The Book. The Mountain. Everything in between.

Conservation

Mount Hood Gifts 2014

A quick and last-minute list of some Mount Hood gifts for that alpine aficionado in your life:

Shred-Hood-shirt-preview

A former Portland Tribune colleague of mine, Ben Jacklet, co-founded Shred Hood in 2013 as a community news and information site to cover the skiing, snowboarding and backcountry on Mount Hood.

Subscriptions come in a couple different options, including one-time and ongoing. Each has its privileges, including a sweet T-shirt and bottle opener depending on your subscription.

Find out more at Shred Hood.  

bark_logoFeeling a little more philanthropic this holiday season? Consider making a donation to some of the environmental groups that have worked — and are always working — to protect the region’s wild places, including, of course, Mount Hood. (Bark’s mission is more Mount Hood-centric, while Oregon Wild covers the entire state; both have played major roles in protecting Mount Hood and the Mount Hood National Forest.)

And as a bonus: both organizations are all about getting out and exploring the places they protect, so each offers regular outings as well.

Oregon_Wild_LogoOn tap on Mount Hood from Oregon Wild at the moment: snowshoeing to Twin Lakes and White River, all in January. And from Bark, its monthly hike in the Mount Hood National Forest in January.

For more information about either of these groups, visit www.bark-out.org or www.oregonwild.org.

  •  Timberline Lodge Ram’s Head Fire Poker — Fashioned after the larger fireplace tools used at the storied Timberline Lodge, this hand-forged wrought iron poker is classic Timberline through and through. I met Darryl Nelson, the blacksmith behind much of the ironwork that’s been installed at Timberline over the past 30 years or so, and he told me guests regularly try to heist these out of the rooms. Not good. Instead, find them at the Timberline gift shop for $75. (Looks like they might be sold out online, but they usually have some in the store.) The shop also has a nice array of vintage-looking posters and artwork, books, souvenirs and more. Check it out.

Advertisements

Saving the Sandy River

The Sandy River starts high up on Mount Hood as runoff from the Reid Glacier, gathering side streams and the Salmon and Zigzag rivers on its way to the Columbia. It’s a wild river that’s played a big role in how we’ve enjoyed the mountain over the years, whether we’ve been crossing it on the Timberline Trail, camping alongside or cooling off in its silty waters high up, or exploring its confluence with the mighty Columbia at the west end of the Gorge.

DSC_0026bw

20140724-213841-77921194.jpg

The Sandy is a river that a lot of people care about, including the Western Rivers Conservancy, which over the past few years has done much to protect the river. In 1999, the nonprofit partnered with Portland General Electric to help restore the Sandy and the Little Sandy, which led, in part, to the removal of the Marmot Dam and returned both rivers to complete free-flowing status. The conservancy has also purchased properties along the Sandy to help ensure its protection.

A few weeks ago, the WRC contacted me to see if they could use one of my Sandy River photos for a commemorative poster they were issuing. The poster  commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which has provided funding to WRC over its decade-long effort to create a wildlife and recreational corridor along 13 miles of the Sandy and the Little Sandy.

The picture they used of mine was from our trip on the Timberline Trail last summer, right when we were crossing the Sandy, Mount Hood in the background, with a Pacific Crest Trail hiker who was four months into his trek.

DSC_0035

When I heard about what the WRC has done for the Sandy over the years, of course I sent the picture over right away. That, indeed, is work that’s worth it.

WRC Sandy River poster

 


Closed.

It was bound to happen.

We called it last year when, after a night in a favorite campsite along Mount Hood’s Sandy River, we had to clean up piles of trash and clothes and broken glass and all the other debris that a rowdy group of partygoers had left in their wake in the site next to ours. This, despite the fact that the Forest Service had been monitoring the area and had posted signs warning campers that these popular sites would be closed if people didn’t start taking better care of them.

The only surprising thing, really, is that the sites stayed open as long as they did. We returned earlier this summer for a night, and though it was nice, there was enough garbage about to make the entire area unpleasant, if not downright repulsive. Luckily, we have a secret spot that takes a little more energy to get to, and so the appeal that originally drew us to the Sandy River is still attainable.

Even so, it was kind of a bummer to pull up for our annual family camp with a bunch of friends last month, expecting to find our favorite site and instead finding this:

The Forest Service had, apparently, finally had enough, and sometime between mid August and mid September, they’d gone in and rendered the sites and the access roads to them completely unusable and impassable.

We were all a bit deflated at first, but we’d all known it was probably coming to this. And really, it was getting out of hand and the Forest Service had to do something to keep this place from becoming a summertime landfill. It’s too bad, but that’s what happens when people don’t care. And luckily for us, we’re pretty crafty about finding other great campsites — and taking care of them.


Worth fighting for

My uncle, Eric Miller, has been in the Mansfield News Journal a lot lately. And for that, I’m glad.

