Labor Day 2018 Barlow Trail Adventure

Excuse the lack of clarity in the photos and the videos; they were all taken with an iPhone 6 mounted to my windshield. The road was very bumpy and your looking through the very dirty windshield .

I was asked by my son to join him and 3 other friends to traverse the Barlow Trail on Labor Day weekend. I use the term Barlow Trail and Barlow Road interchangeably as the non-paved portion of this route is considered a trail on forest service roads.

What is the Barlow Road? Originally named the Mount Hood Highway this historic road/trail was the last segment of the Oregon Trail over the Cascades from Missouri.  The opening of the Barlow Road in 1846, as a toll road, allowed wagons to pass over the landscape that was both rough and steep. This ended up being the most harrowing 100 miles (160 km) of the 2,170-mile (3,490 km) Oregon Trail between Missouri and the Wilmette Valley in what was then the Oregon Territory. The original overland portion of the Oregon Trail ended in The Dalles, Oregon.

The Cascade Range of mountains west of The Dalles at Mount Hood proved to be an insurmountable obstacle to early wagon trains. Surviving the journey from Missouri the settlers found The Dalles crowded by others awaiting the expensive and dangerous passage down the Columbia River. Barge operators floated the wagons down the river, the settlors walked along the banks of the river or drove their livestock over the high-elevation Lolo Pass of the Cascades. This was the only way to complete the journey until 1846 when Sam Barlow was authorized in December 1845 by the Provisional Legislature of Oregon to build a road. The road proved popular with more than a thousand immigrants and 145 wagons using it in the first year of operation. Only about twenty percent of the old Barlow Road is still visible today, the rest being covered over by paved roads and highways.

This segment of the Barlow Road, now known as Barlow Trail (NF-3530), is open to 4x4ers, bicyclists, hikers, and those with an adventurous spirit.

Leaving town heading to the Barlow Road

Leaving early in the morning to rendezvous with the others at a roadside rest area by Mount Hood in Oregon my son and I arrived a little late, the others were waiting as we fueled up for the 32-mile overnight off-road adventure.

 

Heading east along Highway 26 to Highway 35 we turned off on a dirt side road to find the entrance to the Barlow Trial. Before continuing we all stopped and aired down our tires for better traction and to give us a more comfortable ride on the dirt forest service road. Our speed would not be more than 20 miles an hour although more often than not at a 5-10 miles per hour.

 

 

Turning left onto the road we stopped about 2-3 miles along under the trees for lunch. Sandwiches and snacks made, eaten and enjoyed we continued on.

At about 8 miles into the adventure we came to a bridge across a small river that was closed due to flood damage from a few years ago. Hikers and bicycles are allowed to cross but no vehicles are allowed. We went into the campground just before the closure to see if there was a way around or if we should just call it an early day and stop for the night. There is a way across the river but it is an illegal crossing and shouldn’t be used. As per Trails Off Road: “While there was once a crossing ….. the Motor Vehicle Use Map shows the crossing as being closed and all indications on the ground are that it is intended to be permanently closed. Further, the crossing itself is in a wilderness area. However, some 4x4ers still attempt the crossing illegally, damaging important natural resources in the process ………… Do not under any circumstances attempt the crossing. For those wanting to access the Keeps Mill Campground on the south side of White River, there are well-maintained roads coming from the south. Remember it is everyone’s responsibility to Stay on the Trail and Tread Lightly to protect our natural resources and help preserve access to our shared 4×4 trail system.” At the time we did not know this information but we all came to the conclusion this was probably an illegal crossing and we shouldn’t cross.

Deciding it was still too early we retraced our tracks then headed east on Highway 35 until we could reconnect with the trail on the opposite bank of the river.

 

 

Back on the trail we found a side trail that cut off to the north along the creek we had been paralleling. We drove in about a mile and found a beautiful creek side camping area to enjoy our evening. Fires were not permitted due to the high fire danger that the entire west was having so we sat around a legal propane fire pit one of the guys brought for a nice evening under the stars and a pretend fire. We all headed to bed rather early, bunch of old farts, and enjoyed listening to the stream splashing by us all night long.

