6.26.2017

Hiking Among Frozen Giants

Summer Glacier Insights and Escapades

Sandy Glacier Cave. Photo by Outdoor Project Contributor Andrew Stohner. 


by Kevin Machtelinckx

Mountaineering evokes images of vast glacial flows nestled in high mountain valleys. Spring and winter are prime times to explore glaciers. Spring is a transition period where snowpacks begin to stabilize and snowbridges are still intact. Winter is a perfect opportunity to test your cold-weather gear, when crevasses are filled and the white beast is less likely to swallow you up.

Although many of us mountaineers in the Pacific Northwest choose to hit the alpine rock in the summer, as soon as the mountainsides are liberated from snow, it’s worth remembering that some glaciers are still around. While some of us see our main activity as hiking, we don’t necessarily see the fun in plunging crampons into the flanks of these frozen rivers in 5 degrees Fahrenheit on a winter night. Summer and early fall offer excellent opportunities to visit these glaciers in more agreeable conditions. We lay out a few of these slow-moving wonders that are well worth a summer escape.

Jefferson Park Glacier


As with the other glaciers on Mt. Jefferson, the Jefferson Park Glacier was named by Ira Williams of the Oregon Bureau of Mines in 1915 (Hatch, 1917). Of the approximately 35 permanent snow and ice fields on the mountain, Jefferson Park Glacier is set in one of the most spectacular alpine areas in the Oregon Cascades. The glacier rests between two parallel moraines, which are evidence of a massive glacial retreat that was documented as early as 1917 (Hatch, 1917). In the last two decades, climbing the glacier itself has evolved. The famed Jeff Park Glacier route to the summit has gone from a straight-forward glacier trudge toward the obvious saddle to what is now a navigational quandary through a labyrinth of crevasses and bergschrunds. And the glacier continues to break up.

Jefferson Park. Photo by Outdoor
Project Contributor Lance Beck.
However, one does not have to attempt the summit in order to experience the glacier firsthand. A highly rated option is to start from the Whitewater Creek trailhead (trail number 3429). This option allows for a very scenic hike toward the glacier and lakes surrounding the mountain. The trail takes you up through lupine and beargrass meadows lined with pine and mountain hemlock toward the plateau of the park itself. Once in these flatlands, formed from centuries of high mountain lakes breaking through their sand dams and flooding the areas below, some off-trail navigation is required to pick out and follow one of the many climber’s trails that head toward Jefferson Park Glacier. The hike is best done with good visibility, as you will want to set your bearings as soon as you get sight of the toe of the glacier. This is a strenuous and remote hike, and it is advisable to do it as an overnight trip, so as to leave plenty of time for exploration and navigation.



Sandy Glacier Ice Caves
Snow Dragon, Pure Imagination, and Frozen Minotaur. With names like these, the expectations should be high. These ice caves are found on Mt. Hood’s Sandy Glacier, about a mile uphill from the very well-known McNeil Point. In 2011, Eddy Cartaya and Brent McGregor, among others, documented and mapped the ice cave known as Snow Dragon. In the process, two additional caves were discovered, dubbed Pure Imagination and Frozen Minotaur. These are thought to be the most extensive cave systems in the contiguous United States (Chakalian, 2015). The ever-evolving tunnels of ice are being created and destroyed by the Sandy Glacier’s extremely hasty retreat from the sides of the mountain. These cave systems are temporary, and will undoubtedly succumb to the same fate as the ones in Mt. Rainier’s Paradise Glacier, which once held some of the nation’s largest ice caves before their roofs collapsed.


Sandy Glacier. Photo by Outdoor Project Contributor Tyson Gillard.
It should be noted that, because of how precarious and fragile these caves can be, entering them should be done only after very careful consideration. In fact, in 2015, the roof of Snow Dragon collapsed, marking a sign of the continuously-changing structure of the cave system. As the average temperature of our summers continues to rise, warm air makes its way deeper into the caves, creating new openings and destroying old ones. 

To attain the caves, or at least get a glimpse of them from a safe distance, it’s ideal to start from the Top Spur trailhead and follow the signs for McNeil Point. Once past McNeil Point, the trail continues upward onto an obvious rocky ridge with the trail eventually fading into the climber’s left side of the Sandy Glacier. Keep an eye out for openings in the glacier to spot the cave entrances. Getting to the caves will require knowledge in glacier travel and a sense of adventure. For most of us, seeing the Pacific Northwest’s (current) premier cave system from a respectable distance is a treat in itself.

Wallowas 
One would be forgiven if the Wallowa Mountains in remote eastern Oregon did not come to mind when talking about glaciers. By definition, a glacier is a body of permanent snow and ice which experiences relatively slow movement, evidenced by crevasses, icefalls, and a constantly changing geometry and is formed by decades of snowfall exceeding the rate of snowmelt. A perennial snowfield, on the other hand, does not have the characteristic of movement. Oftentimes, a glacier will form if a snowfield grows large enough that part of it spans onto sloped terrain, initiating a very gradual movement of the snowpack and ice.

The Benson Glacier circa 1992. Photo: David Jensen.


By this definition, it is hard to imagine the Wallowas actually featuring any glaciers. However, among the Wallowa’s 131 snow and ice features, one of them is actually named by the US Geological Survey; the Benson Glacier. Situated on Eagle Cap, photos from 1920 show this glacier extending down the steep north east face of Eagle Cap and toward the aptly-named Glacier Lake. Crevasses are readily apparent in the convexities of the ice feature. A repeat photo from 1992, shows a dramatic reduction in size, with the areas that once showed gaping crevasses now only exposed rock (Skovlin, 2000). Today, the Benson Glacier is perhaps better defined as a permanent snowfield and is confined to an area of the Eagle Cap face with an abundance of shade. 

Scars of a miniature ice age full of glaciers are obvious throughout the wilderness area. Moraines, tarns, and rock fields sculpted by eons of glacial grinding has resulted in a pristine landscape filled with dramatic arĂȘtes, granite cirques and, appropriately, a number of permanent snow features feeding the Wallowa River. 

The true definition of the snow and ice feature adorning Eagle Cap’s sides is best left to those willing to make the trip to see it in person. The trip to Glacier Lake, from which the Benson Glacier can easily be seen, is a 13-mile one-way trip from Wallowa Lake. Of course, for the more adventurous, Eagle Cap can also be climbed by several largely non-technical routes, which requires a good degree of fitness if done in one day. 

Still alive and clinging on through torching summers, the glaciers of our beloved Pacific Northwest are as majestic as they are impermanent. Some are extinct, others are only remembered by the artistic remnants they have carved into the mountainsides we climb. If the summer heat has you thinking about calling off your hike, consider one of these cooler destinations. They offer routes to get your miles in and to appreciate the continuous battle for permanency these slow-moving ice giants wage on an annual basis. 

Bibliography
Chakalian, Paul. April 7, 2015. Ice Cave Collapses on Mt. Hood. tinyurl.com/maz-62017
Hatch, L., 1917, The Glaciers of Mount Jefferson [Oregon]: Mazama, v. 5, no. 2, p. 136-139.
Skovlin, J. M., 2000, Interpreting landscape change in high mountains of northeastern Oregon from long-term repeat photography: Portland, Or., U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station.

6.19.2017

Secret Local Watering Holes




Top: Siouxon Creek. Photo: Oregonhikers.org
Bottom Left: Buck Lake. Photo: Oregondiscovery.com
Bottom Right: Serene Lake. Photo: Jamey Pyles at nwhiker.org

by Karoline Gottschild

Most kids and adults agree that Portland's often brilliant July and August sunshine and heat are a divine and well-earned respite from the leaden winter skies and seemingly ceaseless winter rains. We also know that they reward us with the lush greenery, rushing rivers, and sparkling pools that we get to enjoy all summer long.

Many may lament the bygone years where Portland’s reputation for drear and drizzle kept much of the world away from its doors and shores. But it’s 2017, and we’re a bustling popular and ever-growing city, a mecca for all kinds, including ever greater numbers of outdoor lovers. Yet it’s still possible to evade the horrendous summer hordes. There are gems in the woods to be found, if you only go a little off the most beaten paths.

