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Backpacking along the banks of Siouxon Creek

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Students of all grades of Catlin's Upper School ventured up the windy roads of the Mount St. Helens Volcanic Monument for a weekend of backpacking along the beautiful Siouxon Creek.  Three seniors took a break from their end-of-the-year, senior projects to join us on one of their last Outdoor Program trips.  After loading up our packs at the trailhead, we headed down the trail in perfect sunshine.  Mary quickly led the pack past multiple waterfalls and impressive rapids along the creek.  The trail crossed the full stream over bridges and we stopped multiple times to sit in the sun and enjoy being outside.  A long lunch at a rocky beach quickly turned into a rock throwing contest, with Max proving to be MVP.

The weathered turned around dinner time, and we cooked our food, played cards, and turned in for bed all while trying our best to stay dry.  After a long night's rest, we cooked our breakfast and packed up camp to start the pretty hike back to the bus.  We stopped at the Dollar Tree in Battle Ground, WA on the way home to pick up a random assortment of gifts for Peter Green who had to stay home for the weekend due to a knee surgery.

Please enjoy some photos from our weekend.

Hit the Road and Find that Vetch!

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MS and US Mt. Adams Biking and Service

Three Middle School students, eight Upper School students, and four faculty/staff members just returned from a fantastic weekend of biking and environmental service.

We left Portland at 9:30 on Saturday morning and arrived at Trout Lake-Guler County Campground at about 11:45. We ate a quick snack, pumped up bike tires and practiced our hand signals, and set out through the beautiful countryside. Mt. Adams and the sun both smiled down upon us as we rode across the flat back roads between Trout Lake and Glenwood, WA.

We started in Trout Lake, took Sunnyside Road for several miles, and eventually turned right on Warner Road. We encountered minimal traffic. We then turned right on Little Mountain Road instead of Hwy 141, which again helped us to avoid lots of cars. After a few miles on Little Mountain Road, we encountered the White Salmon River and a perfect spot to stop for our picnic lunch. Students ate, visited, and lay in the grass along the banks of the river. Some enjoyed throwing big rocks in the water to see who could make the biggest splash.

We then hopped back on our bikes and finished the rest of the leg back to Trout Lake, and decided to ride into the area behind the little “town” to see what else we might find. Eventually, we encountered seasonal Trout Lake itself, and took photos of Mt. Adams reflected into the water. A few raindrops finally began to fall at this point, so we headed back to our campground after our 20 mile bike ride.

Just as we began to pull our rain flies onto our tents, the big, sporadic drops turned into a pelting and sustained downfall. We donned raingear and hopped back on our bikes for the half-mile ride to Trout Lake’s Station Café and their world-famous huckleberry milkshakes. Thunder and lightning began to rumble outside, but thankfully we were inside, nice and warm. We decided to get on the bus and drive to Cheese Cave for some exploration—the best outdoor activity possible in heavy rains.

That night we cooked a mac-n-cheese dinner, played cards and Bananagrams, and sang to guitar music thanks to Andrew and Graham, and went to bed to the soothing rain.

The next morning, we headed out to the Conboy Lake Wildlife Refuge. Dan and Lisa showed us how to use GPS devices, and we spent a few hours combing the area for a rare type of vetch, marking any unusual findings on our observation sheet and using the GPS device to mark the location. No one found any vetch, which will help the refuge make the case that climate change is making it hard for pollinators to perpetuate the various plant species, including the vetch, which means it may become endangered or extinct.

We returned to school Sunday evening feeling refreshed and tired--a perfect combination.


A sunny weekend at Smith Rock

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Rock climbing for everyone

Rafting the Grande Ronde River

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 The Nez Perce knew the Grande Ronde River as Welleweah, or "The River that Flows into the Far Beyond."  The Catlin Outdoor Program took a long weekend to explore the remote canyon that this beautiful river has carved in the far northeastern corner of the state.  Draining the Blue Mountains and the nearby Wallowas, the Grande Ronde sees few people over the 212 miles that it travels before spilling into the Snake River at Hell's Canyon.

