This Tattered Landscape

Grief swells, crashing against the sand of my psyche
Waves pummelling the landscape of my heart
Topography altered in the hot, searing pain of loss
Mind, in retreat, too wary of the ongoing maelstrom
Warm memories of her shine light into the dark
I look across this tattered landscape of sadness
Eyes so tired of crying they can find no tears
I stumble in this unfamiliar, charred terrain
Following the path of the unknown, into the wilderness
Planting flowers of love in the ashen soil
Willing Spring’s celebration of life to heal my soul

#whenyourmomdies #grief #loss


April’s Clouds

April’s Clouds

April brings fresh storms after the fool’s day
April rain pours into my heart, yet it does not dull the pain
April whispers ‘I’m here again, just as you knew I’d be’
April presents the pain of loss anew, so savagely
April demands the memories that must be seen
April’s unkindness lays manifest upon my psyche
April’s last words, ‘I love you, Susan’ falling in my ear
April rains stream from my eyes, inflaming my heart
April clouds are covering me, so I cannot see
April sun, oh, where are you?
April please just let me be, please let me preserve my sanity

Mothers Day 2017

1992 Lost Lake06112018 (2)

I love you, Mom.

#grief #loss T_T

Dance of the Wigglebutts

By the time I was ten years old, my parents fled the rapidly expanding suburbs of Beaverton, Oregon, moving to the remote hilly forests of Mason Hill, outside North Plains, Oregon. Our new family home sat on twenty-plus acres of forest, also abutting hundreds of acres of ‘Government Land’, a full section (640 acres) of forest managed by the BLM. The nearest store of any type was seven miles away, the West Union General Store. Our nearest neighbor was a working farm.Honestly, it was heaven.

I didn’t see it at ten, but it was the best place to grow up in. My Mom, seemingly always a step ahead of things, counteracted the impending boredom of her ex-burbian kids in various ways. In my case, she got me a perfect energetic match, an Australian Shepard and Border Collie mix puppy. I named my bundle of joy ‘Lucy’, the perfect bookend to our wandering orange tomcat, Charlie.Lucy_Dog_Aug_77Lucy at six years old in North Plains, OR ❤

I built a pen in my downstairs bedroom out of two-by-fours and plywood, put an old green wool blanket in it. I watched my new companion grow and grow, a bundle full of energy and love. For Lucy, everything was a game, every day a chance to roam and chase squirrels in the forest. We explored, she and I, for the joy of it, cementing my lifelong love of forests, nature, and dogs. She slept on my bed at night, chased me on my bike, and protected us from all enemies, real or imagined. She taught me unconditional love.

Lucy stayed with Mom when I went off to college, having tea parties with my younger sister, and being our loving family companion. Lucy gave me her best wiggle-butt dance when I came home to visit, my childhood companion overcome with joy just to be with me again.

How bout that 70’s kitchen?

My parents divorced, sold the house and land, shortly after I left. Lucy lived a long time, passing at eighteen years old after living her twilight years with my Mom, back in Rock Creek now, in front of a wood stove at night.

The last few years as hiking has consumed so much of my focus, passion, and time. I’ve hiked a lot with other people’s dogs. Tristan, Bernie, and Luc here at Cooper Spur trail belong to my friend Vicky, they are such beautiful trail companions. Vicky has six Aussies now, an astounding feat I still can’t quite wrap my head around. One is a heck of a lot of work, they’re so energetic, they need a lot of exercise.

IMG_20170820_184307_389Aussie Wrangling at Cooper Spur, 2017 ❤ ❤ ❤

IMG_20170821_075536_560Bernie is not impressed with my Down Dog, Mt Hood at Tilly Jane

The Aussie bug bit hard. I started ghosting Facebook groups about Aussies. I took every opportunity to walk or hike with them. One fateful November morning, Vicky pointed out puppies available in Oregon at Whiterose Farms.

20180923_175053Tristan and Luke almost posing with me

There were two puppies available, a tri-color and a blue merle female. I looked at the photos and my heart grew another half size. I fell face-first, head over heels in love at first sight with the blue merle.46470515_10215482168721315_7869751224516476928_n46521745_10215487274968968_2626295655949139968_nTheir mom, Cinnamon Toast, and their dad, Titan of Eaglecrest, were two of the most striking Aussies I’d ever seen.

46501836_2199975036687822_5308270361685524480_nWhiterose Cinnamon Toast, Love personified (dog-fied?) ❤


Titan of Eaglecrest, I mean, just wow. Prettier than me.

My partner, Kelley, wasn’t yet totally on board with upending our lives with a puppy. There was persuasion. There may have been tears. In the end, we drove down to see her, on a gray November day.We never stood a chance. She was so adorable, so filled with life and love. I filled out some paperwork, and we went home to prepare for her.

20181123_14043120181123_135718We’d planned on two weeks between seeing her and picking her up, but heart throb cut that down to one week. We headed back South to pick up Miss Whiterose Astrid Luna (Luna), dog crate now at home in my VW SUV, with a little apprehension. Kelley had not raised a puppy before, and it had been awhile for me.

Toast knew what was up, and she seemed a little resigned as Luna said her goodbyes to Mom and sister, and the farm that she had know since late September as home.

20181202_155349‘Be good to my little girl, hooman.’20181202_155353So much love ❤47577683_774056196274103_6286468563716800512_o

As I look today at how completely Luna is embedded in our lives, it’s hard to imagine it’s only been four months since she arrived. Luna has been to the Oregon Coast, Mount Hood, Mount Saint Helens, Mount Hebo near Tillamook, on the Pacific Crest Trail in the Columbia River Gorge, she’s been to places I never saw as a kid. I’ve carried her on snowshoes for miles, my pack now has the permanent allure of dog treats, extra water, and dog food bowls.

20181228_111416Luna loves snow

20190121_114438.jpgOn Lamberson Spur trail with Luna ❤

20190311_145202Luna at Six Months, ~40 lbs now. She grew so fast!

The memories keep flooding back, as Luna does something in the same way as Lucy, or takes up a guard stance against sudden noises, gives big wet sloppy kisses. She’s so expressive, so loving, and so energetic! She’s such a goofball, everything has game potential. I’m told that I have my Mom voice back, too, somewhat on vacation since my adult children moved away.

Now, in the morning, or coming home from work, there’s that ritual again. Lucy would hear the bus and run up through the woods to meet me on my walk home. As she closed the distance, she’d drop into the dance. As all available energy was focused in one place, her butt would wiggle back and forth, as she danced the dance of joy and love. We’d run together the mile or so back down into the forest to the house.

Today, I dance the Wigglebutt Dance again, my heart singing a duet of love and joy with my soul, a new song of unconditional love, with Luna. Somewhere, over the Rainbow Bridge, I like to think Lucy sits, smiling, waiting for us, to dance again. That will really be quite something, our Wigglebutt Redux, as we all run off into the Sunset, together again, butts wiggling in tune to the universe.

20190322_181838“Ri ruv, ru, Ruzan” ❤

Eagle Creek Fire

I am sorry for the Eagles this day
I am sorry for the owls, ravens, hawks, songbirds, even the noisy jay
I am sorry for the pikas, chipmunks, squirrels, who would steal my lunch scraps
I am sorry for the majestic Elk, the deer, bobcats and lions of the mountains, I marvel at the rare sight of you, moving with ease and beauty
I am sorry for the fish, the snakes, my beautiful lowly banana slugs, the bees and butterflies
I am sorry that Man alone, of all creatures on this Earth, has lost the knowledge how to live in harmony with Nature
I am sorry that Man again has filled your magical home with smoke, fire, and death
I am sorry, I would do anything to reverse this, to restore your lives and homes
I am sorry, I honor your lives, extinguished by the thousands every hour of this terrible day
I am sorry, I hear and feel your souls, all crying out in fear, pain, and mortal agony
I am so very, very, terribly sorry, I pray that the universe will forgive us.

