wake up for the sunrise

wake up for the sunrise

A new text vibrated my phone.

“Do you want to go on a hike with me?”

My youngest was asking me if I wanted to go on a hike with her. Like there was any question in the world. I answered with far too many exclamation points, and we started the fun process of figuring out where to go. We landed on the Angels Rest hike, a popular Oregon destination.

Then I decided to throw in a twist. “Do you want to get up early and try and catch the sunrise?” I figured that my sleep loving teen would probably say no. She said yes. I was ecstatic.

The night before our hike, my sleep was terrible. We have an old dog who sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night in confusion. This night, he was so restless. I let him out. I let him back in. I gave him some food. It felt like I was getting no sleep at all. When her 4:30 text came in, I groaned when she cheerily let me know she was up. It was so tempting to postpone our departure time by a few hours. But I couldn’t forget that the night before I had texted her these words:

“No great adventure started with ‘I was super cozy and warm and slept in late’.”

Begrudgingly I fell out of bed and made myself some coffee.

Slowly though the blood started moving and by the time we arrived, I was getting excited. The parking lot was empty at the early hour. As we strapped on our headlamps, our warm exhalations creating quiet cloud puffs in the cold morning air, I was grateful that I had fought off the urge to stay in comfort.

We hiked companionably, chatting about life and listening to the birds as they began to sing in the gradual light. We spotted our first trillium of the season, and we talked about how you always have to hike the trail you are on after she noticed just how high we were going to have to climb to get to the top.

At the summit, we made hot cocoa and watched the sky grow from pink to blue.

Waking up for the sunrise is always worth it. Walking out your door is always worth it. Finding the edge of your comfort zone, well, you know. It’s worth it.

 

Explore Angels Rest

This hike is quite popular during the day. Arrive early for parking. Sunset is also quite lovely from the viewpoint. Be sure to carry a headlamp for the return trip down as the trail is quite rocky in places. Your hike can be extended along the Angel’s Rest trail towards Wahkeena Falls and up the Foxglove trail towards Devil’s Rest.

 

birding at catherine creek

birding at catherine creek

I firmly believe that an outing does not need to be dangerous, risky or punishing in its physical aspect to fill one’s self with the benefits of adventure. Exploring a new trail, discovering a new to you species, practicing a skill you’re passionate about – these are all fantastic ways to add more life to your days and most definitely deserve consideration in the world of adventure.

For me, bird watching has become an unlikely source of joy in the past year. When quarantine started, I turned to watching and photographing the birds in my backyard. Figuring out what I was seeing was a great challenge, and then the thrill when a new bird would show up – it helped bridge a gap in my life that I couldn’t fill in the woods as I was used to doing. Learning how to shoot birds was another project to tackle, and it has been helping me develop focusing skill with my camera.

This past week, I created my own little adventure and picked out a new location to explore – Catherine Creek and Coyote Wall on the eastern side of the Columbia River Gorge. I mapped out a shorter route, recognizing that stopping to shoot would slow me down, and the heavier backpack (nearly 20 pounds with camera gear and water for an unseasonably warm day) would put more strain on my somewhat injured foot. Still, with new trails and unknown wildlife to explore, there was more than enough newness to give me just a little nudge past my comfort zone. Not every adventure has to be a leap into the unknown.

Fritillaria pudica (Yellow bells), an early spring perennial. Yes, I’m also a sucker for wildflowers.

 


Acorn woodpecker. Apparently they burrow their acorns into tree stumps. Had I known this when I was out there, I would have been trying to find their stash!


Meadowlarks were singing joyously all morning.


A Western bluebird. Another shy one that is hard to sneak up on.



I was intrigued by the mountain bikers riding Coyote Wall.

As we begin to reemerge after a year of Covid, I know that birding will continue to be a part of my adventure basket. Gearing up for a day in the field has its own concerns – picking the right backpack, loading up with the proper gear, making sure that I have all of the tools for hiking as well as photography. Even small challenges make for good days.

Birding Resources

To get started in birding, you’ll need a good bird guide and a way to see the birds from a distance. Because I like to take photos, I use a Nikon 200-500mm zoom lens on a Nikon d500 instead of binoculars, which is super helpful for me since I don’t know my birds very well yet. I usually figure out what I have seen after I get home and start processing. 

