Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Searching For Yoda And A "Bear Resistant Container"

The last couple of weeks seem to have been filled with send offs and visits with people I know from living in Oregon. It was great to see everyone before leaving for a while, and I enjoyed all the send offs. The Willamette River float was especially memorable. Amongst other things, the boat got dumped, Matt got sick, and I got to play around with a beautifully made staff that I received from one of my older sisters.

After leaving Corvallis I headed up towards The Dalles. Ann and her family were having a get together over a long weekend. I had been invited. They had rented a house along the Columbia River, which separates Oregon from Washington. The house was really nice. More of a property really. The property was well manicured, had a main house, two guest houses, a boat house, and even a small private beach. It was right on the river. Ann's nephews, Henry and Owen, had come along. I watched Star Wars V with them. Later we went for hikes in the gorge, looking for a Jedi master named Yoda. We visited waterfalls along the gorge on the first day. On the second day we took a tour of the orchard country just south of Hood River, followed by a visit to Timberline Lodge on Mt Hood. After saying bye to everyone I headed south into central Oregon along the east side of the Cascades.

While driving through, I stopped to visit Cliff near Bend. We had arranged to hang out for a few days, but I wasn't sure what we were going to do. At some point I decided I'd just do whatever Cliff wanted to do and see what happens. In GW Bush parlance, Cliff was the decider. Cliff's idea was to climb Mt Thielsen, one of the Oregon Cascades crags, over the course of two or three days. I'd never climbed Thielsen and it's always fun to spend a night or two out in a wilderness area, so I was all for it. Cliff made a good decision by putting me in charge of deciding what technical gear to bring. I brought a full rope, a set of nuts, some draws, and some slings. I was sure it would be overkill given the route description, but Cliff was still a bit new to this stuff and I'd hate to get him hurt. We set out in the early afternoon. Our plan was to hike in until we got tired or found a good place to camp. By the time we got to the base of the route we realized we hadn't brought enough water. We had hoped to find a creek or a melting snowfield, but had seen nothing at all. We only had a liter left between the two of us. The nearest guaranteed water we knew of (Diamond Lake) was four miles away and pretty far down. After a good amount of discussion we changed the trip objective to something that involved spending the night at Diamond Lake. Down we went. We set up camp some time after 9:00. The next morning we filled up on water and headed back to Cliff's truck, taking trails near the road and sometimes bushwhacking. On our second night we car camped at Miller Lake, a high lake east and a bit north of Thielsen. We then headed back to Cliff's house (also a pretty nice place). I spent one night there then left in the morning.

After driving all day yesterday I find myself in Bridgeport, California looking for a "bear resistant container." Bridgeport is on the east side of the Sierra Nevadas close to the Nevada border. I should be less than an hour's drive from Yosemite, my next destination. I'm planning on some backpacking and hiking while I'm there. Apparently you're required to carry anything that a bear might like in one of these containers if you're going to be in the Yosemite backcountry.

Here's a link to some photos. The photo at the top is from Miller Lake. I was fascinated by the dance of the light on the rocks.

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