This trip was a true adventure, as none of the participants, not even the leaders had been on the river before.  As we headed East toward Minam, the sunshine intensified and landscape changed dramatically from what we were used to.  While the views from the bus were beautiful, they couldn't compare to the steep canyons, clear creeks, sandy beaches, and rocky ridge tops that we would explore during our river trip.  We saw kingfisher, golden eagles, elk, and tons of deer along the way.  A pair of bear hunters were the only other people that we saw over our three days in the canyon.

Aside from the natural wonders, there were many other memories made over the weekend.  Puppies and baby goats at the Elgin Boot and Saddle shop, sharing riddles and jokes around the fire ring, the stinging of brambles against bare legs during an epic bushwhack, waiting for a new form of transportation from our take out at the Powwatka Bridge when our bus broke down......and Easter dinner at Denny's!

Please enjoy some photos from this adventure.  And, thank you to everyone in Eastern Oregon that helped us to get home on Sunday when things decided not to go as planned.  It all worked out in the end.  More photos to come.

Surfing the Oregon Coast

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"We're Gonna Shred It!"

A Happy Surfing Song

--adapted from Damien Marley's "We're Gonna Make It"


Hannah knows she lost her waiver

It’s not a big deal, No!

But we gotta get it


Lets all go

To get Hannah’s waiver

It wont be fun, Yeah!

But we gotta fake it


Let’s go to the wa-ter

It is really warm? NO!

But that doesn’t matter


Ride a wave

Cuz we’re gonna shred it

Even though it’s cold, Yeah!

But we’re gonna shred it.


We know we’re gonna fry it

We don’t have a pan, No!

But we’re gonna fry it


Use a plate

Cuz we’re gonna fry it

It’s gonna work, Yeah.

We don’t want to diet.


We know we’re gonna shred it

Its not too cold, No!

We’re gonna shred it


Let’s go!

We’re gonna shred it

It’s not too cold, No!

We’re gonna shred it, Yeah.



Seven happy upper school students and two teachers returned to Portland on Sunday afternoon feeling rejuvenated and exhausted at the same time. Surfing will do that to a person! 

We left Catlin at 9:15, listened to reggae the whole way, and made it to the Seaside Surf Shop by 11:00 in order to have time to get fitted for wetsuits and boards before heading to Short Sands Beach for the perfect tide and swell.


When we arrived at Short Sands, participants helped carry boards down the ½ mile green and winding path to the beach. We were greeted by about 50 other surfers clad in lycra, paddling out and catching small waves inside and big waves (8’) on the outside. Seth and Lauren did an incredible job explaining Short Sands’ particular currents and breaks—different from most breaks because of the cove’s protection on three sides—and then students practiced their pop-ups on land.


We then headed for the water and fought strong currents to walk and paddle out to the inside breaking waves. Lauren and Seth each took a small group of students and pushed them as the white water came upon them to help them get going. Within 5 or 6 tries, every single student stood up on his or her long board! Students spent the next two hours practicing what they learned, struggling against the currents, and trying to make sense of all the components that go into surfing.


Once we were all tired out, we carried the boards back up to Lauren’s van and said goodbye. After a snack in the parking lot, we went back down to the beach and hit the trail going out to Cape Falcon. Students stood in awe at the side-view of the wave sets as they rolled into the bay, and we discussed some of the details of surf etiquette and technique, as well as wave structure and formation.


After our hike, we collaborated to make a delicious dinner of grilled fish tacos on the green Coleman stove. Though we forgot a frying pan, we made it work by using a metal plate and tin foil. After hiking back up to the bus and loading up all our dinner stuff, we drove south to Manzanita and Hannah Jaquiss’ family’s beach house. We watched the inspiring surf/climbing movie, 180 Degrees South, and fell asleep.


The next morning we drove north back to Short Sands and put all the stuff we’d learned Saturday to good use. Students enjoyed the slightly more mellow waves, though it did make for a greater challenge actually catching the waves. One student even went outside with one of the instructors and tried his hand with a short board.

We stopped for burritos in Manzanita and made it back to campus by 4:30--feeling so stoked!








