After working a bunch on my new records (and the video sessions you can currently see on the homepage) this spring, I'd hoped to spend this summer finishing up recording on the last few songs and head into fall, when work starts up for me again, with only mixing and sequencing to do...then, my wife accepted an offer to move to a ten-month contract, got July and August off with me, and we more or less hit the road and only occasionally looked back until yesterday.
So, the upside of this is that I got to spend most of the summer backpacking around the west and catching up with family that typically lives prohibitively far away. There...there really wasn't a downside, though I'm a bit behind on the record and still have about seven or eight songs to record before it's all done with. But it was unbelievably worth it.
We spent four days hiking along the increasingly wild and increasingly scenic Rogue River, watched a bear parkour across some rapids, shared campsites with people who ride jet boats for fun, almost got bit by rattlesnakes many, many times, and emerged after ninety-six hours or so on a sandy spit next to a bunch of happily sunburned weekend-warrior types who didn't quite know what to make of us.
We returned to the Wallowas, majesty of Oregon and pretty much the entire west as far as I'm concerned, for the third year in a row and took it "easy" this time, bringing our dog along and hiking into the Lakes Basin before climbing up and over Glacier Pass to one of the greatest glacier-carved views I've ever seen before descending back down to earth beside the west fork of the Wallowa river, following it over two days from its source just below the glowering face of Glacier Peak to a parking lot in Wallowa Lake.
We finally got to hike the Timberline Trail, which circles around Mount Hood, the highest mountain in Oregon, for forty miles. It was a much bigger challenge than we'd expected, but over 18,000 feet or so of elevation change and four days, I saw more brain-frying views than I experience in most years. We rode out a hell of a windstorm on a shoulder of the mountain during night one, spent day two dropping to three thousand feet, then climbing back up to six thousand feet to sleep soundly next to a roaring glacial creek, ended a beautiful day three early due to a downpour that hit just as we were fording the treacherous Eliot River and then continued as we climbed up a thousand feet to find -- luckily -- a campground with some pine tree cover, and spent most of the final day on the exposed eastern side of the mountain, goggling at incredible glacier views under a clear blue sky. At that point, maybe a bit too confident in ourselves, we struggled at the last river crossing -- the muddy, apocalyptic White River -- and I had a particularly Ed Abbey moment, forced to dive off of a bank into the river as it literally disintegrated under my feet (I'm told), and then scramble up the opposite bank while knee-high boulders tumbled down the muddly flow like bowling balls. I describe it heroically, maybe, but it was terrifying. Thus released from the teeth of wilderness, though, we climbed one final time, to reach Timberline Lodge and the end of the trail, and then celebrated with beers at the Mount Hood Brewing Company.
Just this last weekend, with fall term looming, we capped off the hiking season with a short trip to Sky Lakes wilderness, our "home" wilderness about an hour north from K-Falls. I plotted a loop that took us around and by most of the largest of the wilderness area's two-hundred lakes, and it was, I think, refreshingly straightforward compared to the summer's earlier adventures. Also, there were campfires.
Already got my fingers crossed for permits for the JMT and/or Wonderland Trail next summer. Gonna make it hard to play guitar in the meantime.
Will update the photo highlight reel soon. If you're a picture person and appreciate photography with little to no editorial sense, you can see lots of what I was up to this summer here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/GxCZBkiKfe2B7Zog6
I don't think there's anything in there I wouldn't want anyone to see, other than my persistently horrible framing.
Anyway, more music news soon, but I'm also going to try to start using this blog more because it's been awhile since I've written anything other than songs, and sometimes things are bad and sometimes that helps.
Write back in the comments if you feel so inclined! It'd be fun to chat, I think.
Oh! And the cover image on this post is a fantastic capture of the jaw-dropping view at the top of Glacier Pass, courtesy of my wife.
Okay, I'm done for now.