Learn more about adventure options at Catherine Creek & Coyote Wall

swimming an ice mile

swimming an ice mile

I love the Tough Girl podcast for many reasons. My favorite, though, is that it introduces me to challenges that women are taking on that are so far outside what I do that I can’t help but digging in to what they are all about. Sarah Williams, the creator of Tough Girl podcast, does a wonderful job of drawing the stories out of her guests. I recently listened to her interview with Cath Pendleton, the first woman from UK to swim an ICE mile, and I was enthralled by the story. I would love watch the BBC documentary about her attempt, but it is only available in the UK at this time. 

 When I think about the adventures that seem so far beyond what I can currently do, few offer up quite as much dread as the ice of swimming an ice mile. The challenge, which has its very own society, involves swimming one mile in water less than 41F (or 5C) for the full ICE status. 406 swimmers hold this distinction within the society. A second option, for the COLD status, is to swim 1K in that temperature, with 402 already making it that far.  For those to whom this challenge makes the heart flutter a bit, there are organized swims and even bigger challenges available, like the Ice Sevens – swimming an ICE mile on every continent. (Jaimie Monahan of the United States was the first person to complete this challenge.) It is very important to have a support for your swim as the danger of hypothermia is very real.

But I’ll be honest. Swimming a full mile in water that cold does not get my heart racing the way that it needs to for enduring the ice water training and cold shocks I would need to take this on. Yet the idea of “wild swimming” as they call it in the UK (calling it “open water swimming” is just not as cool – let’s be honest) has that visceral appeal that I can’t explain.

Oregon is full of crystalline lakes that would provide wonderful opportunities for wild swimming that would push me out of my comfort zone and challenge me to move past the anxious feelings that arise for me when swimming in unknown water. A wild swim longer than I have ever done or a crossing of a lake I love would be two possible adventures to explore. For now, I’ll keep it to warmer waters, but perhaps I’ll challenge myself to dip into cold lakes more often.

 Whew. I jumped into Funtensee, known as the coldest alpine lake in Bavaria, and I could barely dip my head under before scrambling for the shore.   

Thinking Beyond The Ice Mile 

  • What adventures does the idea of swimming an ice mile spark for you? How could you take that energy and turn it into a wild swimming adventure?

 

crater lake ski & snowshoe

crater lake ski & snowshoe

Land acknowledgement:

Ancestral land of the Molala and Klamath, and now part of the Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde

At a Glance

Crater Lake National Park offers a variety of winter sport adventures from the southern entrance and the Rim Village. The 33 mile loop around the lake is considered one of the great ski routes in the US, though skiers and snowshoers should be aware that several avalanche hazards exist on this route. This is the backcountry, and you need to be prepared to navigate and handle emergencies on your own. Know your limits. Shorter trips to Discovery Point and Sun Notch make for good day trips.

Adventure options

Mellow: Snowshoe or ski out to Sun Notch for views of the Phantom Ship.

Balanced: Complete the circumnavigation on skis or snowshoes over three to five days.

Epic: Circumnavigate the lake on skis or snowshoes in one long day. While the FKT on skis is just under 7 hours, it was accomplished with a snowmobile laying down the tracks in advance. Expect to spend 12+ hours at least on the mountain, and be prepared to spend the night in the backcountry as many unforseen complications can happen.

Need to Know

Parking pass required: National Park entrance pass required to enter; sno-park pass for skiing in adjacent national forests.

Overnight camping permit required: Yes. Free permit must be obtained in person from the ranger station between 8 am and 4 pm. (During Covid, permits are self issued and are available 24 hours a day.)

Day permits: None.

Water: Water is limited to what you can melt from snow in the winter. Carry water accordingly.

Nearest Campgrounds: Closed in winter.

Adventure Overview

Please: Always remember to follow the Leave No Trace principles when recreating on public land. Our actions not only impact the land; they influence others to better care for these lands when we lead by example. Please see additional route cautions at the bottom of this page.

