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OLA Backpacking in the Columbia River Gorge
As another amazing Oregon summer began to close its doors, a group of Catlin students from the Outdoor Leadership and Adventure class dashed out for a long weekend of backpacking and fun in the Columbia River Gorge.
We met in the Catlin lot and rocked an activity bus up to the Eagle Creek trailhead. Hiking up Eagle Creek, we saw waterfall after waterfall after waterfall. Punchbowl Falls, Oneonta Falls, Loowit Falls, Tunnel Falls, and High Bridge kept us excited and anxious to see what was around every bend.
We arrived at a secluded camp on the river, journaled, and made a home for the night. Waking up, we watched the sun gradually climb and bathe our gorge with light before packing up for our big day. Covering a huge portion of our loop, the trail took us up and around Tanner Butte, through old burn sites, over streams, up hills, through meadows full of blueberry and hucleberry to our beloved Dublin Lake, which we reached just as night descended.
After maybe too many laughs around a campfire and an amazing dinner, we headed into our tents and sleeping bags to enjoy a windy-but-clear night, full of shooting stars.
The next morning, we said goodbye to our camp and lake and made our way back to the bus... through one of the last hot days of 2009!
It was a great weekend of bonding, sightseeing, and getting away from the bustle of our school lives. We can't wait to get out again!
Click on a photo below to check out a slideshow from the trip.
JACK LAZAR '09
An exceptionally reflective young man, Jack has matured through Catlin Gabel’s outdoor program
From the spring 2009 Caller
The outdoor program opened a whole world for me, allowing me to dig deeper inside myself in a setting that’s not judgmental and is accepting and encouraging. The combination of group dynamics and the outdoors inspires me and stimulates me. It’s not just a hobby but is the fuel of my development.
BECOMING A LEADER
The outdoor program allowed me to develop my leadership skills. I never really thought I’d be where I am now. In my freshman and sophomore years, no one did: I had abilities but didn’t apply myself. Now I challenge myself and try to make my work as personal as possible.
Photography opened my eyes to how visuals can speak of hidden meanings. Literature opened me to a world of creative writing and interpretation. Philosophy with Michael Heath opened me to a world of thought.
LEARNING THROUGH HARD TIMES
My mom was extremely ill when I was in 6th grade and became paraplegic. It’s been one of the most influential, sensitive, and defining times of my life. I had to realize that my parents weren’t perfect or immortal at a much younger age than most people do. I also have ADHD, a primary cause of my social isolation. These problems caused a painful awareness that made me stronger and allowed me to develop in a different way.
COLLEGE PLANS—AND FUTURE THOUGHTS
I have enrolled at Whitman, but I plan on taking a year off. There are so many possibilities. I will probably do some humanitarian work, traveling, mountaineering, maybe even medical training or a gap year program. I want to help others develop their passions. Catlin Gabel has taught me more than just biology or pre-calculus or literature. It’s taught me to be proud of what I’m passionate about, how to think wholly but critically, how to be flexible, and how to determine my future. Success comes from your resourcefulness, not your resources
MS Cross-Country Skiing on Mount Hood: February 15-16, 2009
Nine Middle Schoolers found their snow-legs during this perfect trip on the slopes of Mount Hood! While many of us started out off-balance, within a few hours we could cruise through the woods undeterred! We tested our skills with XC Olympics--limbo (George won), one-ski/one-foot races (Cooper won), and of course a snowball fight (did anyone win?). The Mazama Lodge was a cozy place to pass the evening with chess, ping-pong and plenty of hot chocolate. In the morning we set out for adventure and lots of exciting downhill on the Crosstown Trail. We even found treasure--a geocache stocked with a rubber ducky and notes from past travellers! And on top of it all, we couldnt have asked for better weather. A perfect, lovely weekend.
This January, a group of seven middle schoolers took an awesome overnight cross-country ski adventure to Peterson Prairie near Mt. Adams. We met on a cold morning and drove through forests blanketed with snow to the Atkinson Snow Park. We donned our overnight packs and skied in fabulous conditions up the well-groomed forest road.
We explored the surrounding area: frozen rivers, icicles, and snow slopes were abundant.
We cooked a huge pasta dinner, created a variety show, made smores, and had no problems tucking ourselves into warm, comfortable beds.
