Monday, September 27, 2010

Benternship Q & A

I've had many folks ask me about my Benternship that I completed in July and they pretty much all want to know the same things.  So I've created this Q & A to help explain a little better what went down in Central Oregon and what exactly I learned from it.  Here we go:

Q: What the heck is a Benternship?
A: Well, that one's easy.  I am not a creative person so I didn't have to stretch too far when thinking of what to call my internship in Bend.  I guess my strengths lie somewhere else than in creative naming.

Q: So who was your internship with?
A: The company I worked for was Wanderlust Tours, an excellent outfit committed to sharing Central Oregon's best cultural and natural history through the activities that outdoor enthusiasts enjoy, such as canoeing, hiking, caving, and snowshoeing.  Wanderlust Tours is a small business started 17 years ago by a husband and wife team that knew what Bend was missing in regard to outdoor recreation.

Q: Did you quit your job at the railroad?  Are you going to?
A: No, and yes.  I did take a leave of absence for the month of July that allowed me to live in Bend for a few weeks and also to travel to the Rockies for a week to go backpacking with some buddies.  At this point, all I know about the second question is yes, I will quit the RR at some point, but I don't have a date yet.  Stay tuned...

Q: Was this a paid internship?
A: No.  Does that matter?

Q: What did you do on your Benternship?
A: What didn't I do?!  Start here and read my friend.  It's well documented.

Q: Now that you've finished your Benternship, what steps will you take to further this momentum?
A: Primarily, research and waiting.  My gut tells me that I'm going to be moving sometime in 2011 to another state.  If that state ends up needing a niche filled like Wanderlust Tours did for Central Oregon, then that's my goal.  If not, then hopefully I can work for a similar outdoor company...that will be a real trick as Wanderlust does such a phenomenal job I can't imagine finding something similar elsewhere.  In the meantime, I will continue to look at other outdoor-related activities and see what I would like to include in my own business model.  Also, I'm looking at classes that will help me prepare for owning a small business.

Q: Your Benternship seemed amazing.  I would love to do some of the activities you did in Bend.  How do I find out more information about Wanderlust Tours?
A: You can visit Wanderlust Tours' website here.

I also have to say that the company blog is pretty sweet.  Click on this link to view the Wanderlust Tours' blog page.

Have a great day!

Climbing on Travel Oregon's Blog page

Hey folks I just ran across this list of climbing areas in Oregon that the state tourism board, Travel Oregon, has noted as great places to climb in Oregon.  Some of the areas are for bouldering, some are best for sport climbing, and still others are great mountaineering areas.  Check out the entry here.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Trip Report: Obsidian Trail/Middle Sister Adventure

Trip Report from Sept. 20/21, 2010.  Bold print below corresponds to video time points.  Read along and when you get to a bold time point press play 'til you get to the time on the video.  This way you can "see" exactly what I'm describing in the TR.

Kohl & I got a chance to hike the beautiful Obisidian Trail in the Three Sisters Wilderness of the Cascades last week.  We left town early afternoon on Monday and spent one night in the wilderness before coming home late Tuesday evening.  This trip was very last minute and we didn't know we'd be going until about 2 hours before our departure.  However, Kohl & I had both hiked this trail in 2008 with our partners and I felt comfortable with our plans.  I'm telling you this because it will make you say "oh, that's what happened" later...

We arrived at the Trailhead about 4 p.m. to find about three other cars in the parking lot (:01).  We knew we didn't have a lot of time to hike as it would be getting dark just before 8 p.m. or so.  We hit the trail and quickly ascended through the very wet (it was misting on us as we started our hike (:12) forest, noting many mushrooms and unique plants along the way.  After about 2 hours or so we exited the forest and encountered a fantastic sight; a lava flow (:21)!  This flow was only about 1/4 mile in width but we were happy to have a change of scenery and a chance to view the North Sister.  Unfortunately she was out of sight when we got around the corner but the change of pace was nice nonetheless (:29).

After finishing our stint on the lava flow we headed back into the woods.  At this point in the trip we were at a fork in the trail (:33).  Go left and we'd continue on toward our planned campsite, making a summit attempt the following morning very probable.  Go straight and we'd end up an hour or so later at Obsidian Falls, along Obsidian Creek, and not where we wanted to be.  So we went straight- oops!  We didn't know until the following morning that we were making this mistake, so we tromped off happily into the woods looking for a nice place to eat and set up camp.  We discovered more finds, like a pine cone that I at first believed to be a mushroom (:36).

