Posts Tagged ‘backpacking’

August 1-3, 2009

(If you want to follow along, this is a link to a map of our GPS track: )

For an entire year, I had been looking forward to the return, with my son, to the Willamette National Forest and to backpack to Divide Lake for the first time. I had first heard of Divide Lake from another hiker on the trail when we were coming back from Vivian Lake (our backpacking trip last year). As the days got closer, Grant and I got more excited until the day finally came and I was up before 0600, too antsy to sleep. The morning sky was painted a beautiful red due to a big forest fire down south near Roseburg, OR and I enjoyed the sunrise with a cuppa joe on the front porch, quietly, by myself.

Our drive was filled with conversations about hiking, pooping in the forest, how it takes one minute to drive one mile when we are driving 60 MPH and other handy guy stuff.Soon enough, we were turning onto Kitson Springs Road, aka Road 23, for the roughly 30 miles to the trailhead.

We arrived at the trailhead, ready to hike at about 0930. Our packs were both about 1/3 of our body weight but the anticipation of our hike helped to alleviate some of the weight. It struck me again that two years ago, before I had lost weight, that I would have been carrying more weight in fat all day, every day than I had in my backpack. For whatever reason, this blows my mind every time I go backpacking now. I think because it puts something tangible to the weight that it brings it more in focus. There were a couple of other cars in the lot, but no people around. As we loaded up, we found a couple of huckleberries on bushes and munched on them and as we began down the trail, we came across a bunch more huckleberries. We picked a couple of cups worth and stored them in an empty Nalgene for the next day’s breakfast.

The first site that we came across, just like last year, was Notch Lake. It is a pretty flat mile with only a couple of easy climbs. I had intended to take a break and explore around the lake, but the mosquitoes were so thick that I just wanted to get as much distance as possible from the lake. It is too bad, because it is such a scenic lake with large boulders surrounding it. In my mind, it would fit in nicely next to “Grizzly Mountain” in Disney’s California Adventure because the rocks and lake are so evenly mated. We continued up the trail, however, another few hundred yards to the cutoff to the Mt. Yoran trail before stopping to rest (this is the first “i” icon on the map). Since we were being eaten alive still, we sprayed on some mosquito repellent. The smell brought me back immediately to fishing with my dad when I was a kid and I hoped that Grant would someday have a similar recollection to the smell of Off. Grant also decided to don his mosquito head net, which is basically like a giant mesh sock with elastic at the opening to keep snug around the neck.

The trail, from this point on, was mostly uphill and we gained 1000 feet in the next mile before hitting the ridgeline to Mt. Yoran for the last two miles. Again, the conversation about arriving at a destination in one minute came up when Grant exclaimed that he wished we could run to Divide Lake at 60 MPH. It was now about 1230, the sun was beating down and I wasn’t opposed to being at the destination in one minute, either… truth be told. Around mile three, we got our first good glimpses of Diamond Peak and took our packs off to rest, eat some trail mix and enjoy the sights for a moment. The forested ridgeline was probably the nicest part of the hike because of the spectacular views to the left and right and also because there were no ponds around to harbor the mosquitoes. The last quarter of a mile down to the base of Mt. Yoran was a most welcome relief to know the end was close. It took us about four hours to make it to Divide Lake.

As we came down into the Divide Lake basin, I was surprised by the crystal blue clarity of the lake. I was expecting a murky pond like the others we had passed and like Vivian Lake where we camped last year. We stood transfixed for a moment pondering the lake’s depths before searching for the best site for our camp. We found a site on a little peninsula on the south west corner of the lake that had great views of the lake and of Mt. Yoran. We pitched the tent in the one flat spot and got our things lined out. Once camp was set and we snacked on some summer sausage, Grant and I trekked around the lake. In another abandoned campsite, sitting on a log, I came across a “Light My Fire” spork that I scavenged to add to a future mess kit. This is a $3 spork that I got for free… yes, that’s how I roll. When we got back to camp, I noticed that the sky had changed and it was beginning to look like rain. Soon enough, there was no doubt as it began to absolutely pour, then hail and finally came the thunder and lightning! Grant and I hunkered down under some trees and enjoyed the peal of thunder. It was so close that we could hear the electricity crackling and the thunder literally shook the ground! The storm lasted nearly three hours and during this time two more groups joined us around the lake. Eventually, Grant and I retreated to the tent where we played card games and read from our books. The storm broke in time for dinner preparation (I was beginning to wonder) and we were treated to a beautiful sunset shining burnt red on Mt. Yoran and reflecting on the lake. Grant and I were able to talk and cuddle until bedtime.

