Monday, April 23, 2012

A weekend of sun for Oregonians

The weather man said it would 70-75 degrees (which was enough to get any Oregonian pumped.)
He was wrong.
It was 85-90 this weekend in the valley, and it.was.incredible.

Oregonian outdoor enthusiasts went to bed Friday night daydreaming of their weekend expeditions ahead. Mentally cross checking gear lists, questioning if they had remembered to fill the tank for the Subaru, visualizing trail directions, etc.; a process that allows an overwhelming sense of relaxation to wash over them, guiding them into a deep sleep preparing their bodies for the weekend ahead.

I was one of them. Friday night I fell asleep dreaming about the Silver Star South Trail Loop that I would conquer with my friend Karen and youngest sister Madalyn the next day.

Despite the fact that I didn't get home until 2:30 a.m. Friday night (technically Saturday morning) from a night out with my friends in the Athletics dept., I bounced out of bed Saturday morning at 7:00 like a kid bounces out of bed on Christmas morning. After months of waking up and having to drag myself out of bed, it felt wonderful to spring out of bed again. I finished packing up and hit the road picking up my passengers and Dutch Brothers along the way.

Driving to the trails is always a refreshing feeling, but driving with the sunroof open, music loud, and sun beaming on your face is the ultimate energy. We headed north to Washington and navigated our way through the back roads that would leave any GPS unit "searching for route", and after a stunning 2 hour drive, we were there. A simple 9 mile hike through the trees....and snow.

Karen surveying our snowy situation.
We accounted for snow as we packed up by bringing our waterproof hiking boots and figured that through some parts of the trail we would need to stomp our way through; Afterall, we were 5,000 feet up (and the trail itself was a 2,000+ elevation gain) and it was still April in the Pac NW, but we had no idea what was ahead for us. As we climbed our way north on the trail, the snow patches became more frequent and a hell of a lot deeper. Thankfully--Karen, Mads, and I all have a great sense of humor where we were able to laugh at the snow as well as our inability to cross these straights without sinking knee deep in snow. After about another two miles of snow trekking, we got to the point where it was obvious that we should have brought our snow shoes and we couldn't continue on. So we hiked our way back down and got ourselves back down to the car, studied some maps and found another trail (snow free!) and spent the rest of the afternoon hiking and playing around there.

We got back into town around 5:00 and the sun was still scorching. There was no way I was going to call it a day just yet, so I called up my friend Danny (who is always down for a bike ride), and switched pack for pack and headed out with him. We went up to an old part of town that my friend Adrienne introduced to me our senior year of college. It was the back side of a cemetery just outside of town that overlooked the surrounding valley. I hadn't been there since the previous summer season and the grass and cherry blossom trees welcomed me like an old friend. Laying on our backs looking up at the tree, rich with pink blossoms against the vibrant blue skies, we noticed all the life above us. Bees actively went flower to flower drinking in the pollen, as we similarly drank in the sun. We spotted lady bugs along the branches, crawling with ease as they wandered around with what seemed like no place to go. It was the perfect way to wind down to the day. The picture I took of the moment doesn't begin to convey the sights and sounds; then again, why would we ever want to capture that essence completely?

Lisa with Alma Desnuda
I finished off my Saturday celebrating my friend Lisa's 30th with our friends and one of her favorite bands Alma Desnuda who were playing at a local bar in Salem (followed, of course, by finishing out at the pub for a night of celebration and karaoke).

Sunday we regressed to the days of our youth. I awoke to the rays of sun on my face and again was quick to get out of bed and treat myself to a pancake breakfast. The morning was easy company, and in the afternoon I headed over to Danny's with the Athletic Dept. crew for an afternoon of beer, yard games, and homerun derby. We played as if we were 10 year old neighborhood kids. I stand by the fact that sunshine does in fact bring the most genuine laughter and smiles. Desperate for the sun, our pasty white skin soaked up the sun, leaving us scrambling for aloe vera at the end of the day. It's funny how out of routine you get when it comes to sunscreen.

As I sit here in my office, I wear my smile and my sunburned shoulders proudly. But I am not the only one. Campus today seems a bit lighter, the smiles on the faces more prominent, the "hello's" more genuine. Bike racks become polluted as we all retire our cars and pedal our way to work/school. Any one who lives in Oregon knows this love for the sun. When we get it, we feel spoiled and take full advantage of our days. We pray to the weather gods to please let this sunshine stick around forever, yet none of us dare remove the fenders from our bicycles.

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