Rock climbing in the beautiful Central Oregon sun! A group of 27 students and leaders took the amusing ride over the pass to explore the glory of self-challenge and group living among the rock spires of Smith Rock State Park.
|Fred Beckey with a Catlin Gabel student|
Mexico Culture and Mountaineering Winterim
Nine students and three adult leaders travelled to Mexico for ten days in February to experience the culture, learn about the history, and climb the high mountains of our southern neighbor. During the visit students stayed in the heart of Mexico City right next to the Zocalo. A few days were spent seeing the sights of this great city, before heading off to a high camp on the slopes of Iztaccihuatl, the seventh highest peak in North America. Over the next three days students acclimitized and made an attempt on the 17,160 foot summit. Five members of the team made it all the way to the summit. The rest of the students all achieved various altitudes between 14,000 and 17,000 feet.
Following the climb the group spent there days in Tepoztlan intergrating with the people of a small Mexican town. On the last day everyone returned to Mexico City where they were guests at a soccer game in the huge Azteca Stadium.
The trip made a very strong impression on the students. By avoiding the tourist areas, students were able to learn about how Mexicans live their lives, and gain an appreciation for the rich and deep culture of the country.
Trip Report By Nick Norge
Greg and I arrived to Catlin at the same time on Thursday morning. As we exchanged manly nods of approval and threw our packs into the back of the bus, Ian, Zanny, Paul, and Rocky pulled up and we were ready to go. We rolled out of the theater parking lot at 8 a.m. The dirty ice that skirted around the parking lot gave us only a small preview of the slippery trails we would ski later that day.
On the way up to the fire lookout, we made the customary stop at Government Camp, where Rocky hid in the snack shop. “Stop!” Ian yelled as the bus started, thinking we were going to leave him. Moments later, Rocky emerged with a couple cans of energy drink, bags of hard candy, and a smile stretched across his face.
At around 10:00 we reached the trail head where we would start our climb up to the lookout. Only with the help of Lily and Drew “John” Derrick’s GPS did we decide which direction to go. Skiing started like a horse race would, with Peter, Paul, and Greg (no, not the 1960s folk band), taking to the front as we started off down the gently sloping trail. After a half-hour of skiing, we were struck with a disheartening sight: The lookout, perched atop a towering slope, distantly peered down at us.
I guess skiing the trails got boring, because soon before I knew it, we slipped off the groomed path into the woods, maneuvering our long skis between tree wells and little icy hills. For most of the way up to camp we hiked through thick woods, balancing and pulling with our poles as we drove our skis through the snow. Walking probably would have been faster, and some “pragmatists” finished the journey by foot.
The lookout stood by itself on a small clearing, making for a 360 degree view that in one part extended all the way out to Mt. Jefferson. After settling in, we skied around the lookout for a couple of hours, falling mostly as we flew on our skis off little jumps and raced between bushes and small trees.
After uncountable wipe-outs, we finally returned to the lookout. It got dark pretty quickly and after dinner we undertook what was possibly the most metaphorically unified game of Caca ever. No, seriously, ever. While Zanny was quick to crack jokes at the other players’ intensity, she soon learned her lesson. Glancing down from his high stool in line with the stove, El Presidente Peter chuckled at Zanny, la caca, crouched in the dark corner between the bed and the wall, far away from the fire.
We woke up the next day only to continue our experiments of physical strength. Rocky took the first medal when he suffered through the prime-rib of all pancakes, a 12 ounce beauty that took up his whole plate. After applauding him and cleaning up, we cruised back down to the bus, taking another “short cut” off the main road. Ian suffered through a couple nasty falls, having to twist and contort his body only to fall down again. Paul silently stole the show, probably showing the best form of any of us.
By the time we returned to the bus, we were all thirsty. Snow water does not taste great when melted in a frying pain full of SPAM grease, and toward the end of our stay the survivalist was definitely beginning to show in some of us: “Nicholas!” Greg shouted as he shook my quarter-full water bottle. “You’ve been holding out on us!” His eyes widened as he took a swig from my now empty bottle.
Peter suggested we stop for water on our way back, but only under one condition: We weren’t allowed to buy drinks from the snack shop. This trip may have helped us learn to navigate skis between trees and holes, but it still couldn’t keep us from getting lost in a convenience store. Darn.
Imagine sleeping in a fire lookout forty feet in the air on top of the highest paek for miles around. To the north Mt. Hood takes up three windows of the 360 degree view of the surrounding wilderness. Mount Jefferson is close enough to touch. Surrounding your hill top pearch are endless slopes of untracked powder and forest. Hard to imagine, yes. But its true - thats where nine Catlin students and leaders spent their semester break. All would have been perfect had we only known how to ski! But that didnt stop us. No. It didnt.
Bagby Hot Springs Backpacking: December 8-9, 2007
The Catlin gravel parking lot looks different at 6:30am; it’s darker, frostier, more sinister, and I loose my footing on an icy log trying to haul my backpack to the bus. I pray it’s not a premonition of the Bagby backpacking trip that will unfold in the next two days.
Leaving Catlin, the sun rises into the clear blue sky against the Mount Hood-bound backdrop of Targets and car sales lots, a last glimpse at our modern consumerist culture before a weekend in the forest.
As we exit the highway to snake along narrower roads, Aiyana spots a bald eagle perched above the river, and its sharp profile is awe-inspiring. Once we arrive at the trailhead, we set off the two miles to the Hot Springs, following a relatively flat path through old growth trees and across a wooden plank bridge suspended above churning turquoise waters.
On the promise that we will return to the Hot Springs later, we hike another half mile to a beautiful riverside campsite, accessible by scrambling down a steep snow-tinged hill. After setting up camp and eating lunch, we explore the river by inching across ice-covered beaver dams and snowy fallen logs. Murphy, Max, and Luke lead us to their discovered island, home to frozen mossy boulders and branches with ice droplets gleaming in the afternoon sunshine.
Hiking up to the trail again, we travel into the Bull of the Woods Wilderness for about two hours, stopping only to hear stories of Snortle-pigs and Snaffle-hounds and to eat string cheese.
Suddenly we round the corner and a breathtaking vista greets us, a view of snowy mountains and deep valleys, all shrouded in steam with the sunlight and snow. We devour sugar bombs (candy coated peanuts) before heading back to camp for our elaborate feast of stuffing, ramen, macaroni and cheese and hot cocoa.
Finally it’s time for the hot springs, and we crunch through the snow lead by the light of our headlamps and the stars, arriving only to leap too quickly into the near-boiling water. There’s a trail below the wooden half-roofed hot springs building that leads to an icy stream, and we fill buckets to cool the tubs and hollowed logs.
After a few hours, our fingers and toes are pruney and we’re utterly at bliss. Our towels have frozen in wrinkled forms, and we fill our Nalgene’s with the hot water to keep at the foot of our sleeping bags. Back at camp, we make another round of mac n’ cheese and drink lots more hot apple cider, before bundling up for bed.
The next morning we sleep in, awaking to find anything once damp now frozen solid, and we pack up after a quick oatmeal breakfast. Returning to the hot springs, the daylight illuminates the graffiti of tourists across the wooden walls contrasted with the delicately suspended icicles.
During our lunch of semi-frozen pita bread with mustard and canned salmon, I smile at the bonds created between our group in the 30-some hours we’ve been away from Portland. Soaking away the sores of our hike, perfecting the ratio for mass hot-apple-cider (lots and lots of packets), and scooting across ice-covered logs suspended above a freezing river, it’s been the perfect combination of relaxation and adventure, and as we return along the trail, I’m half hoping the bus will have disappeared, and we’ll just have to stay a bit longer at Bagby Hot Springs.
|Catlin Gabel students arrive at an empty Smith Rock State Park for some climbing|
MORE PHOTOGRAPHS BELOW
My brother drove both of us to meet the bus Saturday morning, me yawning and trying to remember if I’d packed my rain jacket… My father had warned us there might be showers. It drizzled throughout the bus ride to Central Oregon, but had stopped by the time we pulled over to the side of the road to eat our lunch. It was a large group: 18 students and four leaders. We spread a tarp to eat on, and everyone pulled out his or her own sack lunches. I ate my cream cheese bagel, decided I was still hungry, and tried to take some of my brother’s while he wandered behind a tree to commune with nature. He noticed when he got back.
Our next stop was the BLM station, where a friendly woman described our community service duties: cut down junipers. To most of us true Catlin students, the thought of cutting down a tree seemed absurd. Aren’t we the kids who plant trees? Aren’t we worried about global warming? The woman explained the details to us: junipers are a native but encroaching species, meaning although they grow in the desert natively, they are invading new areas because humans and cows have altered the ecological balance. So we thought we might try to alter it back. We followed her to a good spot, divided into two groups, and began chopping junipers. This first day was tough; despite the creative names Chris Potts came up with (example: loptomus prime), most of us were tired from the drive and would’ve rather been sleeping than working. After 4 hours, we were finally allowed to retire.
We camped our first night in a deserted campground along a dry riverbed. It was dark as we set up our tents, and we failed to see the slope we pitched our tents on or the small gullies made by water in the dirt, which I’ll get back to when I discuss bedtime.
Dinner came after camp set-up and ran smoothly after Brian and Peter dumped half of the spaghetti on the ground. Somebody mentioned this happens every time. I wouldn’t know, though the spaghetti was very good.
After a campfire, everyone went to bed. It was only about 8:30, but it had been a long day. The boys in the tent next door blessed us with a rowdy rendition of “JJJJJJJJJ,” and the next thing I knew I was waking up to the same song. It was accompanied by the steady drizzle of rain and an occasional complaint of “Gosh it’s wet in here!” Climbing outside, I saw Michal hanging his down jacket on a tree, where it dripped water and got even wetter in the rain. He looked at me and smiled. “There was a small river running through our tent,” he explained. “And we didn’t secure the rain fly correctly. Everything’s soaked.” Through the laughter coming from their tent I heard that they named the river the Rio San Gervais.
After a soggy breakfast, we packed our tents and climbed back on the bus, headed for another day in the juniper forest. I anticipated another boring day, but it turned out magnificently. We split into two groups again, and decided to work until lunch. It stopped raining after about 20 minutes, and the rest of the day was spent in sunshine. My group ended the day having cut down about 700 junipers, which was many more than we’d imagined possible (we’d predicted about 250). The chopping increased in fun as the day progressed; by the end we would stumble upon an area with a lot of small trees and act like we had arrived at the Promised Land. We were all disappointed to be leaving the junipers, since the next day we would not be coming back, but the tree tied to the front of the bus, named Alfredo, reminded us of our encounter with the “chosen trees.”
Leaving juniper land meant leaving the only sunny part of Central Oregon. As soon as we had arrived in Prineville, a mere 6 miles away, it was raining again.
