Outdoor Program US
Dawn patrol style we met at Catlin at 7:15am and rolled out to Cannon Beach. We pulled into Cleanline Surf Shop and met by friendly faces we got all set up with wetsuits, booties, and hoods. Lexie and the NW Women’s Surf Camps instructors met us at 10 and we caravanned with building anticipation to Short Sands Beach in Oswald West State Park. The hike to the beach is a gorgeous 3/4 mile walk through beautiful forest. We buddied up and carrying our boards, followed the cool Short Sands Stream down to the ocean.
We paused at the overlook above the beach and learned about the history of the park, how to read the waves, check the tides, find optimal surf conditions, spot the rip-tides, and decide where to surf. Feeling smart we schlepped our gear across the sunny beach to the north end where we set up our spot, put on our wetsuits and learned the basics of paddling out, catching waves, popping up, wiping out, and staying balanced on our boards. It was finally time to get in the water!
It couldn’t be a more gorgeous sunny day! The surf was uncharacteristically huge for this time of year with waves on the outside at 8 feet. We stayed on the inside and had an amazing afternoon catching waves! Everyone caught waves and stood up!
Around 2 we dried off in the sun and climbed out to snack, explore and hydrate before making the hike back up the hill with our gear to the bus. Salty and happy we headed to Cannon beach, returned our gear, and enjoyed fresh fish n chips, ice creams, Nico's first post-braces caramel apple and some fantastic dune jumping on the beach.
By the end of the day we all wished we could stay longer but we hit the road and drove away from the setting sun and back to Catlin.
The adventure started the moment we pushed off from the forested north shore of Clear Lake. Fourteen students and four leaders carefully balanced their canoes as they took heir initial, tentative, strokes on the placid lake.
The clouds were low and threatening to rain, but the lake was not all too wide and soon enough we were at our camping spot. We set up our tents and built a nice fire. The afternoon was spent exploring the peninsula by foot and by canoe before we enjoyed a burrito dinner. That evening showers passed through, but we were warm and dry in our tents. Following a pancake breakfast we made a much longer foray on the water around the peninsula and up to the head of the lake. By 12:30 we were back in camp, packing up our supplies before we canoed back to the bus and made the drive back to Portland.
The Grande Ronde and Wallowa Rivers are the ancestral home of the Nez Perce Indians. This is the land that Chief Joseph and his people fought for, and eventually had to abandon in their unsuccessful quest to outrun the U.S. Calvary and find freedom in Canada. A group of 18 Catlin Gabel students and four faculty made the journey down these rivers on a warm and sunny weekend in April, covering about 40 miles of wild and scenic river. Each night we camped along the river among towering Ponderosa Pine trees and grasses green with the spring. We hiked to the crest of one of the surrounding hills to suvey the glorious landscape.
With a nod to the east and a wave of the hand to the rain in Portland, a bus load of eager students departed Portland for the Central Oregon climbing Mecca of Smith Rock State Park. Twenty- four students and ten leaders spread themselves over the 3000+ climbs of the Park over the two days. A group of eight kids learned how to lead on rock, focusing on placing protection in cracks, while another group learned the basics of rapelling, belaying and climbing. A third group went right out and tried their hands at the most challenging climbs in the area. That evening we all had dinner at a legendary Mexican restaurant in the berg of Redmond. By ten p.m. we were setting up our tents in the sagebrush near Skull Hollow Campground for a night on the stars. More climbing and fun characterized a sunny Sunday before we drove the big yellow school bus back to Portland.
Saturday morning we loaded up and hit the road for the two hour drive to Opal Creek. Our destination: Jawbone Flats, an old mining town in the middle of Oregon’s largest contiguous low elevation old growth forest. When we got there we began the three mile hike into Jawbone with our day packs. On the way in we explored an old mine where you could see the tracks, we reassembled a mini railroad with wheels that would follow the rails, we played optical illusion games with the crystal clear waterfall and picnicked among gigantic trees and sang. At last we rounded a bend and came upon a little village of old buildings where among an old general store and ancient cars we found our cabin for the night. We took a breather with a game of cards and some fire building before heading out for some more hiking.
This time we explored more old mining artifacts, the glorious Opal Creek, executed surprise snow ball sieges, and honed our stone skipping and target throwing skills. When we got back to our cabin we set about making ourselves a delicious Thai feast which we enjoyed before a fun evening of games, making cookies and laughing into the night.
Morning came with a little dusting of snow and after our breakfast of berry quesadillas. We packed up and headed out on our final hike. We headed up to Ruth Mine and were rewarded with a glorious snowy trail above the creek where we threw snowballs, learned the names of plants, and took in the majesty around us. Too soon it was time to head back to the bus and the drive to Catlin. We rolled in around 4 refreshed, bonded, and smiling. Another Outdoor trip success!
