Friday, December 23, 2011

Dorena Lake Road Ride

Dorena Lake Bike Trail

Riding in the woods

My friend Dave & I went out to Dorena Lake about a month ago for a long road ride, and I'm just now getting to the write-up. Life's been very busy, but here's one of my latest adventures:

A view of the countryside
Dorena Lake is a reservoir just about five miles east of Cottage Grove, Oregon. Cottage Grove is a semi-rural town that makes a great starting point for riding out to the lake. The lake itself is about six miles in length all together, with a very nice, wide bike path running along it's north shore. The path is a converted railroad line that ran from town to the Bohemia mines in the foothills of the Cascades. Today, this path is heavily used by walkers and cyclists looking for peaceful solitude and exercise.
Dave taking in the view

We started our ride from a parking lot in town, under very wet looking clouds that misted us as we began. The air dried out slightly within the first few minutes and we were fortunate enough to find the puddles along the path had mostly disappeared. The time of year provided lots of leaves covering the path from trees above, making some sections very difficult to navigate on our skinny tires. I was convinced I was going to hit a rock or unknown object and be thrown from my saddle, but I was fortunate enough to avoid any mishaps.

We rode at a moderate clip, averaging about 17 mph for the time we were out. We had decided to ride the length of the path, from the west to the east, and then return along the same path. Being a railroad grade, the elevation gain was easy to adjust to and steady. I could definitely feel the burn in my quads as we pushed uphill.

The east terminus of the path provided a nice spot for a break, and we enjoyed being off the seats for about 20 minutes while we refueled with snacks and water. After that, we jetted back down the path toward our car and headed home. The ride was wet, cold, and challenging- I wouldn't have wanted it any other way!

Blurry, but how I felt while riding in the wet conditions

5k Challenge Update: Mission Accomplished!

I'm very happy to report today that I've completed my 5k Challenge! I wrapped up my 100th run of the year under beautiful blue skies in Klamath Falls. It was a cold day and hard to catch my breath at first, but after a sprint-start I was breathing normally after a few minutes. The air was cold, just below freezing, and the running gear I was wearing was just enough to keep me warm.

You can check out my final run of the year here.

Thanks for following me along on this journey. I'm happy to say that 2011 was a definite success for my personal fitness, and hope I can say the same next year as well.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Dorris Ranch Day Hike

Taking my son on a short hike the other day, my wife and I were pleased to enjoy a relaxing, carefree afternoon in one of our favorite locations in Springfield- Dorris Ranch Living History Farm. This Filbert (or Hazelnut) orchard produces a large crop each year, and we were catching the tail end of the harvest. As the three of us meandered through the trees, the dogs played joyfully around our feet and amongst the trees, looking for both squirrels to chasse and sticks to play with. Finding none of the former and all too many of the latter, they had a tough time picking out the perfect toy for us to throw.

We spent only an hour or so in the orchard, making a large loop toward the Willamette River whose banks the orchard grows upon and back toward the car again. The trees were still completely green, surprising for this time of year, but the air was crisp, clean, and cool which reminded us that winter was soon to come in our neck of the woods. Being a weekday, the foot traffic from other visitors was minimal and we enjoyed our solitude. Anson seemed to enjoy the sights and sounds of the park, as well, as he carefully observed everything we encountered.

After loading up the dogs and the gear in the car, we were bound for home, knowing that the hike we’d embarked upon would be the highlight of our day, if not our week, in the outdoors.

Fall Foilage sights around Oregon October 30th

Riding along Highway 97 the other morning, I couldn’t help but thinking how very lucky I am to live in Oregon, and to work among the varying regions of this state. At the southern end of my territory I work in Klamath Falls, just about 15 miles from the California border. Sitting at about 4,200’ elevation, Klamath Falls has a topography that is unique to many other areas in Oregon. The land is dry and dusty, surrounded by mostly bare hills that tower over town, reaching across the horizon and playing wonderful tricks with the suns’ light. As the day fades into evening, the rays race across the hills and alight them with yellow and gold. The hills themselves, which are upwards of 6,000' in elevation, are laden with low grass and copious amounts of lava rock, peaking through here and there creating a patchwork of black spots among the fields of grass .The air is usually very dry as this is the high desert, and the mornings even in the summer can bring fog and low clouds that burn off just as quickly as they have formed. The majestic Mt. Shasta can be viewed on the southern horizon, reminding you once again that you are indeed in a highly volcanic region.

Traveling north on Highway 97, the mix of Ponderosa, Lodgepole, and Aspen trees provided a diverse mix of greens and yellows. The trunks of the Ponderosa Pine, after reaching maturity, develop a beautiful reddish-orange tint that added another hue to the already diverse mix of sights. The Aspens grow in tight clusters of 10-30 trees that provide small islands of yellow among the green backdrop.

