Travel + Adventure

Hiking Report: Angel’s Rest, Portland, OR

About a month after moving, I was in desperate need of hitting the reset button. I had been putting an intensive amount of effort into the job search and hadn’t yet realized how important it was to maintain a sense of play and adventure during the process.

In other words, I was driving myself crazy.

So, I did what I always do when I’m feeling that way. I set out to tackle a physical hill, in hopes that it would help me tackle my mental ones.

portland, oregon, pacfic northwest, hike, hiking

When you take on Angel’s Rest trail, you’re committing to 2.3 miles of constant ascension. Some of it is a gentle ascent, some of it is a steep ascent, but it’s always going up. There are no signs telling you how much further to the top, no way to measure how much longer unless you’ve cheated with an app on your phone.

Every thought, every worry falls away. A singular focus takes over, a steady grind of putting one foot in front of the other, and faith that, eventually, you’ll make it to the top.

And when you do make it, the uphill battle fades away.

hike, trail, pacific northwest hiking, columbia river gorge, portland, oregon

I throw the word awesome around quite a bit, using it to show enthusiasm, agreement, a positive attitude. When it’s used so casually, it can be easy to forget what awesome truly means – to be filled with a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder.

I settled down on a sun-warmed rock, soaking in the view. A view that started forming 40-20 million years ago.  A view shaped by volcanic eruptions, mudflows, and floods. A view to inspire a new perspective.

columbia river gorge, hike, hiking, pacific northwest, portland, oregon

Location: Angel’s Rest Trailhead, about 30 minutes outside of Portland along I-84E and US-30E

Distance: 4.6 out and back to the summit

Elevation: ~1400 ft gain, ~1580 feet at the summit

Time: 2.5-4 hours, depending on how long you hang out at the top

Difficulty: Moderate

Parking: Free. Small parking lot at the trailhead, some roadside parking as well.

Tips:

  • A great option if you’re on a weekend visit to the Portland area, and a nice way to break up all the eating and beer sampling.
  • Recommend getting an early start, this is a pretty popular trail. Family-friendly.
  • No restrooms at the trail head, although there are some a bit further up the road, as well as additional parking.
  • You’ll hit a shale crossing near the top. The views here are awesome too, but you haven’t hit the summit yet, keep going.
  • If you’re feeling up to it, this would be a great hike to bring a small picnic/cheese plate snack on.
  • Nearby trails include Bridal Veil Falls and Latourell Falls.

Sunday Slowdown

Link up below and say hi!

Transition

  • Tons of great advice in this article about tailoring your resume to communicate to employers that you’re the obvious choice.
  • Pivot by Jenny Blake is getting a lot of hype right now. After listening to her interview on the Good Life Project podcast, I’m jumping on the hype train and borrowing her book from our local library.
  • Are you open to serendipity?

Adventure

Growth

  • I’ve been researching how to develop workout programs to put on muscle, and came across Adam Bornstein’s site, Born Fitness. I can’t recommend it enough, he has a gift for taking science-based research and translating it into actionable strategies.
  • Undated Passion Planners are on sale right now, perfect time to snap one up if you’re thinking about experimenting with how you schedule/organize your time.
  • I had a taste of what it would be like to commute to work on a plane this week, flying in and out of town on the same day, and I wished I had read this article first. I had Tip 7 down, but completely failed at Tip 6, eating once at 530am, and not again until 630pm.

Overcome Resistance + Defeat Fear of Failure

Do you remember the movie Girl Fight?

I watched it when I was 16 and was fascinated by this girl, this woman, who wanted to fight for a living and was willing to defy other peoples’ expectations to make it happen. What made her want to stand in a ring and get hit? Who told her she could do that?

For someone so entranced, it seems natural that the next move would be to sign up for a martial arts or boxing class of some sort and find out what this whole thing is all about. And that’s exactly what I did…

…18 years later. My first Krav Maga class is in two weeks.

What took me so long?

Two things.

The first is what Steven Pressfield calls resistance in the The War of Art. Resistance is that little voice in your ear whispering, “Don’t do it”, when you’re tempted to step out of your comfort zone and try something new.

From an evolutionary standpoint, this voice has given us an advantage. Those who stayed safe spread their genes, resulting in today’s society. But now, instead of keeping us safe, this voice can keep us from exploring new hobbies and passions.

The second thing is a fear of failure. The older we get, the less often we get put ourselves in situations where we’re beginners. And the less often we experience the failures all beginners experience, the more we worry about getting something just right the first time we try it.

How to get past resistance + fear of failure?

Take action.

It’s really that simple.

It doesn’t have to be a huge leap or cost a lot, and it doesn’t have to be a fully formulated plan mapping your progress from A to Z. Just one concrete step, one bold decision to move a little bit forward.

Thinking about quitting your job and pursuing a new career path? Find one person working in a field you’re interested in and ask to buy them a cup of coffee to learn more about what they do.

Have a guitar lying around that you’ve been meaning to learn how to play? Put it where you can’t avoid it and commit to 5 minutes daily or learning your favorite song.