Following are few hidden gems just a drive, hike, and secret (sort of) jaunt away. Some are a bit farther away (but not much more than 2 hours), some are a bit more difficult or longer to get to, and some offer additional bonuses, such as mosquitoes, horse flies, or just plain frigid waters. Hey, it is precisely those natural features that help separate the cooler carriers from the Mazama hikers.
So go for it. Grab your lunch (or stop along the way and support a local business), remember your water (reusable bottle and water filter), sunscreen (biodegradable), sunglasses (polarized), emergency aids ... well, you know, your Mazama ten essentials. Leave some room for your frivolous favorites—a water toy, book, water shoes—and then head on out. If you are bringing along a friend with less fortitude (or you are just smarter), you may wish to consider a wetsuit. Whether you get out earlier or later in the season, beat the summer crowds and float leisurely in frigid snow-fed mountain streams and lakes while your friends barely break the water surface before scurrying, in a shivering self-embrace, back to the sun-warmed shores.

Serene Lake—Estacada Region, Oregon
Its relatively remote location from Portland and the almost 7 mile return hike from the nearest parking lot means Serene Lake is still one of the more peaceful swimming holes. The trek provides a wonderful way to combine a hike with gorgeous views of Mt. Hood, other volcanoes, and lakes. Add on backpacking, camping, and fishing, and you can create a multi-day adventure. If your idea of swimming fun includes jumping off rocks, try the south end of Serene Lake which is 25 feet deep (always check for safety first—rocks move and things change).
To get there, you can choose the 8-mile Serene Lake Trail or a shorter 6.6-mile hike that starts at 4,700 ft. at Frazier Trailhead, and still takes you through three beautiful lakes—Middle, Upper, and Serene Lakes with an elevation gain of 900 feet.

Drive from Portland: 2 hours plus. Timing: Summer–fall, with early summer having more mosquitoes, colder water, and fewer people. Hiking Distance: 6.6 miles. Permits: No fee. Fill out Wilderness Permit at Trailhead. Crowds: Little. Camping: Yes. Dogs: Yes. For detailed hike info, and links to driving directions: tinyurl.com/serenelake

Buck Lake—Mt. Hood National Forest, Oregon
Are you trying to convince your new mate to join the Mazamas? Are you still playing nice, and don’t want to shock them with a 10 mile hike to a freezing ‘swimming’ river? Then head to postcard-perfect Buck Lake for a more balmy water experience. At 4,080 feet elevation, Buck Lake is only 30 feet deep, often warming up to 72 degrees in August. It can be reached by a moderate ½-mile ascending trail. Depending on the sunlight, the water can look sparkling emerald to a more moss green; either way it’s fabulous. Usually only having moderate crowds, weekends in high summer might bring out a varied assortment of less than zen-like holidaymakers. So for romance and peace, go early in the day or early in the season.

Drive from Portland: 2 hours, 10 minutes. 61.5 miles east of Oregon City. Timing: Summer-fall. If swimming isn’t so important, or you are an ice bear, the maples in the area turn orange and red in the fall (it’s gorgeous and less crowded). Hiking Distance: 1-mile round-trip. Permits: No. Crowds: Moderate. Camping: Yes. Dogs: Yes. Info and driving instructions to trailhead: tinyurl.com/bucklake

Siouxon Creek—Gifford Pinchot Park Area, Washington
Near Amboy, Washington, you can do it all—hike, bike, camp, and swim—and with your dog. A 9-mile hike will take you through mossy forest, along the cold and sparkling creek, and by 4 waterfalls. You’ll find numerous camping sites along the way, but all are in permanent shade, so bring the necessary moisture-proof gear. Some of the trail can be popular during the hottest and sunniest days, so be warned or go during cloudier and cooler times; carry a thermos with hot cocoa for your after-swim warm up. For hard core hikers, the trails are extensive, and you can easily hike for 10-15 miles.

Drive from Portland: 1 hour, 30 minutes near Mount St. Helens. Hiking Distance: 9-miles round trip. Permits: NW Forest Pass. Crowds: Moderate. Camping: No. Dogs: Yes. Directions: tinyurl.com/siouxoncreekhike

Alder Flats—Mt. Hood, Clackamas Area, Oregon
This hike is 47 miles east of Oregon City, and although many of the Clackamas area river spots are crowded, this one tends to be less so. The 1.9-mile return hike keeps the people volume down. You’ll walk through magical moss covered mixed old-growth forest (remember to bear right at 0.2 miles) to be greeted by fairly cold, clear moving waters, and some basic campsites right along the river, if you wish to stay the night. The current here is moderate to strong, leading to downstream rapids. Water levels can fluctuate dramatically, so do take care. Some shallows exist, and there is a 40-foot-long sandy swimming beach which makes for a nice place to swim.

Drive from Portland: 70 minutes. Hiking Distance: 1.9-mile round trip. Permits: NW Forest Pass. Crowds: Moderate. Camping: Yes. Dogs: Yes. Directions: tinyurl.com/alderflatshike

6.12.2017

Trailside Tasty Treats

by Wendy Marshall

When I was a youth, my kitchen creations of steamed stinging nettles and butter-sautĂ©ed shaggy mane mushrooms invoked a few raised eyebrows and hesitancy in my mom. But I still recall the excitement and pride I felt at having conjured a meal out of things I'd found growing wild in our forest. The idea of living off the land, eating foods you collect and prepare yourself, can be a romantic one. In this age of mass-produced everything, I've read increasing accounts by people who feel disconnected from nature, who wish to be closer to the land and water we dwell on, as well as better stewards of its riches. Not without good reason, either. With concerns about survival haunting our current mindset and issues cropping up daily about the hazards of corporate manufactured foods, there is a real practicality to cultivating a harmonious partnership with our native landscape. Not only rewarding and nourishing to body and spirit—such a relationship may solve a few of our modern troubles.

Besides eating organic, what if you're hungry on a hike? Instead of an invisible stranger, a plant by the path can becomplant for salvation. Other incredibly nutritious plants are as close as your backyard or readily available in meadows and woods: chickweed, purslane, and of course, dandelion. The roots of dandelion, burdock, and Queen Anne's lace—the ancestor of a store-bought carrot—can be stewed into a hearty soup. As spring ripens into early summer and beyond, fruits and berries pop up by the bushel, such as huckleberry, thimbleberry, and salal.

e a familiar personality, a helping spirit, and maybe even a part of your body. This time of year, you'll find some of our finest food plants disguised as irksome weeds. Stinging nettles, for instance, are tasty steamed like kale, but can be eaten fresh! Let the leaves wilt, rub them with a spoon, and they lose their sting. Nettle, which is high in iron, silicon, and potassium, can help those pesky allergies and arthritis, by cleaning your blood and lungs of toxins. Miner's lettuce is another example, easily spotted by the round, succulent leaves that encircle its stems. California gold miners, desperate for fresh fruits and vegetables, turned to this

I met John Kallas, director of Wild Food Adventures, at the Belmont Street Fair last summer. This wickedly humorous fellow presided over a beautiful display of native foods, from clams and berries to flour made from acorns. Kallas, whose 35 years of experience teaching about wild foods make my kenning of local plants seem a bit like child's play, presented a slideshow at the Mazama Mountaineering Center on March 8, where he signed copies of his new book, Edible Wild Plants: Wild Foods from Dirt to Plate. From June 23 to 26, he'll be leading the GingerRoot Rendezvous intensive course in Silverton, Oregon. Participants will learn to identify and prepare edible wild plants from all over North America. However, Kallas, a trained botanist, isn't just an expert on plants. He also leads courses on edible coastal animals, such as razor clams, and ocean vegetables (seaweeds). Besides the intensives, Wild Food Adventures offers a range of affordable day classes throughout the year, which I look forward to exploring. Find out more at: wildfoodadventures.com.

