Exploding Whale Beach Hike


Trip Report:
Leader: Mark Hougardy | Organization: Obsidians | Date: June 2018 | Duration: 1 day | Participants: 6 | Type: Day Hike

We hiked to the site of the “exploding whale,” one of Oregon’s most prominent stories of local lore. In 1970, near Florence, a 16,000-pound whale carcass the length of a bus washed ashore. After 3-days in the sun, it became so foul smelling that locals wanted it gone. An idea was hatched to dynamite the odorous mass into tiny bits. A local TV report of the incident is classic web viewing. In the clip, a massive boom launches putrid blubber into the sky. As the blast ends, behind the camera, a series of cheers and laughs ring out. One woman’s voice is heard, “All right, Fred, you can take your hand’s our of out of your ears now … here come pieces of … my G-” No one was injured, but viewers were covered in goo and a car was nearly totaled. Our group located the approximate location of the detonation. The day included a pleasant 5-mile beach walk where we viewed a number of shells. We also observed a memorial to 41 sperm whales who mysteriously stranded themselves in the area in 1979. One whale spout was observed just offshore.

Hiking & Camping at Mount St. Helens – Eruption Celebration

Trip Report:
Leader: Mark Hougardy | Organization: Obsidians | Dates: May 2018 | Duration: 3 days | Participants: 10 | Type: Hiking, Multi-day Camping

Our visit to the Mount St. Helens National Monument was timed to the 38th anniversary of the May 18, 1980 eruption. Our group rendezvoused at the Silver Lake Visitor Center off the I-5 where we enjoyed lunch and listened to an interpretive presentation by a ranger. Osprey flew overhead. Afterward, we continued about 20 miles up the road to the sediment retention dam. This massive structure holds back a reservoir of volcanic mud 13-miles long, a half a mile wide, and 200 feet deep. Several Army Corps of Engineer Rangers were inspecting the structure and they graciously talked with us about the dam’s history. Later that afternoon we proceeded a few miles up the highway to the laid-back Eco Lodge Resort where we pitched our tents and then hiked to the reservoir. The surface looked solid, but it quickly sucked unsuspecting walkers down to their ankles. In the ash and mud, there were tracks of raccoons, elk, and footprints of some enormous birds, possibly eagles. That evening we enjoyed dinner and some down-home hospitality at the lodge’s café. Before bed, we sat around a warm campfire. The next morning we ate a hearty breakfast then drove about 25 miles to Coldwater Lake. The lake is an enormous body of water that had not existed prior to the eruption. On that day, a wall of ash and rock several hundred feet deep blocked the creek causing the newly formed basin to fill. At the Johnston Ridge Observatory, we were told the facility was closed due to a power failure. We hit the Boundary Trail and hiked several hours through the apocalypse-like blast zone. In the distance, the massive volcano began to emerge from the clouds. On top of Harry’s Ridge, we walked along the snow line until we looked directly into the crater of Mount St. Helens. Below us was the hauntingly beautiful Spirit Lake. This is the location where long-time resident Harry Truman refused to leave his home. After the blast, he would live forever as a legend. A very sinister cloud suggested it was time for us to go. Our hike had been 8.8 miles and roughly 2,000 feet of elevation gain/loss. At the visitor center, we discovered they were open, but the power went out again after about 5 minutes. In the evening, we enjoyed a tasty home-cooked meal at the café and heard stories from the lodge’s owner, Mark. He had witnessed the eruption when he was 20. We enjoyed another humorous nightfall telling jokes and stories around the campfire. In the early morning, raindrops pecked at our tents. After breakfast, we thanked Mark and his family. As we left for home the rain started to pour. We had been fortunate with the weather, and to enjoy such a great time at the volcano.

A Spring Weekend on the Upper McKenzie River

Trip Report:
Leader: Mark Hougardy | Organization: Obsidians | Dates: May 2018 | Participants: 5 | Type: Hiking and Car Camping

The season’s first warm weather brought significant snowmelt into the McKenzie River watershed and over the majestic Sahalie Falls and Koosah Falls. Our plan to hike to Tamolitch Falls (Blue Pool) was cut short when a sign stated a mile of trail was closed because water had flooded the path in places to a depth of 3 feet. Even with the closure, there was plenty to appreciate further upstream at Clear Lake with its crystalline waters and turquoise colored Great Spring. Animals that were seen along trail also appeared to appreciate the warmer weather as fish jumped in the lake, several species of birds flew overhead, and a garter snake warmed itself on the rocks. In shaded areas winter still managed to hold its grip as large patches of snow remained. Springs spontaneously appeared on the trail sometimes forming small ponds, and at one point, all of us were mesmerized by a plate-sized vortex that had formed in such a pool. After a solid day of hiking, we visited Belknap Hot Springs for a relaxing soak. Because we timed our visit before the Memorial Day crowds the U.S. Forest Service campground was basically empty. Our campsite was green with moss and located next to a white rushing stream that looked like it was born from a Tolkien novel. The next day we enjoyed the comfort of a morning campfire, broke camp, and explored several more miles of trail before heading home.

   

Rediscovering Eugene’s Forgotten Trolleys

Trip Report:
Leader: Mark Hougardy | Organization: Obsidians | Dates: March 2018 | Participants: 14 | Type: Urban Walking Tour

It’s difficult to imagine today, but between 1907 and 1927 streetcars (commonly referred to as trolleys) ran along 18-miles of electrified tracks in Eugene. Their comforting clickety-clack as the wheels passed over connections in the tracks where heard on four routes in this city of 11,500 people. Only the finest cars were used and each was superbly-crafted with heaters and rattan seats. At 45-feet in length, they could carry up to 100 passengers. The cost per trip was 5 cents for a child and 10 cents for an adult. Our walk will help re-discover this curious icon of the early 1900’s using old photos and traversing the Fairmount trolley’s 5.5-mile route. We walked the Fairmount’s route in its direction of travel from the train station, through downtown, across the University of Oregon’s picturesque campus, passing historic residential neighborhoods, crossing over some of the last remaining visible tracks, and back. Although many of the trolley’s tracks are not visible today, look carefully, many miles of track from this time are hidden just under the pavement.
 

“Animal House” Movie Walk

Trip Report:
Leader: Mark Hougardy | Organization: Obsidians | Dates: January 2018 | Participants: 7 | Type: Urban Walking Tour

In 1978 a low-budget movie about a misfit fraternity who challenged authority was released. The movie “Animal House” prominently featured locations around the University of Oregon. Much to the chagrin of university officials, the movie brought an unwelcome attention to the UO; to others it is one of the greatest comedy films of all time. Forty years later, this small group of Animal House fans visited fifteen sites around campus featured in the movie. We enjoyed a pleasant walk in the light rain. Some areas on campus were similar while other locations, like a refurbished room 110 Fenton Hall where the courtroom scene was filmed, are unrecognizable. We ended our walk the former site of the Delta Tau Chi fraternity house, the Animal House. The dilapidated structure has since been demolished and replaced with an office building. Only a small plaque remains about its history from the 1800’s and uses in the movie. Thank you to everyone in the group for sharing their stories about the movie’s production.