We drove to a campsite near Smith, where we would stay for the next two nights. We set up the tents lightning fast, hoping to keep as much rain out of the tents as possible. Michal took special care with his rain fly.
Dinner was warm burritos around a crackling campfire. We had a group meeting where we discussed the highs and lows of the day. A man named Joel joined us, who had been at Smith for the last couple of weeks and was planning to stay until his school started in January. He said he’d seen the fire and decided to come over… fires were always welcome. I wanted to say that maybe a house would be more welcome, but decided not to make a comment. The mood around the campfire had been peaceful and alert, and Joel killed it by asking impolite questions like: “Who are you guys,” “Why are you here,” and “Why were you cutting down trees? Isn’t that bad for the environment?”
I was excited to climb, but hadn’t really admitted to myself yet that besides the fact that I had never climbed before, I was afraid of heights. I didn’t want to let it bother me, but as soon as I was on that rock I decided that maybe next time I should consider the lows before signing up for the trip.
I had joined the beginner’s class, so while everyone else went off to climb high, tough routes, a select 6 of us went to learn how to belay, tie knots, and communicate with the climber. They didn’t teach us how to climb. I think maybe that part’s supposed to come naturally.
Each of us 6 climbed 2 routes in the morning, then ate lunch with the larger group and spent the rest of the day climbing with them. Two climbs didn’t seem like enough to be thrown in with the professionals, but I succeeded in one climb in the afternoon. I had someone helping me, pointing out helpful hand holds and such, I was passed by Peter who started at least 10 minutes after me, and multiple times I considered asking to come down, but when I reached the top I felt more accomplished than I ever have before in my life. I don’t know why. I’ve done cool and challenging things before. But the feeling of “Wow I actually climbed that?” was pretty cool.
After dinner out at a Mexican restaurant, as tradition called for, we made another campfire and discussed the high and low points of the day again. Everything people said about climbing I seemed to understand now; the screaming, the mental exhaustion, the triumph. Disappointingly, Joel didn’t join us.
A rousing chorus of “Kum-By-Ah” served as our lullaby, and we fell asleep dreaming of a clean, dry bed.
I heard rain in the middle of the night and thought to myself “oh god, tomorrow is going to suck if it’s wet,” but when we woke the ground wasn’t wet; instead, it was white. The snow set the mood for the day: amazing. It was warm in the sun, good climbing weather, the park was empty, and everyone climbed successfully. My fear rose up again when I was climbing, but I wanted to feel like I had the day before when I reached the top of the route, so I kept going. I am pretty sure rock climbing is a drug if it really made me do that.
Exploring the caves of SW Washington
A group of nineteen Middle School students and leaders set off from Catlin Gabel School on October 20 to explore the lava tubes near Trout Lake, Washington. We drove the two hours in a fine yellow bus before stopping at Cheese Cave. The students explored this complex lava tube both north and south from the entrance. The cave had been used to store cheese in past years. From here the group spent the rest of the day looking for the elusive "Jug Cave".
A group of nineteen Middle School students and leaders set off from Catlin Gabel School on October 20 to explore the lava tubes near Trout Lake, Washington. We drove the two hours in a fine yellow bus before stopping at Cheese Cave. The students explored this complex lava tube both north and south from the entrance. The cave had been used to store cheese in past years. From here the group spent the rest of the day looking for the elusive "Jug Cave". Although we never found our quarry, we did come across some lava bridges and a long cave that took us deep into the woods. That night was spent in the Klickitat County Park in Trout Lake where we feasted on burritoes.
The next day we made a leisurely break from camp and went off to explore New Cave. Although we found the cave easily, we were surprised and pleased to discover some unexpected caves and sinks to the west. One of these was half a mile long and took us through some unexpected challenges. It was mid afternoon when we again saw daylight. After a lunch that included orange cupcakes we set off for home.
On a beautiful fall day 10 Catlin Gabel students and three leaders made a 27 mile loop around the farmlands of north - central Oregon and up the canyon of the Deschutes River.
The group left school at 7:45 on Saturday the 6th and drove for several hours to the river community of Maupin. We unloaded the bikes and gear and after the requisite pre-trip photo began the tough pump up the hill to the high ground above the breaks of the Deschutes River. Once at the top we could see that good weather was coming, though it was still mostly cloudy. we headed north for a quick visit to the rural community that is Tygh Valley. Not seeing much to keep us there we turned east and followed rolling hills to a rendezvous with the dramatic White River Falls. We lounged in the sun on the grass provided by the Oregon State Department of Parks and Recreation. Below the picnic site we found an abandoned power generating station and did some exploration there.
From the park we travelled down a spectacular canyon that dumped us right out at Sherars Bridge. There were Indian fishing platforms clinging to the shear rock walls, and lots of non-Indian fishermen. And to our great surprise and delight we saw the yellow ball (!) that we had lost off the raft just two weeks earlier. It was stuck in an endless back eddy right next to the falls. What a fate for the ball who had been so loyal to us. The stduents immediately began thinking of ways to rescue the ball.
From here we biked nine miles into a stiff headwind back to the pleasant twon of Maupin. we stopped a few times to check out the rapids and to rest. Bob let us stay down by the river to recuperate while he rode up the long hill to retrieve the bus.
That night we had a huge and enjoyable dinner at Calamity Janes restaurant in Sandy. We arrived back at school fat and happy.
|Elkhorn Creek - a beautiful stream with hundreds of obstacles to overcome|
SEE PHOTOS BELOW
Complete immersion into a wholly untramelled and untravelled wilderness. The Elkhorn Creek watershed has no roads, no trails and has never been logged. It is one of the wildest, maybe the wildest, low elevation forest in Oregon. Very few people have ever traversed the length of the Creek.
|Looking down the Canyon of Elkhorn Creek|
The Descent of Elkhorn Creek
Elkhorn Creek is one of the most pristine and undisturbed natural ecosystems in the state. Adjacent to Opal Creek, the Elkhorn Creek valley has never been logged, no roads have ever been built and no trails created. The area is only accessible by foot, and involves full-on bushwacking for its entire length..
Our group left Portland Friday afternoon, stopping at the Swiss Miss restaurant for burgers and shakes. After leaving our second car near our exit point, a small bridge over the creek servicing some private logging grounds, we drove up and along a steep ridge, cliffs rising into the darkness to our right and dropping away steeply to our left. A small gravel cul-de-sac served as the end of the road, here we pitched camp and fell asleep under as many stars that can be seen anywhere in the state. We woke up early the next morning, broke camp and prepared ourselves for the day ahead. We set off down the mountainside around 7:30 in the morning, slowly making our way down the steep slope towards the valley floor. We soon reached the creek 2000 feet below our camp. At first, surrounded by the serene beauty of the forest, we hopped from rock to rock trying to keep our boots dry. This soon became foolish and we waded right in the creek. We made our way along the riverbed, sometimes scrambling over logjams, other navigating rocky chutes. At times we ventured into the forest on either side of the creek to avoid a few rather difficult spots. At one point we had to climb high above the river, which plunged into a narrow gorge, filled with deep rapids. We traversed a steep slope, holding on to sword ferns and small trees, looking down the sheer incline towards the river far below. Later we encountered one of our leaders, who when trying to pick his way through the gorge had fallen into the creek and had to swim through the remainder of the rapids – wearing a back pack. Every hour or two we stopped and emptied our boots of water and squeezed the water from our socks. Though we could not have been more fortunate with the weather, (there wasn’t a cloud in the sky from the point we arrived at camp to the time left the valley) we saw very little of the sun itself, the massive hill and the looming trees cast a near perpetual shadow.
One thing you would not imagine in such a vast forest is that other than the sound of rushing water, there is almost no visible animal life. I saw only a couple birds, but never saw any sign of life other than ourselves. Soon the sky began to adopt a deeper shade of blue, and dusk began to approach. We very much wanted to make it out before dark, as temperatures began to drop and we were becoming very tired. Gradually we began to don our headlamps, ever more carefully climbing over rocks and placing our feet when crossing the stream. Not long after it became fully dark, we reached a point were we could not continue along the river. Our headlamps couldn’t tell us how deep a pool of water was and it was too risky to just make the jump. We chose to follow an overland route, climbing above the river, and then traversing the steep hillside above in the darkness. We stumbled through the woods, singing and picturing a warm vehicle. I personally thought of having waffles the next morning. Neither of the GPSs worked in the shadow of the forest, but we could estimate or position referring to topographic features and the map. Around 8:30, we stopped a final time, having reached the border of the protected forest (this was made visible by the gross inequality in the size of the trees). Tired and cold, some of us were troubled by the fact that we did not have a specific idea of our location; little did we know the road was less than 50 ft away. Once (with great rejoicing) we reached the bridge, we sent two of our number to retrieve our larger car. The remaining party set off for the main road, walking along a dark road lined with the ghostly shapes of birches. Soon a thick fog fell, but we came to the main road after an hour of wlaking in the ethereal darkness. After 14 hours of hiking, climbing and exploration we were reunited with our two vehicles. Around midnight we finally reached Catlin.
|Knee deep in the creek for many hours|
|A true old growth forest|
|An early breakfast before the hike|
Caving Trip Summary
We met in the gravel parking lot at Catlin at 8 am. After loading the bus with all our gear and claiming our seats, we set off for two days of caving in the Mount Adams area in southern Washington. Six seniors, four juniors, one sophomore, two freshmen, four adult guides, and one adorable first grader had plenty of room to stretch out on the large yellow school bus. Talking, laughing, sleeping, snacking, listening to music, and taking pictures kept us occupied on the three-hour drive to our destination.
Len, our bus driver, let us out at our first caving spot; Cheese Cave, named for the dairy product that used to be made and kept cool in the natural underground refrigerator. At the entrance, our trip leader, Jeff, gave us some pointers on caving etiquette. Number one: stay together. Number two: repeat number one. This was a high-ceilinged cave, only requiring some navigation of the steep slope at the entrance and some stepping around boulders and the remains of wooden shelves. At the end of the cave, a metal staircase led up to the basement of a Forest Service cabin. We left the cave and walked back towards the bus, where the aboveground part of the cabin stood. We ate lunch around the cabin, and then boarded the bus to our next cave site.
New Cave was narrower and shorter in some parts, requiring more ducking and navigation of sharp lava rock. Then we geared up for our next challenge; Ice Cave. Back in the day, Ice Cave provided ice to the surrounding pioneer communities. We were looking forward to seeing some interesting ice formations, so we bundled up and strapped on our kneepads and helmets. Two of the adults, Len and Jessica, disliking the idea of small cramped spaces, stayed behind. In places, ice lined the cave wall and floor. This cave was considerably more technical, because not only were there sharp lava rocks, low ceilings, and narrower, twisting passageways, but the ice underfoot added the extra hazard of slippage. Soon, the lava tube became much smaller, and we began crawling on our hands and knees or bear walking. Sam led us around pillars, over boulders, and under low ceilings. At one point, we were flattened to our bellies as we negotiated a particularly low spot. Quinn, Kathy’s 6-year-old son, scampered in between the sharp rocks like a monkey in a tree. “Come on, you guys are slow,” he told us. Well, Quinn certainly had the advantage of small size; he is about half the height of Trevor and Eric, the tallest guys on our trip. We all managed to squeeze through the tight spot, and soon the cave opened up so we could at least walk bent over. Once we reached the end, some of the group had a short rave party with the strobe light setting on a headlamp and some techno music from a cell phone. Then we got back down to business; crawling, crouching, stooping, and walking back to the cave entrance. We trekked on a roundabout way through the woods, eventually finding the bus and driving off to our campsite.
At the large group site, everyone pitched in to set up their sleeping areas and to get a nice fire going. As darkness fell, so did the temperature, and a hot meal was warmly welcomed. We sat around the fire playing Taboo. Jeremy was able to make us guess the mystery word with ease, while Chris kept using the taboo words to describe the mystery word. Skyler eventually helped him out. Soon, people began drifting away from the fire to the tents; Mary and Linnea to theirs; Torin, Nathan, and the rest of the boys to Jessica’s five-person tent; and the seniors to their cluster of tents. We stayed up talking, playing cards, telling stories, gossiping, and laughing. But eventually it was time for some well-deserved rest. Sometime in the night, seemingly every coyote in the surrounding area began howling, waking up some of the group while the rest slept through it all.
Deschutes Rafting Trip September 2007
A box of Fuzzy kittens
All rudely awakened before some believed to be humanly possible, our group consisting of three freshmen, two sophomores, three juniors, and three seniors all met around our bus and packed up our gear. The bus headed east and before we knew it we were at our put-in place along the Deschutes River.
We learned some very critical things including: how to effectively pack a dry-bag, swimming position, and potential signals to sea-fated crew members. The river was calm the first day; leaving ample opportunities to consume energy drinks and converse with unfamiliar boat members. Ornithology and geology sprung to life as we drifted down the river sighting herons and columnar basalt.
That night, just before sunset, we all took a hike up to “white cliff” where we enjoyed spectacular views and also preformed some tests on the true durability of Nalgene bottles. After a delicious dinner of spaghetti, the group engaged in a spectacular new game. Involving a circle of flashing flashlights and someone spinning around in the middle, this game provided several hours of true fun while the person in the middle stumbled around or made other ridiculous movements.
The next morning all of the “Spam virgins” were welcomed into the glorious world contained in the cube-shaped can with a peel back lid. Sizzling in the hot frying pan, the delectable scent of spam wafted teasingly through the brisk morning air. Several of the group members’ lives were greatly influenced by their initiation into the “spam fam”, and I think we would all agree it was for the better.
The next two days were filled with big waves, rushing rapids, and extreme splashing, not one of them failed to thrill us. We crossed rapids such as “Whitehorse”, “Buckskin Mary”, “Oak Springs”, and “Elevator Shaft”. One raft even had the feat of naming their very own rapid, by the deceiving name of, “Box of Fuzzy Kittens”.
The final thrilling moment in the trip occurred at the intersection of the Deschutes River and a smaller river, the White river. About a quarter of a mile walk up the White River, natural water slides can be seen. Three of us rode down them. Beyond the shocking frigidness of the water, the water slides were some of the coolest things I’ve done. The final drop at the end was literally breathtaking, and we were left very satisfied.
Finally, at the take-out, we all stripped ourselves of our wet clothes, and loaded up the bus. As we trundled back to Portland, all warm and content, fond memories filled our minds of a weekend well spent.
Each morning dawned clear and bright, each day was filled with the clear green water and intense rocky rapids of the North Umpqua River. Twelve students banded together to make their way down the river, camping under a lush evergreen forest alongside the rushing water.
A student shall tell the tale.
|packing up, heading home|
|until next time...|
|Swimming after the climb|
Students from Catlin Gabel made a successful ascent of the Middle Sister, a 10,060 foot peak in the Oregon Csacades. The team hiked in from the Pole Creek trailhead and set up base camp at 6700 feet. The climb itself was made up the Hayden Glacier, with students doing much of the leading.
A detailed trip report is below- please have a read!
Middle Sister Trip Report
Love Comes From Below
We met at 7:00 am in the gravel parking lot, a motley crew of three adults, one sophomore, two juniors and two seniors. We loaded our things on to bus number 9 and departed from Portland, heading south through Salem, to Sisters, Oregon. We drove a little ways out of sisters on a bumpy gravel road to the “Pole Creek” trailhead near the three sisters. At the trailhead we parked the bus and unloaded backpacks and food, cooking and climbing supplies. We divided up the group gear, lathered up with sunscreen, got our packs on and started the hike in. The hike was mild at first slight - ups and downs, not strenuous. We hiked for about an hour and reached a stream. How pleasant… I thought at first as I slapped a mosquito on my leg, but then I slapped another, and another. I crossed the stream quickly, threw down my pack and dug through it for the bug repellent my mother had so kindly got for me for the trip. I covered myself with it and was left alone for quite a while. From the stream the trail became steeper. We told stories to keep ourselves entertained as we trudged along in the warm early afternoon. Eventually we hit another stream, at which we decided to begin heading uphill. We missed a somewhat clearly marked path, so we traveled cross-country, occasionally encountering a patch of snow or a clearing with a beautiful view of the three sisters. After what seemed like more time than I was expecting, we reached what would be our base camp.