What happens when you take a bunch of teenagers with lots of downhill skiing experience and put them on Nordic skis? A lot of falling? Well, yes. But also a whole lot of learning! This past weekend a group of courageous Upper School students donned cross country skis and attempted - successfully - to ski all the way from Timberline Lodge to Government Camp. They made it (with up to 60 falls per person), and then they did it again, and again. By the final run, as the sun was setting, the students were down to between 0 and 10 falls per person. Admittedly they were doing some things that veteran cross country skiers might not try - such as taking jumps, doing 360s, and seeing how fast they could go. All in all it was a grdeat learning experience for the students.
We spent the evening in the Huckleberry Inn in Government Camp, had pizza and played games. Sunday saw us make a complete circuit of Trilliuam Lake before hanging up the boards and heading back to town.
We couldn’t have been luckier with the weather, the sun beamed down on us all weekend on the Oregon Coast.
Creative writers and outdoor enthusiasts boarded the bus on Saturday and headed to Camp Westwind for our private writing retreat! After settling in and eating our lunch we tore out the doors of our lodge onto the beach and played like puppies, running, chasing, and leaping with beachy joy!
We found a sea cave and helped one another scale the rocks and make it through the gauntlet. We all made it and were rewarded by dramatic shore break and gorgeous light.
We were fascinated by the array of unique objects washed up from the Japan Tsunami. We found a whole lightbulb that had travelled unbroken, filament still attached across the sea!!!
We returned to camp for snacks and writing where Ginia lead us in poetry and other writing exercises. It was immediately apparent we had some very talented writers among us.
Dinner was a burrito fiesta smorgasboard. We also baked a cake! After dinner we played games. We built a fire and played games and sang all Sanders’ favorite songs around the fire.
We woke up Sunday morning to sunshine. We headed to the beach for individual reflection time as the light changed and the weather got even more gorgeous. We returned to camp for a waffle feast. We sat and digested over some more writing and sharing before packing up to hike up to the High Meadows. After a grueling climb we arrived on top of the world where we basked in the sunshine and took in the views. We came back from our hike to soup and salad. We split into factions after lunch. Some played on the beach, others hiked, and some of us found a pod of sea lions basking on the shore!
Dinner was spaghetti and meatballs and we headed outside for an evening of dune games, a one match bonfire challenge , s’mores, and laughter.
Monday morning came too soon and we left camp squeaky clean, headed up to Catlin, stopped for snacks and arrived sandy, safe and sound.
East of Mount Hood and in the forested hills west of Dufur is a fire lookout built in 1939. The lookout sits atop Five Mile Butte in the Mount Hood National Forest and was used to monitor lightninhg strikes for half a century. This past weekend three different groups of Catlin Gabel students made the 3 mile ski up to the top of Five Mile Butte. The groups cooked hamburgers in the lookout- and spent the night high above the wooded landscape, surrounded on all sides by stars.
What do you do faced with 11 days off and a great big world out there to explore? You head to the Ochocos for four days over conferences for the adventure of a lifetime!
We met Saturday morning at Catlin in the pouring rain, piled into our bus, and hit the road! Four hours, some Odyssey annotating, and many sourpatch kids later we arrived at the Ochoco Ranger House in the heart of the Ochoco Mountains in central Oregon. We moved in and headed out to explore. We stretched our legs with a hike up to the high point behind the house where we found a beautiful memorial and a lovely view of the valley. Some headed back to the house while a few of us rigged up a ropes system and climbed a tower to get an even better view.
Refreshed we returned to the house to make pizzas and salads for dinner. As we were enjoying our tasty dinner we glanced out the door and IT WAS SNOWING! This was especially exciting because Andrea and Esteban had never seen snow before! The celebrations began! Bonfire! S’mores! Sledding! Snowball fights!
Colin, the other trip leader, taught everyone how to split wood and and we had a magical evening. We warmed up afterwards by packing our bags in preparation for our morning departure up Lookout Mountain.
We woke up to a beautiful day Sunday, put on our packs, and and began the eight mile hike up the mountain. Sadly we had to leave three of our party behind due to illness. The sun was shining, there were beautiful views around each bend, and we saw cougar, deer, coyote, and rabbit footprints in the snow. We stopped for lunch and snacks and to boil snow for our water. As we neared the summit the wind picked up and it began to snow. When we got to the top we found shelter in the trees out of the wind where we set up our tents and hunkered down for the night. The weather was cold and we huddled up, got cozy and enjoyed hot mac and cheese before bed.
When the sun came up one side of the mountain was golden and clear and the other side was a big black cloud with snow shooting out of it. The sunrise was spectacular as we enjoyed our oatmeal. We headed down the mountain together, bonded by our stormy night together. We saw a pheasant and four deer before we saw the rest of our party rested and recovered coming up the trail to meet us! A glorious reunion ensued and we happily headed back to the cabin for stories, lunch, and naps.
