We’ve had a wetter-than-average winter around these parts. While this alleviates some concerns for summer droughts, it’s safe to say that an overwhelming majority of Cascadian residents are welcoming drier weather.
And this week, finally, finally, FINALLY! The nicer weather has arrived. It’s been sunny since Tuesday, and we’ve finally crested 70F/21C for the first time this year. And it’s supposed to remain nice until Sunday, when we get a brief return of wet, though that isn’t predicted to last long before more nice weather arrives mid-week. And yes, we all know that we’re not going to get consistently dry and warm weather until June or July. But we’ll be seeing more nice weather interspersed with the wet.
And finally, my days off aligned with this nice weather. Now I could have attempted a camping trip to make up for the washout of last week, but it’s really hard to motivate myself to camp two weeks in a row. (It’s easier to do this at the end of a season, when the nice days are limited, rather than at the beginning, when you know more nice days are to come.*) I may camp next week, when there should be some nice weather again, but for this week I decided to stick closer to home, and get out as much as I could.
On Tuesday March 29, I needed to make a long-neglected run to the Swedish Embassy of Shopping up near the airport. Now it’s not too far from my house (7 miles via the most direct route), but since it was so durn nice, a high of 65F/18C, I wanted to make more of a ride of it. So I headed on up to Rocky Butte first, which isn’t too far from the SEoS. It was a good day to be up there, as the views of all the mountains were of course great. There were plenty of other folks enjoying Rocky Butte as well.
After I dropped off the goods at home, I decided to undertake the first Sunset Burrito Club of 2016. (Last year, I got my first one in in January!) The usual spot, Rivendell Ridge, was nice and inviting, and surprisingly quiet. After the “show” I headed up to University Park where I enjoyed a nice beer outdoors at the Chill and Fill. I’m looking forward to more post-sunset outdoor beers in the coming months.
I wanted to do something more ambitious on Wednesday March 30, so I aimed for Powell Butte, another volcanic cinder cone with a great view. I rarely head up to Powell Butte in the winter, as most of the ways up there (save for the very-steep service road to the parking lot) are trails, and they are often quite muddy in the winter. (Riding that service road isn’t fun, and if there’s no view from the top and you can’t ride the trails, not much point in going to Powell Butte for me.) While it had been dry the past few days, I was worried that all the rain we got over the winter would have saturated the soil on all the trails. While my preferred route to the top, Holgate,** had muddy spots, it ALWAYS has muddy spots, even in September, when the rainy season is but a distant memory. (The muddiness is due to the various creeks and seeps that flow across the trail.) And descending via my preferred route, Elderberry/Cedar Grove was very nice and dry.
And man, there were quite a bit of people up on Powell Butte, to be expected for the warmest day of the year so far! So much so that there really wasn’t much room to hang out at the Mountain Viewfinder spot at the summit. (They only have one picnic table here, which seems a bit low.) I didn’t really want to hang with people, plus there were some insects swarming around me (flying ants?) so I went to the bench with the view of Mount Saint Helens and made some coffee. I also found a new viewpoint*** off of Summit Lane that had stones for sitting and a nice view of Hood. And most importantly it was free of people! 😉 (And mostly of bugs, too.)
I lingered for quite a while atop the butte, as I don’t get out this way as much as I’d like. After descending, it was dinner time. I could have headed westward back towards Portland, but I didn’t feel like riding into the sun along the Springwater Corridor, so I went eastward to Gresham and had some good Lebanese food at Nicholas and a nice beer at The Hoppy Brewer. It was dark by then, and rather than ride the whole way home I cheated a bit and took the MAX light rail. 😀
Oh man, I can’t wait for more nice days. It’s just good to be outside in this weather, and it reminds me of fun times in the past.
*Case in point: October of 2013 featured a lot of nice weather. I didn’t camp much that summer (and September was very wet) so I pushed myself to camp three weeks in a row. It was a bit of a stretch, since I was lured into the final camping trip because it was a group thing (that turned out to be only me and Chris Chen) but I was in the mood for camping then.
**It starts at the end of SE Holgate Blvd, hence the name. It’s also a nice even 6% or so grade the whole way up.
***There has been a bit of construction and changes to Powell Butte the last few years, due to the construction of a new underground reservoir at the top.