With enough sun in Tahoe to thaw out our cold memories of Mammoth Lakes we kept migrating north to the warmer temperatures of The Oregon High Desert. The drive flew by as we motored by the towering snow capped Mount Shasta and along the straight evergreen lined Oregon Roads. With three days before we had to head to Portland to pick up our friend Dylan at the airport, we took advantage of the time by climbing at the World Famous Smith Rocks State Park. After having two weeks to rest after the onslaught of climbing at Joshua Tree, we thought that our fingers would be set to climb again, but the welded tuff cliffs that seemed like hardened mud with small pebbles sprinkled throughout had other plans.
Mount Shasta in the distance on our drive north through California
Our first day of climbing we stuck to the more popular Morning Glory and The Dihedrals walls. Upon reaching the crag we realized the draw that the title “World Famous” had on the area as we had to bring forth our elementary level skills and SHARE the climbing with several other groups of people. The next day we decided to venture out further in the park taking our mountain bikes this time to climb on the Mesa Verde Wall, which also offered spectacular views of the famous Monkey Face Tower. On the Mesa Verde Wall, we climbed one our favorite routes that we did in the area, Moons of Pluto which ascends a striking arete on the notorious pebble pinching rock. With a revived pain in our fingertips we continued on towards Portland to pick up Dylan.
As if a water faucet was turned on and forgotten about, the typical pacific northwestern rains began to let loose as we drove up to the arrival terminal of the Portland airport. Making sure not to leave Dylan enough time to revel in the inclement weather we took advantage of the liquid sunshine and went waterfall exploring for the rest of the day in The Columbia River Gorge. After our first rushing waterfall spirits were high and Dylan was more than enthralled by the soaking rain as it had his weatherman senses tingling like batman seeing the bat symbol shining high above Gotham. With our fix for waterfalls fully met we splashed west towards the coast and The Olympic Peninsula.
Our first stop on the coast was Point Disappointment which was far from what the name implies. Unfortunately it was still pouring rain and now there was also wind blowing like crazy across the ocean. Instead of hampering the experience, which this weather may at other areas, it seemed to add to the setting that we were in on Northern Pacific Coast. After spending time on The Gulf of Mexico coast earlier in the trip, the northwest was full of completely different scenery changing from long flat sandy beaches to a coast framed by steep cliffs and large pieces of driftwood littering the pebble filled beaches. Before reaching the national forest we stumbled upon South Bend, Washington the oyster capital of the world and also home to The World’s Largest Oyster. We took a quick break and got some great espresso drinks at Elixir, an awesome coffee shop with an incredible location right on the harbor. Full of our new found energy we kept puddle jumping towards The Olympic National Park.
As it continued to rain it only seemed fitting to visit the rain forest on the peninsula as well. They certainly did not disappoint either as we were blown away having only made a couple steps into the forest. The absolutely soaking rain revealed its purpose as we stood between the towering trees artistically draped in bright green moss by mother nature herself. After spending our last night on the peninsula tucked between the evergreen covered mountains and being rocked to sleep by the sound of rain on the roof of the bus we shook off the wetness and worked our way back towards civilization to drop Dylan off at The Seattle Airport and pick up our friend Alex who came out to ski with us for the long weekend. After exploring Seattle we headed into the mountains near Steven’s Pass.
For our first day of skiing we decided to tour into Susan Lakes, a backcountry area conveniently located near the Stevens Pass ski resort. We found a light covering of new snow on top of a hard rain crust, but made the best of the conditions and got several laps in on some fun terrain. We even got to get in our first resort run of the year as we conveniently took a quick detour on the way out onto one of the side trails of the resort.
The next day the weather gave us a new layer of heavy snow and higher avalanche warnings so we decided to play it safe and do some exploring around the abandoned Yodelin ski area just east of Stevens Pass. We had to keep a positive attitude, as our first lap up was filled with rain but, the weather quickly changed and we had snow flakes hitting our goggles as we skied through the young evergreen glades which had once served as the open ski trails of the former resort.
As our rain soaked ski clothes hung on our makeshift drying racks in the back of the bus, we cruised back towards Seattle to pick up Ronja, a friend from Germany who was supposed to have flown in the day before. Due to a plane that was leaking oil, she had been delayed a day and had finally made it to the US. After picking her up at the airport and restocking our shelves with groceries we made our way down to Crystal Mountain to get our first real resort day of the year, as well as explore the back country terrain that the area has to offer.
From here we plan continue to ski in the Cascades, weather permitting, then meet up with other friends in Sun Valley, then Jackson Hole. Thanks for reading!