Walking the Murals & Urban Art Scene in Eugene, Oregon

Trip Report:
Leader: Mark Hougardy | Organization: Obsidians | Dates: December, 2017 | Participants: 19 | Type: Urban Walking Tour

Over the past months in Eugene, Oregon, a number of building-sized murals have started appearing  – some almost overnight. I needed to check out this gigantic expression of creativity, so I gave an open invitation for an informal walk. Surprisingly, nineteen people joined me! The murals are part of the 20×21 project, an initiative to create 20 or more world-class outdoor murals in Eugene between now and the premier track and field 2021 IAAF World Championships. As a runner myself, I am really excited for this event. After the walk, some of us enjoyed a tasty lunch of pizza and salad (the vegan pizza there rocks; an image is included below). Here are a few photos:

The Power of Nature Adventures (Why I Guide)

I’m an outdoor guide because traveling and nature experiences can be powerful teachers. Here is one such story about how an encounter with a whale helped others (and myself) to grow.

Gray whale calf. Photo: Nature Picture Library / Copyright Todd Pusser.

“Whale!” a woman squealed. Two-dozen people slammed themselves onto the starboard railing of a small whale watching the ship. The vessel listed uncomfortably sideways. Just feet away a baby gray whale the length of a long kayak floated in the rough surf. Its large black eye seemed to study each of us. Everyone was absorbed in the experience. They had forgotten their discomfort in the previous hour and a half. Up until then it had been a bad day to be on the water: we had not seen a whale – not one. Our ship sickeningly rolled side to side in the deep troughs, the smell of diesel permeated our nostrils, cold January weather nipped our skin, the sky was oppresively overcast and the wind-chapped our lips.  Worst of all was seasickness, not just a queasy feeling, but real illness. I heard my name being simultaneously cursed as participants barfed over the boat’s edge. Some made multiple trips. As they staggered back with a sick yet relieved look on their faces I received several vexing glances. The words were blazed in their eyes, “Why did you make me come out here?”

It was a hard day. My camera had broken too, then again maybe it was for the best. This was the first whale-watching tour that I had organized for a group and it was going horribly. I secretly wanted this trip to be over, to slink home and erase it from my memory. I wanted the trip participants to forget about it, too.

When the young whale appeared the trip was born anew. A marine biologist shared her commentary: the mother was likely on the seabed feeding and would be returning shortly. The juvenile was not lost, just hanging out at the surface.

Amazingly the whale stayed parallel with our ship for about twenty minutes. Then several hundred feet away from a large mass the size of a city bus rose to the surface. She dramatically announced herself by ejecting a plume of air in a geyser-like spray. This was mother! The smaller whale joined her and they swam off together.

The people were giddy, but also happy to return to port. Upon disembarking from the ship, the trip participants said little, just drove away. I had organized the outing as a way for over scheduled tech workers to connect with their families in the outdoors, but had I inadvertently turned more people off that helped? This was first of several trips where unexpected situations and hardships caused me to question my outings and slowly I became disillusioned. After several summers, I stopped leading nature adventures.

Fast forward five years. I was at an outdoor market selling child-sized backpacks I made at the time. A man approached and we talked for a minute, then he said, “Hey, you’re that guy who led the whale watching trip.” He briskly shook my hand said, “Thanks.” I wondered if we were talking about the same excurion. He told me about that day, I listened with interest then in dismay as my well-intentioned nature trip was turned into a tale of deceit. At the time, he and his mother-in-law despised one another and for spite they created ever-increasing hardships for their rival, often to the detriment of family members. One day he saw my whale watching trip and suggested a pleasant outing for the entire family. But his coyness was masked with a desire that his mother-in-law have a miserable experience. In fact, she hated that trip and wanted nothing to do with him again. To his glee she stopped visiting altogether! Eventually her lengthy absense spoke to his better nature and he felt guilty for his childish behavior.

Almost a year later she returned for a holiday visit. The conversation at the dinner table was still; everyone in the room knew the two were enemies. As the serving plates started to move about she looked at him and said, “Remember that whale watching trip?” He suspected a trap but replied, “…yes.”

She looked directly at him and with a heartfelt voice said, “Thank You.” His mind was blown. No one in the family knew what to say, him especially.

She shared her story: At the time she suspected the man wanted her to get sick while whale watching, but she went anyway. It was a most unpleasant time. But when she viewed the whale up close and looked into its eye, she saw there was something there – more to the point, something in her. She returned home to southern California and was anxious to the point where sleep was difficult. She spent more time outside and took longer walks. She started to walk to the store. Her walks became hikes and she asked her friends to join her, but they were “too busy”, so she went by herself. Later she joined a local hiking club. On these outings she saw hills and valleys near her house that she had never seen despite having lived in the area for decades. On one hike in the Mojave Desert she saw a magnificent vista and it inspired her to make a big decision. She decided to visit a place she had always dreamed of seeing since she was a child: South Korea. Then she announced to the family around the table, “I’m leaving for Seoul in three weeks.”

The iconic Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul, South Korea. Image copyright Korea Tourism Organization.

The man was shocked, something in her words had spoken to him. He felt ashamed. After dinner, the two of them had a heart-to-heart talk. The trickery and malice evaporated and they started to heal their relationship. Several weeks later the mother-in-law traveled to Korea and had a wonderful trip. In the months that followed, she visited the family more often and the two of them started to go on short walks. They both enjoyed being outside, even having deep conversations. A year later they had become friends and even hiking buddies. The entire family was happier and everyone was even talking about an overseas trip.

The man finished telling me his tale. Before disappearing into the crowd he said, “Thanks again for the great trip!”

His story was an elixir for me, it helped to renew and strengthen my own passion – connecting people with the outdoors. I started to organize and lead trips once again. Fifteen years later I’m still going strong.

I guide because travel and being in the outdoors teaches things that we can only learn by experiencing life. Guiding is at that nexus, the point between being in the now, learning, and living; and it is best shared with others who seek it.

 

How a Photo from 1890 Helped My Nature Travel Group Solve a Mystery

Trip Report:
Leader: Mark Hougardy | Organization: Obsidians | Dates: September 10, 2017 | Participants: 7 | Type: Day hike and wayfinding

My nature travel group set out to solve a mystery, where is Camp Edith? The campsite was a favorite of Judge John Breckenridge Waldo, an Oregon man whose legacy is comparable in stature to John Muir or Henry David Thoreau. Like Waldo’s impact on America’s conservation movement, this camp has been generally overlooked by history. Over the years a few people have found the campsite, they keep its location guarded so others might enjoy making their own discovery.

A photo of Camp Edith (circa 1890) taken at Waldo Lake, Oregon. I saw this while researching the journals and letters of conservationist Judge John Breckenridge Waldo at the University of Oregon archives. I’ve hiked all over Waldo Lake and never encountered this camp. Where was it? I’ve spent the past year reading, inquiring, and trying to find out where this camp might be, but with little luck. Some fieldwork was needed. I decided to lead a trip with other curious folks to find this historic location using this photo as one of our only clues.