As in any outdoor pursuit, harvesting wild foods comes with its own ethics. Herbalism has taught me that a group of wild plants is a family, part of a larger community. Wild communities can be irreparably damaged by someone who takes too much, as in the tragic case I read about a with patch of wild ginger—the razing or raping of a whole patch is definitely not a responsible approach. A good rule is to gather only one of every four plants in a particular species group, at most. This ensures a few always remain to produce future generations, resulting in more sustainable ecosystems. Remember you're consuming life forms, and they deserve respect.

Additionally, safety is a consideration. Some plants have serious attitude! The notorious poison hemlock is not, gram for gram, the nation's most noxious plant, but it is our top poisoner because it looks like a lot of other tasty herbs. It's no coincidence. Poison hemlock is in fact related to its look-alikes, including celery, parsley, dill, cilantro, and carrot. Again, an experienced teacher such as Kallas can help you make these critical distinctions. (For example, to distinguish poison hemlock from its Umbelliferae cousins, look for small maroon spots on its stems, and a musty smell.)

Mushrooms are a different matter. I mentioned shaggy mane mushrooms, a member of the Coprinus or "inky cap" family, and a good edible. But inky caps are only edible up to a point, and a similar species has a toxin that only activates when you drink alcohol! You'd need to stay dry for five days after this dinner. Many mushrooms, like chantrelles, are wonderful foods, while others have the wildest poisons in the woods. Fortunately, courses in Oregon mushroom identification are offered several times a year by Bark and other organizations.

I've found that learning about wild foods can be intensely fulfilling, bringing you more in tune with the outdoors as well as your own spirit. As participants in outdoor recreation, our responsibility as caretakers and advocates of wild places need not be a chore. Rather, it can be an excellent adventure, an ongoing and ever-deepening love affair with the earth that sustains us and with all the living things we meet along the way, through one of the most intimate connections we have—our next meal.
Wendy Marshall has been an amateur herbalist for seven years. In addition to mountain climbing and hiking, she is a perpetual student of life and periodically takes courses in curious things, such as how to make stone tools.


6.05.2017

Pack-Training Your Pup

Tired of carrying Fido’s food on the trail? John Rettig shares a few tips for training your favorite four-leggeds to haul their own.

Edited by Kristie Perry

I have seen far too many people attempt to make a dog carry a pack for the first time right at the trailhead, and it looked very unpleasant for the dog. I have also twice found packs abandoned along the trails, and my assumption was that the dog ran off, squirmed out of it, and just left it there.
So when it was time to for my Siberian Husky, Leila, to start carrying her own kibble, I took a different approach:

I started her by having Leila wear an empty pack in the house for just a minute or two at a time, and rewarded her with treats and praise. After a few days of this, she seemed agreeable to wearing the pack for longer intervals, and stopped paying much attention to it when it was on.

Next, I took her for walks around the neighborhood with an empty pack. Like most dogs, Leila loved walks, and she started associating seeing the pack with having fun. That was the key, and from that point forward Leila donned her pack without protest.

After a couple of days of walking Leila around the neighborhood with empty panniers, I stuffed them with crumpled newspaper to bulk the pack up. Occasionally, I’d have to help her if she caught a tree with a pannier.

Once Leila became accustomed to the pack's width, I started adding a bit of weight, always being careful to keep the panniers balanced.

Within two weeks time, Leila was easily carrying five pounds—the equivalent of two liters of water, plus her kibble. So we hit the trails.

After a month of hiking every weekend, Leila was ready for Mt. Defiance. And she knew when she saw my pack and hers come out, fun was on the agenda.

The results of this gentle acclimation was that Leila took the pack for granted and never tried to squirm out of it—it was just part of the trail experience. The flip side: she also learned what it meant when only my pack came out and hers didn’t. She knew I was heading out, and she couldn’t understand why she wasn’t going. I suffered many a withering scowl, something Siberians are famous for.

Long-time Mazama member John Rettig has been a Mazama member since 1999. He is currently serving his third year on the Executive Council, where has also served as Secretary for all three years. He has completed the 16 Northwest Peaks, was awarded the Parker Cup in 2012 for service to the organization, and the Montague Conservation award in 2014.

5.30.2017

Tramping Down Under

Author pauses on the shores of the Kepler Track's Lake Manapouri
Article and photos by Sue Griffith

New Zealand is one of those magical places that demands unhurried exploration. Home to miles of jaw-dropping beauty, and water so pure you can drink it from the source, it begs to be explored on foot. Hiking, or “tramping” as the Kiwi’s call it, is my favorite way to explore. Not only does it offer a chance to experience natural splendors up close, but it provides an opportunity to meet like-minded folks who share a passion for the outdoors. With only two weeks to invest down under, the biggest problem is deciding where to start.

Lake at MacKinnon Pass on Milford Track.
In 1993, the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) selected what it considered the country's nine best hiking routes and developed those crown jewels into a hut and track network of premier hiking trails. Scattered around the North and South Islands, a land area the size of Colorado, these Great Walks serve as gateways to some of the best backcountry scenery in the world. Fiordlands National Park in the Te Wahipounamu UNESCO World Heritage Area of southwestern New Zealand is home to two of the Great Walks: the famous Milford Track with its stunning waterfalls and verdant valleys and the lesser-known Kepler Track featuring misty mountain tops and tussock-lined ridges. These two tracks offer a range of habitats in a single region. Problem solved.

Swing bridge at the start of the Milford Track.
The four-day, 33-mile Milford Track is the best-known of the Great Walks and requires considerable advance planning as a consequence (see www.greatwalks.co.nz). Up until 1965, the Milford was open only to fee-paying guided walkers staying in expensive, privately operated lodges. This scheme did not sit well with locals and spurred the little-known ‘Milford Freedom Walk’, a protest that led to today’s parallel system of guided and independent walkers. By chance, I met a hut warden who had taken part in that illegal 1964 hike of the Milford. A small, lean woman with time-worn features, she paused a moment remembering her teenage self of 50 years ago, then laughed as she recounted her tale. Like merry pranksters, they slept in soggy tents, forded dangerously swollen rivers clutching at hastily strung ropes, and barely persuaded a local boat owner to shuttle them back to their cars in Milford. Their bold actions convinced the DOC to revamp their fee rules and now everyone has free access to the track, paying only for accommodations. Guided walkers, or “pamper trampers”, enjoy fully serviced luxury lodges with hot showers, fluffy bedding, and gourmet meals. Independent walkers travel the same track but carry food, cooking utensils, and bedding, and stay in the more spartan DOC huts. Costs differ by a factor of ten. It was an easy choice. The Milford is a one-way track, hiked south to north. To maintain the wilderness experience, the government limits the number of trampers starting each day to 40 independent walkers and 50 guided walkers. The outfitters stage the guided walkers throughout the morning to further minimize crowding on the track. The independent walkers must advance each day to the next hut. No exceptions, not even for foul weather. A reminder to pack accordingly.

Mountain vistas along the Kepler Track.
Guided or independent, the Milford adventure begins with an unforgettable 85-minute ferry ride to the northern tip of Lake Te Anau. I braved the unprotected top deck to soak in my surroundings—knife-edged mountains dusted with fresh snow, icy spray from the lake, and but for the primitive landing at Glade Wharf, not a sign of civilization.

There are plenty of books and websites describing the natural features of the Milford Track—its spectacular river valleys, sky-scraping peaks, and breathtaking waterfalls. But what sticks in my mind isn’t found in these accounts. My memories fix on the day-to-day hut and trail experiences, those things you can’t Instagram: the 250-foot suspension bridge with just a little too much swing to it; hikers from around the globe chattering in a dozen different languages; the post-hike dips in glacier-fed waters; a late-night trip to the outhouse with an impromptu astronomy lesson when a stranger points out the Southern Cross and its pointer stars (Alpha Centauri and Beta Centauri); the nocturnal call of a lonely kiwi desperate for a mate; the eery blue-green luminescence of glow-worms tucked among forest ferns; cheeky kea, alpine parrots working in tandem to steal your food in a choreographed performance where one bird cavorts in front of you while his co-conspirator sneaks behind to grab your lunch; rivers of liquid jade, so clear you can see not just the stones on the bottoms but the mile-long trout that call it home. Now we’re talking about the finest walk in the world.
Kepler Track ridgeline.

