Saturday, February 27, 2010

2nd Training Hike - Multnomah/Wahkeena Falls Loop Feb 27, 2010

Once again, the climbers gathered in the same grocery store parking lot as the last time around 7:45am to hike Multmomah Falls - Wahkeena Falls Loop this time. For those of you not familiar, Multhomah Falls is probably one of the most popular destinations among both the locals and the out-of-towners. The water plunges from the height of of 620" down this multi level falls providing a post-card picture perfect scenery. Our hike would take us to a ridge above the falls via a series of steep switch backs to gain roughly 1600'. From there the trail would follow the ridge westbound for about 1/2 mile or so until we hike down along Wahkeena Falls.

I couldn't believe the luck we had two weekends in a row - the weather was once again gorgeous! Sunny with few clouds with the temperature starting in the 40s, reaching the 60s by midday. What were the chances of that happening in this area!! I was expecting that it would be a wet day so I even left home with my rain pants on!

This time I carpooled with a fellow climber, Charles, who lived in Downtown Portland. I picked him up around 6:45am and we were in the grocery store parking lot by 7am, leaving us enough time to get some breakfast before the hike, and time for me to shed the rain pants and change into a pair of regular nylon hiking pants. Like the last time, we split up into three groups, the faster group, intermediate group, and the "endurance" group. I selected the faster group as a subscriber of the principle that said one should keep pounding harder until the pain went away.

The small detail was probably left out though - the pain might not actually go away. This time, I could not blame it on my heavy pack as I left home the extra water container that I carried last time to weight my pack for training purpose. My pack came in at about 22lbs this time, as opposed to 30lbs.

Like the last time, after about 10 minutes into the hike, I was once again struggling to keep up with the group. There is no doubt I would need to bring the level of my cardio work out up a notch in the coming weeks. I started out in the middle of the group but I was slowly slipping back to the rear of the pack as we went higher. It got to the point where I had to take a minute to catch my breath few switch-backs before we got to the top of the ridge. Leisa (Left in the photo), one of the Training Hike Assistants, stayed with me to make sure that I was with the group.

As we got to the top of the switch-backs, we found ourselves by a creek that had gorgeous water cascading down the boulders. Having been a fly fisher, I couldn't help looking at the water habitually. There was a small vista point that looked over the Columbia River Gorge where we snapped few photos each. From there the hike became fairly moderate for the next a mile and a half until we got to the top of the ridge.

The group took a quick lunch break at a junction where several trails came together. Even though it was a very simple meal, it tasted 10 times better outdoors as always. From there it was all down hill. We continued on the ridge for another few tenth of a mile to pick up a trail that followed down Wahkeena Falls. Though this fall was not as big in scale and imposing as Multhomah Falls, it provided us with another opportunity to take some pictures and enjoy the incredible weather before we concluded our training hike.

Next weekend, we will be hitting Hamilton Loop in Columbia Gorge. Stay tuned!!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Making of An Outdoor Geek

I think my first outdoor adventure experience occurred when I was 8 but could have been 10 when I still lived in Japan. A couple of buddies of mine and I decided that we were going to take a 4 day bicycle trip to this big lake in the western end of Tokyo, which was about about 50 miles from the area we lived. I still have few photos somewhere in one of my shoe boxes but I can't find them right now..

You're probably thinking "How in the hell did you get your parents to let you do that??" And I agree you shouldn't let your children wander off like that for four days here in the States because you'd probably get arrested for child endangerment or something like that. But that was in Japan back in the early '70s when there was no such concept yet existed. But even then, it was rather surprising to hear my mother nonchalantly said "You be careful.." as I headed out to our meeting spot.

I remember, when we put together all the money we had among the three of us, we counted barely about $40, if that. Those were the days my allowance was something like 70 cents a week. (Now, that's pretty stingy!) That was all we had. We had no idea how much anything would cost so we started figuring out.

We were pretty confident that we should be able to procure all the food we would need by rummaging through our respective mother's kitchens so we knew we wouldn't starve if we just stayed smart about rationing. Total cost = $0 so far. What else would we need aside from places to stay? Not much, really..

