After a long bus ride (4.5 hours) and an early start (7:30am) the bus arrived in Anacortes. Students bid auto travel farewell and got on the 2pm ferry to Friday Harbor. Renee met them at the dock and we were all whisked away to Jackson beach where the boats were ready to go. We had a kayak class, loaded our boats, checked the map, and hit the water by 5. We caught an incoming tide up to Turn Island and after a long day and many modes of travel we were “home!”
Turn Island is over run with raccoons and students brainstormed ways of fixing the infestation. The winning idea was a “coon-cannon” which would catapult them into the water. After some unsuccessful attempts at launching raccoons we enjoyed an evening of talking on the rocks, a tasty mexican fiesta, and getting lulled to sleep under the stars to the sound of scampering critters.
Saturday morning was an early wake up so we could catch the turning tide at 7:30 am. Students were champs and everyone was ready to go by 7:30 and we were on the water headed north. We made an easy crossing of San Juan Channel with views North to Canada!
We got to Yellow Island which we re-named Yololand and while we waited for the caretaker to invite us ashore we rafted up and ate a melon. We explored the Nature Conservancy’s Yololand and found a pristine beach where we rested, swam, chatted, got burried in pebbles, and pretended we were in the tropics. Refreshed we hopped back in our boats and paddled to Jones Island where we explored the island, saw a bunch of porpoises, got water, explored tidepools, played games, had a group Uno game, and enjoyed the most gorgeous campsite overlooking San Juan Channel! We slept under the stars bellies full of s’mores and tin foil packet stews.
Sunday we got to sleep in until the sun found us. Captain Peter navigates our way to Blind Island where we met a camp group who was in one of the sites. We explored the tidepools and set up camp before kayaking over to Shaw for Ice Cream and a walk. On Shaw we learned someone had left a bag on our Island and Andrew and Renee went back to get it. Back on Shaw, yet another group of kids had moved in and we invited them all to play a gigantic game for sardines that evening!
After dinner we met the other kids and had a great game. Catlin kids were gregarious and welcoming and fun was had by all. As it got dark we got ready for our nigh kayak. We paddled into the bay and the bioluminesent plankton lit up with every paddle stroke. It got brighter and brighter and was truly magical! As we got closer to our Island we shined our lights into the water to see what we could attract. At first it was just tiny worms but before long giant 2 foot polychete worms that looked like giant swimming centipedes were swimming up from the depths to check us out. Both fascinated and scarred we returned to Blind Island and a restful sleep over the water.
Monday we left Blind Island at 11, well fed, rested, and ready to paddly around Shaw. We kayaked to Indian Cove and played on the sandy beach, ate lunch and swam, before loading back up to cross San Juan Chanel again. We had to paddle far north on Shaw because the currents pulling south were strong and we weren’t ready to go back to Portland yet. We made the crossing and sang at the tops of our lungs as we battled the currents and and were finally back at Turn Island. We were greeted by our raccoon friends and set up a beautiful camp on the beach. We cleaned up our boats, made dinner, and invented many desserts from our leftovers before heading across the island for some log throwing and exploration.
The next morning we packed up, made a quick crossing to San Juan Island, met Tim, got all loaded up and were on the 3:50 Ferry in no time. Larry was a champ driving the bus back to Catlin with a stop at Burgerville before a 9pm arrival back at school.
We began our journey bright an early at 7:30am, embarking on our 4.5 hour drive north to Anacortes on the bus. Leroy did a great job driving us north with perfectly timed stops and a spot on arrival at the ferry terminal. Off the bus we were faced with the task of carrying all our gear, food, and food and gear for the second trip onto the boat. The nice folks from the coffee shop lent us a hand cart and we were quite a sight schlepping aboard the ferry!
The ride was gorgeous! That there seemed to be only teenagers on the boat was our first clue that we were entering summer-camp-land and in no time we docked in Friday Harbor, met Tim (the rental boat man) and headed to his shop to get the boats. We were packed and on the water by 6:30pm and bid adieu to Tim as we made our way south to Griffin Bay Kayak Campground.