John Waldo explored and documented the Cascades from 1877 to 1907, increased public awareness with his letters to state newspapers in support of forest conservation, and steadfastly pushed legislation to preserve the mountains for future generations. Today, Oregonians can appreciate six national forests, a national park, and at least eighteen wilderness areas because of Waldo’s vision and perseverance.

Thank you, John B. Waldo, for helping us to enjoy such beautiful places! A photo of a meadow and Mount Ray, Waldo Lake area.

On his treks, Waldo would travel along the Cascades’ crest for months at a time. Although he traveled with a handful of colleagues and friends it is likely that he became homesick for his family. One of his most beloved destinations now bears his name, Waldo Lake, and it’s upon this magnificent shore where he christened the camp in honor of his daughter, Edith. Today, the campsite doesn’t appear on any maps, it quietly rests with only a century-old blazed tree to signify its human history.

I first learned about Camp Edith while studying Waldo’s journals at the UO Archives last year. In the archives were several photographs, including one photo from 1890 that was simply titled, “Camp Edith, Waldo Lake.” But where was it? I found a few references to the camp in his journals but nothing definitive. An online article said it was in the shadow of Mount Ray near the lake. I met one chiseled-faced man who said that it was somewhere on the south shore. It was helpful information, but since Waldo Lake has an area of 10 square miles, locating the camp would require some fieldwork.

Part of the marshy south shore of Waldo Lake.

On this trip, our only tools were a copy of the 1890 black and white photograph, several entries from the judge’s journal, and a 2004 Forest Service photo showing a tree with an inscription.

The hike started at Shadow Bay. We were fortunate that thick smoke from nearby fires was blowing in another direction, giving our day a striking clarity. After walking a bit studying the photo, we bushwhacked through the forest, crossed marshy fields, and clamored over downed trees. We made slow progress, partially to avoid stepping on a number of dime-sized toads. One plump toad was the size of an apple.

At the shoreline we again studied the older photo: it showed the campsite in the foreground, and in the distance were what appeared to be several shadowy outlines of land jutting across the lake. As we looked across the water, we could see similar landforms, but our angle was off the mark. We needed to explore further. Several hours after starting our hike one member of our group let out a joyous call: “I found it!”

The rest of us followed her voice through the woods to an area by the shore. Blazed on a tree was a heart-shaped mark. The bark’s growth had covered the outside letters, but the inscription was readable: “Camp Edith, Waldo Lake.”

A close-up of the Camp Edith tree, part of the “Camp Edith, Waldo Lake” inscription is still visible.

We were excited about the find. We enjoyed lunch, shared our own stories, and even read a few of Waldo’s journal entries. We left agreeing to be discreet about the camp’s exact location and left it as we found it.

Standing in front of the Camp Edith tree. This group of curious folks enjoys a good mystery.

One of Waldo’s journal entries from 1890 was fitting for our hike that day,

“The lake stretches away up to the North; crags and peaks tower above us. It is a splendid scene – this source of rivers and cities, hid away, like pure trains of thought from vulgar observation – in the deep bosom of the wilderness buried. Camp Edith sends you greeting – greeting to Edith from ‘Papa’s Lake.’”

A side-by-side comparison of the heart-shaped blaze seen in 2017 and 1890. You can still see the original heart outline in the bark of the newer photo.
Canoeing is still a favorite activity at Waldo Lake as evidenced by paddlers making their way through a channel. Waldo Lake is a gas powered motor-free zone.

Fostering an Intergenerational Respect for Animals

Trip Report:
Leader: Mark Hougardy | Company: Road Scholar | Dates: Three trips, July-August, 2017 | Participants: 15-25 per group | Type: 6-days of field outings and motorcoach travel in western Oregon

I enjoyed leading this Road Scholar trip for grandparents and grandchildren. It was a fun and educational opportunity for different generations to share time together exploring the world of animals. For my programs, I wanted to create a mentoring environment where, at the end of the program, everyone who is young at heart would think of themselves as a beginning zoologist. A zoologist is a curious person (a scientist) who loves to learn about animals and everything they can teach us.

An enrichment activity I created. A key skill in tracking is understanding of how animals move. We did this by measuring the stride and placement of tracks by various animals. This activity reinforced the story of OR-7 “Journey” Oregon’s most famous wolf who has traversed 4,000 miles during his lifetime (so far).

 

 

 

Hiking, Eagles, and Restoration in the Whychus-Deschutes Proposed Wilderness

Trip Report:
Leader: Mark Hougardy
Group: Obsidians (met ONDA on site)
Dates: May 22, 2017
Participants: 6
Type: Weekend Camping & Restoration Work

The Whychus-Deschutes proposed Wilderness is a rugged and beautiful landscape in central Oregon. Driving here requires a vehicle with high clearance and some sturdy hiking shoes for the remaining distance. It is a place of weathered cliffs, cold streams, and rocky canyons. If you have observant eyes you might even see bald eagles flying overhead. A prominent landmark is Alder Springs. The main spring appears to spontaneously gush from the dry ground at an impressive 60 gallons per second. These cool waters flow a short distance into the picturesque Whychus Creek and a few miles further it joins the turbulent water of the Middle Deschutes River. These unique waterways provide spawning habitat for salmon, steelhead, and are central to all life in the area. This wilderness is prominent in fueling the region’s robust outdoor recreation opportunities, tourism industry, and a high quality of life. The Whychus-Deschutes landscape is an asset, yet it lacks permanent protection.

The first evening allowed for some hiking and enjoying the local sights. The ridge above the campground offered wonderful views of basalt columns. The columns were between 80 and 100 feet in height.

I wanted to find out more about protecting this land so I led a group of fellow Obsidians for an explore. We joined several other volunteers for an extended weekend of restoration work with the Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA). During the summer months, this sensitive area can be hammered by an influx of visitors who are seeking their own interpretation of this place. We were there to learn about the natural history, rebuild trails, fix up campsites, and remove some invasive plants that were taking resources from native species.

First, a shout out to ONDA. Learn more about ONDA’s great work and how you can help at onda.org

Here are some photos of our restoration weekend:

The next morning we drove to the Alder Springs Trailhead and gathered our gear.
This is stark and beautiful country. Our route was about three miles one way. We worked the entire distance.
Volunteers jumped to it keeping the trail open.
This water bar (a small dyke that prevents erosion on trails) had filled in and was no longer functioning. Our team rebuilt this and a good many others that day. The green in the background is courtesy of Alder Springs that flows at the base of the canyon.
Our host, Gena from ONDA, is crossing Whychus Creek.