The Kepler Track opened in 1988 to relieve pressure from the over-subscribed Milford. The 37-mile loop offers trampers more flexibility than the Milford. It can be hiked in either direction, or to a single hut and back, and offers both DOC huts and camping sites. The whole loop can be completed in three or four days.

Like the Milford, you don’t have to search long for mile by mile descriptions of the Kepler Track’s beech forests, tussock grasslands, and mountain ridges. And again, the memorable moments are the unscripted ones: tramping through the towering, Suess-like fern forests; the ranger-led nature walks full of information about the local flora and fauna; learning to carve a shallow line in the dirt to attract curious robins for an up close and personal encounter; that top-of-the-world feeling when the clouds finally clear on Mt. Luxmore’s 5,000 foot summit; surviving the 90-plus knee-numbing switchbacks on the 3,000 foot drop to the Iris Burn Hut; the backcountry outhouses set in the most stunning scenery imaginable; intense quiet and air so pure it has no scent; inky nights lit only by the moon and stars; and looking back up the mountain to see what you’ve accomplished.
The highest point on Milford Track.

The Kiwis are a friendly bunch, and the hospitality did not stop at the end of the trail. A sparsely populated country with ten times more livestock than people, over the course of my two week visit I ran into the same bus driver three times. Soon we were on a first name basis. Like so many folks I’d met, Allan was a natural-born storyteller and added a new episode each time we met. After learning I had completed the Kepler, he asked me about the trail’s notorious winds. He listened to my report of 50 mph gusts, then launched into his own tale of a Swiss hiker who had encountered 110 mph winds on the Luxmore Saddle. The hiking group turned back, but this guy figured since he had summited both Everest and K-2, he could navigate the Luxmore Saddle on his own. Indeed, he completed the track but spent four hours on hands and knees traversing the two miles of exposed saddle. By now, it felt like Allan and I were old friends.

Milford Sound greets us at the end of the track.
With so many beautiful hiking options at home, why travel halfway around the globe to hike? The cross-cultural connections. The sense of a common human language in a troubled world. The suspension of time and place. For two wonderful weeks, New Zealand embraced me and delivered a perfect adventure I hoped would never end.

5.23.2017

Planning Your Next Adventure Just Got Easier

Planning your summer adventure? Thinking of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail or climbing Mt. Hood? Or how about upping your climbing game or refining your rope skills? Ever wondered what climbing Everest was like in the 1960s or the early history of Andes exploration? As a member of the Mazamas, you have access to over 2500 hiking and climbing guides, technical and how-to books, DVDs, maps, and more! Finding those resources got a whole lot easier.

The Mazama Library is launching an online library catalog! For the first time in the library’s 101 year history, we’ll know what is on the shelf at any given time. Beginning June 1, you’ll be able to search the catalog by going to mazamalibrary.org and clicking on the Search Library Catalog link.

What does this mean for you? The online catalog will allow you to search the collection and put books on hold. You will still need to come to the library to check out and pick up your books. You do not need your patron number to put books on hold, but you will need a number to check books out. The library will begin giving out patron numbers on the first of June. See the librarian or a library volunteer on your first visit to get your patron number. They will also assist you in checking out books until you become familiar with the new system. (We strongly recommend that you do not put your patron number sticker on the back of your Mazamas ID card. You are issued a new ID card every year when you renew your dues with the organization. Your library number is good for as long as you are member in good standing and will not be reissued each year. We recommend that you put the barcode sticker on the back of your driver’s license or other semi-permanent card in your wallet.)

Along with the new system, we are also updating the library’s circulation policies. You will now be able to check out five books at a time for a month. We are also introducing a new, shorter loan time of two weeks on new releases. You will be able to renew new releases as long as no one has put the title on hold. The non-circulating policies remain the same for journals and special collection rare books.

Whether you're planning your next weekend away or want to increase your mountaineering knowledge, save yourself time and money and start your research with the Mazama Library. Remember, it’s yours to use!

The Mazama Library is open Monday–Thursday, 11 a.m.–7 p.m. and Friday 10 a.m.–2 p.m. 

Searching the Catalog:
Visit www.mazamas.org/resources/library and click on the Search Library Catalog link. You will be redirected to the new library online catalog. At the top of the page you will see the search box. The default is to search by “All Words,” this will search all the catalog records, across all the catalog fields (title, author, publisher, terms, etc) and return a list of titles that contain that word. You can refine your search by clicking the down arrow next to “All Words” and selecting Title, Author, Subject, etc. This will help narrow your list of results. 

Putting a title on hold: 
The search results screen you will see the title, author, call number, ISBN (if present), publisher info, and any local holding notes. To the right you’ll see the number of holdings and number available. Click on the Request Hold button. The next screen asks for your name, patron number, and email. Your name is required, and while optional, your patron number and email will help us better serve you. You are also given a space for any special requests or questions related to your hold request. After filling in all the fields, click the “Request Hold” button at the bottom of the screen. If the title is available, it will be put on the holds shelf at the library. If the title is currently checked out, you will be put on a waitlist for the title and we will email you when it becomes available.

5.22.2017

The Grand Canyon: Rim to Rim in One Day

Amy, Michah and Keith at Bright Angel Point on the North
Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. Photo: Keith Daellenbach

by Keith K. Daellenbach

In June 2016, a month after starting a new engineering manager job at a Portland company, my boss allowed me to head out on an epic 24-day road trip with my wife, Amy, and our 10-year old son, Micah. I am grateful for the generous vacation right after starting a new job. We made the most of it driving over 5,100 miles, hiking 103 miles, and visiting nine National Parks, two National Monuments, one National Recreation Area, and two Native American tribal parks in the desert southwest and in Colorado. It reminded me of the road trips I took with my family when I was a kid in the Brown family Ford Ranch Wagon, a veritable boat launched each summer for discovery. The highlight of last summer’s tour was the one-day, rim-to-rim hike across the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Of the Grand Canyon, President Theodore Roosevelt said, “Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it. What you can do is keep it for your children, your children’s children, and for all who come after you, as one of the great sights which every American if he can travel at all should see.” While the Grand Canyon National Park was established in 1919 by President Woodrow Wilson, it was President Theodore Roosevelt that first established it as a National Monument in 1908.

A little more than half way through our trip exploring the Colorado Plateau, we arrived to Grand Canyon National Park. Earlier in the trip, we were only a few miles from the headwaters of the 1,450 mile long Colorado River at Milner Pass (10,759’) on the Continental Divide in Rocky Mountain National Park approximately 750 miles upriver from Phantom Ranch. The drive up to the South Rim is admittedly not particularly noteworthy, but once at the edge of the Grand Canyon itself, the earth opens up with a vast maw miles across and over a mile deep. I could not help but chuckle recalling the irony of Chevy Chase’s Clark Griswold’s character in Vacation (1983) who, upon first seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time, impatiently responds to his wife’s question, “Don’t you want to look at the Grand Canyon?”, with an abrupt scenery scan and, “Ok, let’s go.”

Originally, I figured we would split up the hike with a stay at Phantom Ranch lodging at the Colorado River crossing, but by the time I planned this hike, those accommodations had long since been snapped up. So too were all sites at backcountry campgrounds (Cottonwood, Bright Angel, Indian Garden) along the route. The application for these backcountry permits occurs some five months before the hike. Not to take anything away from staying overnight in the Grand Canyon, completing the 23.5 mile hike in one day means far less gear required as it is essentially reduced to a long day hike. The beauty is no backcountry permit is required for a day hike.

