The Book. The Mountain. Everything in between.

Posts tagged “conservation

Mount Hood Gifts 2014

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

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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.

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This little piggy went to Mount Hood

Summer’s back. Sweet! Sunshine, riversides, campfires, trails and, of course, trashed campsites on Mount Hood.

We headed out for this year’s first night in the tent a few weeks ago, that beautiful first weekend of June that felt like the last weekend of July. Since the Forest Service closed our favorite Sandy River campsites a couple years ago after John Q. Public couldn’t seem to stop using them as trash pits, we’ve branched out a bit and found some other keepers.

Unfortunately, so has John Q.
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We spent the first 20 minutes or so cleaning up the pit that the prior campers had left behind: broken glass, cheap beer cans, shell casings, a rusty grill grate, blah, blah. It’s always the same. This site, a nice one with plenty of room, privacy and a killer Sandy River beach, was actually one of the cleaner ones around. It makes no sense to me the way people treat these incredible places. It’s so trashy, so redneck, so downright piggy.

And sometimes it’s just laughably unbelievable.
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The Forest Service will end up closing these sites pretty soon, too, I’m sure. But no matter. After we’d cleaned ours up, we were able to settle in for a great weekend on the mountain, along the river. We soaked in some sun, hiked for the first time to Little Zigzag Falls and broke in the kids’ new pie iron.

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When it was at last time to head home, we packed up and, as most civilized people would do, cleaned the site almost spotless. Almost. We did, after all, leave one thing behind:

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A little more on McNeil Point

Before we camped in the McNeil Campground along the banks of the Sandy River with some friends from Atlanta last weekend, before I hiked the Timberline Trail with four other adventurers a week earlier, and before Oliver and I returned to McNeil Point up the Mazama Trail back in July, I felt like I knew a decent amount about Fred McNeil.

A journalist for The Oregon Journal for nearly 45 years, from 1912 to 1957, McNeil was a huge fan of Mount Hood. According to the preface of McNeil’s Mount Hood: Wy’East the Mountain Revisited, a 1990 re-issue of McNeil’s classic Mount Hood book, the Cascade Mountains captivated him from the day he arrived in Portland from Illinois in 1912. He “pursued and reported events on the peaks with a passion” and “became personally involved in their protection as well as their development, especially for skiing.” If something happened on Mount Hood — someone got lost, a plane crashed, a fire broke out — McNeil would instantly turn his news focus to the mountain, no matter what else was going on.

Oliver at McNeil Point.

Oliver at McNeil Point.

He also enjoyed the mountain, hiking all over it and climbing to its summit long before the road was blazed to what would become the site of Timberline Lodge. He was a member of The Mazamas, the Cascade Ski Club, the Wy’East Climbers and other mountain organizations.

According to the preface of McNeil’s Mount Hood, written by journalist Tom McAllister, McNeil made sure that a story about the long closure of Lolo Pass Road landed on the front page of The Oregon Journal. The closure had been designed to keep people out of the original bounds of the Bull Run Watershed. Even after those boundaries changed, however, the closure remained,  blocking access to some of the mountain’s most incredible west-side geography. After several stories and photos and a supporting editorial, the gates to Lolo Pass were opened.

Which is a great legacy, because otherwise it would be much harder to get to places like McNeil Point and the quiet McNeil Campground, both, of course, named for Fred McNeil.

Most of this I kind of remembered from my own research. But I’d forgotten something else about McNeil.

As we rolled out of the campground last week, headed toward Timberline Lodge and then Lost Lake, I stopped to read a plaque near the campground’s entrance. It sums up nicely McNeil’s life and his love of the mountains. It also notes that McNeil “rests four miles eastward and upward at McNeil Point.”

His friends hiked up to the point and spread his ashes there in July of 1959.

McNeil Plaque


Last-minute 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_11th_black+PMSFeeling 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 for 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.


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.