Friday, September 7, 2012

Magnolia Hill (WA) Saddle and Hum Bug Mountains (Oregon)

At the end of last month my family and I were treated with a week long stay in Seaside to help celebrate my parents anniversary. To help with the festivities where my brother and his family, my cousin and her husband, my sister and her daughter, my cousin from Germany with her husband and kids and my favorite uncle from Germany. This plan had been in the works for 15 months and while I was never sure what my work situation would be I committed to attending the whole week. I was really looking forward to this trip for some time. Finally the time had come to leave but first we had to head up to Magnolia to allow my wife to finish one last job before we were to set sail. I wasn't enthused with heading the wrong direction to start but the fact that my wife was going to get a nice check made this more tolerable. Once arriving in Magnolia I took the kids and the dog for a walk allowing her the opportunity to work unbothered. I hadn't thought of any destination but as always I look to go up hill. It hit me soon after departing that there must be some hill in Magnolia. I googled it and sure enough Magnolia hill was very close. I was excited to share a unexpected peakbagging opportunity with my children before we even left town. For me life is all about the small things and this was in my opinion a stellar way to start my first family vacation in many years.

     The drive down was a bit uncomfortable because I had to shoehorn all the gear in the back and allow some room for the dog. I was overjoyed that we could bring the dog which was very unexpected. As has been the case he has exceeded my expectations in each situation that he has been in. He was well behaved and was endearing to everyone he came across on this trip. The kids were well behaved for their first road trip and soon we found ourselves in sunny Seaside. While their where plenty of us, thankfully we weren't all there for the entire week giving us more than enough space. I couldn't believe the weather, sunny, warm and not a breath of wind.

    The first day I had dedicated to spending time with the family on the beach. It was a joy to see my two girls playing in the surf with their older German cousins. It is nice to see my girls experiencing life's joys without trepidation. After I grew weary of making sand castles I went in to get my feet out of the sun. Evidently the fact they had never seen sun before made them ripe for burning. I decided that the rest of this day was best spent in  a sun kissed chair with a healthy Bourbon. I had a wonderful conversation with my Uncle and just relaxed.

   I had hoped to sneak out at least one day to stretch my legs. Before leaving I had done some research and after arriving in Oregon I had done some more. Each time I came up with Saddle Mountain. It was only about 40 minutes from the house and looked to have some substantial climb. I quickly made it to the trailhead and leashed the dog. I  soon made it to the junction with Hum Bug Peak and decided to that one first. It is only a couple of minutes to the top and it does provided some nice views of my next objective of Saddle Peak. I descended back to the main trail and started towards Saddle Mountain. The tail was in good shape and I passed quite a few parties, which was a bit of  surprise since it was midweek. The upper portions of the trail are quite rocky. To combat erosion there are long portions that are covered with meshed link, similar to a chain linked fence. This does a nice job of keeping the smaller rocks in place and giving stellar traction. In fact on the descent the traction is so good that I had some discomfort in my knees the next day. I attributed this to the fact that my feet were gripping so well. I thought it was similar to athletes who get turf toe on astroturf. There are some substantial ups and downs adding to the elevation gain. Once on top the views were great. I could see the Columbia River, Astoria and much of the Northern Coast of Oregon. I didn't stay long and was able to retrace my steps. I gave some thought of tagging the Eastern Saddle Peak but I thought I would leave that for my next visit.

   The balance of the trip was most memorable and everyone involved (except the visiting Germans) to make a return visit next year. I was most impressed with Seaside, it was clean, friendly and just a lot of fun. We walked nearly everywhere we went. Over the weekend the Mt Hood to Sea relay run was finishing and the town was a zoo. I don't know how many teams where involved but we saw a steady stream of contestants finishing for more than 12 straight hours. The festivities concluded with a fireworks display on the beach which as everything else this week greatly exceeded my expectations.

   Very sadly we packed Monday morning and had breakfast out before the long trip home. I decided to cross the Astoria Bridge on the way home. I thought the kids would find it interesting. What ever interest was subdued by the considerably longer drive on the Washington side to reach Longview.

Simply a wonderful trip filled with many great memories. After coming home I worked for 3 nights before my family's next great adventure. For that you will have to read in another post.


 

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