 

 

After a great nights rest we got up for breakfast. Having eaten and picked up my camp I looked around the area and noticed some large cat prints in the sand down by the creek just 20 yards from camp. A mountain lion had been down to the water sometime during the night as we all were asleep to have a drink. They were relatively fresh in the sandy mud and in the water so it must have come down early this morning before we got up. My son got a little nervous at that point as his 3-year-old son with us. The rest of the time we were there as he ran around camp, the forest and creek side there was one of the 5 of us keeping our eyes open and not letting him wander to far from us.

Continuing on after breakfast we still had a fair ways to travel.

 

 

The group at lunch at the end of the trail

Upon completion of the trail a little after 1 PM and stopped at The Sportsman Bar and Grill in Wamic, OR for some nice big burgers before we all headed home our separate ways.

 

Heading north my son and I caught Interstate 84 at The Dalles and drove along the Columbia River until we crossed back into Washington on the Interstate 205 bridge. Arriving home right around 5 PM I unpacked the perishable foods from the cooler, showered and just rested until retiring for an early bedtime.

What a great time was had by all, it was great to finally meet this group of guys my son talks so highly about. I cannot wait to share some more adventures with them.

 

 

Additional walks I made prior to Labor Day

So I have made additional walks around my area exploring more of the sites in Lacamas Park, Burnt Bridge Creek Trail, Columbia River Renaissance Trail and the Discovery Historic Loop which passes through Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, Officers Row and Downtown Vancouver. I am so enjoying my new life finding many new places to explore. My next adventure is a 2 day trip along the Barlow Trail with some new friends. Stay tuned for the post with photos, videos and information about this historic trail.

The Move and What I have been doing recently.

My posting has slacked off a bit recently as I decided to move 1,000 miles ( 1,609 k) north to Washington State, which was why the Alaska Trip was postponed a year. Selling my home in So Cal was a difficult decision having grew up in Orange County been living in this house for the last 26 years. Selling, buying and relocating has been taking up a lot of my time.

Since the move I have been getting settled in my new place and adventuring the local area around me. Here are some photos of the move and the areas I been exploring.

THE MOVE

Columbia River Trail

Round Lake Park

Lacamas Lake Trail

Burnt Creek Bridge Trail

Next adventure is starting tomorrow as I travel to Cape Desolation, WA, Fort Stevens, OR then head down the coast to Tillamook, OR and finally back home. Post to follow.

FORT VANCOUVER NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE

This National Historic Site has a long history on the north bank of the Columbia River, starting as a Hudson Bay fur trading post. The Park is a collection of 4 distinct sites, Old Fort Vancouver, The Village, Pearson Air Field and Vancouver Barracks, each having a history of transition, settlement, manufacturing and conflict.

“Old Fort Vancouver”, visited before (LINK) which I will discussed more in a future post, was established around 1825 by the Hudson Bay Company. Serving as the main headquarters of the Company’s interior fur trade from Russian Alaska to Mexican California and everything west of the Rocky Mountains.

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Reconstructed Old Fort Vancouver

“The Village” provided the area for housing the workers and their families who supported Fort Vancouver. Established in 1829 it had a population exceeding 600 and was one of the largest settlements in the west at that time.

“Pearson Air Field” first used the Polo Field of the Vancouver Barracks as a site for aviation enthusiasts to gather and show off their aerobatic skills in the early years of the 20th century. During World War I a Spruce Production Mill was built on the Polo Field to supply aviation grade lumber in the manufacturing of war planes. After the war the Spruce Mill was removed and “Vancouver Barracks Aerodrome” was built, in 1925 it was christened “Pearson Air Field,” after Lt. Alexander Pearson. I will go into more detail of this part of the Park in a future post.

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Postponement of the adventure to the Great White North

Well plans have totally changed, during the last part of July right before I was to leave on my Northern Adventure. My daughter, my grandson, 13 and granddaughter, 10 were going to move out of the house so I decided to sell my home of 27 years and move north. She really wanted and loved the family home so it was agreed she would buy the home and the transaction was a go without the house ever going on the market.

That changed my plans drastically.