The next morning was overcast, but not raining, as I boiled water for our breakfast. We watched as a couple of our fellow campers tried to summit Yoran only to be turned back as they caused a rock avalanche about 100 feet shy of the top. When we were ready, we hit the trail again for a day hike, first south and then east one mile to the top of the spine separating Lane County from Klammath County (about 400 feet elevation gain). We continued south another two miles on the world famous, Pacific Crest Trail, to the base of Diamond Peak where we stopped for a snack. I was pretty stoked to be on the PCT as it was my first time and I have been wanting to hike it for a few years. Along the way, we visited a number of little “lakelets” that I believe to be named the Summit Lakes. They reminded me of the infinity pools at resorts that are situated on cliffs with incredible views because they were set near cliffs with incredible views. The problem, again, was the mosquitoes… dang. On our return, we were passed by some through-hikers on the PCT and we were amazed at how fast they walked, but not so sure they enjoyed their surroundings as much as we were. We had a light lunch when we got back to camp and then found a trail up to the saddle between Mt. Yoran and its neighboring monolith. The view was pretty nice from that vantage point, but we also noticed another storm blowing our way. We hurried back to camp and spent the rest of the day watching the fish from our stump bench and talking.

We slept well our final night and woke up refreshed and ready to head for home. The hike back went much quicker and it only took us a bit over two hours! We dropped our packs at the car and revisited the huckleberry bushes to pick some berries to share with Mommy. We still had some energy left, so we hiked up Hemlock Butte, across the road from our trailhead, to find a Geocache. It was about 600 feet in elevation gain and maybe a mile up and back. The last push to the top required a bit more climbing skills than I was comfortable letting Grant try, so I went up to grab the cache while Grant waited. We were both pretty wiped out and the drive home was pretty quiet. Nobody cared to do the math for how long it would take to get home at 60MPH. We did make a detour before home to cap off our trip with a “Thin Mint” Blizzard at Dairy Queen which gave us one last chance to reflect on all of the fun we had just had… until next year!

Backpacking: Part III

Posted: July 31, 2009 by jgrantmarshall in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Ugh… Why does packing take SOOO long? At least it is done now. My pack weighs 51 pounds & includes a full canteen & a full Nalgene bottle. Grant’s backpack weighs about 15 pounds.

Part of the reason it took so long is that Grant got slivers (planks) in his foot a couple of weeks ago. Natalie got the first bunch out earlier, but he said tonight that his foot still hurt. So, long story short (believe me it is a long story), Grant had another about half inch sliver going straight in to his foot that Natalie dug out. I have no idea how he was able to walk, but I’m hoping he’ll be able to tomorrow still.

Again it struck me as practically ridiculous, that I used to carry so much weight around with me everyday. More, actually, by 15 pounds at my heaviest. If I could do it then, I will be able to do it tomorrow. Can’t wait! The plan is to get out of the house ASAP in the morning to beat the heat of the day.

Backpacking: Part II

Posted: July 31, 2009 by jgrantmarshall in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Well, I didn’t end up packing much last night, so it is now down to crunch time tonight. I just picked up some dried fruit so I think we should now be good for supplies.  What are we eating, you ask?  Here’s the plan: !

Now, as everyone should know, it is important to leave information with someone on where you will be and when you’ll be back. I am, of course, telling my wife, but I am also telling you, Internet. Here is a link to my Google Map of where we’ll be from Saturday morning to Monday afternoon:,-122.190542&spn=0.023131,0.038581&t=h&z=15 .

Backpacking Trip ’09

Posted: July 30, 2009 by jgrantmarshall in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

In a few short days, my son & I will be going on our 2nd annual backpacking trip. I plan on beginning to pack this evening, finishing up tomorrow & leaving early on Saturday morning.

For those interested, here is a link to read more about where we are going:

This hike will start on the same trailhead as last year’s trip.