It snowed lightly all night and we woke up to 24 degrees, 3-4 inches of fresh snow, and blue-white marble skies.
After a huge oatmeal breakfast and a thorough cleaning of the cabin, we departed—-visiting the ice cave on the way back to the bus.
Students explored the length of the cave, fascinated by the frozen pools on the cave floor and the huge icicles. We emerged from the cave, had lunch in the snow, and skied back to the bus.
The students warmed up with cookies inside the bus and we drove back. It was a perfect weekend in the snowy woods of Southern Washington.
A group of Middle School students met at noon on the 27th and (just barely) made the 15-minute ride bus to La Finquita Del Buho (The Little Farm of the Owl), a small, organic farm in Hillsboro. Once at the farm, we briefly discussed the economics and logistics of the CSA and the farm. We introduced ourselves to the owner/operators of the farm and enjoyed a tour of this quaint farm.
Our first farm chore was to collect eggs from the trailer that served as the henhouse. The kids laughed and screamed when interacting with the chickens. We fed the chickens and then watched the pigs take a mud bath to cool off (the weather was enjoyably warm).
Our next task was to clear the ground in the apple orchard so that we had space to set up tents. The students sorted the good apples from the bad (the good apples were later pressed for fresh pear-apple cider—the best we’d ever tasted—and the bad apples were fed to the goats, pigs, chickens, and turkeys), and then set up their tents. After tent set-up, we enjoyed some relaxing time in the hammock and tire swing before we went back to farm chores.
The afternoon was spent caring for the animals (goat nails needed to be clipped and medicine given) and harvesting fruits and vegetables for the amazing pizza dinner that would come later. The vast majority of the food consumed on the trip was harvested by the students the day of the trip.
The working conditions were very harsh!
Fresh, hot pizza was cooked in the outside wood-burning pizza oven, after which we played a group card game, chatted about the day, and ate s’mores and fresh apple pie. We had a big, scary, false alarm where we thought we’d lost a kitten and went on an exhilarating flashlight kitten search before we were told that the kitten had been taken from the farm.
After a cold night, the morning brought a breakfast of student-cooked oats, hot cider, hot chocolate, and cereal. The sun rose and soon warmed the environment and we assisted with the farm’s harvest. We helped pick a great deal of cherry and heirloom tomatoes and a bushel of apples right off the tree. The owners/operators of the farm spent a great deal of their time with us and we reciprocated by assisting greatly in their harvest—the food we picked went directly on sale!
We played one last group game, said goodbye to our new friends (both friend and animal), and drove back to Catlin. Hopefully we’ve planted the seed to a life-long appreciation of small farming.
By Peter Green
Whether we go on a rafting trip, climbing trip, or bicycling trip, students learn from being given responsibility to take care of themselves and their friends. They need to make choices about setting up their own shelters, cooking meals for the group, maneuvering the raft through rapids, and selecting a good climbing route. Although adults are always present and have set expectations and defined boundaries, we aren’t directing the students.
The outdoor program gives all students an opportunity to learn by experiencing and experimenting. Sometimes kids who are exceptional classroom students seek out a trip so they can grow in new ways—so they can enhance their emotional, social, and leadership qualities. Then there are those who are not as successful in the classroom but who find that they excel, that they are the best among their peers, in certain outdoor pursuits. When they bring these successes back to campus, we sometimes see these students make strides in their classroom expectations and socially among their peers. Kids need to have areas where they feel competent. When they do, they are better overall learners and certainly happier in their lives.
|Lower Schoolers on "An Excellent Adventure"|
Peter Green is the director of Catlin Gabel's outdoor program.
White Salmon Valley: July 19-21, 2007
Through the July mist and drizzle, 12 triumphant middle schoolers explored the White Salmon Valleys whitewater, wilderness trails and basalt caves. We rafted down Class III-IV whitewater, including the 10 foot Husum Falls, hiked into Lake Wapiki in Indian Heaven wilderness, and explored the depths of Ice Cave and New Cave near Trout Lake.
A student report on the trip will be posted here soon!
Mount St. Helens Climb: June 10-11, 2007
|The last few steps to the summit!|
|We made it! (Check out that crater rim in the background.)|
Seven recently graduated 8th graders (plus one incoming 8th grader) huffed and puffed their way through clouds, sleet and sun to the 8365 foot high summit of Mount St. Helens. The effort invested in ascending the snowy slopes of the peak was rewarded with "summit tarts," satisfaction in a difficult thing done well, and a long speedy glissade back down the "hill".