That evening we relaxed, and had a very nice dinner of salad and sausage macaroni. Mosquitoes ate us alive as we played cards, set up our tents and divided up gear for the climb the following day. However, the mosquitoes were only a mild nuisance at this point as our bites hadn’t really started itching yet. The next morning we awoke at about 5:30. A quick breakfast of oatmeal was consumed, and we began climbing. We stuck to snow as much as we could, since it felt better than rock. After climbing for a while we stopped on a steep slope to hold snow-school. We practiced self-arresting in case of a fall and learned how best to walk in the snow. From there we got harnesses on and divided into two rope teams of four and continued up. We saw crevasses to our left and right, but nothing too close. We continued up the mountain breaking occasionally for water and pictures. Eventually we began to draw near the saddle, which we would climb to the center of and then head up the ridge to the summit. “Greg,” Peter called to our fearless leader, “Head up by that slope on the left instead of up the saddle.” We stayed left and instead of ascending the gentle slope to the ridge we climbed a steep snow face, moving slowly along as Greg kicked in steps. We reached the top of the snow only to find a small rock hill. Greg started up it, dislodging rocks in the process, that had we not been careful, could have sent us home early. The rest of the group gathered at the end of the snow and then one by one climbed the gravelly, dusty slope. We stopped and rested a while, snacking on power bars, energy gel and trail mix. We had a rocky hike ahead of us. The sun shone as we started trudging up the loose rocks in our heavy boots. We still had the rope on, but carried it in coils so as not to get it dirty. We reached another snowfield, which we crossed horizontally, and then on to some more rocks. We left our ropes and began hiking up the rocks that were turning into more and more secure boulders. Finally we reached the summit. Strangely enough it was covered in butterflies. We ate Poptarts and lunch and talked about skin cancer and rested. We were not eager to return to the mosquito-ridden camp. The view from the summit was amazing. We could see all over Oregon, Mt Jefferson, Mt Hood, even as far as Mt Adams in Washington. Eventually we packed up our things and headed down. This time we descended all the way to the saddle instead of going back down the steep snowy slope. At the saddle we put on gaiters and started down, to the north of where we came up, along a cliff that became a ridge. From where we were walking we could see our trail on the way up and all the crevasses from where we were walking. The idea was proposed that instead of returning to the campsite, we head to a lake of collected glacial runoff. The group was split, so we flipped an ice axe and decided to head to the lake. At the lake we washed our feet in the freezing water, swam, and ate, enjoying the sunshine and the serenity of the spot. We named the lake “Little Heaven” on the GPS. We stayed at the sun-soaked, mosquito-less lake for three hours before reluctantly returning to camp and not before I had skipped a rock about fifteen times, throwing it behind me and backwards. At camp there were far fewer mosquitoes than in the morning. Cheesy enchiladas were cooked, and spilled, and cooked some more, but came out alright. That night we celebrated the 4th with a fire, sharing stories of past adventures. Some slept like rocks that night while little circles of fire covering our bodies kept others awake. The next morning we woke up at about 6:30, packed up our camp and had hit the trail by 7:30. The hike out took us about 2 hours less than coming in. On the way back to Portland we stopped for a couple hours at the beautiful home of Peter’s friend, Stan Biles, on the McKenzie River. There we skipped rocks, watched rafts tumble through the rapids and ate a delicious lunch. Another three hours on the road and we were home. Here we saw what we had only felt on the summit: Love comes from below.
Catlin Gabel students traveled east to the high desert of southern Idaho for a week in the wonderland of the City of Rocks. There they spent sunny days climbing the glorious granite slabs and cracks of Elephant Rock, the Breadloaves and Castle Rock. Star-studded nights brought cooler temperatures, fantastical culinary creations, and a talent show to rule them all.
The trip report below was written by one of the students on the adventure.
City of Rocks Excursion
“It’s 6 AM Tuesday morning,” a cheap sounding radio DJ chirped onto my radio-alarm. I rose somewhat automatically considering the 5 hours of sleep I scrapped together the night before. By 6:30 Im out the door, and driving towards Catlin Gabel, on route for sunny, Northern Idaho. Or so I thought.
I arrive at 7:00 AM on the button, and converse with fellow students as pre-trip kinks are worked out by the Peter, Aiyana, and Chris "C-Potts" Potts, such as the fact that neither of our rental vans are waiting for us as promised. When they arrive eventually theres a Mexican hat dance around our faithful, and a little too small vehicles, as we load them up.
By the end of one day of driving, I learned several things: First of all, that there is a Sunday crossword puzzle. Second of all, that the puzzle is harder still than Saturday, which I had previously categorized in my mind as, "reserved for bigger men," and named a, "mind-hurt." I also learned how much can be pulled out of the supple brains of teenage youths, for by the end of the day, wed conquered Sunday.
Upon looking at the Idaho-Montana map during my short-lived stint as navigator, I learned the final lesson for Tuesday: The City of Rocks is isnt in northern Idaho. In fact its quite the opposite, kissing the Utah border. Touché, geography.
We B-lined it to Boise, Burley, and finally through the lovable Almo, turning right part way through town towards the City of Rocks.
Luckily for me, I can see perfectly well. We drove down a gravel, dusty road transitioning from cow fields to hills blanketed with sage brush, cheat-grass, and juniper- not to mention the enormous loaves of granite peppering the hillsides, and valley. As we pressed on, we saw more and more rock, in complex configurations - such that I remember thinking, "theres no way anyone climb everything here." And I was right. Though we climbed from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM or later each day, we climbed only at only 5 crags - Elephant Rock, The Bread Loaves, Bath Rock, Castle Rock, and The King and Throne - the rock within touching distance of our campsite.