The afternoon sunshine got us outside again on a wood gathering adventure and the evening found us making brownies, roasting hot dogs, re-living our adventures, laughing, and playing games.
Tuesday morning had come to soon, the trip flew by! We got up, made a tasty breakfast, cleaned the house and hit the road. A fantastic sing along made time fly and by 2:00 we were at McMennamans Edgefield where we ate lunch and soaked in the hot pools before and early evening return to school. It was a fun and special trip. With such a small group we really came together and made new friends bonded by adventure!
What to do on a rainy Portland weekend to escape the dreariness? Head over to the Deschutes River! A group of fifteen students and faculty made the trek over Mount Hood and parked their little yellow school bus about eight miles east of Bear Springs. The bikes were unloaded and the team began the thirty mile ride for the day. The first section was all downhill- in fact just about the whole trip was downhill.
We rode past beautiful sunlit wheat fields, on old highways and through small towns. The group stopped at White River Falls State Park and then made the glorious descent down, down, down to the storied Deschutes River. We camped near where the White River adds its flow to the Deschutes. The stars were spectacular that night. On Sunday we hiked to the top of the nearby ridge where we could see as far as Mt. Jefferson and into the great Oregon desert.
Saturday morning the bus was packed and ready with an accordion, three guitars, sketchbooks, song books, audio recording equipment, sleeping bags, and riding clothes. Sixteen of us were headed out to Ekone Ranch in Goldendale Washington for a weekend of making, playing, singing, exploring and riding.
Ekone Ranch is 1060 acres of permanently protected forests, meadows and steppe at the edge of the Columbia River Gorge in south-central Washington State. An off-grid, non-profit, working ranch, home to year-round programming teaching sustainable living to children of all ages.
As soon as we passed the Dalles we left the rain behind and as we rolled down into the valley of the ranch the sun was out and we were surrounded by gorgeous fall colors. We made quick work of settling into the long house that would be our roost for the next two days, fluffing out our sleeping bags on platforms and up in lofts.
We were eager to explore the ranch and took some time to get the lay of the land, from the open air lodge/tack room to meeting all the animals (horses, pigeons, chickens, cats, and dogs, to finding our lunch hot and delicious where we fueled up for our adventures.
After lunch we split up. Some of us built forts in the woods. Some found and recorded sounds by banging on trees and finding instruments in nature. And others did plein aire painting and photography around the ranch. Later in the afternoon some of us rode horses bareback while Zach and Ian serenaded us from a nearby hillside.
We had an adventurous pre-dinner hike out to the burial ground, where they do organic burials the first of its kind in the nation. We got to the canyon rim and laid in the grass, taking in the colors and silence as the sun set.
We walked back in the dark trying to surprise one another all the way back to our hot dinner waiting for us.
After dinner we headed to the lodge, a huge hexagonal barn with a hole in the ceiling where we were met Rollean, a mountain man who made us a friction fire by spinning a dowel in his hands.
Out came the instruments. We had a xylophone, three guitars, a cowbell, maracas, and more drums than you could shake a stick at. We made a ruckus. From percussion jams, to a cappella singing, to sing alongs of everything from Angel from Montgomery, to La Bamba, to Under the Sea.
The night rolled on and we headed out into the darkness for some games and running around in what we later found to be a field with plenty of horse poop in it. Oh well, ranch life. Nothing a few ghost stories couldn't take our minds off of.
Daylight savings gave us an extra hour of sleep and our pancake breakfast was delicious and just what was needed to finish out the trip strong.
The morning was filled with finishing projects, making more music, more hiking, and trail rides back out to the canyon and among the gorgeous golden oak trees.
It was a magical and rejuvenating weekend of making new friends, enjoying old ones, and challenging ourselves to see and hear things in new ways.
The Lower Deschutes River provided a wonderful three day journey through the Oregon high desert for a large group of Catlin Gabel students. October sunshine and chilly temperatures provided a beautiful backdrop for the memorable experience.
What we did on our summer vacation: Our group of 16 headed to The City of Rocks in southern Idaho on June 18th, and spent 4 wonderful days in one of the most beautiful climbing areas in the Pacific Northwest. We spread our group out over two adjacent campsites, with a great fire pit for evening social time and an incredible talent show our final night. We climbed hard and ate like royalty with our meal crews making beautiful dinners from scratch each night. While the nights were cold and the mornings were cool in the shade, the days were sunny, warm and beautful and a wonderful time was had by all!
Their day started innocently enough last Friday, going to their usual classes, but for sixteen of Catlin Gabel's finest it ended with an evening ascent to the summit of Chinadere Mountain near Mt. Hood. From their lofty (and foggy perch) the students began a three day descent of the complete length of Eagle Creek all the way to the Columbia River.
Along the way the group wandered through ancient Douglas fir and hemlock forests and camped under the stars. On Saturday a few hours were spent swimming and exploring the joys of Eagle Creek.