Vivian Lake Video

Posted: August 16, 2008 by jgrantmarshall in family, home videos, travel
Tags: ,

Here’s a quick video I made from the trip.  It has a few never-before-seen pictures and 3 video clips and features music by Ted Nugent (can you guess the song?)…

Interesting Numbers From Backpacking Trip

Posted: August 13, 2008 by jgrantmarshall in family, travel
Tags: ,

I’ve been back to my computer for a few days now and have had some time to crunch some numbers that I found at least semi-interesting.

Daily Hiking Distances:

  • Friday: 3 miles to camp, plus water gathering and extra exploring, we’ll call it 4 miles.
  • Saturday: 4 + miles round-trip to waterfalls, plus water gathering and cross country bushwhack to the far side of Vivian Lake… we’ll call this 5 miles.
  • Sunday: 3 miles back to the trailhead
  • This makes it roughly 12 miles that we all hiked this weekend!  That surprised me that it was that much.

My Calories Burned (according to and only accounting for a 10-20 lb load (mine was probably about 60 (with Grant’s pack))):

  • Friday-2,200 cals
  • Saturday-2,200 cals
  • Sunday-1,650 cals
  • Total – 6,050 calories burned hiking!

Elevation Gained/Lost

  • Friday: Trailhead at 5, 200′ up to 6,000′ just South of Un-named Lake and then camped at 5,440′.  This is 800 feet gained and then 560 lost.
  • Saturday: 5,440′ down to Diamond Falls at 4,200′ and back to camp at 5,440′.  This is 1,240′ lost and then gained!
  • Sunday is the reverse of Friday.

Do you think that’s interesting?  I am still a little stunned by these results.  Oh, and here’s the best of all… I managed to gain a few pounds while doing all this!

Vivian Lake Backpack

Posted: August 11, 2008 by jgrantmarshall in family, travel
Tags: , ,

I got back this afternoon from the backpack to Vivian Lake with Grant, my brother-in-law, Justin, and my nephew, Jacob.  I am a little sore between my shoulder blades but am otherwise feeling good and definitely refreshed.  It always is so rewarding to spend time with nature and family.  While on the trail, I kept a trip journal and I will share it with you below.

Trailhead on NF-23

8/8/08 – 1645 Hiked in from road NF-23; although we had planned to trailhead at NF-510.  Our online maps seemed to be a bit off, so we decided to follow the clearly marked signs to the Vivian Lake trailhead, provided by the forest service.  It was comforting to have signs vs. trusting maps that were already proving to be incorrect.  The bad news is that it added another half mile to our day (3 miles instead of 2.5).  Further bad news, for me, was Grant did not even make it .1 of a mile before his pack became too heavy for him to carry and I carried it the rest of the way for him.  I wore packs front and back.  I am very glad we only had to go 3 miles!  The trip was largely uneventful besides the constant, “Are we there yet?” and “I’m tired!”  The mosquitoes have been very annoying from the start and even the 17.5% DEET in my Jungle Juice doesn’t seem to deter them.  We have seen numerous patches of snow… in AUGUST!!!  We stopped for a lunch break at a little un-named lake with beautiful blue water.

Front & Back Packs

Front & Back Packs

Grant wasn’t too thrilled with the trail mix (doesn’t like raisins and it had a few raisins mixed in with a lot of chocolate chips), but it tasted really good to me.  We followed the lake South awhile before nearly due North along a cascading stram down to Vivian Lake.  Our campsite is a large flat area about 10′ above Vivian Lake and 100′ back from the water.  We have not seen a single other person, which I did not expect but am pleasantly surprised.  When arriving we setup camp and had another snack.  Grant and I had summer sausage and trail mix.  We then walked East and North up to Fall Creek to filter some water.  The water was so cold and fresh.  I am really glad that I bought the water filter (a Katadyn Hiker).  It is much easier and tastier than boiling or using tablets!  Back in camp, Grant fell off of a log he was balancing on (while running) and skinned up his arm and belly.  I made him some pink lemonade and all is well.  Also in camp, we found a Geocache that was hidden only about 10 feet from where we pitched our tents.  I found a snake about 2 feet in length and black with yellow-green stripe while searching for a good potty spot.  Justin and the boys are playing “Go Fish” card game in their tent right now.  I am enjoying a sunny spot on the shore of the lake while writing.