Want to paint but think you’ll never get past the stick figure phase? Get a piece of paper, a kid’s set of watercolors, and find a short, easy Youtube tutorial.

But what if I fail?

Good! Great! Contrary to popular belief, failure is not a bad thing.

The older we get, the more we’ve learned to avoid failure. And sure, it can be uncomfortable and maybe even embarrassing to fail. But that’s why you should fail fast!

The faster you fail, the more opportunities to grow. Each failure provides valuable information that allows you to adjust your approach and try again, or move onto something else that you like more.

If you learn to embrace it, failure will feel less like, well, failure, and more like opportunity.

Still need convincing?

CM Punk, a prominent WWE wrestler, made his debut as an MMA fighter in the UFC this past weekend. He spent 2 years training in preparation, earning a white belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu, but went into the Octagon with no actual fight experience under his belt. And, it should come as no surprise, that he was easily defeated in round 1 by his opponent, Mickey Gall.

But that’s not where the story stops. In his post-fight interview, CM Punk said,

“In life you go big or you go home. I just like to take challenges. This was a hell of a mountain to try to climb. I didn’t get to the summit today. That doesn’t mean I’m going to give up, that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop…I will be back believe it or not… Listen, life’s about falling down and getting up.”

CM Punk didn’t just embrace failure; he embraced it in front of thousands of viewers. And he didn’t allow it to defeat him. Instead, he immediately recognized it for what it was: an experience that provided invaluable lessons to help him continue on his path.

So, what can you fail fast at today?

Day Trip + Hiking Report: Tillamook, OR

We set out Memorial Day Weekend on a noble pursuit of all things delicious – ice cream, cheese and sour beer.

Our destination: Tillamook, OR, near the Oregon coast.

Located 73 miles from Portland, OR, Tillamook has a population around five thousand. Settled by bachelors in 1851, Tillamook continued to grow until it was officially incorporated as a city in 1891. Timber and fishing industries have both played a role in Tillamook’s economy, but it’s perhaps most well known for its role in the dairy industry and as the home of the Tillamook Cheese Factory.

When your noble pursuit involves all things ingested, it’s always good to do a little work to earn the goods. Our first stop of the day was Cape Lookout State Park. A popular spot for tent and RV camping (and they have yurts!), we were there for the hiking.

The Cape Trail is a 5-mile out-and-back hike along the cliff’s edge to Cape Lookout. It meanders through a densely forested area, and when the trees part ways a bit, you get to sneak beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean.

View from The Cape Trail

The trail is popular, and is a great hiking option for the whole family, especially when camping in the area.  Gray whales migrate through this part of the ocean in late Spring and Winter, and Cape Lookout has a convenient bench for prime-time viewing. Be prepared for slick tree roots and mud on the trail regardless of the season, especially if there’s been a recent day or two of rain.

All that hiking left us a bit parched, and it was on to our first indulgence: de Garde Brewing.

Driving to de Garde brewing, I have to admit, I was a bit worried I hadn’t done enough research. The current tasting room is located pretty far outside of Tillamook, and the scenery, though beautiful, was fairly remote.

Air Museum, Tillamook, OR

When we turned a corner and saw a crowd of hipsters sitting outside of what looked like an industrial strip of warehouses, I breathed a sigh of relief. We had to be in the right place.

I love me a sour beer, and de Garde didn’t disappoint. I enjoyed a glass of the tasty Citra Pale, and we also lucked out and got the last of the Freigeist Kopeniciade – freaking delicious.

de Garde Brewing, Tillamook, OR

Next stop was the Tillamook Cheese Factory Visitor’s Center, which, to be honest, was completely overwhelming – so many people! This place receives over a million visitors a year, and is a must stop for families. My number one priority was a Mountain Huckleberry waffle cone, which I devoured while we walked around the self-guided tour. Because it was a Sunday, the factory floor was closed for business, but there was still plenty of information to digest. My fave fact – it takes 10 gallons of milk to make one pound of cheese!

Tillamook Cheese Factory, Tillamook, OR

And if sour beer and ice cream doesn’t sound like enough of a stomach-ache waiting to happen, our last stop for the day was Old Oregon Smokehouse. Right across the street from the Tillamook Cheese Factory Visitor’s Center, they totally capitalize on all the through traffic in the area, but deliver in a big way with their food. We sampled the clam chowder, the crab melt, and a crab cake . . . ah-mazing! We managed to finish the clam chowder, but we cried mercy at finishing the rest and boxed it up for the ride home.

Tips:

  • Need breakfast on the way? Check out Our Cafe in Banks, OR.
  • The Cape Trail is about a 2 hour easy hike, 5 miles total. No parking fees if you park at the trailhead further down the road (not the main entrance). Outhouses at the trailhead.
  • Consider visiting Tillamook Cheese Factory Visitor’s Center in the morning to beat the crowds.
  • Make it a weekend trip and camp at Cape Lookout State Park.
  • Other popular destinations that we didn’t get to check out – Tillamook Air Museum, Tillamook County Pioneer Museum, Latimer Quilt & Textile Center

Hiking Report: Hamilton Mountain Loop Trail, Beacon Rock State Park

I settled on the Hamilton Mountain Loop hike for my next adventure after seeing the below picture on Instagram, posted by @oh__seriously.