We hiked for another hour or so, every few minutes getting a gorgeous peak of North Sister in the Alpen-glow (:40).  Shortly after it was getting dark enough that my camera wasn't working except for up-close shots.  We decided that we'd take another fork in the trail, this time to Obisidian Falls.  As soon as we got within ear-shot of the whitewater racing down the mountain next to us I started to realize that we'd indeed ended up on the wrong trail.  Up to this point, we felt that it was possible that we just didn't remember the trail that well.  Now we were realizing that we weren't where we wanted to be.  Bummer.  Anyhow, darkness and empty stomachs were the priority at this point, so we raced up the trail to a flat area where we could set up camp.  A few minutes later, we were pitching the tent and starting dinner (:48).  It was cold up here, about 40 degrees I would say and I donned gloves to keep my fingers warm.

After our meal we moved the bags down near the creek to give the bears something to eat other than us, played some rummy and then went to bed.  Sleep was difficult for Kohl I later learned but I was very tired and knocked out quickly.  Something about being in nature always lets me sleep well.  Our original plan was to wake around 5 a.m. to make a mountain summit attempt, but we both decided to hold off until after sunup due to our new found lost-ness.

We awoke around 8 or so and were VERY cold!  Problem was the sun was hitting the rain fly on the tent and melting the ice that had formed overnight.  While I was cold, I was less inclined to get wet so got up and out of the tent in a hurry, unlike Kohl who was already wet AND cold (:53).  Breakfast was oatmeal with fresh-filtered creek water to wash it down (1:02).  We made a decision at this point that I feel now was very wise, but at the time I was quite bummed about.  We knew that we were not where we thought we should be for a summit attempt, so we planned to hike around on the trail we were on until after lunch and then head back to the car, tails between our legs, not attempting to summit Middle Sister.

We broke camp and hiked down below the falls (1:12) to the original trail and headed south away from our Trailhead.  We were quickly greeted with a wonderful view of Middle Sister and lots of plant life that was turning a beautiful fire-red color (1:37).  We hiked about 40 minutes or so from our overnight camp and realized that we could scramble up a nearby ridge for much closer and personal views of the mountain, and possibly see North and South Sisters as well from a higher viewpoint.  We made a good assessment of the trail where we departed on and agreed where we'd head once we were off-trail (1:45).  We scrambled up the loose lava rock ridge and quickly found an amazing view of South Sister (1:57).

After soaking in the view to the south and refueling our bodies with granola bars we decided to go yet further up and to the north to see about views of North Sister.  We really pushed our bodies here and got a great workout to boot as we ascended another 1000' or so up the flanks of Middle Sister (2:09).  The views were astounding and the fact that we hiked above the cloud layer to the west was pretty neat as well (2:13).

After our final ridge was summited we decided to head back down for the trail, which we could see a LONG way down below us (2:32).  After about 45-60 minutes we rejoined the trail and headed back north toward the car.  We made quick work of the trial out of the Wilderness Area and enjoyed a tasty beer at the Trailhead just before 5 o'clock (2:53).  All said, some things went unexpectedly and we did well to communicate to one another when one of us wasn't comfortable doing something.  The trip was definitely a fun one and I was glad to be recreating with Kohl, a friend I hope to share many more backpacking trips with.

Update; new trip report coming soon!

Hey folks,

I'm just heading out the door today to do some more rock climbing with friends Scott & Luke at the Callahans.  Today's supposed to be a great day weather-wise.  I hope we climb a good set of routes also!  Stay tuned...

What are YOU doing this weekend?  Write a comment and let me know.  I'd love to hear about other adventures!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Callahans Climbing Trip Sept 13, 2010

Well,  I figure I've got to keep the momentum up on this blog or you guys are going to get bored.  So here's the latest outdoor adventure I've had:

Monday I had the pleasure of driving to the Callahans near Roseburg, about an hour-and-a-half south of Eugene.  Kohl and I were both up for a bit of sport climbing so we packed the Explorer up and loaded the doggers too.  Graham and Jake were very excited to get to go somewhere, anywhere, and jumped in the back with great enthusiasm.  We got on the road about 12:30 p.m. and hit the trailhead around 2:00 p.m. or so.

