Showing posts from June, 2012

Gear Review: BioLite Campstove

My first reaction after coming across the BioLite Campstove was excitement followed by a little bit of skepticism. I thought it was a great idea but wasn't sure if it would preform well in the often wet forests of western Cascadia.

After testing the BioLite on my back porch with some dry twigs and dry wood, I was impressed and confident that it wouldn't fail my girlfriend and I on our upcoming backpacking trip to the Three Sisters Wilderness.

Starting a fire inside the BioLite is similar to starting a fire anywhere else. You need something dry to get it going. I always carry Cotton Balls soaked with petrolatum jelly, or plain in case I can't find anything dry. On this trip there was abundant Old Man's Beard (Usnea). Usnea is the lichen that often hangs from low branches or on trees that looks like blue or green hair. More information and pictures of Usnea

After finding the smallest and driest twigs that we could, I loaded the BioLite up carefully avoiding the air ho…

Three Sisters Wilderness: Rebel Rock Loop

The Three Sisters Wilderness is an incredible place. Ranging from old growth Douglas fir forests in the west to ponderosa pine forests in the east with 10,000 foot peaks and alpine meadows between. The eastern half of this Wilderness definitely attracts many more visitors every year, because of the abundant lakes, high mountain peaks and close proximity to Bend, Oregon. The distance from major cities and the elevation gain on the western Three Sisters Wilderness trails seems to keep the trails nearly empty.

There are few hikes in each hiking book that are listed as strenuous, Rebel Rock Loop was one of those. I always like to challenge myself so a 12.3 mile hike with a 3,300 foot climb sounded like a blast. Knowing that the hike would top out above 5,000 feet I figured there would be at least some lingering snow patches, but I was wrong. Checking the SNOTEL webpage is my favorite way of assessing snow level before I head out.

Knowing that it was going to be a pretty hot day I wante…

Car Camping Along Quartzville Creek

Normally I use car camping as either a cheap place to stay on the way to somewhere or as a base camp for hiking out of. I had never planned a single location, multi-day trip so it was a new experience for me. But I had two good friends who were leaving town, one back to Idaho and one back to Afghanistan, so car camping was the best option. I was torn between the Blue River area and Quartzville Creek, but having recently made a few trips to the Middle Santiam Wilderness, Quartzville Creek won.

I was absolutely blown away by the amount of car camps along Quartzville for Memorial Day Weekend. It seemed to be 28 miles of unbroken car camps. There was even some kind of mining gathering at the site we camped at. After talking to a miner who was at the event they had over 50 vehicles in the area. Thankfully our weekend wasn't this busy, but I would still suggest arriving Thursday to grab a good site.

Our campsite was situated only about 15 yards from the Quartzville Back Country Byway,…

McQuade Creek Trail: Spring Gateway to the Middle Santiam Wilderness

The Middle Santiam Wilderness is an incredible place. Massive Douglas-fir, western hemlock and western redcedar line much of McQuade Creek Trail and the Chimney Peak Trail.

After calling the Sweet Home Ranger Station and finding out that the trail head on the south side of the Wilderness would likely be closed until July, because of snow, I decided to find another route in. The lady I was talking with was pretty knowledgeable and let me know that Forest Road( FR) 1142 was open, but a massive rock blocked the road one mile from the trail head. That wasn't much of a deterrent an extra two miles round trip wouldn't hurt.  

The McQuade Creek Trail starts out with 2 fairly rapid creek crossings, both of them being about calf high on me( I'm about 5'6) as of June 2, 2012. The trail then begins to slowly climb through a relatively recent clear-cut, which gives you a pretty awesome view of the valley below.

As you climb you will notice a couple of massive Douglas-fir and w…

Make a Homemade Planter Box For Under $30

When you live in a second floor walk-up there are certain things you sacrifice. When we moved in I realized that there was no way I would be able to seed the cement back patio and have a luscious patch of green to call my own. I have accepted this and moved on. Presently I tell myself that at least this way there is no lawn that needs to be mowed. I have come to terms with not having grass to roll around in and I am alright with it. For now.
One thing that I wasn't willing to sacrifice, regardless of our second floor status, was a garden. A few months ago John and I made several shopping trips. I had it in my head that I was going to buy some long, and narrow in proportion planter boxes to line our patio. Did I want square ones? No. Did I want small little rectangles that looked like elongated loaf pans to grow plants in? No. I wanted substantial 18 inch wide, 6 foot long planter boxes.
We went to 4 or 5 different stores ranging from one stop shops, to hardware stores, we even pee…