 

Our group is removing an abundance of Knapweed from a meadow. Knapweed can quickly take over an area and choke out native vegetation.
The creek skirted along the base of this amazing painted cliff. The horizontal bands displayed a multitude of geologic layers. The cliff’s face was streaked with gray which oozed out during recent rains. Several of us enjoyed lunch at this picturesque location.
Our work group is removing a large outcrop of Mullein. Mullein adapts easily to natural meadows and can outpace native plants.
An amazing view looking down Whychus Creek.
We enjoyed a well-earned break at the confluence of Whychus Creek as it pours into the Deschutes River. This view is actually several hundred feet downstream from the confluence. The scenery here is spectacular.
The hot afternoon required a head-dunk in the cold waters of the Deschutes River. This is me.
The next day we were at it again. We easily spent two hours pulling Knapweed in just this little meadow.
More Knapweed! One plant was so tough it snapped a hand trowel.
Such amazing colors on these butterflies. Animals we saw on this trip included two bald eagles, turkey vultures, several meadowlarks, a robin, one gemstone colored Lazuli Bunting, scores of butterflies, and two snakes. Sadly, we saw four deceased deer, victims of an aggressively cold winter.
Our group removes an illegal fire ring that was fifteen feet from the creek. We restored this sensitive habitat as best we could.
Such simple, yet complex, beauty can be observed here. Note the small butterflies.
The last of our group returns down a dusty path after a long and rewarding weekend.
A true delight was spotted next to the trail. This is a primary feather of a Bald Eagle (possibly from a sub-adult). The top edge of my trail shoe is included for scale. This feather was discovered near the final hour of our restoration work – helping to protect public land. Seeing it was a welcome gift.

Spending an Afternoon with Judge John B. Waldo, Oregon’s John Muir

Trip Report:
Leader: Mark Hougardy
Group: Obsidians
Dates: November 7, 2016
Participants: 6
Type: University of Oregon Archives Visit

On this sunny day in November, our small group of Obsidians spent several hours with the original writings, journals, and photographs of a true champion of nature – John B. Waldo.

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Waldo was an ardent conservationist, he’s been referred to as the west’s David Thoreau and even Oregon’s John Muir. Waldo was known for venturing into the Cascades, often spending months at a time, and recording his findings about this dynamic and vibrant landscape.

Over the course of his life Waldo worked as an explorer, legislator, and chief justice on the Oregon Supreme Court, all the time helping to preserve land in the Cascades. He envisioned a protected band of land along the crest of the Oregon Cascade Range that ran the entire length of Oregon. This goal became his personal mission.

On September 28, 1893 the Cascade Range Forest Reserve became a reality and 5 million acres were protected.

Today, we can experience his legacy in the protected lands and open spaces of the Cascades from Mount Hood south to the border with California, that include: Crater Lake National Park, Mt. Hood, Willamette, Umpqua, Rogue River national forests, and other public lands. And in the middle of this grand monument are the deep and pristine waters of Waldo Lake, named in his honor.

Curiously, little is written about Waldo. The judge was a philosophical and reflective person who did not directly seek publicity. But possibly this muted message is part of his larger voice – appreciating the beauty of Oregon is best experienced by hiking on the trails, exploring in the mountains, traveling in the wilderness, and experiencing the (as he wrote) “untrammeled nature and the free air.” Discover Waldo’s story for yourself. The University of Oregon archives are free to use – Knight Library, Paulson Reading Room.

Reference: John B. Waldo and William G. Steel: Forest Reserve Advocates for the Cascade Range of Oregon, Gerald W. Williams
Umpqua and Willamette National Forests
http://www.foresthistory.org/Publications/Books/Origins_National_Forests/sec21.htm

Here are just a few of the photos from his collection:

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Waldo Lake, Camp Edith (circa approx. 1890)

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Odell Lake (circa approx. 1890)

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Waldo Lake (circa approx. 1890)

Big Bear Camp to Walker Point Weekend

Trip Report:
Leader: Mark Hougardy
Group: Obsidians
Dates: September 10-11, 2016
Participants: 10
Hiking 8 miles
Type: Day Hike & Tent Camping

Visiting Big Bear Camp is like inhaling a fresh breath of forest air: it’s invigorating.

blog-2016-09-14-01That’s me with the apple. The lodge’s owners Hal and Tonia quickly welcomed us as we arrived at their retreat/garden/camp in the woods. Hal offered us delicious Honey Crisp apples directly off the tree to enjoy on our hike. [Photo by Darko]

blog-2016-09-14-02Our 8-mile hike started up a reclaimed forest road, past cedar trees used by mountain lions for scratching, across the deep ravine where a rope was needed (shown), and finally to a deceptively steep forest road.

blog-2016-09-14-03After a good heart-pounding climb, we arrived at the “Secret Spot,” the highest location within the Coast Range in Lane County. We had climbed roughly 1,600 feet from where we started but the view made up for it. Looking east we could see 130+ miles in the distance: in the north, Mt Hood, followed by Mt, Jefferson, Three-Fingered Jack, North, Middle and South Sister, Mt. Bachelor, and finally 125 miles further south, Diamond Peak.

blog-2016-09-14-04We rested, enjoyed some lunch, and then traversed back down the forest road to several turnoffs, and a forest trail that deposited us back at Big Bear. That evening we shared a potluck with neighbors; everyone’s gardens were abundant and we and enjoyed the bounty of harvest-time meals. Later that evening we enjoyed guitar folk music by the fire and enjoyed freshly picked grapes (shown below). In the morning we hung out, explored the local creek, enjoyed the garden, and planned a route for a 42-mile, 4-day backpacking trip to the coast for next spring.
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A Crater Lake Extended Weekend Group Trip

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Trip Report:
Date: June 12, 2016
Duration: 3 Days
Participants: 10
Group: Obsidians
Hiking 5 miles (1,000-foot elevation loss/gain)
Type: Day Hike and Camping

On this trip, Mother Nature reminded our group of nine that she is always in control, and she reminded two members of our group to remember the tent!

Our original itinerary had to be re-worked because of a late July storm, but the unusually cold weather added an extra element of adventure and excitement.

Everyone arrived in great spirits on Saturday, though we knew that rain was on the horizon. Unfortunately, two members of the group had – in their enthusiasm – unexpectedly left their tent at home. Undeterred by the unfortunate error they purchased a tent at the campground store – for a good deal of course! The skies that afternoon were clear and we made good use of the sun by hiking to Garfield Peak.

thumb_IMG_5138_1024On the way we encountered several snowfields, one of which was very steep, but the stunning views from the top were well worth the extra effort in getting there. In the distance Mount Scott was enticingly clear of snow, though we later learned it was impossible to reach because several miles of the eastern rim highway was closed for repairs. Returning down the mountainside we visited the small loop trail of Godfrey Glen where we collected trash that uncaring visitors had left. We collected enough garbage to fill a large bag! That evening we sat around the campfire and commented on the number of stars that were visible, where was the rain? All was calm until 2am when the rain arrived and temperatures lowered to just above freezing. Our two members in their “good deal” tent had a cold and wet night.

Sunday morning I looked out my tent and was excited to see full-bodied snowflakes quietly falling but they only lasted for a minute. Several early risers made a trip to the rim where 3-4 inches of snow had fallen the night before. All of us were off to a slow start that morning. The “good deal” tent had not fared well in the rain and when the drops were shaken off the outer cover a support bar snapped making the tent almost useless. For the entire day temperatures never ventured past the mid-thirties and at times the drippy rain became unrelenting torrents.