Turning onto Highway 58 the landscape quickly changes from dry, high desert to a wetter, denser forest. The Lodgepole Pines and their counterparts give way to Oregon’s state tree, the Douglas Fir. It is estimated that out of all the trees in Oregon, 80 percent of them are Douglas Fir. It is an easy fact to understand as we head over Willamette Pass, diving down from about 5,000’ toward our destination for the day, Eugene., which rests at 800’. The densely packed firs are accompanied by an assortment of low-growing plants, ranging from ferns such as Sword, Maidenhair, and Brackenfern to bushier plants such as Vine Maple and the beautiful Rhododendron. The Vine Maple from the top of the summit all the way into the foothills right now is typically a gorgeous shade of red, and the Brakenfern have taken on a yellowish-brown as they fades into the soil.

As we drove, I took note of the diversity that was being displayed to us. Fall is definitely a wonderful time of year in any part of the country, but I would wager in Oregon, it’s a little nicer than most.

5k Challenge Update: Klamath Falls run

As I ran my most recent 5k the other day, I couldn’t help but think- “MAN, it’s getting cold out here!” Perhaps it was because I had just woken up from a long nap, but I wager it was almost certainly because it was 28 degrees outside! Klamath Falls sits at 5,000’ and it had been snowing most of the day before I went out. Though nearly all of the snow had melted, the moisture was still on the ground providing plenty of opportunities for me to slip and hurt myself.

It didn’t help that I was running in the dark. Or maybe it did. Because it was so dark out, I couldn’t differentiate the ice from the bike path, which undoubtedly made me faster, if not more foolish for being out in such conditions. But I’d made a commitment: to you, to myself. I honestly don’t know how many more of these 5ks I have to do this year to make 100, but I’m not quite there yet. Not yet.

I’ll keep running until something in my brain realizes that I’ve fulfilled my goal- 100 5ks in a calendar year. Until that point, I’m putting my nose to the grindstone and getting out there to make resolution come true!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fall Foilage sights around Oregon October 10-15th

I've been fortunate enough to make a few daylight trips to and from Klamath Falls, OR this past week and I've also documented my trips with some photos. Here's the best of what I've seen:

Upper Klamath Lake

Shrubby bushes along the road.

Fall has reached the 5,000' level near O'Dell Lake

Looking down onto the Williamson River

Look closely and you can see Mt. Thielson in the background

Mt. Scott, near Crater Lake National Park

Looking east toward the high desert

Near O'Dell Lake

Fall leaves and changing weather...

...are two of my favorite things about the outdoors. I got to experience both this week as Graham dog, Jake dog, and I went hiking just outside of town above Fall Creek Reservoir.

The day was ours to explore, and we left town around lunchtime to start our journey. The original plan was to find mushrooms, so with a basket in the car I made a bee-line for one of my trusted sites. We ended up detouring up a gravel Forest Service road that looked promising and I soon found myself driving along a steep, winding road that paralleled a ridge.

After driving about five miles on this road, I stopped the car so the dogs could have a break and I could start looking. While walking around I noticed the amplitude of leaves that were changing from their summer greens to wonderful shades of yellow and red. This proved to be the only "bounty" I would yield today, as the mushrooms evaded my capture.

We enjoyed our day thoroughly just the same, the dogs running around like lunatics and me enjoying every moment of it. We spent about two hours traipsing through the woods, and then drove home for a nice long nap. What a day!

Although I don't have any photos from this day, fear not! I'll add another post above to showcase what I've been seeing around Oregon in the last week. Stay tuned!

Friday, September 30, 2011

5k Challenge update

Hey everyone,

It's been a busy, busy summer with the new addition to our family, trips to the midwest and east coast for vacation, and working at the J-O-B. That said, I've been keeping up on my 5ks, though not as diligently as in months past.

I just visited St. Louis and had the opportunity to run in the beautiful Forest Park. If you ever get the chance to run there, do it! The park is roughly three miles wide by about a half-mile in length, which makes for a great 10k loop when you have the ambition. I ran the park two mornings in a row, the first of which was partenered with a DOWNPOUR. I didn't even bother trying to stay dry, as just steps out the front door of the house I was dripping already. The second day was dry and much more relaxing than the first. I still managed to run two 10ks, despite not having ran for a few weeks prior to this trip.

The park itself hosts a myriad of activities, most all of them free to the public. My favorite, of course, was the running trail that meanders throughout the park, both along the perimeter and many different directions through the heart of the green oasis.