Skiing the Rim of Crater Lake | Winterim 2011

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Deep snow and a powerful experience in a gem of the Oregon Cascades.

There is a peace, comfort and inspiration that comes from two and a half feet of fresh, powdery snow falling in one of the wildest and most beautiful pockets of Oregon.  That is exactly what ten ambitious upper school students found as they embarked on a five day backcountry ski trip to to Oregon's only National Park.  We were offered a variety of new experiences, from skiing along the edge of a volcanic caldera, to cooking meals in a kitchen carved from snow, to building a snow cave large enough that all thirteen people in the group could enjoy a hot macaroni and cheese meal inside.  It is hard work moving and living in such a wintery environment, and we all left with a new appreciation for what we are all capable of accomplishing when we let ourselves have these beautifully challenging experiences.  Please enjoy some of our photos from this epic journey.


Sailing in the San Juans -- Winterim 2011

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Wind and sun make for a big adventure

As the bus approaches the dock, the rows of what look like tiny plastic sailboats come into clear view, and we get our first glimpse of the Puget Sound. The sun is setting on Sunday, March 14th as we pull our bags off the bus, and assemble into two boat teams: the Double Eagle and The Brothers. These will be our teams for the rest of the week, and we quickly stow gear and grab a slice at a gourmet pizzeria in Anacortes before tucking in for an early bedtime. The next morning we are up at sunrise, untying our dock-lines and puttering out into the open sea. With a gust of wind, we hoist sails, and at the Captain’s orders, we are ready to “tack” and “jive” as we weave our way through the San Juan Islands. When we are not too busy sailing, we are becoming skilled chefs and dishwashers in the tiny cabin kitchen, and perfecting our card playing skills and yoga poses on deck. The weather remains marvelous throughout the week, with peek-a-boo sunshine and warm, swift showers that leave the air smelling fresh and sweet. Each night, we find a new place to anchor. We play ultimate Frisbee on soft sandy beaches, and take a walk to a lighthouse where the view leaves us breathless. As the sun sets, we gather around a campfire, and the trip leaders surprise us with fireworks (until we are kicked out by the rangers… no fireworks, and no fires! Didn’t we read the signs? …Nope!) A friendly boat rivalry exists, and members of the Double Eagle prank The Brothers by changing the name on their boat to “The Others” … only to discover that The Brothers were one step ahead, greeting their peers with buckets of cold water. The Zodiac from Double Eagle engages in a wild dinghy race with The Brothers' dinghy, and a dingy overturns, leaving three unlucky and wet sailors.  Overall, a fantastic week, and an experience none of us will forget.


Girls' Snow Adventure Drops Some Lines

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...that rhyme...



Snowshoe Trip


Snowshoe is what we do,

Girl power by the hour,

Munchin' on some lentil stew.


When we felt tired we turned to sledding,

And at nighttime we hit the bedding.

Freshmen, seniors, co-mingling,

Got so cold our toes were tingling.


Girl-talk, truth-talk, 

Whatcha gonna say?

Talk 'til your jaw drops,

Then hit the hay.


White River Canyon is what we hike,

Don't need no snow skis 

Nor a mountain bike.


Lunch time is fun time

And we do it with ease,

As long as you're comfortable

And your butt don't freeze.


Had a great weekend

Thanks to the sun's rays,

Sad to return to school

Late on Sunday!


Winter Camping and Snowshoe Trip to Elk Meadows

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Winter Comes Back to Mt. Hood

The winter finally came back to Oregon and blanketed Elk Meadows in two feet of fresh snow. A group of adventurous upper school students prepared themselves with snowshoes, warm sleeping bags, and winter camping gear and set off onto the flanks of Mt. Hood. We had beautiful clear skies, which made for impressive sunsets, stargazing (including a shooting star that shot all the way behind the mountain), and incredible views of the east side of the mountain. The group met its first challenge arriving at the crossing of Newton Creek. A couple of wood saws, some engineering genius, and an hour or so later, and our group had a sturdy bridge across the icy waters. It is hard work living in the snow for the weekend, but the group worked beautifully together, and created an impressive winter camp, complete with snow-benches, an ice-block windbreak, a snow-table, and snow-stairs. Deciding to test the insulating power of the snow, the whole group dug a big snow trench and slept through the night in the tarp-covered shelter. Sunday we hiked up towards Elk Mountain and took part in some phenomenal sledding. Please enjoy a few photos from this winter adventure.