While making BLTs for dinner we heard our neighbors playing catch phrase and we joined in over the bushes. Soon they brought it over and we had a great time playing the guessing game all together as the sun went down over the water.
Sunday morning we woke to mists and met our other neighbors who’s mom went to Miss Catlin’s school back in the day! Small world! We got loaded up and on the water and spotted moon jellies, seals, and beautiful red jelly fish as we made our way north to Turn Island, a small nature island we’d lunch on before our channel crossing. We stopped on the island, went on a little hike, met some raccoon thiefs, and plotted our crossing of the channel.
We waited for ferry traffic to clear and began the crossing. Being a weekend there were lots of pleasure boaters around and we had to keep paddling to stay balanced in the wake and get across without diverting ferry traffic. Going up and down the waves “armada style” while Kyle whooped and hollered made the crossing quite fun.
Safely across we made our way North to stop on Yellow Island, a nature conservancy Island where we hiked and swam before loading up and heading north to Jones Island where we made camp. On Jones we explored, found terrifying sea creatures, played games, refreshed our fresh water supply and ate s’mores at a gorgeous campsite overlooking the channel.
Monday was a sunny dry morning and due to the tides we got to have a lazy morning together watching the water change and chatting over breakfast and cocoa. Once the tide began to recede we caught the current and paddled to Blind Island, a tiny Island in Blind Bay across from the Shaw Island ferry terminal. We got there around lunch time and spent the afternoon exploring tidepools, practicing kayak self-rescue in the bay, and then paddling all together over to the Shaw Island Store for Ice cream!
When we got back we caught a red rock crab and decided to add it to our dinner. The students cooked, cleaned, and enjoyed the crab. Maddy even ate the heart! The best part! We made a no bake cake and the Juniors brought a tart to our new Island neighbors who had arrived while we were away. While we waited for it to get dark we played sardines and after the sun set we went for a night paddle in the bay where we enjoyed bioluminescent plankton, sneaking around all the sleeping sailboats, and the peacefulness of being on the water at night!
Tuesday was a misty morning and we decided to do a by land or by sea challenge. We paddled half the group to Shaw Island and the other half took the boats in a foot vs. Paddle race around the Island. In the boats we met a strong head wind and lost the race by a few hours. The land crew found sculptures, baby deer, and the 9th graders basked in their Island fame and were recognized from the 8th grade play! We all got to watch bald eagles hunting and all met up at sandy Indian Cove. The land crew presented us with the gift a a polychete worm in a shell. So kind! Indian Cove was full of campers so we caught a tide across the channel to Odlin County Park on Lopez Island were we got a campsite for our last night.
Our last night was games around the fire, volleyball, and sleeping under stars. Mornign found us too soon and paddled back to Griffin bay where we met Tim, washed and unloaded boats, and headed to Friday Harbor for Ice Cream and farewells before a ferry ride and long bus ride back to Catlin.
The greatest cragging and crack climbing in North America is found at City of Rocks Idaho. Seventeen students and five leaders made the lengthy one-day drive for a climbing adventure this past June.
The group camped at a few sites clustered together just below the pass. Each day we would rise with the sun, have a nice breakfast of bacon and eggs, and then walk or ride in the vans to the various granite rocks in the area. Students who had completed the school's "leading on Rock" course were often allowed to put up routes. The weather was generally quite nice, with a few showers on Monday and some excess heat on Thursday. Students shared resposnsibiliyy for meal preparation and cleanup while in camp.
Students made tremendous progress in their climbing skills, finishing climbs ranging difficulty from 5.6 to 5.11c. The week was capped with a remarkable talent show around the campfire on the last evening.
A thirty mile backpack trip through the rugged North Cascades proved to be a challenging and memorable adventure for seven students and two leaders earlier this month. The loaction chosen for the epic struggle between man and nature was the Glacier Peak Wilderness, which lies north of Mt. Rainier and south of Mt. Baker.