After returning from Missouri, I went back to work and am at the moment sitting in my Klamath Falls hotel room. I got prepped to go on a 10k but realized I left my running shoes at home. The only shoes I have with me now are flip flops and steel-toed work boots, neither of which are conducive to running in. That left me with an interesting option: using the treadmill at the workout room and running barefoot. Let me assure you, this isn't' a good idea. I ran two miles, and then my feet started to blister. Guess I will have to remember my shoes next trip!

Until next time, adios!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Photos from the Triathlon

Hey all, just wanted to quickly post some photos from the race. If you haven't already read the entry just below this one, scroll down and check out the full report from my first triathlon!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

28.6 miles

Well, I did it! Today's Triathlon Eugene started at 7:05 a.m. for me and I was happy to have been part of this inaugural event. My wife, son, & I arrived a little after 6:00 a.m. where we found about 150 other racers who were prepping their bikes, clothes and themselves for the early start. The sun was just coming up in the east, revealing light cloud cover. We started the race near 55 degrees and the water temp was about 74. Needless to say, it was warmer in the water than on the shore!

Pre-race jitters
 The short course consisted of a .5 mile swim, a 25 mile bike ride, and a 3.1 mile run. I'd been training for this event since March so I knew what I had coming as far as effort and distances, but having said that I hadn't done all three events in a single day before. I also hadn't practiced my transitions (called T1 and T2), the parts of the race where I would go from swim to bike and from bike to run.

Lining up for the swim start
I started in the back of the pack on the swim and more or less stayed there. The long course racers, who started five minutes before my wave and were swimming twice as far as me, began passing me about halfway through my swim. I was far from being shocked, but maintained my pace and perseverance as best I could.

We're off!
Coming out of the water was fun because I was in a group with what were apparently three popular racers, which made me swim harder to the transition (I was pretending they were cheering for me). The transition zone was crowded but I made relatively quick work of donning my helmet, gloves, sunglasses and shoes after ditching the swim cap and goggles.

Coming in to T1

The road ride was tough, for sure, but I kept my pace (about 18 mph for those keeping track) here too and only let a handful of riders pass me. I felt like I was losing ground to a lot of racers, but it turns out now that I look at the results I actually passed 10 people during the 1.5 hour ride.

Coming in to T2
 Back now at the second transition area and dreading my run (exhaustion was setting in here) I took a break after putting on my running shoes to go give my wife and son a kiss for luck. I shot out of T2 and started out on the run, making a 8:00/mile pace.

Changing at T2
Off for the final leg!

I wrapped up my first triathlon with a final time of 2:12:35 and I've got to say I couldn't be happier with the result. After a nice lunch with my friends who came to cheer me on, the three of us went home for what ended up being a two hour nap! Well deserved I believe!

PS- Thanks a ton to Jamie for taking these photos!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tahkenitch Lake Backpacking Adventure!

Anson wasn't afraid of the dark woods, thankfully.

My wife, son, and I went just south of Florence this weekend for our first backpacking trip as a family. As you might remember we tried backyard camping a few months ago with great success so it seemed we should be able to manage a more adventurous outing now that the little man is four months old. We were very lucky in many ways this weekend and fulfilled our goal of getting out in nature, seeing something new, and having some time alone to reconnect with one another.

We got a late start (what else is new?) to our trip and arrived at Tahkenitch Campground & Trailhead around 7:30p.m. We knew we had about an hour and a half of daylight left so we got moving quickly and were on our way to Threemile Lake which was, you guessed it, three miles from the trailhead.

We didn't know what the trail would have in store for us becuase we'd never been there, but were pleasantly surprised that there weren't many hills or difficult sections. We didn't know if we'd find a flat spot for our tent, but were delighted to find a great forested area next to the dunes that was very flat and protected from the wind.

About two miles from our destination the light had diminished so much that hiking through the thickly-covered forest required a headlamp. The dogs, as well as Claire and I, were ambitious about hiking regardless of the time of day so we made good time getting to Threemile Lake, having taken just about 1.5 hours.

We pitched the tent and cooked our dinner before I went out with the doggers to explore our campsite. We were on a tall bluff about 50-75 feet above sea level and therefore had a commanding view of the coast and dunes to the south. The night sky yielded a full moon, the Perseids meteor shower, and the occasional wisp of clouds moving across the horizon. After putting the young one to sleep, we enjoyed a relaxing light show, trying to find meteors racing across the sky.

What a campsite!

After a good nights' sleep (with a four month old that is a very relative term!), we awoke to the now-familiar sound of crashing waves. A light breeze and the low sun kept us cool as we began our hike, meandering through the sand on our way to the ocean. 

The dogs enjoyed a quick dip in Threemile Lake as we made our way to the shoreline. We were smart and only put waterproof items in their dog packs, knowing how much they like to swim.