We had planned to spend the day before the climb doing "snow school"--learning how to kick steps, self-arrest (front, back, feet-first and head-first) and glissade (controlled seated slide)--but as we neared the mountain, the steady rain began. Sprinkles soon became a downpour, so we decided that rather than roll about in the sodden snow, we would seek shelter. We headed into Upper Ape Cave for dark explorations
By the time we returned to camp, the rain had stopped, and a delicious pasta feast was prepared. We ate, cleaned, packed, and hit the hay to be ready for the climb the next day.
We rose at six, and began our hike toward tree line. Mist enveloped us, disappeared and returned as we made our way ever upwards. We learned our snow school lessons, and began the true ascent, kicking steps in steep snow and scrambling over boulders from age old lava flows. An hour passed, then another and another, each one requiring goldfish crackers, sips of water, and small beads of sweat. At long last the summit was in view. We reached our goal and collapsed on the rim of the volcano, joyous, tired and satisfied.
Check back soon for a student trip report!
|Fleeting view from the summit.|
|Day before the climb, outside Upper Ape Cave, in the rain.|
|Inside the dry, cozy confines of Upper Ape Cave.|
|Did we mention "cozy"?|
|Preparing for the big feast.|
|Preparing mentally for the mountain.|
|Running the last few feet...|
|...and then collapsing.|
|The triumphant group.|
Ghosts of the Coast: February 25-26, 2007
Close Encounters, as told by Nathan (7th grade)
It was my first time on an outdoor trip. Even on the bus to the coast, we were getting to know each other. Card games dominated the day. We stopped at Tillamook cheese factory, and got some ice cream. Now, you may be thinking “wait, isn’t it supposed to be an outdoor trip? As in not sitting around eating ice cream?” As it turns out, at our next stop, a sand spit, we got right into the spirit of the trip.
When we got off the bus, Aiyana took us to a sandy spot, and told us the history of the beach. This is where we learned about the ghost part of the trip. Apparently, there used to be a town on the spit, which got washed away. The point is, we were standing on a ghost town. The funny thing was, there was no trace of a town or anything.
A short hike later, and we were on a completely deserted beach. Somehow, we got into that classic game, the one where you run from the oncoming tide, but then you remember you’re in Oregon, and it’s really cold water. We were being ourselves and getting really close. The tide seemed to come further in than anyone was used to. One unfortunate person, Talbot, happened to bend down as a new wave came. She stood up just in time to see the wave. She started to run, tripped, and fell into very very cold water. The person closest to her, me, went to fish her out. I am happy to say, that I went through both sets of clothes that day.
These trips are awesome and I recommend that you go on them. Everyone gets to know each other and it’s the most fun I’ve had on a camping trip. Just remember, always come prepared.
|"This is great---no crowds!"|
|looking for agates|
|"This came down a river?!?"|
|"Hmm..." (entrance to the tunnel at Oceanside)|
|"What on earth? Where...?"|
|"What if we got stranded and had to spend the night in here?"|
|the return--across the abyss|
|fun with kelp!|
|"Hmm...what could we do with this?"|
|inside our cozy warm yurt (1 of 2)|
|(can we say "stinky"?)|
|shiny new metal|
|after a stormy night, hail. Lots of hail.|
|our homes away from homes|
|trees in line on a nurse log|
|holding down the tip of Cape Lookout|
|looking back towards the campground and Netarts Bay|
|"what, do I have mud on my face?"|
|squish squashing our way back|
|sign reads "DANGER. DO NOT GO BEYOND THIS POINT"|
|it is a looong ways down|
Middle School Snow Adventure: January 14-15, 2007
Eleven Middle Schoolers headed up to Mount Hood for a weekend of fun in the snow. On Sunday we learned how to dig snowcaves, but after discovering there wasnt quite enough snow for it at 4000 elevation, we switched to massive fort-building and snowball fights. A few sledding runs down the hill, some card games, a huge warm dinner, and hang-out time on the bunks rounded out the evening. The next day we packed up, rented snowshoes, and began a hike up the forested slopes of Multipor Mountain. After much struggle, readjustment, and step-kicking, we made it to the summit! The view was magnificent, but the cold wind urged us on, and we began our slip-sliding descent to the base of the mountain.
Middle School Waterfall Hike: December 19, 2006
One brisk Tuesday morning, five middle school students (accompanied by five taller folks) headed out to the Columbia River Gorge. The winds howled past us at Crown Point, the icy mist made the path slippery at Latourell Falls, yet still we continued on. At Horsetail Falls, we hit the trail, crusing past Ponytail Falls, snags, future nurse logs, switchbacks and icicles. After crossing the high bridge over Oneonta Creek, we stopped for lunch, then continued up to Triple Falls. We circled back to the bus, and made a quick stop at Multnomah Falls for some hot chocolate before heading home.
Caving Adventure in the Washington Cascades
Seven students from Middle School and thirteen Upper Schoolers travelled to the remote forests near Trout Lake, Washington to explore lava tubes over the weekend of November 4th and 5th.
Horsethief Butte Climbing & Camping: October 13-14, 2006
Wow! We just got back from a wonderful rock climbing trip with 11 Middle Schoolers. I cannot sing their praises enough.
Early Saturday morning, these kids met at the theater parking lot ready to go, and cheerfully rode the bus east to Horsethief Butte near The Dalles. We spent five hours learning how to tie a Figure 8 knot and put on a harness, testing our skills on the rock, and exploring this amazing rock outcropping under clear skies. Saturday afternoon was spent swimming in Horsethief Lake, playing soccer and Frisbee, and generally running around. A huge meal, prepared by the kids, was followed by flashlight tag, Smores, star gazing, and a little talk about Celilo Falls. Sunday morning we went down to the Columbia River again and had a rock throwing contest, spotted hundreds of ducks, and looked at dozens of petroglyphs. The rain didnt hit until we were driving home.
Getting out of town on a homework free weekend means traveling to Smith Rock State Park for some rock climbing. Seven students and five leaders spent two days climbing in the sunshine of Central Oregon. Half of the group was first time climbers. We camped in the desert and sat around the campfire swapping tales of unrestrained adventure.
An enthusiastic and large group of middle schoolers ventured to Camp Collins on the Sandy River for a three day outdoor experience in March of 2006. The students stayed in rustic cabins and spent most of each day trying their hand at various challenges provided by the on-site ropes course. During their free time students played cards and explored the area.
|The intrepid group|
Winterim 2006: Ten students and faculty travelled to the Ochoco Mountains of Oregon and skied through untracked powder in cold conditions. The group stayed at a warm Forest Service cabin.
Ochoco Mountains ski and snowshoe adventure
Our backcountry skiing winterim began way too early on the morning of February 15th 2006. We loaded the bus, cracked out the Oreos and began our long drive to Prineville Oregon. Ana slept as we ascended Mt. Hood and woke only when we stopped in Welches to rent our skis and snowshoes. The excitement level jumped as we traveled further; the air became nippy and the snow deeper. When we arrived, Ana jumped out of the bus yelling incoherently, as we followed we noticed she was pointing at a cat in this tree. The cat began climbing backwards down the tree and jumped into her arms. We unpacked and got out our skis thinking we could just ski on the road for awhile, we were wrong. As soon as we got to the road we realized that it had just been plowed and we would ruin our skis if we continued, so Greg jumped over the pile of snow on the side of the road and we all followed him because he was the titular head and was supposed to know what he was doing. But he didn’t and we split up because it was a very steep hill and some of us couldn’t get up the hill. Greg and Peter ended up going and getting the bus and we drove up where the snow plow had stopped and got out and started skiing. We stopped at this big hill and a bunch of us climbed up the hill and jumped/rolled down. Then we continued on a bit and drove back to the cabin. We had a fiesta dinner. The next day we went to a snow park and our goal was to ski to some crazy meadow that Peter found on the map. “oh come on guys, its only a couple miles away” but no. We skied for 5 hours and never even made it to the meadow. We went down some really steep hills in the beginning and Peter S., Mandy and Cristin decided to go another way. I cannot tell you what they did, but we continued down the hills into this valley. One of the most memorable moments was when we had come to a log in the path; Ana and Peter decided to just go over but we would have had to wait forever so I started up the hill with Ian, Greg, William and Jack. We made it over the place with the log and Ian went down. I followed him but crashed right into a tree well and was stuck. Jack had made it down by then too and he unhooked his skis and came over to help me out. But William had decided that he was going to come down right where I did too, and he crashed in to the tree and me. Greg then, despite the warnings of Peter and Ana came down too, saying “oh no, I won’t hit them” but he did. So now