I had read a comic series before featuring a kid traveled all over Japan on a touring bike and I remembered that there was a scene in which the main character looked up a guide book of some sort that had a list of all the hostels in Japan. Next day, I went to a local bookstore to look for one and, to my amazement, there it was!! Problem solved!!! (not...) Of course I couldn't afford to buy it so I spent few hours standing in the isle copying down all the information we would potentially need. Everything looked good except one small detail.. The prices. The cheapest place wanted about $10/person/night. This was a problem. How were we to get our accommodations? We could certainly afford to stay at a hostel for one night but what about two other nights?

So we went back to our bible - the comic book. That kid in that story did this all the time after all. There was absolutely no reason why we couldn't do what he did - camping in the woods.. Why didn't we think of this before?? It'd be free!! It's so obvious!! Man, we're so dumb..

To be continued...

Fundraising Clinic 101 - Feb 24, 2010

Yesterday (Feb 24, 2010), I went to Reach The Summit Fundraising Clinic 101. Let's face it.. Raising $3000 or more can be a daunting task, especially in this economic environment. I have to admit I had to do a lot of soul searching myself. It didn't help that I had had absolutely no past experience in charity fundraising at all. But then, if not now, when?? At the end, it came down to this - sometimes you just had to act and that's all there was to it...

I could get all the help I could get, that's for sure. So, I decided to drop in. They had a conference room reserved in this giant hospital complex in Portland. Was there a law prohibiting hospitals from building a structure that's navigable?? It took me 15 minutes of going back and forth before I was able to find this non-descript room. Good thing I wasn't there to get my heart jump started or something..

Please meet Jennifer, the head-honcho of Reach The Summit (one of the right), and her right hand person, Colleen (One on the left). When I walked in, there were Colleen, and two fellow climbers (Charles and Paula) already there. Colleen said, Jennifer had to go get one of her teeth re-rootcanaled (that's weird.. re-rootcanal.. what exactly was that?? And she had to get that done without getting knocked out?? eww..) few days before and she might not make it that day. However, determined to be a shining example of Reach The Summit cannon ball, Jennifer made her appearance to join us! Now, that's a commitment.. There were altogether about 8 climbers by the time we got started. (Charles, Paula, Mat, Hillary, Tamara, Nathan, Jeff, and me. Sorry if I missed anyone..)

They said in the previous gathering the issue of fundraising had been the single biggest reason why people would hesitate to sign up as a climber but the success rate of reaching the minimum commitment level ($3000 for Mt. Adams, $3250 for Mt. Hood, $4500 for Grand Teton) had been around 90%. And , that the primary cause of difficulties had been usually not getting started in the first place. I'm happy to report that that was never a problem for me - the anxiety of worrying about not making the goal was so big that I had to do something, anything!

They gave us lots of very helpful pointers on how to write appeal letters and how to follow up, etc.. But, inevitably, we would hit a plateau at some point so they talked a little bit about other forms of fundraisers we could do to help ourselves reach our goals. Then the talk sort of shifted towards how to procure the necessary gears for our training and the actual climbs. Colleen said she was planning to organize an used gear sales where all the people involved, past and present, would bring in the gears they didn't need anymore to pass them on to those who would need them.

Another training hike is coming up this Saturday. See you guys then!!


Thanks to the support of all my friends like you, I have been able to raise $965 so far since I sent out my first appeal emails on February 1st. That's almost 1/3 of the commitment I made!!! This is fantastic!!!!!!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Trining Hike Schedule

  • Sun Feb 21 Angel’s Rest (Columbia Gorge)
  • Sat Feb 27 Multnomah Falls/Wahkeena Falls Loop (Columbia Gorge)
  • Sun Mar 7 Hamilton Loop (Columbia Gorge)
  • Sat Mar 13 Glacier View Sno-Park Snowshoe (Mt. Hood)
  • Sun Mar 21 Indian Point (Columbia Gorge)
  • Sat Mar 27 King’s Mountain (Coastal Range)
  • Apr 3-4 Easter weekend – No Hike
  • Sun Apr 11 Dog Mountain (Columbia Gorge)
  • Sat Apr 17 Climbers Clinic (Mt. Hood)
  • Sat Apr 24 Tilly Jane Snowshoe (Mt. Hood)
  • Sun May 2 Salmon Butte (Mt. Hood)
  • Sat May 8 Devil’s Peak (Mt. Hood)
  • Sat May 15 1:00 am Mt. Hood Night Hike Training (snowshoe)
  • Sun May 16 Dog Mountain (Columbia Gorge)
  • Sat May 22 Ruckel Creek (Columbia Gorge)
  • May 29-30 Memorial Day weekend – No Hike
  • Sun Jun 6 Nesmith Pt. (Columbia Gorge)
  • Sat Jun 12 Top of Palmer (Mt. Hood, Snowshoe)
  • Sat Jun 19 Sat Jun 26 TBD for non-Hood climbers