I reviewed my future and decided to move up the relocation to the Pacific Northwest to be by my son, daughter-in-law, 3 YO grandson and the new addition that was due in a couple of weeks. Well, going on this travel adventure and relocating 1,000 miles (1,610 k) away within a couple of months was too much for me to handle. So the Adventure would have to wait a year.

Leaving the beginning of August I traveled north to stay with my son and family while waiting on the new little one to be born. I started looking for homes and exploring the area the day after I arrived.

My daughter-in-laws family wanted to go out with kayaks on Lacamas Lake the next day, so off we went. It was a wonderful morning paddling around on this 3-mile (4.8k) long lake.

 

Next up was a loop walk down to the Columbia River then exploring Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. I will cover this walk in my next post as it deserves it’s own post.

Fort Vancouver National Historic Park-12

BarraParade Grounds, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

Later in the week I went for a pleasant morning 4-mile (6.4k) walk around Round Lake, a wonderful area with many hiking trails, trees, waterfalls and streams. I went home to relax and in the afternoon started looking at homes in the area.

 

One day out of the blue we visited this wonderful home located in a pocket of pines, I really loved this place and it reminded me of a cabin that I had once owned in Lake Arrowhead, CA. My son and daughter-in-law basically said I should put an offer in right away or they might buy it, LOL. The next day I put my offer in and after a little negotiating it was to be mine.

house

A few days later a beautiful baby boy was born.

 

What an exciting and unexpected time I had in those few weeks. Instead of  heading into the great white north after the birth of my grandson, the plans suddenly changed with the selling my home, exploring some beautiful areas, buying a new home and being there for my forth grandchild’s birth.

Well now to make the drive back south and start packing up for the move. That’s going to be a massive amount of work.

This Lonely Old House

It has been an empty house for 2 years since I lost my best friend, my love. It is hard to perform even the simplest tasks such as getting the mail, cleaning, picking up the phone, or just being happy. I keep the house dark and rattle around through ti’s rooms. Being all that’s left of 2 that lived as one has been difficult, I hardly care about anything anymore. Her spirit has been with me since that night, I feel her everyday although I am now just an empty shell of a man.

One night as I sat in the Living Room I see a shadow down the hall and go to investigate.  Finding nothing, I feel a presence, the air gets cold and the hairs on the back of my neck are electrified. Walking past this spot the feeling dissipates but does not go away. I find nothing in any of the rooms I explore.

Going into the last room, our Bedroom, I feel the sensation once again. What is this, it is stronger this time, more intense. I say her name and it gets colder and the hairs on my neck are at attention. I say, “I love you, and always will”. The feeling slowly goes fully away.

Later in the year I feel lethargic, tired, achy, I eat to satisfy the requirement for nourishment but do not enjoy the taste anymore. Even the simplest tasks are getting more difficult.

One evening going to bed early I find sleep difficult, my body aches more this night. I finally fall asleep very late and find I have fallen into a very deep sleep with vivid dreams.

1 A quiet path to the light-1Finally waking I find myself standing in a forest with tall trees and a beautiful path leading away in front of me. I feel refreshed, energized, and younger than I have felt in years. Looking at my arms they look like a much younger version I remember from long ago.

Following the path in front of me for what feels like a very long time I notice I am not tired or hungry. Finally coming to a steam crossing the path I sit down on the near bank listening to the trickling water trying to understand what is happening and where I am going.

unnamedSoon walking toward me on the opposite bank along the path a younger healthier version of my love is approaching. Nothing is said as she crosses the stream, she bends over, resting her hands on my knees, giving me gentle kiss. This has been a strange dream, I smell the forest, feel the path under my feet, feel her hands on my knees, feel her hair in my hands and her soft lips on mine.

Reaching for my hands she stands motioning me to rise to my feet. I stand and she lets go with one hand and we start across the small stream. I follow and when we reach the other side, her first words are spoken since the meeting, “I am so glad you are here”.

We walk along the path side by side. Not much is said except for small talk just as we have always had.

On we walk with the forest starting to thin and finally around a bend we come to a meadow. In the meadow below is a lovely small village with thatched cottages and homes built into the hillsides.

Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 8.07.44 PMWe walk through the village with its stores open, their wares displayed proudly on tables along the path, cafes with outside seating under small trees. Everyone smiles and says hello as we pass.