Terms of Use: As with each adventure guide published on adventure-minded.com, should you choose to use this route, do so at your own risk. Prior to setting out check current local weather, conditions, and land/road closures. While using, obey all public and private land use restrictions and rules, carry proper safety and navigational equipment, and of course, follow the #leavenotrace guidelines. The information found herein is simply a planning resource to be used as a point of inspiration in conjunction with your own due-diligence. In spite of the fact that this route, associated GPS track (GPX and maps), and all route guidelines were prepared under diligent research by the specified contributor and/or contributors, the accuracy of such and judgement of the author is not guaranteed. Adventure-minded.com, its partners, associates, and contributors are in no way liable for personal injury, damage to personal property, or any other such situation that might happen to individual users hiking or following this route.

cross country skiing the pct

cross country skiing the pct

Learning how to cross country ski over the last year has been one of the more fulfilling adventures I have embarked on in recent years. From the first day when I nervously shuffled my skis across the groomed tracks to the fall camp where I learned that I pretty much didn’t know how to ski properly yet, learning this new sport has taught me the value of being a beginner.

As my skiing has progressed, so have my challenges. On this day, the challenge was skiing trail with the skinny skis. A recent dump of snow made the conditions perfect for trail skiing – there were recent tracks but not so many that the trail was stomped flat and icy. Learning to control the skis around switchbacks helped me progress my control quickly; it’s funny how stop or crash into a tree can speed up skill building.

It’s a good reminder to get out of your comfort zone, even when that comfort zone already feels quite small. Looking at what you are already doing and finding new opportunities to do it just a little bit differently might just give you that dose of adventure you’ve been looking for.

Want to try this ski route for yourself? Look for decent snow levels on the mountain and a recent snow to make sure the tracks are in good condition for you.

Our GPS Tracks

After day one, I was bone tired. I was really worried that this one was going to be the one that I failed at, that I would have to cut my miles short on days two and three, that my body wouldn’t hold up, that I just couldn’t do it. Day two dawned and my foot was cranky. The first mile felt miserable. And then something happened. It was like my body and my brain just decided that there was no use in protesting. Maybe it was the beautiful mountains and bluebird skies. Maybe it was finally figuring out how to herringbone without falling on my face. I don’t know. But about two hours in on the second day, I knew I could do it. I kept feeling better and better. And it was just the lesson I needed.

So what did I learn about multi-day adventures that I will be taking forward with me?

 

1. The body is amazing.

Up to this point, most of my adventures were two days at most. Exhaustion after day one has always been my experience. I have typically planned day two to be less intense, worried that the effort of the day before necessitates backing off. Day two has typically felt pretty bad as I get started and eventually feels better, usually not long before I’m done. I had always assumed that this was most likely the edge of my ability, but after this ski adventure, I see that it’s entirely possible for the body to settle in to the effort and to be able to go for much longer than I had previously thought. My experienced adventure buddies confirm this as being how this stuff tends to work. So now I wonder, just how far and for how long can I go?

 

2. Recovery is just as important as the movement.

I have no doubt now that what we do for recovery greatly impacts our ability to keep going. As soon as we finished skiing each day, we were eating our 4:1 carbohydrate protein snack (tunafish with crackers for me) and starting in with electrolytes. The rest of the evening consisted of recovery – a large dinner, plenty of rehydration, foam rolling, compression, relaxation and sleep. There was no time for anything else while we were in the thick of it. While my buddy is an old pro at this type of thing, this was new for me, and it gives me a blueprint for future endeavors.

 

3. How you fuel today impacts tomorrow.

This was a lightbulb moment for me. As we skied back on the first day, I mentioned to my friend that I was starving. She looked at me with alarm. “You’re eating for tomorrow today!” “What?” I thought, “I thought I was eating for today, like a response to my low energy level or my crankiness.” Turns out, that’s not how it works. You’re replenishing for the future, not to make up for the past. Which makes my performance on the first day make more sense. The day prior we had been driving, and I didn’t eat much all day. Nervous and excited for the skiing to start, I didn’t eat much dinner either. I had low energy all day that first day of skiing, and I see now that this was likely a factor. Going forward, I’ll be paying attention to what I eat the day before I start as well.

Okay, so I was mostly energetic after the first day. Except for this uphill moment when I most definitely could have taken a nap after falling down while trying to eat my scone.

