Mark O. Hatfield Trail ~ Oregon (June 2010)

The Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness covers some 65,436 acres (26,481 ha) along the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge. It hosts numerous named and numbered hiking trails (including a piece of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)). Linking these various extant trails into a continuous west-east (or east-west) route may have occurred to someone in days past. But my first awareness of such a possibility came in 2009 when Beer Town Bill explained how he’d backpacked through the wilderness from Starvation Creek to Multnomah Falls. The next year, Tom Kloster floated a proposal to formalize a similar route – to be called the Mark O. Hatfield Trail.

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In The High Sierra ~ Mount Morrison (1974-1985)

Up until 2008, our adventures were retained only as memories and on 35mm slides. While our memories may have faded (just a bit), the slides haven’t – and we have a lot of them. So we’re digitizing a select few to bring some of our past adventures into the 21st Century. The photos below are some of those old slides.


My first trip to California’s High Sierra was on a backpack in 1968. That started, haltingly, a granitic attraction to The Range of Light that has now endured for more than 50 years. The first “real” mountain I ever climbed was (appropriately) Mount Hood in 1972. I did a NOLS Mountain Guide course the next summer during which our attempt on Gannett Peak (Wyoming’s high point) was foiled by a blizzard. My first attempt at mountaineering in the High Sierra was on Mount Morrison (12,241 ft (3,731 m)) in 1974. That was the start of an eleven year long saga of uninformed optimism.

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Hike of the Seven Gables (September 1995)

Up until 2008, our adventures were retained only as memories and on 35mm slides. While our memories may have faded (just a bit), the slides haven’t – and we have a lot of them. So we’re digitizing a select few to bring some of our past adventures into the 21st Century. The photos below are some of those old slides.


I guess every cult has some sort of initiation ritual. Wayne, Diane, and I became charter members of the cult of tough and stupid (T&S) thanks to our frozen suffer-fest on Telescope way (way) back in the day. After that experience, our paths diverged and converged at random intervals for the next twenty years or so as life had its way with us. Then, in 1990, Linda (aka The LovedOne) took me by storm [reminder to self – 2020 is our 30th wedding anniversary 🙂 ❤ ]. So, naturally, I petitioned Wayne and Diane to let her join our cult. While they acknowledged that marrying me may have a stupid aspect to it, that alone didn’t meet the unspecified, but strict, standards of the T&S cult. No, only a backpacking trip in the Sierras would be sufficient to test Linda’s bona fides (and let her see stupid stuff done by “experts”).

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Telescope Peak ~ Death Valley (Thanksgiving 1974)

Up until 2008, our adventures were retained only as memories and on 35mm slides. While our memories may have faded (just a bit), the slides haven’t – and we have a lot of them. So we’re digitizing a select few to bring some of our past adventures into the 21st Century. The photos below are some of those old slides.


Telescope Peak, at 11,049 feet (3,368 m), is the highest point in Death Valley National Park. My recent trip with The LovedOne to the park rekindled long dormant memories of my first (and only) climb of this peak. It was Thanksgiving 1974 and Wayne and I (miraculously in my case) were recent college graduates; Diane had a year to go. I think Wayne had even found a job! Why is lost in the mists of time but we decided to use the holiday weekend to climb Telescope. Today it’s typically done as a long (14 miles round-trip, 3,000 feet of gain) day hike from the trailhead at Mahogany Flats Campground. We, on the other hand, opted for an overnighter, with a camp on the ridge just short of the summit.

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Gary Croan’s John Muir Trail (August 1956)

The other day The LovedOne brought home a small book from the “free” box at the library. It turned out to be a 5th Edition (1953) of Starr’s Guide to the John Muir Trail and the High Sierra Region (purchased from the still extant Vroman’s Books in Pasadena, California). The guide’s paper dust jacket was still in good condition, so it was somewhat of a rare find (at least for us trail guide geeks). Even rarer were the notes I found inside: Log of the John Muir Trail Hike by Gary Croan (August 1956). These detailed the backpack Gary’s Scout troop did along the Muir Trail that summer from Yosemite Valley to Florence Lake. Also included were his personal gear list and a brochure for Dri-Lite Foods, one of the pioneers in freeze dried foods.[1] His troop appears to have been based in the Los Angeles area, which meant they got to Yosemite Valley on [now old] Highway 99 since Interstate-5 didn’t exist in 1956. I’ve found brief notes in old guidebooks before, but this is the first set I’ve found detailing a backpack on an iconic trail in the days before permits and crowds and freeways. That he described the same backpack I did in August of 1972, sans scouts and going as far as Piute Creek, is a remarkable coincidence.  I am not, however, reproducing Gary’s notes here as some nostalgic paean to the “good old days” – as hindsight tends to accentuate the “good” and edit out the “bad” – but merely as a look at a young person’s outdoor experience in a now bygone era.[2]

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