_thumb_IMG_5158_1024We explored the Visitor’s Center, the Sinnott Memorial Overlook (featuring an indoor exhibit room) and the gift shop to escape the fog, wind, rain, and occasional snow flurries. The fog was so thick we could not see the lake or a few hundred feet in front of us. In the afternoon we moved below the cloud line to hike the picturesque Annie Creek trail. Although a short hike it was very picturesque. Laurie and Brad had reservations at the Crater Lake Lodge for dinner, they generously increased their table size to include all of us so we could get out of the rain and have some warm food. About 8pm that evening the sky cleared and at first the temperatures seemed warm. The group campfire that evening had just half of the group, the remainder had gone to bed early. The two members in the “good deal” tent had another cold and memorable night. In the middle of the night I awoke and was stunned by the visibility of the night sky – there were thousands of stars! My tent thermometer showed that temperatures had dropped into the upper twenties.

On Monday the sun returned and the group broke camp, but before we did we waited anxiously for two members to return their “good deal” tent. The two walked stoically into the store and presented their ale of woe to a staff person, when the person said “no refunds” the disheveled and muddy remains of the tent was plopped like a large wet sponge onto the counter for all to see. The act proved its point about the product’s poor quality. Their money was returned. Victorious that two of our members had saved their money (and dignity) we traveled to the rim where we hiked for several hours sightseeing and enjoying the views of Wizard Island. We tried to visit Watchman Peak but the trail was still heavy with snow and the area was closed. Although the sun was shining the temperatures remained in the mid 50s and the wind had a nippy bite, the group tabled Cleetwood Cove for another time, jumping in Crater Lake would be for another trip.

Visiting the Dark Grove – Devils’ Staircase Wilderness 2016

Trip Report:
Date: June 12, 2016
Duration: 1 Day
Participants: 10
Group: Obsidians: This was a fist-visit to a very remote location, for safety I enlisted the help of Oregon Wild to introduce us to the area.
Hiking 5 miles (1,000 foot elevation loss/gain)
Type: Day Hike

The proposed Devil’s Staircase Wilderness is one of the most remote and inaccessible regions of rainforest left in the Coast Range. This impenetrable area has limited hiking trails or roads and is visited by only a few hundred people a year. Yet it remains unprotected despite the efforts of conservation groups and Oregon’s congressional delegation. To find out more about this compelling landscape, eleven Obsidians joined Chandra LeGue, the Western Oregon Field Coordinator at Oregon Wild, for a day of hiking to the Dark Grove. The Dark Grove has never been logged, and is home to ancient trees that are 400-500 years old.

Our caravan of cars departed Eugene and meandered on back roads through the coast range. At one point, the green surroundings were cleaved from our sight as we drove through a wasteland of cut and darkened stumps: one member in the car likened the lifeless land to the desolated area at Mount St. Helens just after its eruption. This sight was a stark contrast to the lush biomass that we would encounter later that day.

About 15 miles northeast of Reedsport, we pulled off the pavement and slowly traveled up a single laned, overgrown backroad. Salmonberries grew in abundance here and scratched the sides of the car.

IMG_4548We parked at a junction and walked down an old logging road that was being reclaimed by the forest. Then we disappeared into the bushes, venturing down an elk trail. Posted on a tree was a sign that told us this was not the path to the Devil’s Staircase waterfall and unless you’re prepared to stay the night, and have Search and Rescue to look for you, to turn back. Fortunately, we had a guide for our inaugural visit.

The so-called “trail” was on loose soil and maintained a direct angle downward at 45-50 degrees. For the next hour and a half, we carefully descended 1,000 feet. Roots frequently caught our feet as we clamored over fallen logs and beneath large trees that had crashed across ravines and splintered. Ferns grew in abundance and they and helped us balance ourselves with their solid fronds. We quickly learned that ferns were our friends.

The weather that day was pleasant and sunny, though had our schedule been a day or two off, our visit might have been plagued with slippery trails.

Finally the trail leveled out and we enjoyed lunch in an amphitheater-like area of fallen logs surrounded by a carpet of greenery. We saw a shadow over the canopy as a turkey vulture circled far overhead, no doubt curious to see if the humans had lost their way.

IMG_4571A forest of Salmonberries obstructed our path, so we made a trail straight up a ridge, then down into a forest of sword ferns. The ferns stood at five to six feet in height, so they engulfed us all and many of the shorter members traveled with their arms raised straight overhead. These tranquil glens often hid downed logs and it was easy to twist ankles or slam shins.

IMG_4577A fallen giant became our catwalk above the salmonberries, foxgloves, and ferns. We crossed a creek, but could barely see the water because of the thick undergrowth. Scampering down the side of the massive tree, we squatted and crawled through a small jungle, then emerged at the root base of the fallen giant – it was 25 feet tall!

IMG_4592In front of us was the Dark Grove, a cathedral of 8-foot wide Douglas Fir trees. The trees were dark in appearance, the result of a fire about 150 years earlier. Touching the bark a charcoal residue was imprinted on fingers. The tree model is Becky Lipton.

blog-2016-06-dark-groveCrossing back across the fallen giant, we stood at the base of one of the largest trees we saw that day. Eight people stood at its base, arms outstretched and hands grasped. They counted one, two, three… their calls became muffled as they rounded the opposite side…the voices returned and the loop stopped – at seven and a half people! This immense tree was somewhere between 35 to 40 feet in circumference! Several Obsidians mentioned they felt like kids in a giant outdoor playground.

We continued through the ferns and back again along the ridge (which was unmarked on the Forest Service map). We lost the trail several times but finally found what we were looking for: a small rocky outcrop along Wasson Creek where the channeled water made a small waterfall for us to enjoy. We rested for half an hour in the sun.

The rest of the afternoon was spent returning via the same trail that we had descended earlier, which was a workout! At about 4pm, we returned to our cars and started our two-hour drive back to Eugene.

This hike was a rugged and demanding off-trail experience, and all of us got scratched and dirty, some of us stung by insects, and one person had a fall (fortunately the ground was padded by an abundance of moss and there was no injury)! I understand why people get lost in this wilderness; even with directions, I could never have found this remote location. The sheer scale of the forest is very disorienting, but experiencing this place at ground level provides clarity as to why it needs to be protected.

Short Mountain Landfill Trip Report 2 – April, 2016

Trip Report
Leader: Mark Hougardy
Group: Obsidians: joined by BRING Recycling
Date: April 9, 2016
Participants: 8
Type: Day Hike

Visiting the local landfill is not high on a person’s bucket list, but ask this question, “Where is away?” When you throw something in the trash where does it go? What happens to it? What will happen to it?

Roughly 5-miles from Eugene is the County landfill. Visiting such a place is very useful for gaining perspective about our personal and societal use of resources. This was a short, but very educational trip. A handful of curious folks made the trip to learn about the facility’s methane recovery operations, how the landfill cells are designed, how space is maximized via compaction, leachate management (trash juice), wetlands mitigation, and impacts on the Middle Fork’s water quality – a potential secondary source of water for 250,000 people.

The footprint for this site is 540-acres, and the hills will eventually reach a height of 600-feet. The expected “lifespan” for this site is another 100-years; which means we will be putting trash into the ground for another 100-years at this site. That is lot of trash.