 We parked the car and huffed up a steep, graveled road for about 1/4 mile to our turn-out into the woods.  Normally this marks the beginning of a VERY steep, long approach to the climbing area but today we passed the turn-out and kept on the gravel for another hundred yards or so.  We were looking for a bouldering area just off the road that we'd not been to before.  We quickly found the rocks and dropped our rope bags, put on our climbing shoes and chalked up.  We had a guide book that told the difficulty of the routes here and we knew that most of them were out of our league.  There was one obvious route that we had to try, a V1 that we both knew we could do.  For those of you who don't boulder, a "V#" is a numbered system to grade the difficulty of a bouldering route.  For example, a V0 or a V1 is relatively easy and a V10 is incredibly difficult.  Thus, V1s are awesome.

Kohl went first as I set up the camera and played with the dogs.  The forest area we were in was mostly second growth timber with lots of downed branches and underbrush.  There wasn't much foliage on the ground except for poison oak.  In other words, not a pristine forest by any means but much nicer than the climbing gym in town.  The route was short and Kohl quickly progressed to the finish.  The shot of the shoe in the facebook photo album (#31) shows just how small the finish foothold was...pretty cool stuff.

I was up next and made Kohl play with the dogs this time around.  Without that distraction, hanging from the rock two feet off the ground made for a very difficult route as the dogs would come up and lick me, wanting to play and unaware of how annoying they were!  I too progressed through the route quickly and we were ready to move up to the climbing area.

Our packs returned to our shoulders, we went back to the climbing wall trail.  It was about 75 degrees and around 2:45 p.m.  The trail up to the climbing area is steep and there are lots of switchbacks but we made quick, sweaty work of it and soon were at our first problem.  The route was a 5.8 (similar to V scale but a comment to find out more about the ratings) off-width and I really was a wuss about climbing the darn thing.  I took more times than there were bolts but in the end, I salvaged my pride and finished it.  Photos to match here:

At the top of the route I discovered that the anchor system I expected to see (AND USE) didn't exist.  This was a bit of a bummer and it took me a few seconds to decide what to do.  After talking it over with Kohl, we decided that he would lead an adjacent route and clean my top anchor for me.  I was lowered back to earth and Kohl then led his route,  a 5.6 which he made VERY quick work of.  I should point out that anytime I'm climbing or belaying the doggers are on takes virtually no time for their grubby little paws to ruin a nice clean rope so it's never an option to let them run free while someone's in the air.  That said, their time on leash was short.

After cleaning the gear from his route and mine Kohl and I headed further east along the trail to the "fantasy island" area of the Callahans.  This monolith was one we'd never seen before so hiking the 1/2 mile to it was worth it, despite the time of day.  There was a split in the trail and we soon realized we'd gone the wrong way.  Normally I'd be happy to turn around and try the right way but you must understand that the trail we were on was VERY steep and I could tell that I wasn't very far from the top.  It seemed easier to keep going up and risk finding nothing than to backtrack down a very steep, slick trail.

At the top we found a nice view to the east of Roseburg, about 15 miles away.  Along a pillar of rock towering over us were three routes we'd never seen before.  Feeling adventurous I decided to lead the middle one, another 5.8.  This route was extremely exposed, meaning that on both sides of me (about 2 feet on the left and 10 feet on the right) there was a steep cliff as the pillar curved around on itself.  This meant that each time I looked to the left, I couldn't see rock, but a birds' eye-view of Roseburg, 1000' feet below in the valley.  To the right, countless trees filled the view of the side of the cliffs we'd hiked along before.  I didn't look around much until we were leaving.

I led my route like a champ, redeeming myself from a June trip here where I was the biggest weenie ever.  It's ebb and flow like that for me in rock climbing, one of the reasons I like it I guess.  Kohl then cleaned my route and we huffed back up the hill to a gravel road that would lead us back to the other end of the ridge.  We hiked just over 1/2 mile and dove back into the woods.  At this point, it was dusk and the woods were beginning to darken quickly as the sun faded to the west.  We could barely see the trail as we jetted down the steep ridge toward the car.  Graham and Jake seemed really tired at this point, which made me a very happy man.  About 30 minutes later we were out of the woods, both literally and figuratively speaking.  The dogs received dinner a la gravel road and made quick work of inhaling their grub.  We called in a to-go order of pizza in Roseburg and arrived to pick it up 20 minutes later.  Never has pizza tasted so good!

Thinking back on this trip there wasn't much I would change.  In fact, only two (though major) things stand out as an oversight and that was a light source and food.  We were fortunate to not sprain an ankle or worse coming down that steep trail in the dark.  Lesson learned; bring a headlamp no matter the time of day you think you'll be departing the Callahans.   Regarding food, I didn't bring a single thing to snack on while we were on the rock and Kohl's Luna bar saved me I'm sure.  Thanks for looking out for me, buddy.

Here's the full photo album for you: