Monday, August 17, 2009

Skeeters, Olallie, and the Big Limp

At the time, it seemed like a smart idea. I was losing weight. I was able to ride on my "acoustic" (read non-electric) bike for pretty much everything and I felt ready to take the next step. It turned out to be a step backwards, but it was still worthwhile.

I've been Jonesing for a decent backtrip trip ever since I wrenched my knee 3 years ago on the Pacific Crest Trail. I decided a trip to Olallie Lake in the northern Oregon Cascades was a good choice. The slopes were mostly gentle and there were many possible camping spots owing to the plentiful lakes in the area.

It was the maiden voyage (for me, anyway) of a 1992 Honda Accord that was a birthday present for the MiniSnab (and she still didn't know about it). Even though the lake is not far as the crow flies from the Willamette Valley, I'd forgotten how far it was as the car flies (about 150 miles from our house). In addition, the last dozen or so miles were on gravel roads.

I pulled up to the trailhead, had some lunch and donned the backpack for this trip. Mosquitoes are a problem in July, but they didn't seem too terrible, so I didn't think much about it. I packed extremely light, but I recently purchased a new CPAP machine that runs on Li-ion batteries and 2 batteries etc. weighed about 8 pounds, so the backpack was a bit hefty. Since this was a solo outing, there would be no splitting of cook gear, tentage, etc. to save weight.

My first mile and a half (or so) held most of the climbing, about 700 feet. The trails were not well kept (when compared to the Pacific Crest trail). Much of the way resembled a dry creek bed. I suspect anyone with a mountain bike would be better off carrying it up a trail like this. The terrible truth is that, even with biking, I am out of shape. When I reached the top, I enjoyed a limited view of the mountain, then decided to find a lake to camp at.

Apparently, the trailmakers had never heard of a switchback because I basically walked straight down a hillside to the first lake. Young me wouldn't have cared, but old and banged up me had to pick my way slowly down the hill. Even so, I ended up turning my ankle and wincing in pain.

Fine, I thought. I will get down to the lake and take stock of the situation. I picked my way VERY slowly the rest of the way, noting a rather exponential increase in mosquitoes as I went. I finally found a stopping place by the lake and dropped my pack. I looked down and saw dozens of mosquitoes on each leg. I wiped one calf and left a black and red smear down my leg.

In a panic, I started throwing everything out of my pack and found the bottle of 100% DEET. That should help. I aimed straight at my calf and sprayed...right into my open mouth. Shit. I turned the nozzle 180 degrees and started spraying the rest of myself, spitting and trying not to swallow. My saliva turned gummy, but I had to staunch the attack. Finally, I coated myself in enough poison to be able to rinse my mouth out a dozen times or so with water.

I continued on to a possible camping spot. The DEET was effective. The skeeters were flying around me, but not biting. I sat there looking over the lake as my foot stiffened up. I realized it was not going to be better by tomorrow, so I made the decision to bag the trip. (mmhmm)

The way back avoided the mountain and was all downhill, but it was more stairsteps of dry creekbed, each of which had me muttering ouches and expletives. When Olallie Lake hove back in view, there was great relief. A quarter mile limp up the service road took me back to the car. I sat in the car, safe from mosquitoes and plotted my next move.

I made my way down the gravel road, then down to the Forest Service road between Estacada and Detroit. Even though Detroit led away from home, I decided to see if there was somewhere to stay and so there was.

My big packpack trip ended at a hotel in Detroit Lake. I went over and had a burger and enough wine to mask my foot pain and headed back to my room. The hotel had a nightly campfire, so I hung out and enjoyed the company of a number of people I didn't know. My CPAP performed admirably in the hotel room that evening. In the morning, I checked my legs. I started counting bites on my left calf and stopped at 42 exrapolating an easy triple digit figure overall. So far, no West Nile or malaria. Whew!

The drive home was relatively uneventful.

So here are the few pics I took...



The view from part way up the hill.



Olallie Lake and Mount Jefferson



The hotel I stayed at.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

2009 Country Fair

It was another trip to the Oregon Country Fair this year. This was the 40th anniversary and they celebrated by designing the worst button in their history. I don't have a picture, but they combined their symbol, a peach, with the Forrest Gump/Wal*Mart smily face logo which pretty much negated the kind of "street cred" they were looking for. Nonetheless...

The unique theme for ME this year was connecting with people. I connected with a person from the past and reminisced about old Boy Scout camp staff experiences from 20 years ago. In addition, I made my first ever in-person internet meetup with Ze Bulette (or Catpsi to some) on this trip. I was dropped off about 3 blocks from his home and caught him tending to his canine friends in the front yard. He let me thumb through his Labyrinth Lord rule book and a few other items including a nifty concept of his own, and he dropped me at the bus to catch up with my cohorts at the fair.

The Minisnab also invited a friend on this trip. I will call him Jundoug and he was a real hoot to have along. He also got a big kick out of the fair and we invited him back next year. Here are a few highlights:



While Jundoug and Minisnab toured the University of Oregon, I scaled Skinner Butte (using a really stupid route) and took this shot across downtown Eugene. Spencer Butte is in the background.



For those with gnomophobia, I apologize for this picture.



Ladybug had some beautiful henna work done at the fair. The colorful glitter added to the effect.



Ladybug, Jundoug, and I pose while Minisnab snaps a picture.



My themed parades marched continually through the fair...these look like yellowjackets.



Certainly Green was a theme...



Minisnab shows off her "blue steel" look while Jundoug dons his new horns.



A rhythm wall greeted us on the way out.



Jundoug, MiniSnab, and Ladybug pose near the entrance to The Labyrinth.

Blog? What Blog?

Hi there...I guess I've been away for awhile. I've spent time camping, biking, immersing myself in the Facebook phenomenon, working, and hanging out but not blogging much. I've also been wondering what to blog about without too much new to cover, so I will hit the highlights of the summer over the next few posts.