance parking without it, this is the kind of place probably eager to get whatever money they can from tourists so they'll tow you.

The trail is exceptionally flat. You won't gain or lose more than 10 feet on any "hill". The only challenge is distance, but with a trail this flat 8 miles is easy. It won't even be 8 miles, it'll be closer to 7 unless you explore a bit like we did.

The trail follows an old dirt roadbed along the beach for 3 miles. Occasional detours offer themselves off to the side, but they likely just go to little ponds or beaches. There are several beach access points where you can wander down and stick a toe in the water and admire the Columbia. If you get lucky, you might see a big tanker float by. We saw 2.

It's not terribly remarkable till you hit the lighthouse. The lone, closed, short little lighthouse sits on Warrior Rock, an outcropping of basalt thrust off the side of the soft beach. It has a nice little cove of water next to it and offers a decent view across the river. This is redneck camping territory at its finest.

Little frog we found on a tree

Little cove next to Warrior Rock

We trudged up the beach a ways trying to reach the actual Warrior Point tip, but some downed trees prevented progress. We did find a thing on a small bluff, an old foundation of some sort. Neat.

Standing on the weird foundation

We walked back to the trail then cut up the other access road through the big meadow. This road is much less trafficked. At the end, through some neat woods, is Warrior Point itself. You can see the town of St. Helens across the river. You can see the top 4th of the actual Mt. St. Helens peeking out over the eastern ridge.

Columbia Tugboat

St. Helens (The Town)

A mountain and Mt. St. Helens

St Helens

Other St. Helens


Cool clouds

3 miles of wandering straight back brought us home. We hit up Occidental Brewing and had big burgers and brews. Then we watched The Ritual on Netflix, which is a movie about hikers getting lost in the woods of Sweden with something hunting them and it was amazing and exactly the kind of horror movie I would make if I made movies.

8.35 miles
3 hours
410 feet of elevation gain