Summer Programs set for July 5 – August 5

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Summer Programs 

Our 2011 course catalog will be available in early March.

Class offerings range from arts and music, to sports, modern languages, writing, SAT prep, outdoor education, service and more.

The dates for most 2011 summer classes are July 5 – August 5 and serve preschool through high school students.

» For information, e-mail or call Len Carr, Summer Programs director, carrl@catlin.edu, 503-297-1894 ext. 406

PLACE — Planning & Leadership Across City Environments

June 20 – Juy 15
Grades 10 – 12 and recent high school graduates

PLACE is a unique program, run by Catlin Gabel School in partnership with the greater Portland community, that focuses on how we relate to our urban environment through smart planning and effective leadership.

» Learn more about PLACE

Outdoor Program Summer Trips

Rafting, hiking, camping, climbing, backpacking, biking and exploring.  A great way to meet other kids and challenge yourself in NEW ways
Ages 11-18

Catlin Gabel offers a number of outdoor adventures.

» Learn more about the dates, age requirements, and destinations on the Outdoor Program trips web page.

Elana Gold '93 Memorial Environmental Restoration Project

June 17 – 22
Grades 9 – 12

Established in 1993 to carry out land restoration projects in the Barlow Ranger District on Mt. Hood National Forest.

» Learn more about the Elana Gold '93 Memorial Environmental Restoration Project.



6th Grade Lower Twin Lake Snowshoe Adventure

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A Tromp Through Old-Growth Mountain Hemlock

It could have been the middle of May, as a group of adventurous 6th graders set out to enjoy a sunny day of snowshoeing on Mt. Hood this past Saturday.  Even though it was the first time snowshoeing for almost the whole group, we covered nearly five miles over the course of the day while still finding the time to explore a frozen lake, have multiple snowball battles, a snowball throwing contests, and build a bearded snowman.  We learned about the ancient hemlock trees, old man's beard, and the winter landscape of the Cascade Mountains.  Sitting on the back of the bus, we wrapped up a grand adventure with hot chocolate, homemade cookies, and rice crispie treats.  Please enjoy some photos from this great day.

Cross Country Ski Trip into a Beautiful Mountain Cabin

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Twelve students and faculty from Catlin Gabel School spent a beautiful sunny winter's day skiing through six inches of fresh powder in the forests near Mt. Adams, practicing gliding, turns and falling.  The two day trip allowed the group to stay overnight in the wonderfully restored Government Mineral Springs Cabin that sits just below the Trapper Creek Wilderness.  On the first day we skied in poor weather next to and through the streams and meadows near the cabin.  A cross country skiing Olympics of sorts capped off the activities, featuring Ski-Cross, picnic table acrobatics and a snowball throwing contest. 

With a goal of finding light fluffy powder our intrepid bus driver took us north and higher to the Oldman Sno Park on the second day.  Here we had a glorious day skiing and fire building among the tall pines and firs.   For many of the students this was their first time on cross country skis, and it was clear they embraced the new skill.  A lot of smiles and tired legs characterized the bus ride back to Portland, which was broken only by an ice cream cone in Cascade Locks.




China Hat Caving and Smith Rock Climbing Expedition

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Adventures in Central Oregon with the Outdoor Program

The sun was setting in dramatic fashion over the Oregon desert, and the clouds that had been hung up on the Cascades to the West had dislodged themselves and were threatening rain.  Half of our group had rappelled into the collapsed lava tube while the rest stood at the edge looking down.  None of us at the bottom had yet started exploring the pitch black cave that was our only way out of the sink hole.  We were in the middle of one of many of the adventures of a truly great weekend.  Impressive snow during the bus ride over the pass, pulled pork tacos next to a wood stove, and an abandoned, yet sunny Smith Rock State Park provided plenty of other memorable experiences.  Everyone in the group pushed themselves in many ways, and hopefully returned to Portland a little more adventurous.  Please enjoy some photos from our trip.