The next four days were filled with laughter, exploration, memories, friendship, and blistering, sweltering, unending heat. We climbed thought provoking 5.10s and 5.11s. We spent hours on delightful multi-pitch climbs, clipping bolts on beautiful clean granite. One day we decided to cut climbing short and went in to town to spend the afternoon and evening at “Ranchfest”, a local annual celebration. We played horseshoes, listened to country music, ate home cooked food, and won several raffle drawings. It was fun and relaxing.
Even though we spent the great majority of our time climbing, the trip ended up not being about climbing so much. We returned from the trip slightly different people. Climbing brought new experiences, honed old skills, and instilled new trust. Each night, as temperatures cooled, and the brilliant stars lit up the dark sky, wed have some sort of structured conversation as a group. Our talks ranged from sharing our favorite and least favorite aspects of the day, to an open forum discussion about rural communities, to a talent show finale on Sunday night whose winner received a weeks supply of pop tarts.
Our final conversation occurred after the talent show on Sunday night. Peter asked us, "What memory of the City of Rocks will stay with you for your whole life?"
Each of us retold a story, and explained its significance. The conversation rang true for me at the time, as I know how memories run together as time goes on. But while reflecting on the trip, I realized the lessons learned from experience cant fade. And by the time our memories of the trip are gone, they will have worn away the banks of our minds, leaving in their place knowledge, reverence, and most of all personality.
|Nearing the summit of Mt. Hood|
|At the Triangle Moraine, 10,000 feet|
When the alarm clock rang it was the second time that day I had been awakened so rudely. The first was about fifteen hours earlier after a late night at the prom. I looked around to see other students getting their packs ready and so I ate some of my doughnut and drank some juice. I stuffed all my climbing gear into my pack and joined the rest of the group as we stumbled into the darkness outside the Huckleberry Inn about 12:20 am to board the bus. We crossed paths with a few local citizens trying to squeeze something more out of the last bit of Sunday, while we were hoping to make our Monday a permanent lifetime memory.
We drove the bus, which started without problems, up the winding road to Timberline Lodge. Traffic was light. Once at the Lodge we dumped everything onto the pavement in the darkness and each person grabbed an appropriate amount of group gear to carry up the hill. We had three radios, a GPS, half a dozen cell phones, two mountain locator units, two tarps, a sleeping bag, a full-length foam pad, a first aid kit, a satellite phone, and also some gear used in climbing. The weather was spectacular, if a little windy. The stars shone brightly and we could see the glow of eastern Oregon towns in the distance. The time was 1:39 am when we made our first steps out of the parking lot and onto the endless snow that would take us to the summit.
The first part of the climb is pretty annoying, a long snow slog up gentle slopes. The wind picked up, but we kept a fast pace, stopping only twice for some brief clothing adjustments. Mostly we were each in our own world- illuminated by a cricle of bluish light cast by our headlamps. The required conditioning hikes paid off, and we got to the top of the Palmer snowfield at 8600 feet in about two hours. Peter told us this was a good pace. We stayed there for a bit too long, as everyone got cold in the wind. Crampons were put on boots and food was eaten. Above here the route steepens and becomes a lot more interesting. Students took turns kicking steps in the new snow from the past week as we made our way past the Triangle Moraine at 10,000 feet. Eventually, after some steep and tiring slopes we found ourselves at the base of the legendary Hogsback, a narrow ridge that points at the summit of the state’s highest peak. Here is where we split into two rope teams. We put on our harnesses and helmets and began the more technical ascent of the peak. No one had summited in maybe a week, so we ended up plowing our own way through the snow and into the standard chute that is known as the Barking Poodle, because its kind of scary, but not really. There are actually two cutes, and we took the left one, the right one looking too steep and difficult. Ian led the narrow and steep bit and placed a number of pickets to protect the rope in case of fall. There were no falls.
Above the chute is a broad gentle slope that leads to the summit. This is the slope known as the curse of the parental lecture, as it seems never ending. At this point we were climbing at over 11,000 feet, and each step was a struggle, both for altitude gained and for oxygen. But there it was- the summit! And the sun shone brightly up there, the sun we had not seen all day on the shady side of the mountain. We embraced all around and ate pop tarts. There was no one else on top, we gazed awestruck at the entire state as it was laid out before us.
The sun shone, it was 8:10 in the mroning, and there was no wind. We could have stayed for hours, but the approach of other parties alerted us to the need to be moving down before the snow got too soft. We made the descent past some friendly climbers, and past some rude ones who were so eager to summit they wouldnt let us pass. Adults, what can you do with em?
Once below Crater Rock we glissaded most of the way down. Glissading is just a fancy word for sliding on your bum instead of walking. It was noon when we got back to the parking lot and there was Len waiting for us with a dozen doughnuts, fresh doughnuts. What a guy.
We sorted out wet gear in the warm sun of the parking lot, filled with happiness and fine memories of a great day.
|The summit team|
|Ascending the Barking Poodle|
|Rounding Crater Rock and heading for the Hogsback|
Students from Catlin Gabel School made the journey across the mountains to the fairer weather of Central Oregon over the weekend of April 21-22. It took about three hours to get there in the cozy yellow bus we call "Melinda". Once there, we divided into a couple of groups: those going to beginning rock school, and those with climbing experience. The rock school students went to North Point and learned how to belay, move on fixed lines, rappel and climb. The weather was nice, though there were occassional sprinkles - just enough to send other parties home and allow the Catlin Gabel group to assume complete control of Smith Rock State Park. The climbing group didvided into some smaller parties, with some travelling to the west side, some to the dihedrals and some to red wall. Students who are certified as leaders put up routes ranging from 5.6 to 5.10a. That evening after a spirited debate we drove into Redmond for a Mexican style fiesta at a local restaurante.
