Chasing Waterfalls in the Gorge

To liven up my week before I take off to New Zealand a bit my little brother and I decided to organize a hike with some of his friends.  I looked around online a bit and found something that looked promising around the Gorge that started at the Eagle Creek Trailhead
We (Brian, Gabe, Kyla, Colleen, Molly, Pauline and me) took a late start to the day and weren’t hiking until 1:00 PM.  The trail up hugged a few steep rock walls that had built in cables for a little relief.  Regardless, the drop offs made us all afraid of heights for the day. 
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The forest is gorgeous this time of year with vibrant greens everywhere you look.  Even a few wildflowers were popping up here and there along the trail.  After 3 miles of winding through beautiful tall trees, we stumbled down to an open creek bed we had been following where a couple other tired hikers were eating their lunch.  It took us a little while to realize that the real sight was around the corner upstream where the Punchbowl waterfall slammed into a small basin.

Without a clear walkway to the falls, we decided a short swim was necessary to take a closer look.  Even with water around 35 degrees, the swim was worth the view.

Three miles later we hit another massive waterfall.  Tunnel Falls is around 100 ft high and allows hikers to pass behind it through a dynamited cave.  Whoever had the crazy idea to put the tunnel into the cliff-side was some kind of genius because the views are unbelievable. 
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We all took turns at the cave opening staring up at the falls crashing down just feet from out heads to the pool below.  This unique spectacle was definitely worth the hike up.


- Tyler Grubb

Cloudy Beach Weekend

My family went down to the Oregon coast for a couple days this past weekend for fathers day.  With not much to do around Gearhart on Saturday the whole family ventured down to Cannon Beach for a sandcastle competition that had some intense competition.  We relaxed the rest of the weekend with the exception of a razor clamming expedition that got one measly clam out of the sand.  My little brother Brian and I stayed an extra day on Monday to help my mom clean up a bit and squeezed in some skimboarding on a cloudy day.

-Tyler Grubb

Rocky Mountain Road Trip

I walked out of my accounting final on Wednesday night with a weight off my shoulders.  Finals took their stressful toll on me for the week and I was ready to spend some time with friends and then take off on the road from Denver to Portland.  My dad flew in on Thursday afternoon to help me pack up and make the ~20 hour drive to Oregon.  After loading my ‘97 Chevy Suburban to the brim with my belongings, otherwise known as a bunch of junk,  we woke up around 5:30 AM Sunday and got on our way after a stop at Starbucks. 

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View from the passenger seat just outside of Denver, oil rigs passing by.
I had made the drive to Jackson, WY before but our planned route was to go further into Teton and Yellowstone National Parks for some sightseeing before we got home.  Most of the drive was plain and boring Wyoming landscape but moments of scenic views were scattered throughout our trip.  My dad, with his caffeinated morning perk, took first shift driving all the way through Wyoming.
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Wind turbines and pronghorn antelope are the only things in Wyoming.
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Actually, I guess there are some cool rock formations too.
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The weather was awesome for most of our time through Wyoming.  We stopped for snacks in a podunk town called Muddy Gap.  The entire place consisted of a trailer, gas station and convenience mart.  When we entered the store, the lady at the counter greeted us with “Hi there, welcome to Muddy Gap.  How ya doing today?” just like a line out of the Oregon Trail Video Game.

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Teton National Park wasn’t too scenic with the clouds ruining the views

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Jackson, WY is a pretty classic Western town
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We took a foggy Togwotee pass into Idaho
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It was lush green grass and rolling hills on this side of the mountains.

Our original plan was to stop somewhere around Boise or Ontario, OR but we hit Oregon around 8:30 PM and figured we might as well pull it off in one day.  I was finally back in familiar country once we hit Baker City, OR and was on cruise control for much of the driving home.  We rolled in around 3 AM and surprised my mom and brother who were both happy to see us back.  Its great to be home for awhile to prepare for New Zealand without the stress of school.  In the meantime before NZ, I’ll have to see what kind of exploits I
can get into around here.

-Tyler Grubb

North Maroon Peak

I’ve got to admit, I got a couple butterflies in my stomach the night before while sleeping under a full moon looking up at the menacing northeast face of North Maroon Peak.  This is one of the classic ski mountaineering climbs and descents in Colorado due to the exposed line you have to take down the face as you wind through a series of cliff bands.  I had originally posed the idea of climbing the bell cord between Maroon Peak and North Maroon and possible hitting both peaks in the same weekend, but as Winter dragged on through Spring that wasn’t looking all that feasible.   North Maroon it was.

Photo: Jon Jay
Photo: Kai Erspamer
Chris, Jon, Kai and I loaded up in my suburban with a ton of gear in the back and headed over Independence Pass that had just opened the day before.  I had never been over the pass before and was in for quite the treat with some hairy switchbacks and waterpark-esque thrills as we ripped across some snow melt that flowed over the road. 
After dropping of Kai at his house for the night, Chris, Jon and I headed up the road to Maroon Lake after grabbing some Johnny Macguires.  We found a pretty empty parking lot and snagged a spot in the overnight lot and loaded up. 
Even in the dim sunset, the Bells loomed over everything in the valley.  And I thought Pyramid was ominous…
A quick hike, about 2.5 miles, led us around Maroon and Crater Lakes to Minnehaha Gulch where we slept in a small meadow under a gorgeous full moon that lit up a spectacular backdrop.  A rabbit stalked us into camp and Jon aptly nicknamed him Bunnicula because of his red eyes before scaring him off. 
My simple watch alarm went off at 3:45 AM and we all woke up and were ready to tackle the mountain at 4:30 AM.  One of the most mentally taxing parts of the whole climb was simply getting across the stream in Minnehaha Gulch.  Its much easier said than done with 50-60 lb packs and headlamps. 
Once across, we boot-packed up a solid snowfield to the top of a small ridge and found ourselves on the bottom of the Maroon apron.  The sun was rising to reveal the details of our route.  We discussed our potential moves and headed right towards the entrance couloir. 
After snapping a few shots of Jon and Chris above Miner’s Ski Jump my camera battery conked out and was left making mental pictures of the rest of the climb and descent.  Luckily, Jon’s camera made it through the whole day.…
Needless to say, our route took us across some very exposed snowfields between cliff bands as we winded our way to the summit.  Some hard ice provided quick routes to the top with crampons and ice axes gripping pretty well the whole way up. 
Photo: Jon Jay
Photo: Jon Jay

Getting around the Punk Rock Band far looker’s left proved to be a little technical bouldering with crampons.  The drop below fell more than 1000’ to the left between the Bells and a cumbersome snowboard didn’t make life easier when crossing rock in crampons. 
Photo: Jon Jay
A short hike to the summit exposed an amazing view of the surrounding peaks.  Capital and Snowmass, Castle and Conundrum, were all in sight with Pyramid and Maroon Peak sitting as close neighbors.
Photo: Jon Jay
Photo: Jon Jay
I swapped out mountaineering boots for snowboarding boots for the ride down.  We took a summit shot and were on our way down.  Each of us had to down climb the tricky way around the Punk Rock Band again as we handed our gear down one by one.  Then it was easy to follow our route up back down as we picked our way through corn snow and ice. 
The crux of the climb was unsuitable to ski so we looked for another option and found a small chute that broke through a rock band that Jon and I straight-lined and Chris down-climbed.  I don’t blame him after Jon took a short tumble after hitting some ice after his landing.  Check out Jon’s POV footage of the descent here.  Also check out his blog post about the trip here.
After this tricky section we were home free to the entrance couloir and some pretty nice turns before getting back to Minnehaha Gulch where we filled up with water and hit the trail home.  Every person on the trail down looked at us like we were absolutely nuts to even try something like that but were all duly impressed we made it.  A few tourist shots from Maroon Lake capped off the day and all of our ski seasons.  Until next year, I’m packing up the board and hitting the beach….psyche, I’m heading to Dunedin, New Zealand in a month where it is still Winter and can ride for a full year, lucky me.
Photo: Jon Jay

-Tyler Grubb