This weekend was a lovely escape into eastern Oregon for some (much needed) sunshine and R&R. Actually, by "R&R" I mean that we hiked 20 miles, got sunburned, and got blisters on every toe (I discovered 2 miles in that my boots were too narrow and I spent the following 18 miles limping along under a 40 pound pack).
But the scenery was beautiful and I couldn't stop staring at the sky, which was a brilliant blue with the puffiest white clouds I've ever seen. The stark, rolling hills and dry shrubs of the high desert of Oregon was such a change from the green, rainy, misty Portland weather that I've grown used to. It was hard to convince myself we were only two hours from home. I could've convinced myself we were in Arizona at any moment, except that the blasting sun was cooled by a gentle, chilly breeze during the day that made backpacking SO much nicer.
Side note: I've decided that 50 degrees and sunny is my absolute FAVORITE kind of weather. Anyone know where I can live that is moderately cold and sunshiney all the time? I'm moving there immediately.
The hike was an easy one, because we were hiking along an old railway bed, so it was very level and covered in a loose gravel. The trail is often used by equestrians and bikers, and the campsites used by the rafters who ride the Deschutes River in the summer. Each bend of the river brought new beauty and a new sense of "old west", including a few old cable cars beside the road.
By night we settled into camps by the river, listening to the slosh of the water as we gobbled down some delicious backpacker meals. When it got dark by 7:00 there wasn't much to do except go to bed, so we zipped our sleeping bags together and fell asleep -- and when we woke up early the next day with the sun, it didn't feel early at all.
After three days in the wild we returned back to civilization, but I had forgotten what an effect a cool breeze and a warm sun can do for my disposition. The rain in the Columbia Gorge can be beautiful, but the sun was invigorating and it brought with it a sense of renewal. It was a much needed escape.
As for the photos, a few weeks ago I ordered myself a super-fancy high-dollar glass circular polarizing filter for my camera so I could get some great landscape shots with that dark blue sky that I've been missing in all my photos. (Polarizing filters keep your sky from getting that white "washed out" look when the camera is trying to balance the lights and darks in your shot. Think of it like wearing sunglasses.) Of course, I haven't been able to use it yet because I've barely seen the sun in Portland lately, but I was excited to try it out in sunny Bend last weekend.
Tragically, I forgot the filter at home and spent the whole trip cursing myself. (I even made up a song about it.) So I apologize for these shots being somewhat washed out... I swear the sky was the craziest shade of blue and I wish I could have captured it better.
When we got back from our trip, Tanner automatically began laying out all of our gear on the floor for cleaning. (I have him trained so well.) We made a bucket of soapy water and meticulously scrubbed clean our packs, sleeping pads and the tent (which we set up in our living room for ease of cleaning/drying) before putting them away. I told him, "now isn't it nicer knowing all our gear will be clean and dry for the next time we use it?" He just rolled his eyes, because sometimes my OCD tendencies are a little ridiculous, even for him.
While I wrapped my feet with tape (the blisters on my little toes were bigger than my toes, themselves...) and basked in the warmth of my sunburn, Tanner caught up on his tv shows and I turned in for bed at 10:00 pm, because "it's three hours past my bedtime!"
Our last day off was spent in the sun around town and at the tulip festival... but that's a story for another day.