For years, he has spearheaded an effort to preserve and protect some truly beautiful land in north-central  Ohio,  close to where I grew up. When you think about lands worth preserving, you might not instinctively summon Ohio, but I tell you, it is there. I saw some of it growing up, at places like Mohican State Park. I saw even more of it a few years ago when my uncle took a troupe of us on an impromptu hike through some of the acres he’d recently acquired for preservation.

The story in the News Journal on Friday was centered more around legislation passed in Ohio last year that opens up state parks — yes, state parks — to commercial logging and hydraulic fracturing, aka fracking. My uncle is part of a newly-launched effort, called the Coalition to Protect Ohio’s Parks, that aims to change the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ policy allowing commercial logging in state parks. (Find out more through Mohican Advocates on Facebook.)

It is an inspiring cause, one that I support wholeheartedly. It’s also one that takes shape all over the place, as people stand up to protect natural places all around the country and the world.

Up on Mount Hood, groups like Bark, Oregon Wild, the Crag Law Center, the Friends of Mount Hood, and others have long played watchdog and helped protect what really is a natural treasure.

But no matter where it is, whether it’s high up on the northern flanks of Mount Hood or in the middle of a rolling hardwood forest in central Ohio, it’s good to know there are places worth fighting for — and people out there fighting for them.


Mount Hood Gifts

A quick and last-minute list of some Mount Hood gifts for that alpine aficionado in your life:

1. On Mount Hood: A Biography of Oregon’s Perilous Peak — Shameless, I know, but sometimes that’s just the way the world works. If you’re in the Portland metro region, it’s not too late to get a signed copy for Christmas for just $15. You can also find it at Powell’s, Annie Bloom’s, Broadway Books and most other local bookstores. Here’s a list of stores outside of Portland, and you can always find it online at Powell’s, Abe Books, Biblio and Amazon.

2. A donation to Oregon Wild or Bark —

bark_logoFeeling a little more philanthropic this holiday season? Consider making a donation to some of the great environmental groups that have worked — and are always working — to protect the region’s wild places, including, of course, Mount Hood. (Bark’s mission is more Mount Hood-centric, while Oregon Wild covers the entire state; both have played major roles in protecting Mount Hood and the Mount Hood National Forest.)

And as a bonus: both organizations are all about getting out and exploring the places they protect, so each offers regular outings as well.

Oregon_Wild_LogoOn tap on Mount Hood from Oregon Wild at the moment: snowshoeing to Twin Lakes, Lost Creek and White River, all in January. And from Bark (in partnership with Cascadia Wild), a winter tracking snowshoe in the Mount Hood National Forest on Jan. 13.

For more information about either of these groups, visit www.bark-out.org or www.oregonwild.org. Note, too, that all donations to Oregon Wild through December 31, 2012, will be matched dollar-for-dollar by Mountain Rose Herbs.

3. Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries Lidar Map of Mount Hood — DOGAMI released this double-sided, water-resistant map last November. It includes 75 trails around Mount Hood, wilderness areas, roads, campgrounds, information for climbers and hikers, and a geologic overview. Just $6 at Nature of the Northwest. 

4. Timberline Lodge Ram’s Head Fire Poker — Fashioned after the larger fireplace tools used at the storied Timberline Lodge, this hand-forged wrought iron poker is classic Timberline through and through. I met Darryl Nelson, the blacksmith behind much of the ironwork that’s been installed at Timberline over the past 30 years or so, and he told me guests regularly try to heist these out of the rooms. Not good. Instead, find them at the Timberline gift shop for $75. The shop also has a nice array of vintage-looking posters and artwork, books, souvenirs and more. Check it out.


Good news for Floras Lake

The good news about a plan to destroy one of the most amazing stretches of Oregon Coast came in waves this week.

First, Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department director Tim Wood sent a letter to the Curry County Board of Commissioners. In the letter, Wood essentially told the commission that, while the county had every right to submit a formal proposal for their plan to develop a pristine and beautiful section of Oregon Coast into golf courses, such a plan was highly unlikely to meet the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department’s extremely high standards for land swaps. The county’s plan, you may recall, involved swapping 68 acres of county land for 627 acres within Floras Lake State Natural Area.

“The ‘overwhelming public benefit to state parks’ standard is an extremely high bar,” Wood writes, “set to ensure that any trade or sale of state park property is unquestionably in the best interest of Oregonians as a whole…”

His letter then goes on to say that Floras Lake State Natural Area is a “unique and wondrous” treasure, and that the value of this property is “irreplaceable.”

“While I would advise the (parks) commission to provide the county the opportunity to present a proposal for this project should you desire to do so, I sincerely believe that there is no proposal for sale or trade of this property that would meet the standard established for such transactions.”

That is exactly the kind of response I was hoping to hear from OPRD, the kind of response that could essentially kill this misguided proposal on the spot.

Judging by a story in the Oregonian today, Wood’s letter did just that. The headline alone says it all:

“Curry County pulls the plug on plan to build golf course in Floras Lake area.” 

Many thanks, then, not only to Tim Wood, OPRD, and the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission, but to everyone who opposed the county’s plan and supported preserving this truly incredible and unforgettable place. There will be no regrets.