Middle School Beach Adventure

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Winter at the Oregon Coast

Adventures on the Coast with the Outdoor Program

 A group of eight middle schoolers joined the outdoor program for a weekend of exploration along the northern Oregon coast. The weather was crisp, clear, and sunny, and the group was able to experience the beach in dramatic fashion.  After rolling past the clear cuts and rolling hills of the Coast Range, the group stopped to explore the beautiful Hug Point. Limited by the high tide, and wanting more room to run, we boarded the bus again and headed to the "secret beach" in Oswald West State Park. Accompanied by a group of nearby surfers, we built sand volcanoes, played touch football, and explored tide pools and waterfalls. Tired and chilly, we continued south down the coast and established ourselves in our yurts at Nehalem Bay State Park. We cooked burritos, made a fire, and played some ridiculous games before going to sleep in the comfortable yurts. A team of raccoons came by while we were inside our yurts playing cards, and stole all of our muffins that we had left outside. The heat went out in the girls' yurt, so they bundled up to stay warm through the night. After some cards and a big breakfast, the group headed down to the wide, open beaches of the state park, where we played soccer, jumped off of dunes, and collected shells before getting back on the bus to head back home. The sun joined us for most of the weekend, for which we were grateful!  Please enjoy the photos from this beautiful weekend.  Until the next adventure!


Central Oregon Exploration and Habitat Restoration

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Service in some remote corners of Oregon

Saturday: McKay Creek Habitat Restoration

Despite the forecast for some true holiday weather, a dedicated and excited group boarded the activity bus early Saturday morning for what surely was to be a true adventure. Taking advantage of the extra space in the bus, we made sure to bring plenty of warm clothing and lots of extra food. Our exploration of the natural wonders of the state started with a ride through the stunning Columbia River Gorge, which became increasingly dry and the hills more rolling as we moved east. Meeting the junction with highway 197, our bus turned south for a weekend in the central part of the state.

As we arrived on a private 1,000-acre property along the McKay Creek in the Ochoco Mountains, we were greeted by Catlin Gabel alumni Jack Lazar and Kendra Klag, who had driven all the way from Walla Walla, Washington, to join us for the weekend. Garry Sanders, his dog, and a few other members of the Crooked River Watershed Council supplied us with coffee and hot chocolate as they taught us about the history of McKay Creek and the damage that has been done to the drainage through diversion for irrigation. While standing on the banks of the creek, we learned about the removal of the irrigation dams and saw the result of the heavy excavation that the Council has done to return the stream bed to a more natural state while maintaining the ability to divert water for irrigation. The group learned about the modern techniques for stabilizing a riparian habitat, as well as the complexities of balancing the economic, social, and environmental concerns with such a project. The creek looked beautiful, but lacked vegetation. That is where we were to come into play! 

Equipped with pickaxes, shovels, polaskis, and clippers, the group began planting native plants along the creek bank. Thanks to our group, multiple species of sedges, willows, cottonwoods, and dogwoods were all given a chance for life in this beautiful corner of the Ochocos. The project wouldn't have been complete without some heavy labor, and the whole group took part in hauling a long, snake-like roll of reeds that had been used to absorb sediment out of the creek. The sun shone on us for most of the afternoon, while the sound of the healthy creek and some light, fragrant smoke from a burning slash pile added to the special setting. We couldn't get over how great it was to be peacefully working outside in such a beautiful place. We wrapped up our work for the day just as the massive autumn moon rose over the tops of the Ochoco Mountains. Thanking Garry and the Council for such a great day, we boarded the bus and headed to our heated yurts in Tumalo State Park.