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

1st Training Hike: Angel's Rest Feb 21, 2010

We did our very first training hike this past Sunday (2/21/10). It took place at Angel's Rest in the Columbia Gorge, OR which covered a relatively short distance of about 4 miles and roughly 1500' of elevation gain.

Altogether, about 30 Reach The Summit participants met up in a parking lot of a nearby grocery store at 7:45am to car-pool to the trail head. I was really looking forward to meeting the fellow climbers I will be training with for the next several months.

We couldn't have asked for better weather to kick off our training. CAVU (Clear And Visibility Unlimited) and the temperature was in the 30s in the morning but it warmed up to probably 60s. I knew it couldn't be this way on all of our hikes but I'd take all we could get!

We will be meeting up for a training hike almost every weekend around Portland, OR. All along the Columbia Gorge, there are numerous hiking trails of varying difficulties that are often associated with gorgeous waterfalls. We will be also hitting some of the trails in the Coastal Range as well as in Mt. Hood National Forest. Qualified mountaineering professionals will be providing us with hands-on training on mountain safety and proper alpine climbing techniques.

There were about 10 or so volunteer Training Hike Leaders and Assistants, of whom many of them were participating climbers themselves in the past. They had been training since November to be ready for our training and were trained in first aid. There were also a couple of medical professionals, just in case.

In the grocery store's parking lot, we split up into three groups: the fast group, the intermediate group, and the "endurance" group. I wanted to be in the intermediate group but, by the time I got there, there were way too many people in it so I chose to be in the fast group, knowing that I could always slip back into another group if necessary. (More on that little later..) One of our Training Hike Leaders, Eva, gave us a quick show-n-tell on how to select a backpack for those who had not gotten one yet and good tips on how to pack. Jennifer, the head of Reach The Summit program, nervously added that we were not to get too close the edge of the cliff when we got there. (...uh... sure, Jennifer..., right...) Now, we were all ready to go!!

Once we got to and gathered around the trail head, we set off for the hike. My group went first. Within no more than 10 minutes into the hike, I realized that I was waaaaaaaayyyy toooooo out of shape. I thought my heart was going to burst out of my rib cage by the time we took a small break about 15 minutes into the hike for a "gear check" where each of us took off a layer or two of clothings. This fact was accentuated by the fact that the rest of the people in my group were hiking as if it was just a saunter around a park. Something was definitely not right here.. Then, I realized why.. Most of them were carrying relatively light packs, while my pack weighed about 30lbs (The night before, I added some water containers to bring it up to this weight for training purpose.) Something to think about for the next hike..

After about 35 minutes into the hike, to my amazement, it got much easier all of sudden. It was as if the slope of the trail just disappeared. (No, I didn't dump the water..) Is this what they call a "zone"?? But then, now that I think about it, it's entirely possible that was a flat part of the trail.. Just before we got to the top of Angel's rest, we took another 10 minutes break. All along the trail, the gorgeous view of the Columbia Gorge would come into view from time to time. The visibility was truly amazing - it had to be at least 100 miles of clear view. When we reached the top, the "gorge wind" was so strong that we had to go over the leeward side of the ridge to take another break. From there, the top part of Mt. Adams was clearly visible. Awesome!!! Can't wait to climb it!!!!!

No hiking is complete without some proper beverage afterwards. The training supervisor directed us to one of the bar/restaurant types nearby for an optional "non-Reach The Summit" extra curricular activities, where we behaved accordingly..

This weekend, we will be doing it again around Multnomah Falls/Wahkeena Falls which are arguably some of the Portland's most scenic.. Stay tuned!!!

In a word: breathtaking

More press coverage on Reach The Summit program.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Going to great heights to fight lung cancer : - Portland, Oregon

Watch this recent video on Reach The Summit on KATU News!