Short Mountain Landfill Trip Report October, 2015

Trip Report
Leader: Mark Hougardy
Group: Obsidians: joined by BRING Recycling
Date: October 27, 2015
Participants: 8
Type: Day Hike

Our trip to the landfill was cut short because of gunfire in the vicinity. We left the area immediately. Apparently, a state-licensed trapper was on top of the 250-foot trash hill shooting birds considered to be a nuisance. The BRING representative, who was guiding our trip, was not happy because there was a breakdown in communications. Our trip had apparently uncovered a major hole in the landfill’s processes concerning visitors, signage, and contractors with firearms using the site. This has been resolved and I will be re-scheduling another visit to see everything that we missed.

What’s in Your Water Bottle – Trip Report March, 2015

article_2015_03_09_water
Trip Report
Leader: Mark Hougardy
Group: Obsidians
Date: March 13, 2015
Participants: 15
Hiking: 2 Miles
Type: Day Hike

We have all turned on the kitchen tap and filled up a bottle in preparation for a hike, but have you ever wondered what was in your bottle? Think about it – we all live downstream from somebody.

How does river water become the tap water we drink and how is wastewater made safe for wildlife and others downstream? To learn more, I organized a trip with The Obsidians (A fantastic outdoor club in Eugene, Oregon), to the local water intake and the wastewater facilities.

Our first visit was to the Hayden Bridge Water Filtration Plant, located adjacent to the McKenzie River, in Springfield. The facility is no small operation; it serves the needs of 200,000 people on a daily basis by removing water directly from the river, treating it, and finally delivering it to our taps.

Here are some observations from the visit:

  • The facility is very high-tech and water quality is measured at all stages of the process both by computer and by human with hourly lab checks.
  • Security is a paramount; the plant is gated with a security fence/gate, cameras are everywhere.
  • Our local water system has about two days of water reserves if there is a calamity.
  • On the day we visited the facility had processed and was sending out 16 million gallons (24 Olympic sized swimming pools) of water to the surrounding community.

Next, we traveled to the Eugene/Springfield Water Pollution Control Facility in Eugene. This is where all of the waste materials that go down the drain/flushed from our households and businesses in the greater Eugene metropolitan area (a quarter of a million people) are processed. The plant is located adjacent to the Willamette River. Our hour and a half visit was very informative:

  • More than 99% of what arrives at the facility is water; less than 1% are solid materials that need to be either removed or turned into bio-solids.
  • Most of the odoriferous gases are collected and used to power a generator that supplies 50-60% of the energy needs of the facility.
  • Waste materials can take up to 10 hours, once they leave your home, until it reaches the wastewater facility; then wastewater can take another 10 hours to be processed. In short, waste materials take less than 24 hours until that water is returned to the river.
  • The amount of water being cleaned and being returned to the Willamette River that day was about 15 million gallons (roughly 23 Olympic swimming pools).
  • During the summer, the plant can process up to 70 million gallons per day (106 Olympic swimming pools) of wastewater!

I was fascinated to learn that on the Willamette River in Oregon there are about 25 wastewater treatment stations, and that does not include communities on the tributaries that flow into the Willamette! Just think about that…for every wastewater plant there is likely a water intake facility that supplies drinking water for the next community downstream. If you live downstream you really want to know that the people upstream are taking care of your water – the water you drink, use for bathing, and for recreation.

If you’re curious about the water that goes into your water bottle start asking questions. Most water intake and wastewater plants are happy to host tours for small groups. Let them know you are interested in visiting.

Behind us is a 2-million gallons of water; the tank is actually a settling basin for any particulate matter.
Water Filtration Plant: Behind us is a 2-million gallon settling basin. This is used to settle any particulate matter in the water. This water was recently pulled from the McKenzie River.
A view an empty 2-million gallon setting tank.
Water Filtration Plant: A view an empty 2-million gallon setting basin.
Wastewater Treatment Facility: It looks like a really bad root-beer float, it is actually air being passed through the wastewater, this allows bacteria to better digest the waste.
Water Pollution Control Facility: It looks like a really bad root-beer float, it is actually air being passed through the wastewater, this allows bacteria to better digest the waste.
Treated water that is almost ready to be returned to the Willamette River.
Water Pollution Control Facility: Treated water that is almost ready to be returned to the Willamette River.

What about when the water is returned to the Willamette River? Find out more, read my post, Rafting the Upper Willamette River with the McKenzie River Trust; the majority of the photos were taken only a few miles downstream from Eugene’s wastewater treatment facility.

Hiking for Families 2004


Organization: Sunnyvale – Cupertino Adult Community Education
Instructor: Mark Hougardy
Participants: 7-12

Course Overview: Explore local parks and natural areas with other young families. Parks are within an hour’s drive. Provide your own transportation. Bring lunch, water, first aid kit, and whistle. Wear layered clothing, comfortable shoes and bring a hat. Trails are easy but not stroller friendly. Each hike is 2-3 miles and about 2 hours in duration. Destination parks will also have areas to explore and play. Meet at 9:50 AM. Hikes start promptly at 10:00 AM Restrooms are available at the parks!

The Instructor: Mark Hougardy has over ten years experience developing and leading interpretive day hikes and overnight camping trips. He works closely with select National and California State Park associations to further their interpretive missions. Mark is a father and enjoys fostering experiences for families to enjoy the outdoors.

OCTOBER 9, 2004: VILLA MONTALVO COUNTY PARK
Start Location: ACE classroom 4 C
Travel time from ACE: 20 minutes
Description: A pleasant hike in the grounds of the Villa Montalvo Estate. The hike will include a trip to Vista Point for views of Silicon Valley clear to San Francisco. The hike will end on the front lawn of the estate. Time will be available for an optional picnic and explore a nearby lawn-art structure.
Directions: From ACE travel South on Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road to downtown Saratoga. Continue straight (southeast) on Hwy 9 one-half mile. Turn Right onto Montalvo Road and follow signs. Park in Lot #4.

OCTOBER 16, 2004: SANBORN-SKYLINE COUNTY PARK
Start Location: Meet at Sanborn Park Hostel. Located inside the park.
Travel time from 280/DeAnza Boulevard: 20-30 minutes.
Description: The hike emphasizes the natural history of the area, including the San Andreas Fault, the tallest organisms on the planet and the animals who inhabit(ed) the park. We will visit a junior museum.
Directions: From the 280/Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road intersection travel South on Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road to downtown Saratoga. Turn Right on Hwy 9; travel 2 miles into the mountains. Just past the Saratoga Springs Campground turn Left on Sanborn Road, travel 9/10 mile, make the first and only Right turn on Picks Road. Continue one-half mile until the road dead-ends. Turn Right into the Sanborn Park Hostel parking lot.