Wet dogs=happy dogs
Threemile Lake

 Once we arrived at the beach I was pleasantly surprised to find many animals, although most of them ravaged by seabirds, washed up along the shore. We saw numerous crabs, starfish, and jellyfish.

Seashell carnage

As we walked further along we looked for our trail back to the car to complete our six mile loop. We came across people hiking on the beach, backpackers like us, heading home from their own adventures. The whole time we were backpacking we saw only 13 people. It was refreshing to be in such solitude along the coast.

A great Oregon memory

We were approaching noon about the time we left the seaside, and the sun was high in the mostly cloudless sky. The breeze was virtually non-existent and made for a hot walk back the last 1.5 miles to the car. We were happy to have found the shady trail again and get off the sand, which made for hot and difficult hiking.

Shade from the surprisingly hot sun

All in all, we know that we are very lucky for many reasons, not the least of which is to live in such a wonderful place like Oregon. Anson is lucky to have been born here, and we are lucky to be able to take him on such beautiful hiking adventures.


Until next time...

Friday, August 5, 2011

Triathlon Training Update

So I've been really pushing hard to get out running, swimming, and biking during the past few weeks to prep for Triathlon Eugene on August 28th. My friends have been great workout buddies, and I seem to have a partner to go with anytime I want one, which is great for motivation!

The latest adventure involved going with a coworker Thursday afternoon to Fern Ridge Reservoir, located just northwest of Eugene and the location of this month's triathlon. For those of you who came to my wedding, it's the same location where Claire & I were wed.

We didn't know what to expect when we stuck our toes in the water, as Oregon lakes and rivers can vary dramatically depending on location, elevation, and time of year. We were pleasantly surprised to find the water to be very nice, not too cold and not too warm for a great swim. We started out and my wife stayed along the shore for moral support and to measure our distance. We made a bee line for the buoys, which are roughly 150 feet from shore and then turned to swim alongside them from one edge of the swimming area to the other. We made one full lap (down and back) and got out of the water about 35 minutes later, having covered a choppy, current-filled .4 miles and being proud of ourselves for doing the swim. I was especially proud because it was my first open-water swim!

More to come soon. Until then, I'll be training!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Weekend Awesomeness, Bend edition

My wife and child went out of town at the end of June, so I decided to make the most of my bachelor-dom and head to central Oregon for a camping trip and reunion with some friends. My Eugene friends were all competing in the Oyster Racing Series Bend event so that made going to the "dry side" of the Cascades even easier, as I could camp with old friends while meeting up with new ones in town.

Jana & Kohl prepping for their race

Approaching Bend
 The doggers were my sole responsibility for the weekend and we arrived at Tumalo State Park just northwest of Bend about dinner time. I had made plans to grab a pint with my Wanderlust Tours comrades in town that night, so I quickly unpacked my camping gear, fed the dogs, and loaded them back in the car to drive to town.

The evening went too quickly catching up with Jack, Jeff & Dave and I soon found myself driving back to camp shortly after midnight. I knew that the Oyster racers would all be waking at 5:00 a.m. to prep for their completion so I made short work of falling asleep. Sure enough, daybreak came quickly and I was being trampled by Graham & Jake dogs. If you've never camped with dogs in a tent, consider yourself lucky. We packed our gear back into the car, still unsure of where we'd sleep that night, and headed into town for the days' activities.
Graham & Jake doggers enjoying the dog park

My schedule is such that I often don't know what I have planned until the day before it will be happening. That was certainly the case on this trip, so I didn't have time to sign up for the Oyster Race. I was able, however, to register for The Bite of Bend's annual Beer Run. This 3-mile run starts and finishes downtown at a food festival, and incorporates one of my favorite activities, beer, with one of my favorite activities, running. Needless to say, I had a great time! The views of the Sisters mountains were second-to-none, and the air was warm, crisp, and clean. I finished in the top 20%, so I was  very happy with the days' activity.

After running the race and hanging out with a buddy from Bend it was time to hit the road and start toward home. My Eugene friends decided to go camping in another spot for Saturday night, so I met up with them and we headed down the Cascade slope toward Ice Cap Campground, in the Willamette (Wil-am-it) National Forest.

The campground was very nice, secluded and quiet save for the stream that passed just below us, about 50 feet from our tents. We had a relaxing evening playing stump (see photo at left), drinking a few select beers, and telling stories about our races from that day. The night came slowly and we headed to bed as our bodies began to stiffen up from the days' efforts.

Very relaxing fire

The next morning, we packed up camp at a leisurely pace and headed downriver to Eugene. The weekend was a memorable one for all the right reasons; great scenery, exercise, friends and beer!

Koosah Falls, just above our campsite on the McKenzie River