Each year, this National Park receives over 350 requests for assistance by hikers experiencing a variety of issues including fatigue, heat exhaustion, underlying medical conditions, and lack of preparation or planning. Warning signs along the rim are ubiquitous, including those blaring “Caution! Down is Optional, Up is Mandatory!”. Given the summer heat an be suffocating, paying heed to these warnings is warranted. We planned for each of us to have plenty of caloric food, lots of salty snacks and protein, and plenty of water and electrolyte drinks. Amy made sure we each had lightweight hiking pants, full sleeve shirts, sun hats, and sun screen. If we had to stop at night, where the desert temperature can drop dramatically, each of us had a lightweight down or polar fleece jacket and an emergency space blanket just in case.

There are probably several ways to dial in logistics for this point-to-point hike. It makes sense to start at the North Rim and hike to the South Rim because trailhead at the North Rim (8,241’) is over thirteen hundred feet higher than the trailhead at the South Rim (6,860’), so there is less elevation gain than elevation to descend. For transportation to the North Rim, we packed our day packs and, wearing only our hiking clothes and shoes, parked our car at the Maswik Lodge and took the one-way Trans-Canyon Shuttle (www.trans-canyonshuttle.com, $90/per person). This van shuttle departs twice daily from the South Rim at Bright Angel Lodge for a 215 mile, four and a half hour trip. It crosses the Colorado River over Navajo Bridge at Marble Canyon (river mile 684.2 as measured from U.S./Mexico border) just down river from Lees Ferry on the way to the Grand Canyon North Rim Lodge. There, we checked into our frontier cabin adjacent to the historic lodge (ca. 1930’s) and had a feast in the cavernous main lodge dining room. One last niggling bit of logistics required arrangements for transport from the Lodge two miles back up the road to the North Kaibab trailhead. I didn’t want to add any distance to the already long hike, so I offered “Jack” our Trans-Canyon Shuttle driver, who was staying on the North Rim overnight, forty dollars to take us there at three in the morning. He responded by saying he would be able to do it if we could agree on the price of twenty dollars. Sold!

So, after our feast and evening stroll around the grounds of the lodge, we retired to soft, warm beds and set the alarm for 2:30 a.m. We awoke, and Jack was outside waiting for us with the engine running and drove us over to the trailhead under cover of darkness. By 3 a.m. we were underway. An ominous flash of lightning lit up the forest, and a few rain sprinkles dried up quickly in the desiccated air. Over 14.5 miles, the trail descends 5,761 feet to where it crosses the Colorado River at 2,480 feet. For the most part, it is a gradual descent along a wide hiking trail. The upper sections navigate across cliffs of sedimentary rock hundreds of feet thick; in some places the route has been blasted into the cliff itself so it is nearly a tunnel with only one side open out to a precipitous drop. There is, in fact, one short section blasted directly through buttress of rock named Supai Tunnel. While expertly trained, this descent on the back of a mule would be unnerving for me.

As the morning wore on, the stars overhead lost their illumination and the first hints of sunlight striking the upper cliffs now high above us took on colors of purple, red, orange, yellow, and cream. We continued our descent. One of the remarkable things about this hike is the abundance of potable water. The Kaibab Plateau through which the Colorado River cuts the Grand Canyon dips north to south, so surface water and melted snow permeating rocks on the north side of the canyon essentially flow towards the river while surface water permeating rock on the south side of the canyon essentially flows away from the river. This manifests itself at Roaring Springs, 4.7 miles hiking below the North Rim. Here, tremendous volumes of year-round water emanate from a Paleozoic layer between permeable Muav limestone resting on top of an impermeable Bright Angel shale.

This water is treated at Roaring Springs and is pumped both up to the North Rim and, conversely, allowed to drain down to Phantom Ranch where it is pumped across the river in a pipe on the underside of the silver suspension bridge (ca. late 1960’s, river mile 601.15) and up to the Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim. Nearly six million people visited Grand Canyon National Park last year and most of them came to the South Rim, so it is a tribute to the bountiful Roaring Springs and the engineering feat which pumps 500,000 gallons of water a day up to the South Rim Village. When all drinking water fountains are in operation along this trail, which are between one and seven miles apart, cool, clear water from Roaring Springs is available. It is possible that this pipe distribution system could erode and break leading to no potable water at the fountains for sections of the trail. Always carry plenty of water on all trail sections and note that water from Bright Angel Creek (north side of river) and Garden Creek (south side of river) can be filtered for use if the fountains are not in operation.

Keith, Amy and Micah beside the Colorado River in Grand
Canyon National Park. Photo: Keith Daellenbach.
As the day warmed, at each fountain, we religiously stopped, ate, drank water, and doused our hiking shirt and caps in water and put them back on. Evaporative cooling fended off overheating for some time before our shirts and hats dried out before the next stop. Once in the canyon, the perspective changes from the glorious vistas over the gaping chasm to close in-cliffs, side canyons, and desert scrub flora, including prickly pear cactus and blackbrush. Along the way, we saw desert spiny lizards and mule deer.

We reached Phantom Ranch (built ca. 1922) before noon and poked our heads into the dormitory accommodations. While clean, to me, it looked a little dodgy given some of the region’s rodents carry infectious diseases like hantavirus. While we were there tanking up on water, a ground squirrel tore into the backpack of one of the Phantom Ranch guests. If it were me staying there, I’d prefer a tent. In any case, don’t feed the wildlife as they can not only spread infectious diseases through fleas and ticks, they can also be aggressive causing injury.

It was here, where clear Bright Angel Creek deposits into the Colorado River, that one-armed Civil War veteran Major John Wesley Powell and his pioneering geographic expedition arrived on the 84th day of their expedition on 16 August 1869. Starting in the Wyoming Territory and down the great unknown of the Green and Colorado Rivers, they explored and mapped one of the last truly unexplored regions of the contiguous United States. They spent a couple days repairing their wooden boats and drying out meager rations. His original name for this creek was Silver Creek, but later renamed it to its present name. We went down to the river’s edge and watched the muddy water race by; the river there is about 150 feet wide.

We crossed over the silver bridge, and the temperature was hovering slightly over 100˚F. Amy felt like we were walking through time, starting with the Precambrian basement Vishnu Schist rock—1.7 billion years old and containing intrusions of red-flecked Zoroaster granite. Indeed, the Grand Canyon is one of the most complete records of exposed geologic layering in the world. While the rocks are ancient, the canyon itself is young. Like a layer cake rising against a blade, it formed primarily in the last six million years as the Kaibab Plateau uplifted allowing greater river gradient and therefore fast erosion by the river.

Hiking up 4,380 ft. in elevation from the river over 9 miles along the Bright Angel Trail to the South Rim, one eventually leaves the metamorphic schist of the Inner Gorge and passes through layer after layer of sandstone, shale, and limestone formations that were the result of millions of years of marine depositions into the Panthalassic Ocean prior to the formation of the supercontinent Pangea. The rock layer that caps the South Rim is 270 million years old. Along our way, we broke one of the cardinal park rules by hiking during the oppressive mid-day heat but we took our time. We were careful not to overexert and actually felt fine, taking frequent rest and water/food breaks. We ended up in semi-rescue mode of a former infantry soldier who had served in Iraq and, while very tough mentally, was woefully unprepared lacking basic provisions. We leap-frogged each other out of the canyon and by the last time we saw him a couple miles below the South Rim we had given him water, food, ibuprofen, ace bandage, a trekking pole, and a headlamp (which he returned to our lodging later that night).

The last push to the top above Indian Garden Campground climbs through a wall comprised of 3,000 ft. of cliff formations that look impenetrable from below. This remarkable trail threads its way through natural weaknesses in the cliffs. In the evening, as we were nearing the rim, we saw a flash of lightning . I measured 45 seconds on my wristwatch—a little over 9 miles away (speed of sound is roughly 5 seconds per mile). Indeed, the storm cell appeared to be parked about that distance away over Phantom Ranch. As the measured time between flash and sound decreased to 35 seconds (about 7 miles away), I told Amy and Micah we would have to pick up the pace on this exposed trail near the rim to make sure we reached the safety of buildings on the rim before the storm overtook us. Fortunately, after 16:44 hours of hiking, we arrived at the South Rim just after sunset and dove into the gift store at Bright Angel Lodge just as it started to pour. Here, we purchased “rim to rim” T-shirts. Micah gave his all on that final push to the top and threw up in the restroom, feeling better afterwards. Tough kid. With that behind us, we celebrated our accomplishment that night with a hot shower, meal, and a soft bed at Maswik Lodge a few hundred yards from the Rim—our epic completed.