Then the fun began as the group held a dance in conjunction with another youth climbing group (The Explorer Post) just outside Redmond. The melodic notes of Sir Mix A. Lot (not his given name) and others serenaded the sagebrush of Central Oregon as 35 dance starved students laid their inhibitions aside and expressed themselves in complete honesty. That night we slept the sleep of the pardoned lamb in the Grasslands east of Smith.
On Sunday the group split into five parties. Once again the Park was ours as an early morning shower discouraged lesser climbers. Our groups scurried throughout the rock faces, completing climbs they had only dreamed of. By the end of the day a whole generation of new rock climbers had been created. We trooped up the hill to reboard the yellow rocket and make the journey back to the sedate lives that awaited us in Portland.
The after school Outdoor Leadership and Adventure Program offers a rafting trip each term, and this year we went down the 70 mile wilderness stretch of the John Day River. There were nine students and four leaders in three rafts for the big adventure.
On the first day we drove in the bus which we affectionately call "Betty" to the put-in near Clarno. The rafts were waiting for us, and we loaded them and shoved off for the three day adventure. Within an hour we faced the first big challenge: Clarno rapids, a class three challenge that extends over half a mile of river. As a group we scouted the problem for over an hour. One by one our rafts went through gthe foaming whitewater, with each emerging unscathed on the downstream end. From here we continued on our northerly route eventually stopping at a wonderful camping spot after 20 miles of travel. That night we played cards only briefly before going to sleep under the stars.
The weather dawned clear the next morning and we were on the river by 7:45 am. We floated past unique geologic features and watched eagles and osprey fish for their own breakfast. About noon we pulled the rafts over at the apex of Horsethief Bend and made the hike up to the saddle where we could see river wind its way both north and south. The paddling that afterboon was more challenging as we moved against the wind for most of the time. Just around the bend from Owl Rock we pulled the rafts over and settled in at a fine campsite. Some of the students took a hike up to Owl Rock while dinner was being prepared. Again most everyonme slept out under the stars.
On the third day of the trip, Monday, we paddled to Ferry Canyon and pulled the rafts into the marshy area where the stream meets the John Day River. The group took a long and somewhat challenging hike onto the hills above the John Day and overlooking an abandoned ranch. Once back to the rafts we floated north through some mild rapids. The weather stayed perfect and we met the bus at 2:30pm. The drive back was fairly quick, and we laughed and talked over the trip through history we had all just experienced.
Deschutes River Rafting Trip Report
by Zanny, Grade 9
The rafting trip was an exciting journey filled with memorable moments. After an antsy bus ride, the twelve of us were finally ready to be suited up, booties and all. We learned the basic commands of the raft- all forward, all back, left back, right back, and even “high side” if the raft is at risk of flipping.
The first and second day of the trip we were all catching on, and becoming oriented with the river. We made a lot of snack breaks and had plenty of time when we were not paddling to just soak in the beauty around us- the red-winged black birds and column basalt. The raft group I was a part of definitely bonded, although not all of us were friends at the beginning of the trip. We played games on the raft, and told group stories, switching off every word. All of us even got a chance to guide the raft ourselves, shouting commands (in a friendly way of course!) to the crew based on the current and bends of the river. It was quite an experience to be such a leading figure and to be depended on to use your sense of judgment of how to maneuver the raft.
On the third day, we all walked with small strides apprehensively towards the scouting point for the infamous rapid, “Oak Springs”. The guides explained to us, pointing to the different sections of the river, all the possible ways of going down the rapid. First, on the left, there were a few very big waves to go over then a small slide. On the right side the raft would just go straight down a huge water slide into a hole, which to most of us, looked like a great place to potentially flip over. To make matters worse, rocks encompassed both sides, right and left. These rocks were not pleasantly smooth river rocks, but rather rocks that common rafters called “cheese graters”. The two raft groups then split up to discuss which route they wanted to guide their raft down.
The group I was a part of unanimously agreed on which side was the most intense- the right side. Whether or not we actually wanted to go down the right side was another story. While a couple of people were intent upon having an epic run at the right and risky side, others were a bit more reluctant. Exclamations along the lines of, “I want to live to see my wedding day!” were being made followed by comforting promises like “I promise that if we flip I will at least try to swim after you”.
Finally, we came to a consensus: we would go down the right side. ALL BACK. We shakily pulled out of the viewing point, one crew member decided to tie a loose shirt around his head, making him look even more intense. ALL FORWARD. Our crew, shouting sharply at each other to paddle well in order to assure everyone a safe ride, also let out some loving remarks to one another like “no matter what happens, you’ve been a great friend.” RIGHT BACK. After a short little dip and bump and a minor spray of water, we had conquered our enemy: Oak Springs. That rapid may have battled our mental limits, but we won the war, and it was a fun ride down too!
Evenings were filled with good times; night hikes along railroad tracks, bocce ball, improv stir-fry, president (card game), and campfires (without the fire due to fire laws). All and all, rafting was challenging, tiring, and a lot of us were exposed to new things, but there were also countless good times. One thing is for sure; we could all agree that the Deschutes rafting was a wonderful trip!