Monday, February 20, 2012

Snow on Warner Mountain

 The Pacific Northwest provides some pretty spectacular adventures, there is no doubt about that. About a year ago I added this item to my list and this January I checked it off. Renting a forest fire lookout. People here love these; with justified reason. But because they are so well loved, if your idea of an adventure to a lookout has anything to do with a weekend day, well than the planning upfront requires something along the lines of 5 months. They tend to be that far booked out! I booked the Warner Mountain lookout the previous August and still was only able to get a Sunday and Monday night reserved. Turns out I am a lucky girl and my days just happened to unexpectedly fall over a three day weekend. Joined by a longtime friend from Seattle and her significant other, our party of four made the venture into the hut on skis and snow shoes. The website cautions you that the road is not maintained for winter travel and it is advised to park a good distance away and hike in (good distance = 8+ miles). We had two pretty hardy trucks so the adventurous side of us put us something like 3.5 miles away. We questioned this choice but decided to play our cards. The next few days that followed it snowed. I don't mean a little. I'm referring to something along the lines of feet of snow. It snowed A LOT.
 so conversations went along the lines of "hmmm it is really a blizzard out there...yeah there is kind of a bit of snow coming down" In the midst we enjoyed ourselves. You see, inside the hut you are quite cozy. I was amazed to find a propane heater, a fully equipped kitchen, tables, chairs, a bed. We were set. During the day we used our back country setups to do a bit of skiing and exploring and in the evening enjoyed hot toddies, good food and good company. On departure day, we had received so much snow that our tracks in were so far from covered, I questioned our choices of parking. Out we went, blizzard to accompany us. Reaching the truck we found it practically lost in white. Chains on and 4 wheel drive set to low we amazingly creeped our way out with not even a slip. The daring parking move in the snow; would I advise it? not at all, not unless you really enjoy digging. We just got lucky. Upon leaving we passed the new Warner Mountain residents on their trek in. They had covered something like 4 miles from their car already and were still about 4 miles out. They had parked their Subaru way down the road and were making the day long slog in. I guess we had it a bit easier.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


 Absentee. That I have been from my blog for some time. But in that time much has changed. my eyes have seen new experiences and met new people. I've seen changes throughout my family, moved to a new home and ventured a three week road trip across the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. Purchasing tickets was a bit of an endeavor; we wanted to go south. that was the criteria. Monitoring website after website for cheap fares became exhausting after some time. you just get sick of it. but one Tuesday night in late November turned up some reasonable tickets into Cancun. Not quite my style but it'd do for a port of entry out of the states. So there we went. Cancun-bound for two nights before picking up a rental car (found through a less-know Mexican car company).                                 One night, that was it. Cancun was like a sandy Las Vegas. It took less than 12 hours for us to re-arrange our rental car for earlier pick up and get the hell out of Sand Vegas. Our Chariot for the next few weeks: a dodge "something."A miniature white spaceship that proved to be a beast in the sand, excellent on gas mileage and only complained once when we tried to take it across a road with holes as big as the car. It regained it's composure after we limped it 4 hours out of the way to provide it with a bandage (a new tire). The first few days of the journey found us in touristy places; ones where we still managed to find places to camp and cheap street food but still were littered with tourist souvenir shops and kiosks selling tickets to the newest "eco park." I can't complain however because this first week also found us still a wee bit high strung from the months of craziness we left behind and these popular tourist destinations exist for a reason; they have absolutely stunning white sand beaches. We planted our rear ends in the sun and commenced to washing away the Oregon white skin with help from Mexican cervezas.
The weeks that followed found us in rural Mexico. Off beaten tourist tracts and loving every minute. We pieced together Spanish. Enough to purchase tacos and local fruits, to ask for directions, to ask permission to camp and rent scuba diving gear.
I believe I've mentioned it before but I thrive on lists. i love them. I was able to cross-off some of my own "to-dos" on this trip so it seems only fitting to break down the remainder of this trip into some of the best of the best pieces; recommendations for those who may just be making this same venture sometime in the future. Enjoy.
  1. Diving. Wow. Xcalack proved to be best of the best. Hiring the local dive master and boat not associated with what seemed to be the only dive shop in town was the way to go.
  2. Cenotes- a must visit for diving, snorkeling... swimming... whatever. just go see them.
  3. Izamal- yellow, think yellow.
  4. Campeche- a colonial style city sitting on the heart of the ocean still encompassed by an old fortress of stone walls.
  5. the street tacos. fresh oranges with chili powder
  6. Puenta Herrera. Trust me you can get there. take a spare tire.
  7. Book as you go hotels, plans just can't do you justice (just not during Christmas time!)
  8. The bikes (see below.) you'd be amazed at how many people you can fit on one. really.