Vivian Lake

Vivian Lake

8/9/08 – 0715 Waking up and thinking about getting going.  Grant got cold in the night (about 3AM) and I showed him how to add more clothes and put on a beanie.  I slept all night with my beanie on, being the hairless wonder that I am.  I listened to the frogs as I tossed and turned.  I finally  hit some real sleep around 1AM.  Well, time to get up, eat, clean up and get ready for today’s hike down to the falls.

1430 Hiked to Fall Creek Falls (about 1 mile from camp) and then on to Diamond Falls (about 2+ miles).  We brought fanny packs, snacks and water but left backpacks at camp.  It was about 2 miles each way and nearly entirely downhill on the way there.  I stopped and got lots of pictures.

Fall Creek Falls

Fall Creek Falls

Grant got pretty tired but made it OK.  We made lunch upon our return.  Grant and I had trail mix, a hunk of papaya (candied) and summer sausage.  We’re all taking an afternoon nap right now and enjoying the sun’s warmth in our tents.  Camp is quiet, except for Justin or Jacob’s snoring.  🙂  I think I slept about an hour, but will probably stay in the tent and read “Ride the Dark Trail” by Louis L’Amour, when I’m done writing.  For now, I am glad the tent is warm, my pads (yes, plural) are comfy and Grant is sleeping peacefully.  (By the way, he went right out for the nap and also at bedtime last night.  Hiking is good for him!)  After the naps, we hiked cross country to the far North end of Vivian Lake by way of the main N-S trail.  High Cascades forests are much easier to bushwhack than Western Oregon forests!  We saw many frogs and I took quite a few pictures of Mt. Yoran.  On our way, we had stashed our water jugs so we could fill them up on our way back.  Filling up the bottles is kind of pleasurable because Fall Creek is so beautiful.  I even think it is beautiful after jumping in, with boots on, to save my bottle adapter piece.  I did end up losing both input and output covers for the pump.  DOH!

8/10/08 – 0800 I probably slept the best, in a tent, last night since when I was a kid and didn’t know any better.  It got colder last night and I finally appreciated my mummy bag and had it zipped up tight!  I dressed Grant up in as many layers as he would allow and he did fine…  Although, he did sit up in the middle of the night (again at about 3AM) and said he was looking at the reflection on the lake (it was absolutely pitch black).  OK… g’night.

Last Picture Before Heading Out

Last Picture Before Heading Out

We are getting dressed and taking baby wipe baths.  Thanks, Allie!  Next, we’ll eat some breakfast before packing up camp and hiting the trail.  It has been a great trip.

2230 – Back Home The return hike started out pretty tough.  Since I had Grant’s pack on my front on the way down this section and couldn’t see very well in front of me, I was a little surprised to see all of the rocks and roots in the path and realized I didn’t fall to my death down to Vivian Lake.  The trail was steep and tiring up to my little un-named lake.  We ate a light lunch and enjoyed the beauty of this lake.  I wouldn’t mind making this a destination next time, I liked it that much.  Plus, it would cut out that gnarly section of trail we had just hiked up.  Grant carried his pack the whole way this time, but was only carrying his clothes, his fanny pack, and his sleeping pad… but he made it and I was proud of him.  We stopped many times along the way to catch our breath and to sip water.  Close to the trailhead was the only place we found any ripe huckleberries.  We saw nobody at all until within 25 yards of the Jeep, where we found a fellow hiker going back for some huckleberries after making back to his car.  We talked with that guy’s wife at the trailhead and she said that they had been at Divide Lake.  I looked it up at home in Sullivan’s book and it looks like a nice hike, although it is 4 miles each way, instead of 3.  Evidently, you can hike .8 miles from Divide Lake up to a ridge where you can literally stand on a divide between East and West Oregon and the views include both directions.  Maybe next year!


Posted: August 3, 2008 by jgrantmarshall in family

Grant and I are getting ready to go backpacking next weekend with my brother-in-law and nephew.  I have been planning bits and pieces this week and we started throwing some stuff in our packs this evening!  Obviously, I am excited about the trip.  We will camp near a mountain lake and will likely hike on the second day to series of waterfalls.  I think the boys will enjoy the sights!