Sunday: Badlands Wilderness Stewardship

There are few things more beautiful than a light dusting of snow in the high desert, and that is just what the group woke up to as we stepped out of our cozy yurts. Heading to yet another area in Central Oregon, we were joined by Catlin Gabel student Cooper Lazar and David Eddleston, an ex-British army officer who is the director of work projects for the Friends of the Badlands Wilderness (Fobbits). David taught the group about the area's recent designation as a wilderness while also describing the interesting lava formation of the Badlands and the ancient junipers that inhabit it. We were blown away to hear that a core sample of a juniper tree in the area dated the tree over 1,600 years old! 

We soon set off the highway, led by David and his GPS through the desolate and beautiful Badlands. Our work for the day involved digging up old signs, removing nails from old fence posts, and excavating a series of huge posts that had at one time supported old cattle gates. We were all struck by how very different this ecosystem was to the area that we had done our plantings in the day before. We had been working in a riparian area, and now we found ourselves in true Oregon desert! Cryptobiotic organisms covered the ashy soil, while sage, juniper, and bunch grass constituted the vegetation of the region. We found some glass bottles and rusted tin cans from a bygone era. Our work involved over four miles of backcountry hiking between various sites, and again the sun was shining for much of the day.  

By the end of the day, David Eddleston let us know that not only had we become honorary Fobbits due to our considerable contribution, but we were part of the elite group known as "Snow Fobbits," a designation held only for volunteers that have done work in the Badlands in snowy conditions. After saying our goodbyes, the group headed back to our yurts in Tumalo for an incredible afternoon of cards, bananagrams, and mad libs.

Monday: Central Oregon Exploration

Tired and satisfied from a weekend of fulfilling work, the group decided to hike along the shores of the Deschutes River within the state park before settling into the bus for the long ride back to Portland. Another fresh dusting of snow made the tall Ponderosa pines and volcanic rock even more impressive. The group decided that we weren't ready to stop exploring, so halfway through the drive home we pulled over at White River Falls State Park to observe the impressive, three-tiered waterfall and an old, dilapidated power station. Happy to have stretched our legs, we reboarded the bus for our final push back to school.  

We arrived with the satisfaction that we had definitely earned all of the relaxing and eating that we will get to do over the rest of our Thanksgiving break. 

Biking the Deschutes River Country

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A beautiful day in Central Oregon

Cruising the wide open roads of north central Oregon on a clear November day--what could be better? Eight students and faculty spent Sunday, November 20, bicycling throigh the hills above Maupin. The roads were dry, and the late fall foliage made for a wonderful ride. The cows raised their heads with curiosity but soon returned to their grass consumption as we passed. The group visited the small hamlet of Tygh Valley, and then headed east to White River Falls State Park. Above the dramatic falls we had a nice lunch, and then made the short walk down to the White River. 

After lunch the group made the greatest ride in all of Central Oregon as we descended the curving road through the canyons leading toward the Deschutes River. Once near the river we watched the Indians almost fishing from the platforms that hang over Sherar's Falls. The nearly level road along the river took us back to Maupin, where the bus was waiting for us.

Climbing at Smith Rock

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Some sun and a bit of rain in the desert

Escaping the deluge in Portland, several dozen Catlin Gabel students took a ride over the great mountain to the rock climbing Mecca that is Smith Rock State Park.  The sun shone almost all day Saturday as the students learned the basics of rock climbing and then tried their luck at some challenging problems.  For dinner that night the group of 47 piled into a legendary (one out of five stars) Mexican restaurant in Redmond.  Somehow they managed to accomodate the crowd and serve us all some pretty good food. We headed over to the BLM Grasslands to set up our tents.   During the night the rains came, some students got wet, most stayed dry. 

Sunday morning saw some wild showers and then a lot of sun while we waited for the battery on the bus to be recharged.  No problem there.  Once at Smith we hiked down to the climbs in the full sun, only to have some showers pass through once we were on the actual climbs.  Oh well.  Back on the bus for the ride home and a return just before 6:00 pm.