– Me, September 2017

😭 I read this poem and a few others at Mother Foucault’s Bookstore in Portland last year. My partner’s poetry and art were featured in an anthology. Both of us now participate in the 31 Days of August Postcard Poetry Fest. There’s a signup then you get a list of 31 names in your group. It was so fun and writing every day while traveling and playing in the summer sunshine gave extra inspiration. ❤

100 logs on the Pacific Crest Trail

“We were able to reopen these trails thanks to many volunteer hours put in by our trail partners such as the Pacific Crest Trail Association and Trailkeepers of Oregon.”

Lynn Burditt, Area Manager, CRGNSA
As I sorted my gear for a challenging two-day overnight logout on the Pacific Crest Trail in Oregon between the Gorge and Mt Hood last June, I received word that the Pacific Crest Trail and Herman Creek Trail would be opening that same weekend. 
I’d been working in (and out of) the burn since January 2018, clearing the massive debris piles of rock and wood from the trails, repairing root burn holes, doing treadwork, and cutting logs to remove them from the trail.  Scouting counted over 100 downed trees of cutting size, along a 16-mile section, our job was to remove them all, or as many as we could in two days. 
My First Logout, March 2018 on Herman Creek Trail ❤ 
There’s no way we could have done much of the work that Spring with the trail open, as we trigger rockfall, butt-scoot logs into oblivion down the hill, and roll fire-weakened boulders off-trail, watching their curvy, fire-hardened pieces as they explode into bits on their downhill travels.  We could only safely do much of the work with careful radio coordination, and keeping track of everyone out there.  In theory, that’s just us, but we did have occasional closure ban scofflaws show up during our work parties that Spring.  When that happens, we stop work, and one Crew Leader has to walk them out. 
 Herman Creek Trail, as we found it, March 2018
So I added to my anxiety, that we’d have random humans walking up from the Gorge, as we worked out way down from Wahtum Lake, camping at Benson Way near the origin of Ruckel Creek.  I was already anxious as it was my first actual backpacking trip, and I had to carry enough water for two days because water status was unknown along the Benson plateau, no one had scouted out our overnight spot.  Teakettle Springs had water, but that was a day two spot, down from Benson Plateau.  We’d already been there the prior month, and it was pretty crisp. 
Brian clearing out debris and filling water as Frank Jahn looks on at Teakettle Springs, May 2018
As we sorted out saws and tools, we were waiting on the nephew of one of the Thunder Island Brewing owners, who then showed up with a pile of growlers filled with hard cider, beer, and ales for after work on Saturday.  Taking one for the team (I don’t drink alcohol), I packed a 32 oz hard cider into my already too-heavy load.  I had four liters of water, the long crosscut saw ‘Herman Creek’ (saws all have names), my Katana-Boy 650mm folding saw, wedges, and handles for the crosscut, in addition to my overnight gear.  My pack was over 50 lbs, with tools and water.  After our car shuttle, I hefted it the first time and said to myself, “I hope I feel superhumanly strong today, because that’s damn heavy!” 
As we left the parking lot and the lush unburnt greenery of Wahtum Lake, we hiked into some of the worst burn I’ve seen in the Gorge from the Eagle Creek Fire. After months, you think you’re immune to the sadness of massive destruction of natural habitat, but as one of my thru-hiker friends later told me, ‘this was the saddest section of the PCT’ they had seen from Mexico to Canada. I still agree, it’s so toasted there. 
That’s what we call a Complex Log. 
We chucked piles of burned bark off the trail, focusing on the logs and not the tread.  Soon falling into a rhythm, we broke into two teams of 3-4 each and started clearing.  Drop the pack, assemble the saw if needed, swamp out the site (clear the branches and debris), prep the log (remove burned bark as it dulls the saw), then cut with the Katana or crosscut.  Push or carry the pieces off the trail, fix the tread as well as we can, and move on. 
I love my Katana-Boy, it rocks. 
Roberta asked us to count logs we personally finished that morning, so we’d have a strong count of how many we’ve removed.  I stopped at twenty-one, there were just so many.  Every time I dropped pack, deployed tools, worked, and picked that pack up again, it was a little harder.  
We finally broke for lunch at an overlook just before you climb up into Benson Plateau (Northbound), looking out into the watershed of the West Branch of Herman Creek, which escaped the fire.  No man-made trails there, it’s pristine green forest. 
I remember thinking ‘well, at least it’s not raining’, not long before the thunderstorms moved in.  Hot air pushed by East winds off the Oregon interior met less warm, moisture laden air coming from the West. It got dark fast, as packs were covered and shells came out, ready to keep working.  The rain was steady as we moved further North. 
Looking North toward Mt. Adams from the PCT as the t-storms march in 
There was a tremendous feeling of accomplishment, as we left miles of now log-free trail open behind us.  We didn’t see a soul that first day, as we worked past Smokey Springs, right above Eagle Creek’s Tunnel Falls.  Looking down into Eagle Creek watershed was sobering, the area near Tunnel took a big hit from the fires. 
Smokey Springs looking toward Eagle Creek and Tanner from the PCT 
Thankfully, the burn thinned by Benson Way, and we were in untouched forest. Most of the Benson Plateau escaped damage. We wrapped up our day’s work by 5 pm, and we left the PCT for our overnight, heading to setup camp and look for water.  I setup my tent that I’d never seen in just a few minutes (thank you, Kate, and Big Agnes!)
My happy camp at Benson Camp
It’s not far from the PCT to Benson Camp, I so recommend it for thru-hikers. Fabulous clear water, just expect mosquitoes. 
Headwaters of Ruckel Creek 
Camp established, we had a mission from the Forest Service to put up signs near closed junctions for Ruckel Creek Trail, so off we went after dinner on another short hike down to Hunter’s Camp.  
Max can always count on us to have his back
Hunter’s Camp is SO beautiful, I must go back and camp there. 
Growlers were heavy but oh so appreciated! Thank you, Thunder Island Brewery! 
Sore, cold, and tired, I’m so damn happy here.  Thanks for the loan, Kate!
It rained all night after I went to bed.  Cold, windy rain lashed my tent, as we camped at around 3500′ asl.  Sunday morning, I made oatmeal mixed with fruit, a pouch of steaming hot love I’d been coveting since about 5AM.  We split into two groups, five of us heading North to continue the logout, the rest working the tread as they hiked back to Wahtum Lake to retrieve cars. 
The sun broke through as we broke camp and headed back North on the PCT. Mosquitoes were crazy thick getting out of Benson Camp, I was really wishing for helmet netting.  We were a bit tired, wet, sore, with another very full day ahead of us.  I knew about three complex logs down-trail that we left working up from the Gorge in May, and sure enough, they hadn’t grown legs and left. Bummer. 
Sunday’s first test was a multi-hour adventure, a massive Doug Fir fallen mostly lengthwise right onto a narrow section of the trail, completely blocking it.  The branches were thicker than my arms. We ended up cutting it out in three sections.  We did extensive treadwork on the area around it, too.  You can still see the remnants as you walk by. The tread looked fabulous when we were done. Tree gone, trail almost back to spec width. 
We hiked to the Red Rock viewpoint for lunch. That charred ridge in the distance behind me is what’s left of Nick Eaton and Groton Creek trails, some of the worst damaged in the burn. Herman Creek Trail is in the valley below. 
I’ve been told I’m really enthusiastic. All I know is I’m SO happy here, so in my element. 
In the afternoon, We worked our way down to our last large and complex log, on the switchbacks below Teakettle.  We’d started on the beast a month prior, cutting out branches so people could at least pass underneath it on our last logout coming up from the Gorge in May. 
Look at the size of those branches! #crosscutparty
Unfortunately, the thunderstorms made a repeat appearance, and this time lightning and thunder made us reconsider how long we wanted to spend on this log that day with wind, thunder, and lightning, so we packed it in and left one damn log.  ONE log! Our now very tired party marched mostly in silence as the evening approached, down the switchbacks to Herman Creek Bridge trail, to the HCT TH, and packed up. 
We ended up the weekend at Thunder Island Brewery, eating, drinking, and remembering.  We tallied up the miles of trails cleared, over 100 logs gone that thru-hikers wouldn’t have to step over or climb around, 16 miles of trail cleared down to the tread, holes filled, and now finally, OPEN.  
I thought a lot about the past nine months as I sat there, from my first training for Crew Leader on a rainy day across the river back in November 2017, to the massive undertaking we had just completed.  Our mission was to clear the trail that was opening, and we did it.  I still remember that feeling, of sawing all day, lifting the pack over and over again as we moved work sites.  It hurt, it was hard, and I needed to do it, so I did. I’m perhaps inordinately proud of that, I didn’t allow fear to make me back away from a big challenge. 
When the Eagle Creek Fire roared through 49,000 acres of pristine Gorge forests in September 2017, I cried a river.  Ashes fell at home and in Portland, as daily we watched another favorite place go up in smoke. When I first walked into Herman Creek to work in March, when it was still closed, I took a ‘bio-break’ to sit and cry for what was lost.  
My thinking has really evolved since then. The Eagle Creek fire changed my trajectory in life from a consumer, a hiker, who uses trails, to a Steward.  When I hike today, my Silky 300 saw goes with me, and I pick up branches off the trail, cut out low-hanging ones, even clear small logs.  If there’s a significant problem on the PCT, I note it and pass it along. 
I’ve made wonderful new friends, learned so many skills, and I can say that I made a difference. I don’t see that changing soon, and truthfully, it’s a pretty darn great place to be.  
Helpful links if you want to volunteer:
Locally, Mount Hood Chapter PCTA:
Pacific Crest Trail Association Volunteer Page:

The Unicorn Day Hike

“I CELEBRATE myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.

My tongue, every atom of my blood, form’d from this soil,
this air,
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and
their parents the same,
I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.

Creeds and schools in abeyance,
Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never
I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,
Nature without check with original energy.”

– Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself”

There’s really something quite special about undertaking adventures that you’re not quite sure you can do. Looping Mount Saint Helens on the Loowit in a day (30 miles, 6,000′ e.g.), or circumnavigating Mount Hood in a day on the Timberline Trail (38 miles, 9,000′ e.g.), they both fall into this category. They test your physical and spiritual resolve, they push you to hike and climb literally all day (and usually after dark, too).


Then there’s the Lamberson Spur to Timberline Trail Loop hike. It’s less on paper, at just 21 miles and 5,700′ e.g. Actually, it’s not on paper, because the trail that makes it possible was envisioned and partially built, but never completed. Lamberson Spur Trail ends three miles after it starts, at the staging area from the last big forest fire that hit Vista and Gnarl ridges.


Kate and I have done the hike or snowshoe up to trail’s end, starting at Polallie Trailhead, several times, gazing up at the high mountain while we lunched at the turnaround point. Two years ago I first broached the idea of continuing up several more miles, through the old burn, massive piles of blowdown, old growth alpine forest, and scree fields, all the way to the Timberline Trail. I studied it on Google Earth, looking for variations that would avoid the worst parts of the burn. There weren’t any.


I thought to myself, ‘this is a Craig hike, for sure’, and so I reached out to him. Turns out, he’d already done it, with Rigby the Hiking Dog, no less, back in June! So we set a date for a repeat in late Summer/Early Fall for the long days, intending to refine the route a bit and enjoy a long day on the trail. I hadn’t yet figured out my best route back from the junction with the Timberline Trail at 8,000′, but Craig had. Look how happy we are to pummel ourselves for the next ten or eleven hours.


We started out on a fine September morning with clouds and sun, stopping by Tamanawas Falls on the way. Craig amused me with a really funny story about how he contemplated off-trailing to above the Falls last trip, but didn’t. Pretty much looks like he would have cliffed out, so a wise end-of-the-day decision not to. 

I’ve hiked a lot with Rigby, he is still the hikingest dog I know.


After climbing up and following Lamberson Spur Trail #644, we paused at the ‘Helipad’, the scene of firefighting ops during the Gnarl Ridge Fire. Here, the trail ends, though there are traces of where it used to go part way up. Our mission was to clear the mile-plus of blowdown, gain the ridge, and stay on it until we faded left across the scree fields and gained the white post signifying we’d reached the Timberline Trail #400, at its highest point on Mt. Hood (~8,000′ a.s.l.).