We drove to the trailhead in two black SUVs on a sunny Monday morning in very early July. The hike begins at the end of an old logging road up the North Fork of the Sauk River. Once here, the group split up all the gear and the food and loaded it into their backpacks and then started walking south up the well graded trail along the raging river. After an hour of hiking the trail split, with the left trail heading up to White Pass and the right trail turning west and ascending Pilot Ridge. We took the Pilot Ridge trail, which required us to cross the river first. The log normally used for this task was partly submerged in the rushing waters so we headed upstream and eventually were able to find a few old growth logs. The leaders set up the rope to act as a handline and each of the students made it across while the leaders transported their packs over the worst section. Once across the river it was now late afternoon and we began the 3000+ foot climb through the forest to the top of Pilot Ridge. The trail was pretty good, though we lost it at the 4500 foot level when we hit our first snow of the trip. We would be destined to spend the next four days hiking through snow for the great majority of each day. Part way up the hill we passed by decent campsite hoping to get one with a view higher up. The struggle was great, but by 8:00 pm we were on top of the ridge and found an expansive snow field on the very crest of the ridge that would serve as our resting place for the night.On the second day we got a late start and began our actual traverse of the length of ghe ridge, which actually encircles the entire watershed of the river below. We foiund ourselves walkinhg along flower covered hillsides with the most unbelievable view all around us. We would see north to Mt. Baker and south to Mt Adams. At any given time there were 30-50 dramatic North Cascade peaks surrounding us. The students were captivated by the constantly changing and dramatic views. Toward the end of the day while crossing a large headwall we came to some sketchy ground where we decided to set up a rope and belay students individually across. While this took over two additional hours to accomplish, we did manage to get everyone across safely. That night we dropped down to Blue Lake, which has an eerie other-wrodly aspect because of its cold visage, being snow covered and hidden in a glacier cut cirque. We built a campfire towarm ourselves and had a good night.
In the morning we made a decision to take the Blue Lake High Trail. The trail was as steep as it gets, but soon enough we found ourselves back in the sun, and traversed the snowy slopes to Dishpan Gap. Our trail meets the Pacific Crest Trail at this point, and from here on we were on a higher quality trail, though still snow covered eighty percent of the time. The kids were loving the adventure and we all took turns leading. Around Kodak Peak we hiked and then down to Indian Pass. We had some trouble finding the trail from the pass but after some steep bushwhacking we came across it and hiked the final two miles to a spectacular campsite at Reflection Pond. That evening we had another great meal and celebrated independence day with patriotic dances. Thursday found us up extra early and heading north toward White Pass. After a long rest we decided to climb White Mountain, so we left our packs by the trail and made the ascent of the 7042' peak in about an hour. The views were incredible! Pop tarts were a nice summit treat. Once back at our packs we hiked down, down, down to the Sauk River again and a nice campsite at Mackinaw Shelter. The next day, our final day, we hiked the easy 5.5 miles north to the trailhead.
Truly one of the best trips in the history of the program! A great group and scenery that cannot be beat.
8 adventuresome students met at Catlin Tuesday in the morning drizzle with full backpacks and a hunger for sunny summer adventure. We headed down to the shed where we checked and packed our gear and food and hopped on the bus. Our rental vehicle which was to set our shuttle broke down en route across campus and we opted for a one bus adventure. We hit the road, packs ready, and drove south into ominous rainy skies on a mission for sunny river summer times. Once we passed Roseburg the clouds lifted and though the evening was cloudy it was dry. We pulled into the parking area for Toketee falls around five. Toketee Falls is a huge 2 tiered waterfall through massive basalt columns unlike anything we’d seen before. We brought our stove and dinner things and made a dinner picnic on the tree house like viewing platform above the falls. We played games over dinner and settled into our new group.