 

Wouldn’t it be nice if we occasionally had the foresight to know if a given path was the hard version, or the harder version? If we could somehow see into the future and know what we were getting into?

I never did see that sign on my hike. I started out from the Hamilton Mountain Trailhead, and when I reached the junction to choose the hard or harder version, they weren’t labeled that way. So I continued to follow the Hamilton Mountain Summit Trail, eager to see Rodney Falls. And yes, it’s the harder way, and worth every step.

Rodney Falls, Beacon Rock State Park, Columbia River Gorge, Washington

The trail on Hamilton Mountain is littered with leaves of orange and yellow at the moment. Everything still feels so new to me but I’ve been in Vancouver, WA for 3 months, long enough to see the seasons start to change, and it’s a beautiful thing. Eventually I climbed high enough to be treated with a view of Beacon Rock. Even in the midst of transition, there are foundational bedrocks, standing true and stalwart.

 

Beacon Rock State Park, Columbia River Gorge, Washington

A bit under 2.5 miles and I reached the summit. The day was clear enough to see Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, Table Mountain, and Bonneville Dam off in the distance. I swear hiking is like giving birth – the exhilaration of the summit vista always leaves me forgetting the difficulty of the hike up. (Side note – this is an exaggeration. I’m sure giving birth is much harder.)

I met the nicest couple at the top; they had me posing for pictures before I could even say hi. They were also divine intervention, convincing me to take the easier way down and complete the loop despite the extra mileage. If I had gone down the way I came up, I would have missed The Saddle, and the below amazingness.

 

Location: Hamilton Mountain Trailhead, Beacon Rock State Park along the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge

Distance: 7.87 for the loop, 6.4 if you go out and back along the Hamilton Mt. Summit Trail

Elevation: 2038’ gain, summit at 2438’

Time: 4.5 hours, with breaks on the way up for pictures

Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult, depending on level of fitness

Fees: $10 day Discover Pass, $30 annual Discover Pass

Tips:

  • Great day hike option when visiting Portland, OR or Vancouver, WA
  • Take lots of pictures on the way up Hamilton Mt Summit Trail, as the summit is overgrown with shrubbery
  • Do the full loop for the best experience – Hamilton Mt Summit Trail on the way up, Hardy Trail back down
  • Skip the Hardy Falls Viewing Area detour, the views are much better at the Rodney Falls Pool of Winds detour just a bit further down the trail
  • Near the summit, portions of the trail are very steep and narrow. I did fine without hiking poles, but they would have been nice to have.

Day Trip: Astoria, OR

Strolling along the Columbia River, the smell of salt and barking of sea lions mingled with the warm sunshine had me utterly charmed. It felt enough like home to soothe the soul.

An hour and a half outside of Vancouver, WA, Astoria is a small town parked alongside the mouth of the Columbia River. The first permanent US settlement on the Pacific Coast, Astoria quickly became a strategic port of entry. Its economy has at various times depended on the fur trade, lumber industry, canneries, fishing, and, now, tourism.

Today, Astoria feels a bit like two worlds bumping into each other. Fishermen on the docks and barges on the river bring to mind early mornings, impermanence, a living earned with your hands and possibly your life.  Move a few blocks up from the river, and suddenly you’re passing quaint store fronts, eclectic vintage shops, and trendy bars run by hipsters. The dichotomy is endearing and nostalgic of so many coastal towns.

I started my afternoon at the Astoria Column. Climb the 164-steps to the top and be rewarded with a positively breathtaking lay of the land. If heights aren’t your thing, the column itself is a beautiful mural depicting the early history of the area.

Astoria Column View

By the time I made it to Fort George Brewery, it was far past lunch-time, but the day was warm and the place was hopping. Any place that makes its bacon in-house is worth the wait, and I washed a tasty BLT down with an equally tasty dark lager. Word on the street is that the pastries next door at Blue Scorcher Bakery & Cafe are delicious, but, alas, I had reached my limits.Fort George Brewery, craft beer, pacific northwest, Astoria, Oregon

I wandered through Astoria visiting a few shops, and absorbing the spirit of the town.  Godfather’s Books and Espresso turned out to be a delightfully eclectic favorite.  A selection of new and used books mingled on the shelves, and a kid on a stool, elbows propped on a counter waiting for his drink, brought back days of soda shops.

I’ll have to save the Oregon Film Museum and the Columbia River Maritime Museum for future exploration. Town closes up around 5pm on the weekdays, so start the road trip early to get a full day of adventure in.

If you do head out from Vancouver, WA, a fun detour along the way is the Gnat Creek Hatchery. Kids have the opportunity to feed some pretty large trout and sturgeon. A few short hikes depart from the parking lot, including one that leads to a beautiful little waterfall. Not a bad spot for a picnic!

Gnat Creek Hatchery