On the other side of the town we come to a small cottage and pass through its gate to the front door. She opens the door and walks in still holding my hand. As I cross the threshold she says, “Welcome home”.

My eyes adjust to the change of light and the rooms I am able to see feel familiar but new to me. She slowly closes the door behind us and I am frightened.  Will this end this dream for me to awake in that lonely house or become the beginning of a new reality?

The Lonely Roadhouse

First let me say, I am not a writer of books or stories. I enjoy writing of my travels and telling a little of the history of the places I visit.

I enjoyed the short story written by a blogging friend, Samantha James, on a photo I sent her a few weeks ago. On my trip to the Pacific Northwest in April I passed this abandoned motor lodge just off the road in the National Forests of Northern California and Southern Oregon. I thought of her when I saw it and was going to send her the photo to write another story as a challenge. I went to sent it and lo and behold there was no cell service, so getting back in my car I continued north along the highway through the forest. It was a lovely day but a prescribed burn by the Forest Service a few miles up the road put a heavy haze across the landscape.

My mind started thinking of what a nice place that motor lodge would have been back in the day and I started to flow with thoughts. This story came to me and I wrote it down that evening when I reached my destination in Vancouver, WA.

Inspired by Samantha’s story of Mackleberry Bridge. I hope you enjoy this.

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Motor Lodge

It had been a long days drive through the mostly quiet, narrow winding roads in the forest with numerous dirt roads and paths leading off to unknown locations.

Sam and Joann were getting tired and decided to stop at the first motel that looked inviting. They soon happened upon a quaint motor lodge just off the roadway.

The neon sign read “Deer Mt. Lodge” and “Vacancy” in beautiful brightly colored neon. There was only one other vehicle in the nice paved parking lot. The freshly painted and well cared for landscaping that said welcome for the evening to them.

Pulling into the parking lot they got out of the car and stretched their tired muscles. Going into the small office there was an older gentleman reading a book. As soon as they entered he put down the book and warmly welcomed them like family. Sam and Joann asked several questions of the room and decided this was the place to spend the night. The man handed them a key to room #5.

Pulling their car in front of the room they quickly emptied just what they needed for the night and opened the door to a cute, immaculate room. Smaller than a newer motel room it was still quaint and very retro.

Being very tired they quickly got ready for bed and fell fast asleep on the comfy mattress.

Sam was jolted awake in the middle of the night by a dream, NO A NIGHTMARE. There was a man standing over him with a long butchers knife raised high and plunging it towards his chest. Waking, breathing very hard he lurched upright in bed and quickly looked over to see Joann peacefully sleeping next to him. Slowly he regained his composure but had a restless nights sleep until morning.

Waking he asked his wife how she had slept and Joann said very fitfully with numerous dreams throughout the night. She turned to look at Sam although he did not see the young face of his wife but a much older Joann looking back at him. He said to himself that it must have been the restless sleep they both had and got out of bed to start the morning routine to get ready for the final long leg of their journey home.

Gathering all their belongings they walked toward the door although Joann froze in front of the door. Sam reached around her to open the door to a bright sunshine day awaiting then outside. Stepping though the door was like entering a portal through time. They passed from the brightly lit room into a dark cloudy day with heavy rain and lights flashing from half a dozen police cars.

Upon exiting the room they noticed the parking lot was now broken asphalt and mostly dirt, the landscaping was more weeds than plants and the outside of the lodge was in major need of repair with peeling paint. Walking toward their car that was being raised up by a tow truck, they looked at one another puzzled and noticed 4 men carrying 2 body-sized bags from the door they just exited.

Stopping next to 2 of the officers they were going to ask what has happened and heard this conversation…..

 

“It’s a shame what has happened to this place since the owner died.” remarked the lieutenant.

The second police officer stated, “ Yes, with the owner dying in his office desk reading a book.”

“What in the world made this couple want to stay the night in a run down place such as this?” asked the lieutenant.

“I don’t know” answered the second, “ but isn’t this the fourth homicide here this year?”

“Yes that sounds about right and strangely they have all been in Room #5.” the lieutenant remarked.