In keeping with giving significant natural features memorable names, indicating deep meaning and unassailable character, we dubbed this unnamed trail ‘Susan Way’.


Blowdown is always a pain in the ass, blocking passage and trying to hurt you with broken sharp bits, and this was the Mother of all blowdown fields. Trees stacked upon trees, at times the only available route was to climb onto a tree, take it until you reached another tree, and tightrope walk your way up.



We spent a few hours getting through about two miles, until we finally were scooting along a knife ridge with a massively scary drop at times to the right, butt-scooting down a few steep ridges.



Our reward for clearing the blowdown fields and the ridges was…more scree. ‘We scree, you scree, we all scree for more scree!’ Sideways scree!



The clouds were spectacular on the high mountain, and gave us glimpses of the summit as we climbed up. At the end of the burn, we walked into the most beautiful, mossy old growth forest that escaped the fire. Look at the snow level on these trees, as indicated by the moss line!


I’m a pretty happy hiker. I found a tree to climb. Rigby wasn’t impressed.


Clearing the tree line, clouds broiled around us, we saw white posts and gave high-fives for reaching our high point goal. All downhill from here…well, sort of.

We gazed across the canyon at Meadows ski area, always impressed by its immensity.

We descended toward Lamberson Spur and hooked up with the Gnarl Ridge trail, headlights ready as we knew we would run out of daylight shortly after Elk Meadows, with a large stream crossing further down now consigned to darkness.

We just flew down the arrow straight Elk Meadows trail as we lost the daylight, still a few hours from closing our loop. I chased Rigby at a fast clip, powering over rises, drunk with the ecstasy of hours of continuous movement.  I’ve extended my endurance dramatically the last three years, and I find I get into a really pleasant zone after so many hours on trail. I had more power and felt faster after nine hours than I did at two. Then, I’m good for ten, twelve, even up to around eighteen hours on trail, so long as I keep eating and drinking. This has really pushed me toward more trail Ultras, with the confidence I can handle 50k trail runs without concern of finishing.

I hear Craig say behind me, ‘I hope that log is still there’ and my ‘hoo-boy’ detector goes off, here’s some fun!  I crawled across it, not wanting to risk my balance after ten hours on the trail on walking on a slick log.  Rigby ran across and looked at me like ‘Rut’s the big deal, Ruzan?’ Oh, and if you look close, the log is utterly compromised, splitting into pieces, and probably will be in the stream soon, if it isn’t already.  Thankfully, I didn’t notice that until we were across it.


We returned finally to the Lamberson Spur junction, where Rigby posed for some scary night photos.


We finally hit the trailhead after a few hours hiking in the dark, one of my favorite things to do.  As a kid, I’d run into the forest at night with my Aussie, Lucy, just to feel and hear the deep woods at night.   Our current Aussie, Luna, won’t be up for this level of hike for a few years even, but I look forward to someday showing her this part of the wonderful world in which we live. 

Miles of blowdown sure killed our moving average, but what a great day on the trail!

There’s a bat-shit-crazy option for the next time we do this hike, adding a few miles and another ~500-1000′ of climbing, some on snow, to visit the Bandit Rock/Boulder. It’s a giant rock that tumbled down from the summit block of Hood sometime in the last 20 years, visible from the top of Cooper Spur. I’ve been there once, and it seems a shame to pass just underneath it again, so it’s also on the menu for the next trip in June 2019.

Thanks to Craig for his photos, and to Rigby for being our stalwart adventure companion!


Additional excellent resources for this hike:

Lamberson Spur Loop Hike:

Bandit Rock Trip Report – truly, named after a box of cheap wine:

Cold Warriors

Kate, Karen and I went down to Mt. Hebo in Oregon this weekend with Luna, for a repeat of the hike Kelley and I did last July.  It’s not a heavy hitter, at under 2k eg and 9-10 miles, but it’s so worth the trip.  Native Americans established their primary route over the Coast Range to the Tillamook area through this forest, thousands of years ago, right over Mt. Hebo. They figured that building paths down at the river level, through thick brush filled with Devil’s Club wasn’t nearly so attractive as using easily traversed ridgeline trails.  Go figure.