Americans have a propensity to boast about how great our country is, and the Grand Canyon is truly one place that will not disappoint. If you’re planning a visit the Grand Canyon and want to hike, consider skipping the bureaucracy and heavy pack and hike through geologic history on a long day-hike traverse of this amazing national treasure.

5.15.2017

Oregon Pursues Office of Outdoor Recreation

Photo: Andrew Holman
by Michael Vincerra

The outdoor economy in the United States is prospering, “ ... each year generating $887 billion in consumer spending,” per the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA). While it’s hard to imagine that dollar figure, consider it in terms of jobs. The OIA’s 1,200-plus member companies, “ ... support more than 7.6 million American jobs and provide $124 million every year in federal and state tax revenue.” Why is that important? More outdoor recreation means more economic growth. And more funding for conservation and outdoor recreation in Oregon.

Perhaps more importantly, when state government supports industry by creating an office to facilitate that growth, the outdoor industry returns the favor with economic stimulus. A public/private partnership is born. The outdoor industry has a champion. Synergy starts.

“In Oregon, it's about a $12.8 billion annual industry, and it creates about 141,000 jobs,” says Adam Baylor, Mazama Stewardship & Advocacy Manager. "That contributes to state and local taxes."
Along with Mazama Executive Director, Lee Davis, Baylor worked tirelessly since early 2016, advocating for the creation of an Outdoor Recreation Office in the state of Oregon. If established, an Office of Outdoor Recreation will guarantee that outdoor recreation has a representative in Oregon’s state government.

With Oregon’s 2017 budget deficit over $1.5B, and the President's proposed federal budget cuts as of March 2017, Oregon’s outdoor recreation industry remains fragile. For example, take the proposed cuts to the Department of the Interior: $1.5 billion, including $120 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

According to Baylor, "There's been a trend in the last 50 years to de-fund recreation." And Baylor takes issue with that: “That's a bad idea. If the states and federal government put a little more money into funding [outdoor recreation], that would be a multiplier. If you can promote it and people want to use your outdoor recreation assets, then you'll make money. It will attract those businesses or companies that want to set up shop in Bend or Portland because of the proximity. To grow that outdoor industry cluster, one strategy is to take what Utah, Colorado and Washington did, and implement that in Oregon."

UTAH, WASHINGTON, COLORADO
Utah, Washington, and Colorado have taken different approaches to create of an office of outdoor recreation—by task force recommendation, legislation, or appointment. Utah’s Office of Outdoor Recreation, the first of its kind, was created by Governor Gary Herbert in 2013. Washington’s Senior Policy Advisor, Outdoor Recreation & Economic Development, was introduced via SB 5843, and signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee in 2015. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper appointed Luis Benitez for the Outdoor Recreation Industry Office in 2015. In Colorado, “The industry stirs $13.2 billion in annual consumer spending, generating $994 million in local and state taxes” (Blevins, Denver Post).

According to the OIA, all states, “ ... share a focus on traditional economic development—incentives, workforce development and related work—as well as outdoor recreation through legislation, education, and public lands management.” While all states’ offices have a dual focus on economic development and outdoor recreation, each state customized the role depending on their economic priorities.

WASHINGTON AS A MODEL 
Oregon has learned from Washington, which developed a good process for establishing an office of outdoor recreation. At first in Washington, Baylor states, “They went back and forth on whether to create a cabinet-level policy advisor and use the Governor's budget." Finally, Governor Jay Inslee created a blue-ribbon task force to look at the issue around Outdoor Recreation. Per Baylor, Washington assessed, " ...the need for state-level leadership, concluding that they needed a key person to talk to when [they] had problems." Finally, Baylor says, “Washington's Blue Ribbon Task force made recommendations that shaped the work plan for the Office to move forward." As Mazamas Executive Director Lee Davis said during his recent interview with Dave Miller on the OPB radio program Think Out Loud, Washington’s Senior Policy Advisor is, “ ... working directly with the Governor to try to make sure that as laws are enacted in Washington, they’re paying attention to recreation along with the other critically important sectors like healthcare and energy.”
In Oregon, the impetus for an Outdoor Recreation Office grew out of the 'Oregon's 7 Wonders’ campaign, organized by Travel Oregon. Formally known as Oregon Tourism Commission, Travel Oregon, is "... a semi-independent agency created by the Oregon Legislature in 2003 to enhance Oregonians’ quality of life by strengthening economic impacts of the state’s $10.8 billion tourism industry."

In 2016, Travel Oregon took Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Earl Blumenauer on the Seven Wonders' Tour to allow them to listen to the citizens of Oregon and the needs of outdoor recreation. Leading out of that experience Senator Wyden introduced a bill, Recreation Not Red Tape, which seeks to remove bureaucratic barriers to expanding recreation opportunities and specifically supports the creation of outdoor recreation leadership positions at the state level.

Then in the summer of 2016, Travel Oregon convened a group of leaders in outdoor recreation, including the Mazamas, “ ... to make sure that as we look at expanding access to outdoor recreation, we’re considering everybody who has a stake in that conversation,” says Lee Davis. “It’s a necessary step to be qualified for access to federal funds in land and water conservation.”

On behalf of the Mazamas and our partners, Baylor lobbied for the Outdoor Recreation Office in Salem—and in support of a bill developed by Representative Mark Johnson (R-Hood River) and co-sponsored by Representative Ken Helm (D–Beaverton). Rep. Johnson was also a part of the leadership team for Travel Oregon's Outdoor Recreation Initiative. The Mazamas reached out to the OIA, Rep. Johnson and Rep. Ken Helm, and coordinated with local industry leaders to hash out a plan for Oregon’s Office of Outdoor Recreation.

OREGON HB 3350
Oregon HB 3350 states that it, “Creates Office of Outdoor Recreation within State Parks and Recreation Department. Creates Associate Director of Outdoor Recreation. Prescribes duties of office and of associate director. Creates Outdoor Recreation Fund. Continuously appropriates moneys in fund to State Parks and Recreation Department for purposes of Office of Outdoor Recreation.”
Baylor adds, “It would also allow local companies to advise or contribute to the work plan, and order a statewide inventory of recreation assets.”

A key provision of HB 3350, Section 4(b) is to, “Maximize public and private investment in the outdoor recreation industry and in outdoor recreation activities in this state.” On April 3, HB 3350 passed through the House Economic Development and Trade committee unanimously, and its fiscal impact will be examined in the Senate Joint Ways and Means Sub-Committee on Natural Resources.
Lee Davis concludes, “In the face of population growth and urbanization and congestion [HB 3350] is making sure that the reason we all love living here is still in place in future generations. When people spend time recreating outside, it helps them develop conservation values, which is really important to the Mazamas.” Establishing this office, Davis contends, is, “ ... making the argument that outdoor recreation is a must-have value and not a wish-list item.”


To learn more about Oregon HB 3350 (2017), visit: oregonoutdoorrecreation.com

5.08.2017

Alternative Summer Hikes

Views from Starvation Ridge. Photo: Kevin Machtelinckx


by Kevin Machtelinckx


With great weather comes great compromise here in the Pacific Northwest. For hikers seeking to soak up that coveted vitamin D and get the blood flowing in those legs, that compromise usually comes in the form of sharing the trails with countless others having the same idea. With Portland’s booming population in recent years, some of the go-to hiking spots that once allowed us to escape the bustle of the city are attracting crowds as big as you’d encounter at a Portland Trump protest. For better or for worse, Eagle Creek, Dog Mountain, Saddle Mountain, Hamilton Mountain and McNeil Point all seem to have succumbed to the same overpopulated fate in recent seasons. So where might one set their sights if they still want to get out and beat the crowds? Check out a few of these lesser-known hikes that offer alternatives to their popular counterparts while maintaining a reasonable distance from Portland.

