Monday, September 29, 2014

Amanda and the Hobbits

Camping at the Hobbit Trails! I've been to the Hobbit Trails many times, but have never camped at the campsite near the Trails and I finally got to do it, in the waning good weather of September. The campsite is called Carl G. Washburne. Set in an appropriately hobbity coastal forest, this campground has numerous drive-in sites, a couple of yurts, some hiker/biker camps and 7 tent-only sites. The tent sites are great! No cars are allowed in the actual camping spaces. Instead, you park in a little parking lot and then you walk your stuff into the site:

They provide these little Shire-like wheelbarrows for you to load your stuff in.

Not having cars directly on the sites adds to the relaxing, serene quality of the experience.

There are, however, bears, so its advisable to keep your food in your car or in the provided metal bear box.
We didn't see any bears, but we did see bear poop, so we took that advice very seriously. The sign also mentioned cougar sightings:

Bear box
I've had a bear harass me at a campsite before and it was no fun. So I can tell you from personal experience that you will want to follow the warnings---but don't let that dampen your enthusiasm for camping here, it's such a great place!

Additionally, it's just a skip across the highway to the day-use section of the site and you have this:

The Hobbit Trails can be accessed from the day-use site and they will take you all the way to Heceta Lighthouse if you choose (and when you get there, do take the lighthouse tour!). We stayed on the beach, however, because it was such a glorious day.

We also went into the tiny town of Yachats, which is further up the coast, to hike the Amanda Trail.

View of the ocean from the Amanda Trail

This trail will take you all the way to the top of Cape Perpetua where you will see some of the most dramatic ocean views you are likely to see in Oregon, plus a 1930s era stone lookout house. But, the primary soul of the Amanda Trail is in it's namesake---Amanda was a Native American woman who was force-marched, along with a group of other Native people, to a reservation in the 1800s that was little better than a prison camp. She happened to be blind, which most surely made the journey that much more difficult. A South Lincoln County News article of 2009 describes it in this way:

"The story of Amanda’s Trail began in 1864 when the U.S. Cavalry rounded up the coastal Coos and Lower Umpqua tribes, forcibly and inhumanely driving them to walk the rugged route over sharp rocks and blackberry brambles to the designated reservation at the Alsea sub-agency, a dumping ground for coastal Indian tribes."

The Amanda Trail as a hiking trail and spiritual tribute began it's journey around 25 years ago and you can read the history of how it came to be here, through the combined efforts of persistant and deeply caring people.
Joanne and Norman Kittel were instrumental in this effort, going so far as to grant a permanent easement on their property for the purposes of the trail.


After hiking through the forest for a time you come to a bridge where the Amanda statue is located, nestled in a bowl of ferns. Over time, people have left offerings at the site. 

The Amanda statue is the work of artist Sy Meadow

After leaving the Amanda monument, the trail begins the climb up the north face of Cape Perpetua. This part of the trail is strenuous and probably not for beginning hikers. The entire round trip hike is a little over 5 miles. However, as I mentioned before, the views from up top are unbeatable---except when it's fogged in, as it was on the day we did the hike. Still, the stone house was very atmospheric in the swirling mists:

At the top, you will also see the Elephant tree:

So, well worth the hike if you can do it---also, you will avoid the 5.00 fee that is charged if you just drive to the top of Cape Perpetua :)

The Amanda Trail is not well-marked from Yachats. You will need to park somewhere on Yachats Ocean Drive (there are pull-off points along the beach side), which is across the highway from the trail, and walk on a little auxiliary trail along the highway before you come to Windy Way, which is where you will then (carefully) cross the highway and access the trail. There is a small trail marker there, but it's not immediately obvious. Wear shoes suitable for the hike---there is some scrambling over tree roots, even on the relatively easy sections.

A note on the Carl G Washburne campsite: It's open year round, it's first come first serve (except for the yurts which need to be reserved) and the tent sites are 21.00 a night. Now, I'm going to have an older person moment here and just say it----I remember when tent sites were 5.00 a night!!! What the hell happened?!! Anyways, still, it's worth it and there is so much to do in the vicinity you won't regret your stay.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Thrift Store Therapy---Bells, Masks and Cat Birthdays

It's been almost 1 year since I found my cat, Mr Scampers, in a box in a parking lot. He has grown into a fine young man, although he still breaks stuff now and again. He can't break this vintage Scandinavian (or German?)  brass bell I found, though---what a great piece with it's little hand painted scene and woven handle! I was super happy to find it and it was half off to boot!