I will be using these lessons to make better plans for future outings. I would love to hear what you’ve learned along the way. Hit me up on Twitter at @runnerteri with your favorite insights.

adventure racing in oregon

adventure racing in oregon

 

I will never forget the first time I watched footage from the Eco-Challenge way back in 1997. While I was running at the time, I was strictly a road runner. I hiked occasionally and never went out for more than a couple of hours. The opening scenes of the race included jumping into a fast running river and swimming for the shore. I was captivated. And I remember thinking at the time that what these guys were doing was so far beyond my abilities that I would never be able to do something like that.

Since then, I’ve vastly increased my adventure abilities. While I have yet to take on adventure racing, I at least hold the belief that if this were something I really wanted to get into, I could find a way. There’s no magic in being able to do these things. Practice, training, money, contacts, yes. But it’s possible.

I am pretty excited to learn that we have adventure racing here in Oregon. Bend Racing, a pro adventure team, also puts on an Oregon adventure racing event. This year’s edition will be May 11 – 16, 2021, and while the race is sold out, the event is looking for volunteers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

pedal through by rei presents

pedal through by rei presents

 

There’s so much to love about this film from REI. The stories of these women and what they learn from their adventure is relatable and heart felt. The beauty of the trails they travel is captivating. And the thrill of seeing a new type of adventure is always a good thing. I highly recommend watching it!

I haven’t started gravel biking (yet) but after watching this film, I was ready to march right out my door and start pedaling away. I don’t have a bike though, so maybe this summer I’ll consider renting one and checking out what bikepacking on gravel is all about.

 

Next Steps

If you’d like to explore what it might take to create this type of adventure for yourself, here are some planning tools to check out:

1. You need something to ride.

  • Don’t have a bike? Explore the sport by renting for an adventure – check out your local bike rental shops with a google search

2. You need a place to go.

3. Plan out the details of what you’ll carry and how you’ll fuel the adventure.

4. Go!

 

 

 

 

Methow valley, washington

Methow valley, washington

Just on the eastern edge of the Northern Cascades lies the Methow Valley, a picturesque mecca for outdoor sports. In the winter, explore the largest cross country skiing area in the United States, and in the summer, hiking trails, river sports and mountain biking are all in your backyard. Winthrop lies in the heart of the valley, while Mazama is about twenty miles to the north and Twisp is about ten miles to the south.

Nearby Adventures

Top Picks In Town

Ski and bike rentals – Methow Cycle & Sport

Pre-adventure scone and coffee: Rocking Horse Bakery

Local shopping and fresh baked bread: Mazama Store

cross country skiing in the methow valley

cross country skiing in the methow valley

Land acknowledgement:

Ancestral land of the Nłeʔkepmx Tmíxʷ (Nlaka’pamux),Syilx tmixʷ (Okanagan) and Methow now part of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation.

At a Glance

Methow Winter Trails Map

Approximately 120 miles of cross country ski trails are available in the winter for exploration and linking of loops. Long ski tours can be planned from a variety of entry points. Several races and events are available to participate in as well.

Other Adventure options

Mellow: If you’re comfortable with skiing hills, the trip up the Grizzly Hut from the Gunn Ranch Trailhead is gorgeous. You can rent the hut (as well as a few others) for an overnight stay. For those who prefer flatter terrain, the trip out to Cow Beach Shelter from Mazama is a lovely adventure of about 3 miles each way.

Balanced: Ski portions of the three major areas – Upper Methow, Sun Mountain and Rendezvous over several days.

Epic: Ski the Lee Adams Tour de Methow course or participate in the organized event put on by the Methow Nordic Club (February).

Brutal: Ski every single trail in as short a time as possible.

Need to Know

Parking pass required: Parking is free at the Methow Trailheads. You will need a Washington Sno-Park permit for forest service trailheads.

Overnight camping permit required: None

Day permits: Daily ski permits are required for the Methow Trails system. 

Water: Carry your own for winter activities

Nearest Campgrounds: Closed for winter

Adventure Overview

Please: Always remember to follow the Leave No Trace principles when recreating on public land. Our actions not only impact the land; they influence others to better care for these lands when we lead by example. Please see additional route cautions at the bottom of this page.

 

The Methow Valley offers unparalleled cross country skiing over a network of at least 120 miles of groomed trails. From wide open flat tracks to hilly trails meandering through the ponderosa pines, there are options for all levels of skiers. Take on the adventure of learning a new sport with classes or push your skills with a long ski adventure. If racing is your adventure of choice, check out the Ski to the Sun Marathon. Plenty of options abound for an epic ski.



Terms of Use: As with each adventure guide published on adventure-minded.com, should you choose to use this route, do so at your own risk. Prior to setting out check current local weather, conditions, and land/road closures. While using, obey all public and private land use restrictions and rules, carry proper safety and navigational equipment, and of course, follow the #leavenotrace guidelines. The information found herein is simply a planning resource to be used as a point of inspiration in conjunction with your own due-diligence. In spite of the fact that this route, associated GPS track (GPX and maps), and all route guidelines were prepared under diligent research by the specified contributor and/or contributors, the accuracy of such and judgement of the author is not guaranteed. Adventure-minded.com, its partners, associates, and contributors are in no way liable for personal injury, damage to personal property, or any other such situation that might happen to individual users hiking or following this route.

circumnavigate three fingered jack

circumnavigate three fingered jack

Land acknowledgement:

Ancestral land of the Molala, now part of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde

At a Glance

22 miles, 2600 feet of elevation gain (approx)
FKT Information
Entry point: Pacific Crest Trail, Santiam Pass Trailhead
Entry also possible from Round Lake Trailhead and Jack Lake Trailhead

Other Adventure options

Mellow: Hike to Square Lake and look for mountain bluebirds and wildflowers or hike Canyon Creek Meadow from Jack Lake. This is a popular option for families but there will be bigger crowds.

Balanced: Several camping spots available to stretch this trip out for backpacking. Please note, a Central Cascades permit will be required beginning in 2021 or an out and back to the Porcupine Rock viewpoint

Brutal: Add in the 18 mile out and back to Mt Washington south on the Pacific Crest Trail to graze two volcanic peaks. You can also summit Three Fingered Jack depending on your climbing ability. This is not an easy climb – details here.

Need to Know

Parking pass required: Northwest Forest Pass

Overnight camping permit required: Central Cascades

Day permits: Self issued wilderness permit (fill out at wilderness entry point). Entry from Jack Lake or Duffy Lake will require a Central Cascades day permit.

Water: Limited sources on PCT portion of the hike. Plan on carrying sufficient water as this is a hot, exposed hike in summer weather.

Nearest Campgrounds: Big Lake, Jack Creek

Adventure Overview

Please: Always remember to follow the Leave No Trace principles when recreating on public land. Our actions not only impact the land; they influence others to better care for these lands when we lead by example. Please see additional route cautions at the bottom of this page.

The Three Fingered Jack circumnavigation is a classic, challenging route through Oregon’s volcanic country. The route can be hiked clockwise or counterclockwise. The west side has few water sources but fairly good tree cover, while the east side has more options for water but is open and exposed from wildfire. Shorter day trip options are available, and there are good camping spots if you wish to extend your adventure.

Overnight stays in this area will require permits between the end of May and late September (please check recreation.gov for details). Day trips do require free day use permits (filled out at the wilderness entry point).

Terms of Use: As with each adventure guide published on adventure-minded.com, should you choose to use this route, do so at your own risk. Prior to setting out check current local weather, conditions, and land/road closures. While using, obey all public and private land use restrictions and rules, carry proper safety and navigational equipment, and of course, follow the #leavenotrace guidelines. The information found herein is simply a planning resource to be used as a point of inspiration in conjunction with your own due-diligence. In spite of the fact that this route, associated GPS track (GPX and maps), and all route guidelines were prepared under diligent research by the specified contributor and/or contributors, the accuracy of such and judgement of the author is not guaranteed. Adventure-minded.com, its partners, associates, and contributors are in no way liable for personal injury, damage to personal property, or any other such situation that might happen to individual users hiking or following this route.

About The Author

About The Author

Teri Smith is starting her third act as a photographer, writer and adventure seeker in the Pacific Northwest. Learn more here.