Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Touching Earth Wilderness Retreat ; Wy'East(Mt.Hood) July 2015: Yocum RIdge

Just got back Sunday from a most joyous and beautiful time in the wild with my sangha. Here is a recap with lots of pics!  Also check out my experience from last year's circumambulation around the mountain.

We gathered Sunday night (28th) before leaving and prepped a bit, making Hazel/Sunflower butter, steamed greens, dried kale and assembled the copious amounts of bread we would divvy up. We ended up leaving around 2pm Monday the 29th for the 65 mile cycling journey to Wy'East with 9 fine folks. We took the Springwater Corridor to Boring, had a nice break at the rest area there, gorging ourselves on mulberries and bread, and then through Boring and  more roundabout way, avoiding the cacophony/pollution of Highway 26. We eventually get on Marmont road where we always eat dinner on top of the gigantic hill, and refill via well water from a kind householder. From there we zip down to Barlow pass road(the historic Oregon Trail route) and then LoloPass to Ramona Falls Trailhead.

Approximate Route

Boring, Oregon

Boring overpass


Near bike camp Ramona Falls Trailhead

 A couple people camped earlier along the Sandy, but the rest of us pushed on to our bike camp near the Ramona Falls Trailhead, arriving around 1:30am.

On Tuesday we set out for first leg of the hike, which went right past lovely Ramona Falls.

Ramona Falls
Alexa and Andy

From the falls we started up our steeper ascent towards Yocum Ridge. We smartly decided on stopping a few miles short at a lovely grass and pond filled meadow. As we were sitting(meditating) in the evening, we heard and felt a huge "CLUMP CLUMP" off to our right, startling me as I was maybe 20 feet away from whatever went just went bump in the night. Then it started snorting from the tree line further down before it all went quiet. Sasquatch....? We asked Satya when he got back from the water run and he said he heard it all the time "That's just an Elk." Whew. Though I did scooch my bedroll a little closer to the circle....and my trusty 8 foot bamboo walking pole was close by... After we woke, a few of us doused(pouring water over head) in the pond, trying our best not to disturb the hundreds of tadboles swimming about. Alexa actually carried a large white bike bucket pannier up the entire mountain just to douse with it. Hardcore.

From there we rolled out towards "lower Yocum Ridge" as a possible camp destination if we didn't feel like going all the way up. We stopped for a snack and to disccuss our next plans.

View from Lower Yocum trail. The ridgeline on the left is where we would end up in a couple hours

Snackin Spot before heading up higher

From here we treked up the final leg over this sketchy rocky slope, it was scrambling at times on slippery shale gravel in the blazing late afternoon sun, but we made it up the ridge. Here we stayed from Wed-Fri nights, with morning practice of sitting/Qi Gong/yoga, breakfast, day hikes/napping(my specialty) and evening dinner. 

Hobbit Hole Shade Spot

Captain Sprout

Mt, Jefferson

Dinner first night, barley/kale/spirulina yumz

(L-R St.Helens, Rainer. Adams)

Thursday Morning sitting

 SW View from my sleeping spot

NW View from my sleeping spot

Melting Glacier

Fallon's Toothbrush

Jay and candle

Thursday Evening Sitting

Friday morning sitting

Mt Rainer/Adams

Morning Moon

Friday morning Qi-Gong

Group pic before our hike back down Saturday(im holding bamboo pole)

 We hiked back down Saturday, and it was quite the long day. I ended up run-shuffling down half the mountain on way back because my boots were cutting into my ankles too much, and I just prefer barefoot when possible. Hiking 10+miles with full pack barefoot really does strain the 'ol muscles though, my calfs/hips were insanely tight and sore, and when I made it into camp around 10pm, I was groaning and moaning at the group meal, nearly falling asleep.

Sunday we packed up all our gear and a few folks stayed back for an extra day to rest/enjoy the mountain, while 5 of us made the journey back, leaving about 2;30pm and arriving back at my house around 10;30pm. We watched the sunset coming in on the SpringWater, where we saw lots of rabbits, a coyote pup and snarfed down lots of thimbleberries.

Another  profound wilderness trip with people I hold near and dear to my heart! More adventures to come soon!


-Check Ins/Group Communication; I really appreciate the intention kept to hear all inputs and reasonings for actions on the trip, and trying our collective best to ensure harmony and inclusion.

-Glacier Melting: The entire time we were up on Yocum Ridge the glacier was rumbling and huge chunks would careen down the mountain side, throwing rocks and ice shards everywhere. Epic, yet also sad with climate change wreaking havoc on this area.

-No Cooking!: Because it was so hot and we didn't want to lug up a rocket stove and fuss with generating heat for cooking, we just sprouted/soaked everything, and it was freaking delicious, though the chic peas gave me some serious bloatage,,,,;)

-BUGS!; Highly unusual for both this time of year and at all areas of elevation, we were under constant assault from Horse/Deer flies that bit HARD. We had to cover ourselves head-to-toe around camp lest we get feasted on, and the constant buzzing around our heads made many of us weary. Climate change for the lose!

-Group Meals; One of the highlights of day was meal-time, a very serene, ritual of connecting and mindfully appreciating our food and company. Breakfast was oats with nuts/cinnamon bread chunks, and dinner was whatever we sprouted/soaked during the day; lentils, chic peas, barley etc. LOTS OF NUT BUTTER AND BREAD!

-Ladus; After the 100th sophomoric joke about our dessert nut butter balls, we rebranded them Ladus, after the sweet little Indian treats. These have always been a staple of our trips, and are great for dessert or quick jolt of energy on the trip. We each had 5 of these on the return trip for instance, and we probably made something like 50-60 during the trip, using hazelnut/sunflower butter with various spices, cocoa powder, chocolate chips and more.

-Kingfisher and Satya; The morning before we left there was this uber cute little Kingfisher bird whom was hanging around our camp. Satya seemed to have a special bond, and crept really close, talking to it.

-Dousing: Up on Yocum we had this amazing glacial stream 200 yds from camp and everyday people would dump this frigid water on their head. I did it once before we left with some friendly encouragement, and it resulted in the worst ice-cream type headache/throbbing you could imagine....not totally thrilled, but fun nonetheless.

-Sunsets/Views; The pictures should be pretty self-evident, but the 180 degree views off mountains, glaciers, streams, foothills and the breathtaking setting sun were awe-inspiring.

More info on Yocum Ridge: