Jackson Bottom Wetlands – Hillsboro, Oregon

One of my favorite local walking areas is the Fernhill Wetlands but since brining the pups home we don’t go there as much. It and the Jackson Bottom Wetlands are nature and bird preserves so dogs are prohibited.

However from time to time, we find our selves without the dog for a short period of time and wanting to get outside the Jackson Bottom Wetlands proves to be the perfect place for a walk.

The area is quite large and there are a good number of trails. Some of them were still flooded when we last went so not all the areas were open, but I think it took us about an hour to walk them all (again all that were actually open that day). It was spring, everything was in bloom and it was one of the first warm days of the year. The trails are very well maintained, well marked and despite the time of year very quiet. We only ran into a couple bird watchers.

Unlike the Fernhill Wetlands there is a very comprehensive interpretive center that holds community events and classes. They have in the past even had sunrise yoga classes outdoors on the observation decks, I would love to make it down for these. Fingers crossed I can get my act together soon!

 

To Visit:

  • Address: 2600 SW Hillsboro Hwy. Hillsboro, OR 97123
  • Open Hours: 10-4
  • Cost: Free but with a suggested donation of 2$ per person.
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Ireland Hiking – Quarter Three

Wow, how is this already the third quarter of my Ireland hiking training!? In a year the trip will be over, how sad.

In other news we are officially booked with a tour group. We chose to go through a group so that we could save ourselves on transportation, hotel booking and from having to cart our gear around with us. I am the laziest hiker in the world, don’t judge, at least I am hiking. Next step we have to start figuring out flights, which turns out is not that easy going from a small town in Oregon to a small town in Ireland. Once we get more details settled and planned I will start sharing some tips on how to plan a similar trip.

As far as training is concerned it has been a slow summer, outdoor speaking.  I had high hopes of being able to get out over the summer, which I mentioned in my prior training post. But as summer came to a close the wildfires in the area got too bad to really spend a lot of time outside. I am hoping for everyone’s sake that the fires get under control soon and Oregon can go back to being the outdoor wonderland it normally is.

Most of my exercise has been working out via YouTube video instruction. Between Jessica Smith’s barre, and weight training workouts and Adriene’s yoga videos I have managed to really focus on strengthening those knee, ankle and stability muscles as well as getting more strength and flexibility in my arms and shoulders.

I have also managed to find a couple decent routes to walk the dog, which puts us up to about 6-10miles a day (depending on weather). And I have bought my hiking boots and have started to wear them on dog walks now and again to start breaking them in.

(Quarter 3) – September through November:

  • Continue daily strength and stretch exercises at home (15-45min daily).
  • Weekly hikes getting longer and adding the daypack with realistic weight.
    • Hopefully once the fires are squelched and the weather cools a bit we can get back to the woods.
  • Daily walks outside with dog for 6-10 miles.

Indian Canyons – Palm Springs California

Palm Springs is one of our favorite places in the world to hike. We always go in the winter when the weather here in Oregon is at its worst and the weather in the desert is the best. One of our favorite locals is Indian Canyons a group of hiking and equestrian trails on the native Aqua Caliente lands.

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There are couple trail heads and several trails at each trial head. Some hikes providing these lovely stream and palmed canyons and some higher up in the hills with endless views of the valley.

Admission costs are per car and then per person as well. The money goes to the native groups that live and work to maintain the land so I don’t mind one bit having to say it. Since there is a pay gate you have to wait in line, so I would suggest getting there early to avoid waiting. Some of the hikes are fairly long too so getting there early will behoove you anyway. When you drive in they provide a driving and trial map which helps since there really isn’t any road signs once you get in.

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Parking is also fairly limited at both trail heads so again, get there early. At the main trail head there is a trading post that sells souvenirs and snacks as well as providing real bathrooms. The smaller trail head only has pit toilets.

I don’t think I would call any of the hikes easy, and I only say this because no matter how short some of the hikes may be there are still some very steep parts. Even getting to the interpretive area at the base of the main trail head you have to walk down a canyon hill from the parking lot and trading post.

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We have hiked the larger hills twice, once with my parents on an insanely sunny day and once we got to the top we spent most of the time just sitting and looking at the views. It was also REALLY hot for being December and I didn’t want to push it so I took a seat on a sunny rock and just enjoyed my surroundings.

The second time around we hiked alone and the weather was the exact opposite, we got warnings from the park rangers that it was raining in the hills and to look out for flash flooding. We brave stupid Oregonians pressed on, lucky for us it was just a light drizzle and because of the weather we had the trail to ourselves. It was beautiful to see the desert come to life with the light rain and to be all alone out there was restorative and peaceful. In retrospect it was pretty stupid, we could have really gotten hurt and probably should have just not gone that day.

Where: 38520 S Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA

When: Open daily October through June. Friday, Saturday and Sunday (July through September). 8am to 5pm, but last entrance is at 4pm.

How: By car to get there, it is quite far from town even though it looks like it is close to town. Once there you can go by foot or bring a horse and go by hoof.

As always please be prepared, hiking in the desert can be dangerous. Sunny weather can mean dehydration, sun stroke stumbling onto snakes or scorpions. Cloudy weather can mean flash flooding, trail wash outs and sink holes. Always dress appropriately, bring food, water, sun screen and a basic medical kit.

Fernhill Wetlands

There are an inordinate number of places to go walking and hiking in the Pacific North West. It is sort of what we are known for. The problem with this is two fold. First because we are known of our stunning views and gorgeous well-kept our door trails, everyone knows about it, and thus everyone is on them. Second because you can wind up in decision paralysis trying to decide exactly WHICH trail you want to take on while you are out visiting. And truth be told you really cannot go wrong.

If however, you are looking for something very specific it can be harder to locate that trail that is juuuuuuust right.If you happen to be looking for something that is easy, flat and you enjoy bird watching or nature photography this is your trail.

The wetlands are actually a water natural treatment facility first (but don’t worry it doesn’t smell funny) which has been expanded out and carefully landscaped to provide shelter for migratory birds.

I have spent a good amount of time there over this past spring and now into fall. I avoided it over the summer because I don’t like being hot and the entire trail is exposed. I truly love walking around this space, the one mile loop trail provides beautiful views of a very natural Oregon and the birds that live here.


I end up making several loops around the sanctuary a week. Because it is open, well traveled but not overly populated and close to my house it makes for a perfect and safe spot for someone walking alone.

To plan your visit start with the website here. If you want to continue your exploration of the area I suggest trying to Adiri Winery or McMenamins Grande Lodge.

Questions:

Are there any natural walking areas in your home town that you just LOVE?

 

 

Hiking Joshua Tree

We visited Joshua Tree the first time we went to Palm Springs California. My step-dad actually wanted to hike there. And I chose to do something totally unprecedented and not plan a thing. I didn’t even research it. So going into the park I knew literally nothing, I just let myself experience and enjoy the park with no frame of reference.


Since we were hiking on Christmas Day and the actual ranger station would be closed we drove up a couple days before to get a feel for where we needed to go for the hike that had been chosen.

From Palm Springs you drive up highway 62, through Morongo Valley and through Yucca Valley which looks like driving through Thunder Mountain at Disneyland, and then finally through Joshua Tree. You take a right just past the town of Joshua Tree on Park Boulevard, the road turns into Quail Springs Road where the Ranger Station will be located on the right, you can’t miss it, there is a sign, and a lot of cars.

We stopped in at the ranger station, talked to a couple people about the best day hikes and got a driving map for the park. If you do nothing else at the station I would suggest getting a driving map for the park. It is quite large and cell service is pretty spotty, so I wouldn’t necessarily rely on your phone’s GPS applications to keep you from getting lost.

After our fact finding mission we drove up to Pioneertown. The town was built for filming  early westerns. The town was a lot smaller than I would have imagined but it is worth the drive if you are a movie buff or just like old things. The buildings are nearly all facades built out to scale but you can still interact with them and there are a million places to take pictures. There is also a hotel and a saloon you can eat at. Sadly for us we managed to be there the one day of the week the Pappy & Harriets is closed. But I have heard they have some of the best food in the area and have live music nightly. Next time we head up that way we will certainly plan better.

On Christmas Day we woke up early and made our way back up to the park again. The drive through the park is amazing, and even though I don’t love desert-scapes as much as other natural areas I was in awe the entire time.

We had chosen to hike the Lost Horse Mine trail which is a four mile loop out in open desert. The hike wasn’t hard but it certainly wore us out. Being fully exposed to sun for that number of hours is draining, but the views were worth every minute. We took our first break at the mine itself, spending extra time hiking around the area and taking pictures. We continued on the trail to the spectacular views of the park and past the old home site. Then on the easy part of the trail, which was mostly sand and gravel. So while flat it was actually fairly hard to hike through.

It was a good thing we had gotten there early, by the time we got back to the parking lot people were having to park out along the road and hike up to the trail head. We took a few minutes to use the restroom and have a snack and then high tailed it out of there so that people could have our parking spot.

We ended out the day driving around the park a bit and taking a peek at some of the interpretive areas. We got pretty hungry toward the end of the day, cheese and cracker snacks don’t last forever! So we took the long drive back to our rental house and had a nice Christmas dinner. Aside from our trip to Barcelona this was probably my favorite Christmas to date.

Things to Remember when heading into Joshua Tree National Park:

  • As with all national parks, the lands and wildlife in them are protected for a reason. Be kind and respectful, don’t leave trash, damage plants or walk off trail.
  • Wildlife here isn’t always nice: cactus, scorpions, tarantulas, rattlesnakes and other large game make their home here. Be safe.
  • Always back more food and water than you need. It is the desert and it is a high desert meaning you are loosing more water than you realize and can easily become dehydrated with very little exertion.
  •  Cover your head and wear sun screen. Many people think “I tan well” so you don’t need to protect yourself but sun stroke is very common and covering your head well is just about the only thing you can do to prevent it.

 

Questions:

Have you ever been to Joshua Tree? What was your favorite part about it? Or if you haven’t been what is your favorite California Park?

Training for Ireland – Quarter 1

As I have mentioned in the summer of 2018 I will be hiking the Dingle Way in Ireland. A looped trail through towns scattered along the Dingle Peninsula on the south western end of Ireland. The hike will be fairly low in elevation, it will be more of a endurance hike than a haul up a mountain. It could be wet, it could be cold, it could be hot, I could be walking on roads or scrambling up a mossy hill.  I have to be ready for it all.

For the first quarter of my training I am keeping things mostly indoors and starting slow. Our weather has been so bad this winter the last thing that resembled a hike was hauling up a hill in Lisbon, where in a normal year I would be in the woods almost weekly.

I will be focusing on 6 key areas that I will then change up and build on as the next year and a half proceeds.

  1. Stair Work: Walking up stairs is a basic movement common in all hikes at some point or another. I want to get my muscles used to the motion and build the strength to pull up with proper posture.
  2. Walking: Walking on flat ground or slight incline  will be the majority of my hike. I walk a lot and tend to be fairly lazy about my posture, failing into my lower back which causes soreness. My training will focus on proper posture and distance as time goes on.
  3. Leg Strength: I have fairly strong legs but it is mostly quad strength, I need to start working on a more well rounded strength routine to help avoid injury.
  4. Balance work: I fall a lot. I don’t tend to hurt myself but I do take a decent amount of tumbles. The best way to avoid injury overall is to make sure balance is top notch so I will doing a good amount of balance work through yoga to ensure I don’t fall and break something while hiking.
  5. Core Strength: As mentioned I tend to have a pretty lazy posture, core strength will help me from falling into my low back when walking and thus remove risk of back issues while walking all day.
  6. Shoulder Strength: Arm and shoulders aren’t the most important thing for a hiker. But it is important to have a sturdy foundation for your pack straps. So I will focus most of my upper body workout around shoulder work so that I can avoid as much soreness as possible.

 

Workouts!

Gym Days: 3-4 Days a week

  • Stairmaster: 20 min 2-3 days a week
  • Hanging leg lifts: 10 reps X 3
  • Shoulder Press: 12 reps X 3
  • Lateral Pull Down: 12 reps X 3
  • Chest Press: 12 reps X 3
  • Treadmill: 40 min 1-2 days a week
  • Leg Extensions: 12 reps X 3
  • Leg Press: 12 reps X 3
  • Hamstring Curl: 12 reps X 3
  • Seated Hip Abductor: 12 reps X 3

On days that I do the Stairmaster my strength training is concentrated on abs and arms and days that I do the treadmill I do heavy leg strength conditioning. And I always end a gym day with 10 min in the sauna and a good deep stretch routine.

Non Gym Days: 3-4 Days a week

  • Walk Dog: 1- 3 miles a day
  • Mountain Climbers: 10 L/R (20 total) X 3
  • Crunches: 50 reps X 3
  • Left/Right Crunches: 10 (20 total) X 3
  • Standing Side Leg Lifts: 20 (40 total) X 3
  • Plié Squats (heels together and wide): 10 (20 total) X 3
  • Front and Side Bicep Curls: 10 (20 total) X 3
  • Shoulder Press: 10 reps X 3
  • Tricep Kickbacks: 12 reps X 3
  • Push ups: 10 reps X 5
  • V ups: 10 reps X 3
  • Left/Right Squats: 10 reps (20 total) X 3
  • Left/Right Fire Hydrant: 10 reps (20 total) X 3
  • 30 min Yoga routine concentrating on stretching and balance.

I technically walk my dog everyday but if it is not a gym day I make sure we go a bit further. Right now I do try to switch up my days between gym and non gym so that long dog walks occur on days where the weather is a bit nicer. This will become easier as spring progresses over the next two months. I also do not do all of these things everyday or all at once. I work from home so I take breaks to do a set of a couple exercises, do some at lunch and also in the evening during tv breaks.

 

 

Training – Hiking in Ireland

I have mentioned a couple times I am planning a hiking trip in Ireland during the summer of 2018. I thought it might be helpful to post my training schedule leading up to the trip in case anyone else out there is planning a hiking trip in the near future. As I was putting together my plan I realized it is going to be a fairly extensive plan.  I am a “safety first” type of gal so build up is slow and steady over the course of the next year and a half. As such the posts will reflect that progress, so if you are interested in going faster or want some tips for a hiking trip that is prior to mine please feel free to reach out to me.

I should first say that I am not a licensed personal trainer and I hike fairly regularly already. So everything I discuss is to fit my own needs to get to where I need to be in order to safely participate in the hike I am planning. Your current physical state is likely different than my own, and your future hike is likely different than my own, so please proceed with that in mind.

As I mentioned, the general approach I am taking for this training is slow and steady. I hike fairly regularly but if you have been paying attention to the PNW this year you will know our regular “year round hiking weather” has been interrupted by frequent ice storms, snow and record breaking rain.  Needless to stay the last thing that resembled a hike for me what walking around the hills in Lisbon in December, where in normal years I would have been out in the woods almost once a week.

As such, I have started my first month of training in the gym and if the weather continues with the current trend, I will probably be in the gym for another month two before I can start safely hiking in the mountains again. So without further ado here is my year and a half training schedule outline, which I will go into more detail as the year progresses.

(Quarter 1) – March through May:

  • A mixture of light cardio and strength training in the gym.
  • Balance and strength focused exercises at home (I like to do quick 5 min exercise breaks while watching tv).
  • Yoga focusing on balance and stretching.

 

(Quarter 2) – June through August:

  • Quarter 1 exercises
  • As weather improves, adding a weekly hike of various lengths and terrains.

 

(Quarter 3) – September through November:

  • Quarter 1 and Quarter 2 exercises but with lengthened intervals and more reps.
  • Weekly hikes getting longer and adding the daypack with realistic weight.
  • Daily walks outside with dog for 1-2 miles.

 

(Quarter 4) – December through February:

  • Continue previous quarter workouts with added reps and duration.
  • Moving cardio indoors when weather deems it necessary.
  • Hiking outdoors with boots and rain gear during lighter inclement weather to get used to gear and conditions
    •  It is possible that it will rain during my hike. Once I have built up my balance, durance and strength over the prior months I can start getting used to my inclement weather gear in more realistic hiking conditions.

 

(Quarter 5) – March through May:

  • Continue prior quarter movement but try to take it outside where possible.
  • Continuing to lengthen duration and difficulty when possible.

 

That’s all for now! Check back once a month for more detailed workout information. I plan to include more detailed weekly plans, specific strength training, balancing and yoga moves as my training progresses.