Spruce Run Lake—Alternative to Saddle Mountain
Though not comparable to the views found on Saddle Mountain, this 6.8-mile out and back hike to a secluded lake gives you the opportunity to explore the vegetation and foliage common to Clatsop State Forest. This hike starts in the Spruce Run Campground but soon heads into the dense forest where few people think to venture. At 1,580-feet of elevation gain, the hike provides a nice alternative on hot summer days by staying out of the sun and next to a water source.

Hardy Ridge—Alternative to Hamilton Mountain
Table Mountain from Hardy Ridge in autumn. Photo: Kevin Machtelinckx
What this hike lacks in waterfalls, compared to Hamilton Mountain, it makes up for in summit views. The slight disappointment felt on Hamilton Mountain’s anticlimactic summit is nowhere to be found as you pop out of the leaf-littered forest and onto Hardy Ridge, which gives great views up and down the Gorge. Hardy Ridge is just adjacent to Hamilton Mountain, but sits further north from Highway 14, so peace and quiet is a sure bet. Be sure to catch the sunsets from up here as the evening light bounces colors off the walls of Table Mountain’s cliffs to the east.

Yocum Ridge—Alternative to McNeil Point
If you’re looking for the pristine alpine environment that McNeil Point and Paradise Park feature, but less of the human traffic jams found on those hikes, Yocum Ridge is for you. As long as you can bear the crowds during the first 3 miles, which share the same trail to get to the very popular Ramona Falls, you will be rewarded with the high alpine meadows and solitude you’ve been looking for. The round trip can be a long one, 16 miles, but the payoff is a fantastic viewpoint overlooking Zigzag Ridge, with Mt. Hood in the background. Turn around and you’ll be treated to views all the way to the coast, with the peaks of Elk Mountain and Saddle Mountain (surely packed with people!) poking their summits toward the sky.

Mt. Defiance via Starvation Ridge and Warren Lake—Alternative to Dog Mountain
Standing staunchly opposite Dog Mountain, on the Oregon side of the Columbia River, Mt. Defiance is certainly no secret. The nearly 5,000 feet of elevation gain required to attain the summit are regularly traveled by those looking for a muscle-busting training hike. However, most opt for the slightly more direct Mt. Defiance trail when the Starvation Ridge option just to the east offers a slightly longer, yet more serene option to the top via Warren Lake, which can serve as a destination in itself.

Tanner Creek—Alternative to Eagle Creek
Just down the road from the hugely popular Eagle Creek, along the Historic Columbia River Highway, is the seldom-visited Tanner Creek Trail. The trail meanders through old growth forest and mossy blowdown while Tanner Creek runs parallel to the trail, interrupted only by the spectacular Wahclella Falls. Combining the many trails in the area together offers numerous variations on distance and elevation gain to cater to your particular calf-burning desires.

5.02.2017

Trail Fix: The Challenge of Keeping Hiking Trails Boot-Ready

by Darrin Gunkel

Damage from a rough winter, a growing backlog of maintenance, and an increase in use have land managers scrambling to keep hiking trails open and safe.


Fixing Hamilton Mountain

They knew it was going to be a big job. An 80-foot Doug Fir standing by the Hamilton Mountain trail, in Beacon Rock State Park, had toppled, wiping out a 20-foot section of tread on a steep slope. “There was nothing left to rebuild the trail on, so we had to build a crib wall,” said Tom Griffith, a volunteer trail crew leader with Washington Trails Association (WTA). “So state parks workers cut two 20-foot sections of log from the tree that fell. We had to peel the bark so it wouldn’t rot later and use grip hoists to haul the sections into place,” building a shelf along the slope for the new trail to follow. Volunteers then notched the logs to place deadmen, short sections of log perpendicular to the crib wall, to form a stable base on which they could rebuild the trail surface.

Before they could begin all the construction work, the crew had to dig out and cut up the massive root ball that had done much of the damage. It took more than a day, working in the rain and mud on a steep slope. Then, they had to deal with the Spear.

The Spear was a 20-foot section of trunk from the top of another fir, a few yards beyond the slide, that snapped off, plunged straight down, and jammed vertically into the trail. “It was stuck three feet deep,” said Gabe Smith, another WTA volunteer and crew leader who worked on Hamilton Mountain. The remaining 15 feet of trunk, standing straight out of the trail, was supported by a branch that had survived the fall. They secured the trunk with steel cables and cut the branch, lowering the Spear enough so Smith could get at it safely with a cross-cut saw—WTA crews work only with hand tools. “It got pretty spooky working under that,” Smith said.

And before all that, there were the logistics. Getting all the construction materials up the steep trail presented its own special challenges. “It’s pretty difficult to drive mechanical toter up that trail. We had a toter go off and almost end up in a creek,” said Ryan Ojerio, WTA’s Southwest Regional Manager. “It could have been a really expensive accident. So Washington State Parks coordinated a Larch Mountain Correctional crew (inmates) to come out and hand carry pretty large logs all the way up there as well as a bunch of our heavy tools. Sledge hammer, rock bar, grip hoist, 150-foot five-eighths-inch cable that weighs almost 60 pounds.”

Then there’s scheduling. WTA work parties, somewhere around 80 a year in Southwest Washington, are booked far in advance. So Ryan relies on a rapid response team of experienced volunteers, Griffith and Smith among them, a sort of trail work ninja force that can drop everything for a week and tackle a project the size of Hamilton. Even then, Ryan had to coordinate three separate days of site visits to scout the trail with park officials and trail crew leads before getting all the equipment and crew in place.

There were easier ways to get the trail open. “We thought about just cleaning up so people could get by,” said Ojerio, “But that might actually have made it harder to fix if the site got more messed up by people walking across it. Then it’s a liability concern.” In the end, it took a crew of eight volunteers more than a week to clean up the mess and build the new trail infrastructure. Including lead time, the Hamilton Mountain trail re-opened just three weeks after the damage was reported.

“Three weeks—and that was pretty rushed,” said Ojerio. “For something of that scope, it was about as fast as anybody could go, I imagine, short of having a paid crew just hanging out waiting for work to drop in their lap. But I think those days are over for public land managers.”

Fixing the Mounting Backlog 

Indeed, the days of fully staffed public lands, for the time being, are a thing of the past. It’s estimated that to properly run Mt. Hood National forest, a staff of 800 is needed. Currently, there are just 200 employees on the payroll. More and more, the responsibility of keeping trails open and safe is in the hands of the their most ardent users: members of groups like the WTA, the Pacific Crest Trail Association, Trailkeepers of Oregon, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, the Cape Horn Conservancy, the Klickitat Trail Conservancy, and of course, the Mazamas.

In 2016, 5,000 Pacific Northwest trail volunteers put in a combined 230,000 hours of maintenance on 24,000 miles of federal land trails in Washington and Oregon. In other words, volunteers performed half of the region’s trail work. And those figures don’t include state and private lands: those three weeks of effort WTA staff and volunteers put in at Hamilton Mountain aren’t included in those stats. Nationally, volunteers put in 1.4 million hours—labor valued at 31.6 million dollars. That said, only a quarter of the trails are up to the Forest Service’s safety, recreation, and sustainability standards.
And that number may get smaller still, according to Mazama Stewardship and Advocacy Manager Adam Baylor. “Recent storms, and this past winter, are signs of things to come,” said Baylor. “And if we don’t deal with the backlogs, winters like this will do even more damage.” With so many ready and eager volunteers and organizations, there’s no lack of enthusiasm for trail maintenance. The challenge is putting all that energy to work efficiently. Baylor would like to see a full time volunteer manager to coordinate groups.