me, Jack, William and Greg, were smashed up into this tree. It took a while to get unstuck but we continued and crossed a very little frozen creek, and up to a road. We followed the road for what seemed like hours and finally we saw all of the meadow that we would ever see. About ½ a foot by 1 foot through some trees, but none of us I think felt any disappointment because we had come so far. The trek back was pretty hard for me at least, but we kept talking and that talking took my mind off of the physical pain in my legs and well I guess if I could have felt my fingers it would have taken my mind off of that too. We were taking a water/Gatorade break and for some reason talking about Günter (pronounced goon-thur), some weird rock climber I think, when apparently I said “he is so hot” but I swear that I didn’t! Then we continued on the road; Peter got out his GPS and informed us that we could continue 2.5 miles down the road or go up this steep hill right to the bus. Everyone ran up the hill and packed our stuff onto the bus and left to go pick up Mandy, Peter and Cristin. On the way down, Ian got on the radio and yelled “The goose cannot land, the goose cannot land!” but we stopped and picked up our remaining team-members and traveled home. We had soup dinner with grilled cheese sandwiches. The next day we decided to do some snowshoeing because it was our last day to do any snow activities; we went out to some lake and snow-shoed around it but it was so cold and windy that we decided that we needed to do something else and had a snowshoeing Olympics. William amazed everyone by beating Ian and Greg in the front-ways running but he still refuses to do track. Then we went to the cabin and left Mandy, Cristin, and Ana there (because they wanted too) and went out skiing or snowshoeing again. We went up this path and then up off the trail to this really steep hill, which we climbed up and then found this really cool bowl which we (being Ian, Peter, Peter and me, cause we were the only ones with skis) skied down and in. It was really hard both hard to ski down and hard to fall on; but it was probably one of the most fun times I had on the trip. We then continued because Greg was getting a little antsy and was going on without us and went further up the road to this big hill which went down to a little mine we found out later. The only building we could see from the road had was covered with a thick layer of snow and surrounded all the way to the eves with snow. We would have liked to continue on into the woods and ski some more but the sun was beginning to set and so we skied up the hill again and began our decent. Going down that hill was also a lot of fun but that day was the coldest of them all, and my gloves were freezing even with my hands in them. Peter then stopped really suddenly and told Ian to fall over, and so he did and Ian threw himself into the pile of snow on the side of the trail. The snowshoers (I don’t think that is a word) were coming down the trail and Peter yelled to them that Ian had fallen and broken his leg and I started fake crying and we all decided that our best course of action was to build a fire. (If you haven’t gotten it yet, this was all just to see if we could build a fire in the snow) So we gathered things that we thought we would need, including little twigs, dry if possible, and needles, and moss. Jack got out his water-poof matches and after one feeble attempt we got a nice fire going and it was actually quite warm. Then we stood around and talked until the sun was very close to being gone and we skied down the rest of the hill, got on the bus and went home. Then for the final night, we had lasagna of which William had the most. The next day we packed, cleaned and loaded for about 2 hours and drove home. OOH! I forgot to mention that every morning the bus wouldn’t start and so we would have to call Catlin and ask them how to start it. They said that we had to find some cord and plug on the front of the bus and plug it in every night because it was the starter that was just too cold for it to start the bus. So William and I went out after dinner the second night and we (meaning him) stuck his hand in the front of the bus and wiggled it around until we found the plug. Then the bus worked. But on the ride home we played this game that Cristin started where you go around and say animals that start with a certain letter until someone can’t think of one and then we go to the next letter. Jack was probably the most memorable because we would be on ‘p’ or something and he would whisper to Ian, his team member something and Ian would make a funny face and say, “Jack! No wrong letter.” I also forgot to mention our card games every night because those were also a huge part of the trip because we really got to find out about each other. We mostly played caca however hearts became a favorite among many of us and I just have to say that I shot the moon. Then there was a spoons competition, which I won. This trip was a lot of fun, it was my first outdoor trip at Catlin and I don’t think that it could have been any better. The skiing was fun even though I was very sore for the rest of the weekend.