I also came across this tole painted star tin:

Here is an enigmatic piece---a mobile with folk art figures. I am obsessed with corn dollies and other minimalistic folk art figures so I was happy to find this unusual decoration:

I then came across this book in one of my favorite charity shops---it's funny, I have such a good thrift radar these days that I can be in one isle of the store and just catch the barest glimpse of something across the way and know that it's something good and vintage. 25-odd years of thrifting hones the perceptions. I was looking at teacups and suddenly became aware of this book on the other side of the store! Anyways, I had never heard of May Gibbs and was delighted to find that she was an Englishwoman living in Australia and writing Australian fairy stories in the 40s. I am familiar with the settings of European fairy tales and was very interested to see the unique Australian flora and fauna that make up the tales in " Snugglepot and Cuddlepie".

And, finally, I was super stoked to find these paper masks in the same store that I found the book. I was admiring a friend's paper masks not too long ago, had looked at some on Etsy and was really wishing I had some---so imagine my delight when I saw these:

This is one of my favorites, a harvest person made of fruit and vegetables. The back of the mask says it is based on the work of Guiseppe Arcimboldo who was painting in the 1500s and who happens to be one of my favorite artists. I had the good fortune to view a couple of his original works in the Louvre several years ago. 

I also found some great dresses on this particular thrifting expedition and I will make one of my rare fashion posts showcasing them at some point---maybe wearing some of these great masks!! Halloween is just around the corner, you know, and now is an excellent time to hit the thrifts---they tend to bring out all of the crazy stuff they have been hoarding for the costume season. Happy thrifting!

linking up with SirThriftALot and Thriftasaurus

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Mountain Gnomes Drank All My Booze!

Well, not really. That's just something my husband likes to say because he plays Dwarf Fortress---and in that game the mountain gnomes really will drink all of your booze. The Cascade mountain gnomes did end up playing a trick on us, but more on that later. Let's start at the beginning:

 We left late. We hiked 12 miles, some of it by moonlight. We were afraid we would miss the place where we go off trail and start feral hiking---but somehow we found the turnoff, made camp and collapsed into our sleeping bags. The moon was huge. We joked we have eschewed sunbathing for moonbathing because our last couple of camping trips have been under a full moon so bright a person practically needed moonglasses to handle it. And good thing too, because my husband brought a flashlight with dead batteries :0

The air was full of smoke from a large wildfire burning to the west, but the days were hot and bright. I can never get enough of this landscape, this Tolkien-like tableau. The mushrooms were absolutely glorious this year, more than I have ever seen before, these are just a few:

The day after we got there, we went back down to the trail to get water from a small lake. Half an hour hike at the most. On the way back, we both noticed that it was taking longer than it should have. But still we walked on, until finally my husband said  "We passed it. We missed the turnoff."
"Ah, no" I said "how could that be? It's fairly obvious, how could we both miss it?"

Well we did miss it. By at least a mile, if not more. The turnoff has a fairly obvious landmark, but still, both of us missed it. Now, how could we have found it by moonlight the night before, in a state of utter exhaustion, but overshoot it so wildly in the daytime? I suspect the mountain gnomes. Really. It was a warning to us both that even though this is a place we love and visit often, we were not being present, just walking along with our heads in our thoughts and not paying attention to the moment. Which can be dangerous out there and a little bit disrespectful. So, lesson taken, we made it back to the turnoff and back to our camp where we settled in with some tea and snacks.

We then climbed the boulder rubble on the flanks of the mountain to the first ice field we could reach. I poured out, for the mountain, a good splash of the mead we brought along---the rest we drank later, watching the moon rise over the fire-smoke cloud.

 Turns out I had two encounters of a surprising nature. The first occurred on the first night. Snuggled down in my sleeping bag and looking at the remnants of stars (their light mostly overtaken by the glory of the moon) a large shape suddenly loomed over my head. It was a giant moth! I could see its feelers. It hovered there a moment, checking me out, and then flew off. The second encounter happened on the second night. Near dawn, just after the moon had set behind the saddle of the mountain, an unfamiliar bird suddenly circled our sleeping bags. I could have reached up and touched it. It landed in a stunted pine tree near by. I said "And who might you be?" It didn't answer me, but circled our bags again before flying away.

The moon setting behind the saddle of the mountain, around 4:30 am

I can't fully describe to you the massive boulder fields on the slopes of this ancient, weathered volcano. It is it's own micro-climate, distinct from the forest below it, drier, colder and just echoing with the spirits of wind and rock. We poked around a bit longer on the slopes then headed back down.

Wow, is our windshield ever dirty!

On our way home we could see the massive plumes of smoke from the Deception Creek Wildfire complex.

This was a short trip, but absolutely what I needed to clear my brain and prepare myself for the slow turn into autumn. I am so fortunate to be able to take these trips, living in the great Northwest as I do, where the mountains, the ocean and the desert are all just a few hours away.