Fires smote much of this area flat with blackened stumps around a hundred years ago, and it was re-planted several times.  Seeds from elsewhere were tried, resulting in sub-optimal growth compared to native Oregon Doug Fir (again, go figure).  As you walk from the moss-covered Spruce of the pre-plantation trail, the green, even now in very early Spring, is intense. Moss, bracken fern, it’s so lush.


The transition to the plantation trees is abrupt as you enter and exit an area where active logging has recently taken place. The tall skinny trees lack understory, the forest has no diversity in its growth. We stopped a few times to cut out branches blocking the trail, and I cut out some small fresh blowdown that was blocking the trail.


With a solid third left on the hike up, the trail disappeared into the snow and required me to consult my Garmin frequently to keep us on track as we neared the summit area. There was some brief entertainment watching a black 4×4 have a go at the piles of wet snow as we crossed Mt. Hebo road.  He didn’t make it.


The post-holing thankfully was relatively short as we broke trail up the road and scrambled through the woods to pop up next to the modern communications arrays at the top.  The trail off the road is still flagged nicely, as it was in summer. Luna was not super impressed with the views from the top, but loved jumping in all the snow.


While there’s nothing left of it today, this summit was the site of a massive USAF Radar Station from the mid-1950’s to 1980.  It’s since been utterly decommissioned and all traces gone, but it was enormous in its day and in a spot where the wind blows and it rains or snows 180″ a year.  Corrugated sewer pipes connected buildings like some giant habitrail.


The people who ran it were my father’s generation, actually his co-workers of a sort, Cold Warriors.  My dad, Lt. Col. ‘Bob’ Robert Tracy, was a ‘Whizzo’, the weapons and radar officer and second pilot on a McDonnell Douglas F-101 ‘Voodoo’ fighter for much of his career.  This radar installation undoubtedly played a big role in their war games and training intercepts of ‘Soviet’ bombers (B-52 full of electronic gear).  It’s not hard at all to imagine the radio traffic, filled with military jargon, as they practiced over and over to defend us against a bomber-borne nuclear attack that never came.

McDonnell F-101B

A seriously naturally curious little kid, I once asked my Dad why he had to practice so much, which led to me asking ‘How many bombers can you shoot down?’.  He answered ‘Five.’  Being the little geek I was, I knew that his plane only carried four air-to-air missiles in pairs, hidden in the fuselage on a rotating sponson.  They included options for nuclear-tipped warheads.  ‘But you only have four missiles, how do you get five bombers?’, I asked.  ‘The fifth ‘missile’ is my aircraft’, he answered.  I was only about eight or nine, and I’ll never forget that image of someone so dedicated to their mission that nothing else mattered.


Rain and wind cut short my musings on the top, and we ate a quick lunch then headed back down the trail.  I had to stop and take photos of the mannequins that someone cleverly setup inside one of the modern facilities.

Walking down, as I watched Luna bunny-hopping through the snow, I thought about how the world I grew up in was locked in a global struggle with nuclear annihilation for the stakes, superpowers against one another.  The threat outside, the ‘other’, that’s what we were taught to fear as kids, East was bad, West was good. I’m glad I asked a lot of questions, and never went down that dark tunnel of false fear.


I think we all had a serious sigh of relief when we reached solid, snow-free trail again, it’s been a long winter here, though most of the snow came late. Snotel maps tell me we’re above 100% of the 10-year average again in all parts of the state, so good to know for the fire season this summer.  Luna sure is a lot faster on open trail!


We had another obligatory treat stop in the logged area, letting Kate and Karen join in the doggo fun.  Luna’s still a big puppy at 6 months, and though she’s strong, has growing left to do. Our hikes are shorter, with lots of stops and treats, plus the mythical full third meal of the day, dog food for lunch. Luna approves.


Auntie Kate got her turn, too.


We made it back to the trailhead, for a long and lovely conversation with one of the volunteer Forest Service hosts, and headed North to Hug Point, to end our day on the coast in sunshine and smiles.