OCTOBER 23, 2004: HUDDART COUNTY PARK
Start Location: Meet at Huddart Park, Werder parking lot.
Travel time from 280/DeAnza Boulevard: 30 minutes.
Description: Horses and riders frequent this park, riders often let children pet their horses but no sudden movements or noise, please. The hike includes redwoods and great trials. The hike will end at the children’s playground (Werder parking lot) where parents can enjoy a picnic lunch while the children play. Bring a picnic lunch. BBQ grills are available.
Directions:
From the 280/Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road intersection travel North on 280. Turn off at the Woodside Road (Highway 84) exit. Turn Left (westbound towards Woodside). Proceed approximately 1.5 miles through the Town of Woodside. Turn Right on Kings Mountain Road. Proceed up the hill to the main park entrance. Parking fee of $5.

Adventuring in the Historic Austrian Tirol

Note: I planned and scheduled this trip in 1999; however, it was not led due to the unfortunate economic downturn of 2000.

The Alpen regions of Austria and Italy are unparalleled in natural history and beauty. Our adventure is an introduction to this breathtaking region by exploring the historic sites, experiencing the food, local culture, and natural aspects of the beautiful land. The adventure focuses on areas in and around the capitals of Tirol (Innsbruck, Austria) and Südtirol (Bozen, Italy). Both cities are used as “hubs” for our day trips and contain a rich concentration of cultural, religious and historic sites. Opportunities to explore and appreciate the local natural beauty abound. Transportation on EuRail trains, local buses, and electric trams will be utilized. Day trips always return to a clean bed with hot water facilities. Accommodation is based on double occupancy and includes overnights in hotels and guest houses.

Location: The Alps of the Austrian Tirol and Italian Südtirol
Trip Dates: (14 Days) Summer 2000
Cost: TBD. Air separate. Based on double occupancy.
Accommodations: Hotels/Guest House
Capacity: 12 people
Trip Rating: Moderate. Some activities are Strenuous. All are optional.


SCHEDULE:

[DAY 1]
ARRIVE INNSBRUCK
A full day traveling by air or rail to Innsbruck, Austria. Please bring a light jacket, water, your passport, tickets, travelers checks, and wear comfortable clothing. In addition, you may want to bring a few books to read and some extra money.

Your guides meet you at the Innsbruck airport or train station. After a short ride, we arrive at our guest house in Igls, a suburb of Innsbruck. Igls (shown) is a hiking village situated on a sunny plateau at the base of Patscherkofel (shown in background). The village is perfect for exploring the nearby natural areas. Our guest house accommodations will be home for the next seven nights.

[DAY 2]
PERSPECTIVE OF INNSBRUCK
We will gain a perspective of Innsbruck and the many sights by taking a short tram ride around the city, with a visit to the city tower. We recommend you wear comfortable shoes or hiking boots. Breakfast and dinner will be provided, lunch is the responsibility of the traveler.

Our first full day in Innsbruck is spent gaining perspective. We board a local tram for a short introduction to sights in Innsbruck. In addition, we will visit Stadtturm, a 15th-century tower located in the heart of the city. The tower provides a superb view of Innsbruck and the surrounding mountains. For those who want to enjoy a relaxing afternoon, Innsbruck is blessed with coffee houses and pastry shops which can be enjoyed at your leisure. For those with more energy, we will hike the Olympic Ski Jump overlooking the city. Innsbruck hosted the Winter Olympic Games in both 1964 and 1976.
[DAY 3]

EXPLORATION OF INNSBRUCK
Historic Innsbruck offers a rich political and cultural history. From Innsbruck, the Habsburg empire grew to a European power that would shape European history for over 400 years. The adornments of the local churches and political structures are beautiful and lavish. Today we recommend that you carry a day pack, wear comfortable walking shoes, and bring some extra money. Breakfast and dinner will be provided, lunch is the responsibility of the traveler.

We begin our exploration of Innsbruck by visiting several of the oldest and most exquisite structures in the city. Within a few feet, we travel through hundreds of years of history. Beginning with Emperor Maximilian I and the Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof) we continue to his tomb in the Court Church. Inside we are surrounded by 28 haunting life-sized bronze and black statues. In addition, the church is the home to the tomb of Andreas Hofer, an Austrian national hero who led four revolts against Napoleon’s invading army. The Tyroler Volkskunst Museum (Museum of Tirolean Folk Art) has rich carved furniture and traditional costumes on display. The Hofburg, or Imperial residence, contains staterooms, historic paintings, tapestries and a richly painted ballroom (shown). Innsbruck is also home to a beautiful cathedral and basilica, for those desiring to attend a Sunday mass.

[DAY 4]
ALPINE ZOO, NORDKETTENBAHN CABLE CAR, AND HIKING
We spend a full day experiencing the wildlife and the high mountains of the Alps. We recommend you bring a day pack, snacks, ear band, a jacket, water, and extra money. Please wear comfortable hiking boots. Breakfast and dinner will be provided, lunch is the responsibility of the traveler.

In the morning we depart for turn-of-the-century cable car-trolley, Hungerburgbahn which carries us up the mountain to the Nordkettenbahn cable car to the 7,000-foot summit. At the summit, we can see Inn Valley and Innsbruck one mile below us. In addition, we can see the peaks in Italy and Germany. We will be accompanied by a local guide for a four to five-hour hike. In the late afternoon, we visit the Alpenzoo, which houses such native fauna as river otters, bears, and European bison. We descend the Hungerburgbahn and return to our accommodations in the early evening.

[DAY 5]
EXPLORATION OF INNSBRUCK (cont.)
Today we continue to explore Innsbruck, including Schloss Ambras (Castle Ambras), once the guardian of these mountainous crossroads. We recommend you wear comfortable shoes, bring snacks, water, and extra money. Breakfast and dinner will be provided, lunch is the responsibility of the traveler.

We continue our exploration of Innsbruck by visiting Schloss Ambras (Castle Ambras). The castle (shown) is home to a rich collection of armor, historic weaponry, and an eccentric’s collection of paintings, sculpture and medieval collectibles. The grounds are located in a beautiful park-like setting. We may explore additional museums such as Maximilian’s Armory Museum, the 400-year-old Bell Foundry, and the Tyrolian Railway Museum.

[DAY 6]
THE TRAILS AND VIEWS OF PATSCHERKOFEL
We spend a day exploring the trails of Patscherkofel. We recommend you wear hiking boots, bring a day pack, water, lunch, and snacks. Breakfast and dinner will be provided, lunch is the responsibility of the traveler.

The morning begins with a 3-hour hike to the top of the forested and pastured slopes of Patscherkofel. The ascent will provide an opportunity to enjoy the views and to check out the Olympic bobsled course. A small Alm, an Alpen hut, along the way offers tea and water for hikers. Depending on the wind conditions, we will enjoy our lunch on the summit. Afterward, we will take the cable car back down to Igls. The more energetic are welcome to return by trail. In the afternoon you can explore surrounding villages, rest, or enjoy the atmosphere of a local cafe.

[DAY 7]
HIKING AND EXPLORING THE STUBAI VALLEY
The Stubai Valley contains green fields dotted with villages and farms, all surrounded by magnificent tall peaks. The Stubai Valley extends southwest of Innsbruck and is easily accessible by tram. We recommend you wear hiking boots, bring snacks, water, and extra money. Breakfast and dinner will be provided, additional meals are the responsibility of the traveler.