 All on one rope




OLA Backpacking Trip - Devil's Peak Fire Lookout

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From Fall to Winter in a Weekend

The Outdoor Leadership and Adventure course, also known as "The Academy," met after school on Friday, October 22, to embark on their most ambitious adventure to date. With gear neatly piled in the bus, the team bounced down an, at times, tight and rutted forest service road out of Government Camp. Night fell, but the group navigated the forest lane and arrived at a rustic campground next to the remote Kinzel Lake. The group prepared and enjoyed chorizo burritos before attempting the difficult task of starting a fire with damp twigs and sticks. Dedication paid off, and after groveling in the dirt, and a little bit of smoke inhalation, the fire took life. It was hard to believe that a few hours before, we were in class back at Catlin.

Saturday morning started with muffins, juice, and hot chocolate. The group assembled the gear that we would need for our journey up to the Devil's Peak Lookout.  This, of course, included a backpacking guitar for the musical members of the team. With our bags on our backs for the first time, the group walked around the rim of Kinzel Lake before starting the climb. The forecast had been grim for Saturday, so we were pleased to see the sun peek through the clouds from time to time. The fall colors were in full display as we hiked through the mountain forest. Higher still, the group took a much needed break at a rocky viewpoint that looked out at the heavily forested foothills of Mount Hood. The wind was blowing and Josh serenaded the group with a rendition of The Beatles' "Norwegian Wood." The sun added to this great moment.

A short distance later, the Academy gained their first view of the base of Mount Hood itself - the peak hidden in heavy clouds. Two switchbacks later, we arrived at the Devil's Peak Fire Lookout. Beautifully rough around the edges, the old wooden shelter was a welcome addition to our weekend. Andrea lifted the shutters, and we established ourselves in our new spot. A short hike down to another viewpoint offered us opportunity to collect firewood, and, more importantly, to throw rocks into to hats that had been set up as targets. Back at the shelter, the group started an impressive fire outside in a fire pit, and cooked delicious macaroni and cheese. The rain arrived just as the food was finished, and everyone ventured upstairs into the lookout, where the night continued with many more songs and card games. The storm intensified as the Academy turned in for bed. Ten of the fourteen members packed into the shelter while Rachel and Julianne braved the elements in their tent. Sideways rain and ominous wind added to the adventure.

The team woke up to a decision. Do we brave the storm and take a longer hike down Hunchback Mountain, or do we backtrack the way that we came? The rain had turned to snow. It was as though fall had given way to winter overnight. Based on the conditions, the group decided to take the shorter hike back down to the bus. The trail looked completely different having been dusted in snow, and the viewpoints revealed nothing but a white sky. Descending rapidly, the group arrived safely at the bus. Another bumpy ride in the bus took the group closer to civilization.

The academy stopped to enjoy some coffee and glazed old-fashioned donuts at Joe's Donuts in Sandy. A reward for adventuring through an amazing and epic weekend. 



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New challenge course emphasizes cooperation, ingenuity

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Catlin Gabel has recently installed a challenge course where students will have the opportunity to test themselves on a variety of high and low elements. The course is nestled in the woods below the Lower School Art Barn.

Safety issues have been thoroughly vetted and were our top priority in designing and building the course. Professional arborists assure us that the trees used to anchor the course are not at risk of damage.

The course is designed for students ages 10 and over. Use of the course is strictly limited to times when a trained facilitator is on site. Almost two dozen faculty-staff members have taken the extensive professional training sessions required to become facilitators. (See photo.) When a facilitator is not supervising the course, the ropes and cables are secured and inaccessible to passersby.

Every challenge course has its own personality. Catlin Gabel’s facility was constructed with an emphasis on group cooperation and overcoming obstacles. Under the guidance of trained facilitators, groups of students will tackle various challenges that require skill and ingenuity to resolve. The course contains four high elements and seven low elements. Some of the elements can be tailored for use by different age groups. Parent and alumni groups can arrange for challenge course events by e-mailing outdoor education teacher Erin Goodling ’99 at goodlinge@catlin.edu.

“We expect that sports teams, global education groups, departments, and classes will use the challenge course to help set the stage for their work together,” said Peter Green, outdoor education director.

We are very grateful to Andy and Becky Michaels, Oregon Mountain Community, Reed and Tina Wilson, and an anonymous donor for this exciting addition to our program. The challenge course fits right in with Catlin Gabel’s hands-on experiential approach to learning.