That sort of position doesn’t seem likely under current federal management, but there are efforts to increase efficiency in other ways and put resources where they’re needed most. Recognizing how key volunteer groups will be in trail management, Congress enacted the National Forest System (NFS) Trails Stewardship Act of 2016. It sets a goal of doubling the amount of trail maintenance volunteers do over the next five years. To zero in further on the problem, in March of this year, the National Forest Service began efforts to concentrate help where it will be needed most. Officials are asking for public input in deciding where and how to best direct volunteer efforts. The NFS wants to select between 9 and 15 areas around the country that need the most attention. The Mazamas have stepped up with a proposal to combine the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, and Mt. Hood National Forest as a single “priority area” under the act.

Furthermore, a proposed Area Trail Stewardship Plan would cover the priority area the Mazamas requested. The idea is to find gains in efficiency by better coordinating the wide range of groups that do work in the Gifford Pinchot, Gorge, and Mt. Hood areas. The plan calls for a GP-Gorge-Hood Joint Stewardship Shop that would help groups with project prioritization, volunteer management, and resource sharing. The proposed Shop would seek to develop an online clearinghouse for trails and identify new funding sources such as cost-share agreements, matching grants, and stewardship credits.

The challenges are complex. Government bureaucracy is notoriously stubborn. But the key players, especially the ones on the ground, forge ahead undaunted. For his part, Tom Griffith looks forward to keeping busy on the trails, “The weather’s never that bad. This winter was rough, but it’s job security! Otherwise I’d just been sitting at home reading a book. The people you work with are great—I learn something new every time—and you’re outdoors.”

4.28.2017

NEW Traditions


On July 19, 1894, 193 individuals stood on the summit of Mt. Hood, and 105 went on to become the charter members of the Mazamas. In the 123 years since that historic day the Mazamas has created many traditions. This year we set out to create a new tradition, the Mazama Awards & Volunteer Recognition Evening.

In the early years there were Annual Outings where upwards of a hundred members would travel to a new location and spend a couple of weeks climbing, hiking, swimming, and enjoying each other's company. The first Mazama Banquet was held in 1894. The first Mazama Bulletin was published in 1923. In 1932 Mt. Hood acquaintance climbs began. These climbs could see 200 people climbing Mt. Hood at one time. In 1976 the two-part climb card process that we currently use was put in place.

These traditions served the Mazamas well through the years. Some traditions lasted longer than others. Ninety-four years later the Bulletin is still going strong; although it bears little resemblance to the volumes of 1923. Our climb card process is showing its age and will be replaced next year. Acquaintance climbs went by the wayside sometime in the 1950s as the Mazamas made a turn towards smaller climb parties and more frequent climbs. This tradition changed again in the 1980s with the passage of wilderness regulations that limited most climbs to no more than 12 participants.

While these traditions have morphed over the years, the Mazamas original commitment to adventure, exploration, research, and conservation have not changed. Nor has the importance of volunteers and the desire to recognize outstanding achievement of its members been diminished. To that end, we are starting a new tradition. A night where we come together with the sole purpose to honor our members. To our volunteers who regularly give their heart and soul to the Mazamas in a variety of different ways. To our service award winners who have shown outstanding dedication to the Mazamas during the past year or over a period of years. To our winners of climbing and hiking awards for committing themselves to a big goal and achieving it. For all of these reasons we are excited to launch this new event, and have the opportunity to raise a glass to all of you.

We have been hard at work trying to create an event that can be enjoyed by all. So what is in store for attendees? The event gets underway at 6 p.m. on May 11 at The Evergreen in Southeast Portland. This venue, located at 618 SE Alder Street, is a newly remodeled open and airy space. Catering for the event is by Devil's Food Catering, and you'll enjoy heavy appetizers such as House Smoked-Salmon, Painted Hills Steak Sliders, Mezze Platters, and more (vegan and gluten-free options available). Each attendee will receive a Mazama bag, with a Mazama glass, a Kavu watch strap, and a great pair of hiking socks from either Danner or Bridgedale. There will also be some fun raffle prizes including Kahtoola Micro Spikes, Life Straw bottles, Yaktrax, a certificate for a free pair of boots, and more!

Once at The Evergreen, you'll have the opportunity to fill out a postcard to a Mazama volunteer that has made a difference in your life. Perhaps you want to send a note to your BCEP instructor or the hike leader who took you on your first street ramble. Postcards, a membership directory, and postcard stamps will be provided so that you can do just that. There will be a slideshow filled with photos and shout-outs that committee chairs and members have provided.

As we head into the official awards and recognition part of the evening, we'll be announcing the major Mazama service awards—the Parker Cup, Redman Cup, Hardesty Cup, Montague Cup, and Dafoe Award—along with climbing and hiking awards. In addition we'll be recognizing individual committees and committee members throughout the evening.

Throughout the years at different Mazama functions, we have learned that what Mazama members seem to enjoy the most is social time. Time to talk with old friends, meet new friends, and get to know what people look like while wearing something other than zip off pants and/or a climbing helmet! To that end we have built in plenty of time for socializing.

Take this opportunity to get dressed up in your finest non-outdoor wear and show your Mazama friends a new side. We look forward to building this new tradition with all of you.


4.27.2017

Public Lands: Make Your Voice Heard


Yesterday, the Trump Administration issued an Executive Order that could have a substantial impact on public lands. The order calls for a review of National Monument designations over 100,000 acres, designated over the last 21 years.
From REI's blog "The order itself does not rescind existing national monuments but it does leave that open as an option, along with reducing or resizing them. That is a threat to the integrity of our public lands, which millions of Americans see as national treasures." 
This review is focusing on the economic value of these lands. The outdoor industry just released its latest economic impact report showing that the outdoor recreation industry is a powerful force in the US economy, with consumers spending $887 billion annually on outdoor recreation and creating 7.6 million jobs.

The Mazamas have been involved in protecting our public spaces for more than 120 years. Make your voice heard on this important subject.

SHARE YOUR VOICE ON PUBLIC LANDS TODAY


Additional Resources:
Presidential Executive Order on the Review of Designations Under the Antiquities Act
Outdoor Alliance  
REI Co-op  
LA Times  
Outdoor Industry Association
                                     



4.24.2017

Best Mountain Science School Ever!


Mazama Mountain Science School (MMSS) wrapped up our third, biggest and best season yet in March. In fact, we beat our enrollment goals for 2017 by over 100 students! This winter we partnered with Centennial School District, Capitol Hill, Hayhurst and Irvington Elementary in the Portland Public Schools, and Sacramento Elementary School in Parkrose School District to provide science education to more than 600 4–5 grade students.

Over the course of three days and two nights, students learned about physics by sledding behind the Mazama Lodge, glaciology and snow science through snow shelter building, and other hands-on lessons that meet state science standards in math, science, and geology. Every session wraps up with youth presentations about an exciting topic they learned about to share with their fellow classmates. MMSS not only builds scientific literacy, but inspires the next generation of young people to care about our environment and mountain by building fun and meaningful memories of Mt. Hood.

A thank you to the Mazama Lodge for housing our students and instructors throughout the winter. Everyone, of course, enjoyed the awesome food and had a blast playing inside and outside the Mazama Lodge. Students got to take, what for many, was their first snow shoe hike on Mt. Hood, and this year we had the snow to do it!

We of course could not operate such an impactful program without our partners. Mazamas partners with Multnomah Education Service District (MESD) to provide quality education and programming at the Mazama Lodge. Our MMSS instructors are the same instructors who have taught hundreds of 4 and 6 grade students for Outdoor School and the Oregon Trail Overnight program. MMSS 2017 was managed by Shauna "Chomps" Stevenson, Amanda "Weasel" Duncan, and staff members Emily "Goose" Lootens, Kristoffer "Thunder" Thums, Celia "Mycelium" McLean, Brandi "Sparrow" Boyett, and Elizabeth "River" Longmire.


MSR provided snow shoes for our program, and BOGS boots donated warm boots. Both enabled our students to learn and play in the snow for hours. West Outward Bound also generously lent us extra rain and snow gear, snow shoes, and boots for MMSS students. As always, thank you to the Mazama members who generously support our youth programming and the Grey Family Foundation for helping make this program a possibility.