We board the electric tram in Innsbruck for a 1-hour journey through tunnels and over bridges into the beautiful Stubai Valley. Upon arriving we descend into the valley hiking from village to village on mountain paths and farm trails. Expect to see Alpine cows grazing as we pass the farms along the way. The tram connects the villages and we will use it for an easy return at the end of the day. In the evening we begin our transition to Italy by dining at a local restaurant that specializes in wood-fired pizza.

[DAY 8]
ARRIVE BOZEN, VISIT ÖTZI THE ICEMAN
Today we pack up and travel to Bozen, Italy. Bozen is the capital of Südtirol and is steeped in 5000 years of history. We recommend you wear comfortable walking shoes. Breakfast will be provided.

The day begins with a beautiful two-hour train ride to the capital of Südtirol, Bozen, Italy. Our train travels up the Sill Valley, over Brenner Pass, and into Italy. It is a breathtaking ride. Arriving in Bozen we settle in at our accommodations and enjoy lunch. In the afternoon we will explore the Museum of Archaeology to see one of the greatest archaeological finds of the decade. Back in 1991, hikers found the body of Ötzi, a 5300-year old man frozen in the ice. The museum contains his mummified body and a reconstruction of how he appeared before his death. We will see his preserved weapons, tools, clothing and other artifacts that related to his life. We will also see Roman historical findings. English recordings/translations are available at the museum. The late afternoon will be spent exploring local sights and shops, or relaxing in one of the many cafes. Our accommodations will be home for the next three nights.

[DAY 9]
DAY TRIP TO MERAN, CASTLE TIROL, AND WINERY
We spend a day exploring the beautiful surroundings of Meran. We recommend you bring a day pack, snacks, and water. Please wear comfortable walking shoes. Breakfast will be provided.

In the morning we depart by train for a 50-minute ride to Meran. The rail line passes through a multitude of vineyards and orchards. In Meran, we will explore the shops in town. In the late morning, we will visit Castle Tirol (shown). The castle is the namesake for the Tirol region. We will also visit a local vineyard and winery for a tasting. The remainder of the day will be spent exploring Meran’s historic churches and buildings.

[DAY 10]
EXPLORE BOZEN, SURROUNDINGS, AND SHOPPING
Bozen’s small alleys and streets are centuries old. Among these visitors can experience the open air markets, craft shops and larger department stores that include an abundance of clothes, leather goods and shoes. We recommend you wear comfortable walking shoes. Breakfast is included, additional meals are the responsibility of the participant.

Today is reserved for shopping, personal exploration of the city, hiking around the nearby vineyards or relaxing in one of the many cafes. Bozen’s open air market (shown) is a favorite. This is a perfect opportunity to purchase souvenirs. Local medieval castles and churches are also worth a visit.

[DAY 11]
EXPLORE STERZING
Sterzing is located close to the Austria-Italian border. The mountains are very prominent and vistas spectacular. We recommend you wear comfortable walking shoes. Breakfast is included, additional meals are the responsibility of the participant.

We enjoy a relaxed morning before boarding the train for an hours journey north to the town of Sterzing. Sterzing is a typically Tirolean town with architectural elements of Renaissance Italy. Sterzing includes a prominent central street (shown) with shops, cafes, and stores. Our accommodations will be home for the next two nights.

[DAY 12]
HIKE THE FORESTS AND MEADOWS OF ROSSKOPF
We spend a day exploring the trails on Rosskopf, overlooking Sterzing. We recommend you wear hiking boots, bring a day pack, water, lunch and snacks. Breakfast will be provided, lunch and dinner are the responsibility of the traveler.

The morning begins with a tram ride to the top of Rosskopf, where we enjoy views of the surrounding Alps and countryside. Depending on the wind conditions, we will enjoy our lunch on the summit. In the afternoon you can explore the museums and sights of Sterzing.

[DAY 13]
PERSONAL DAY AND FAREWELL DINNER
The final full day of our adventure is a personal day. Our day ends with a farewell dinner. Breakfast and dinner will be provided today. In the morning we leave from Sterzing and enjoy the scenery during the one-hour train ride back to Innsbruck. This will be the final full day of the trip in Tirol. After arriving at our accommodations the remaining day is open to shop, buy souvenirs, explore or relax. The evening is reserved for our farewell dinner.

[DAY 14]
DEPART INNSBRUCK OR CONTINUE ON YOUR OWN JOURNEY
The final day of our trip. For those departing, this is a full day of air travel. We recommend you bring a light jacket, water, wear comfortable clothing, and make sure you have your passport, tickets, and your traveler’s checks.


INCLUDED IN THE TRIP
Adventuring in the Historic Alpen Tirol includes 13 nights accommodations, variety of meals, medical insurance, daily bus passes, EuRail passes, museum admission and a native speaking guide.

  • Arrivals on September 17 into the Innsbruck airport or train station are met by trip leaders.
  • Thirteen nights (13) accommodations (based on double occupancy) in quality hotels and guest houses.
  • Exploration of Innsbruck (Austria), Sterzing, Bozen, Meran (Italy) and surrounding natural areas.
  • Thirteen breakfasts, six dinners. Also includes a mid-point and final evening dinner.
  • All EuRail and local tram admissions on trips published in the itinerary.
  • All bus/tram passes in Austria and Italy stated on published itinerary.
  • Admission for up to twenty-one (21) historic and cultural museums.
  • Personal days for exploring, shopping of relaxing.
  • Guided and personal exploration of the Austrian and Italian Alps.
  • Comprehensive medical insurance.
  • Guides for the duration of the trip, including a bi-lingual Austrian. Local guides when required.
  • Professional air-travel services for pre-trip planning if required.

Note: Tips, meals not listed in the itinerary, gifts and souvenirs are not included in the cost of the trip and are considered personal expenses. The participant’s decision not to participate in an activity does not represent a refund or partial refund of payment.


ACCOMMODATIONS
Overnight accommodations include hotels and guest houses (shown from left to right). All rooms include a private bath, shower, hot water, and television. All lodgings are based on double occupancy. The hotel in Igls is within walking distance to the village center, the Patscherkofel cable car station, natural areas and is a 15-minute bus ride to downtown Innsbruck. Hotel accommodation in Bozen Italy is located downtown close to the shops, museums and transit station. The guesthouse in Sterzing is located a short ten-minute walk from the village center, transit station, and natural areas. The final night is spent in the historic section of Innsbruck in a hotel founded in 1390. The hotel is close to restaurants, shopping, and the river Inn. During its history, the hotel has accommodated such names as Mozart and Goethe.

Exploring Santa Rosa Island, Channel Islands National Park

Located off the Santa Barbara coast, the California’s Channel Islands reflect a natural beauty reminiscent of California before the modern age. Join us as we make the 40-mile channel crossing to Santa Rosa Island and enjoy 3 days exploring this rarely visiting landscape. The island is the second largest (52,794 acres) in the park and offers grass-covered hills, canyons, creeks, rocky intertidal areas and sandy beaches.

Organization: GlyphGuy Adventure Travel
Date: August, 1999 (two trips: one was a scouting trip)
Trip leader: Mark Hougardy
Participants: 3