We washed up in the leaks off a wooden flume and well fed we headed to the trailhead. We had decided to kick off our trip with a night hike to the hot springs! Packs on and headlamps at the ready we were finally beginning our backpacking trip up the North Umpqua Trail! About 2 miles in we came to a river crossing and practiced group crossing techniques and rewarded ourselves with sour patch kids before turning on our headlamps and hiking through the dusk towards the springs.
The final 1200 feet up the the pools was on rocks and we helped one another up before taking a second a the top to turn out our lights, listen to the river below, and marvel at the quiet beauty around us. For many it was their first night hike and we all enjoyed the magic and tranquility of it. Umpqua Hot Springs is a series of cascading pools on a cliff overlooking the North Umpqua River. There was no better way to finish our day and to kick off our trip than by soaking in the night above the river in the hot waters before tucking into our sleeping bags.
The morning found us with drizzly weather, we ate and hit the trail again, searching for sunnier skies. As the day continued the rains lifted and we passed numerous waterfalls before setting camp in the afternoon next to he river. We spent the afternoon swimming, exploring, playing games, having a fiesta, and enjoying the fire before bed.
Thursday we woke up to blue skies and warming temperatures! We decided as a group we’d like the challenge of trying to get all the way to Lemolo Lake, a 10 mile uphill challenge! We packed up after breakfast and started the day with solo hiking. Hikers were spaced at 5 minute intervals along the very obvious trail and all enjoyed the peacefulness of being silent and setting one’s own pace under the canopy of forest with the sunshine dappling through. We re-joined one another and the forest was filled with conversation, laughter, and singing. We decided to do a second solo section after lunch. At this point the day was getting hotter and the trail was getting steeper. Students got to push themselves alone through this segment and when we re-grouped students decided that getting through challenges is much easier with the group. We recovered with more sour patch kids and once again conversation and song filled the forest. We were overjoyed when we finally came to the bridge that marked 7 miles, we were elated when we got to Lemolo Falls marking 8 miles, and words cannot describe the joy shared when we got to the dam at Lemolo Lake and gazed across at Mt Theilsen, the “lightning rod of the Cascades.” Renee scampered ahead and met the group with Chips and Cookies from the Lodge and we set up camp at Poole Creek. While Colin and the students got to know our new Mosquito neighbors, Renee headed down to pick up our bus and bring it back to the Lake.
Our last night was enjoyed around the campfire with reflections on our adventure and a huge sense of accomplishment shared by all.
Friday morning we got up and walked to Lemolo Lodge for a pampered breakfast out. We ate pancakes, and eggs, and bacon together and then packed up camp to escape the mosquitos and make our way back home. We stopped en route to a refreshing swim in the river and got back to Catlin and our waiting parents at 5:45pm to bid farewell, see you next fall, and good job to our new friends.
For some it was their first backpacking trip and we got to try many kinds of hiking: alone, group, night, day, rain, and shine. The group was fantastic and new friends were made. We found summer! Congratulations to Ben, Hannah, Jack, Kallan, Emma, Lily, Andie, and Isaiah!
Eight students and two leaders made a challenging ascent of the Northeast face of the South Sister in mid-June of this year. Starting from the Green Lakes trailhead along the Cascade Lakes Highway the team hiked, mostly in snow, to a camp next to Green Lake. The students were awed by the scenery and had the whole area to themselves. Starting early on Monday morning the group circumnavigated the lake and climbed the mountain's eastern flank before dropping on to the Prouty Glacier. Two rope teams were assembled and using crampons the group made its way up the steepening slope to the headwall that blocks access to the summit from this side. With care (and ropes and protection) the team ascended the short rock and ice pitch onto the summit slopes above. Led by one of the more experienced students the team arrived at the summit just before noon. The weather was good enough to allow for a leisurely stay on top before a fun glissade descent down the mountain's more commonly climbed southern slopes. That evening was spent around the stoves swapping tales and sharing good memories.
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!