Missing Plant Friends + Hike Lust + Books

Everything outside feels dead. I know it isn't.

I reach towards my herb pantry often, just to grab jars of my wild picked plants and smell them. I can smell the sun on the yarrow and the old clear cut I gathered them in, and the hillside and the side of a sun bleached rocky cliff, all stuffed into this glass jar. How do you keep these places, yarrow? I get hopeful and wistful for their return. Little plants of courage and tenacity. I dream of speaking with and touching coastal yarrow, the kind that Ryan Drum speaks of

One particularly fine day whilst harvesting Yarrow on a steep talus slope above the sea, I felt suddenly quite giddy. The feeling resembled benign sunstroke; however, I had been harvesting in complete cliff shade for 3 hours. Involuntarily I sat down and happily laid back into several ancient Yarrow clumps with 3-foot stalks and huge flat umbels 8-10 inches across. Their delicious odors smothered me. As I looked up and all around, all I could see was Yarrow and blue sky. Paradise.
— Ryan Drum, ryandrum.com

The roses smell like a sexy fruit jam, the ecstatic sound of bees rolling in pollen and the thick wet grass I had to walk to to get to them. The minor bloodshed to capture their petals. My still curious thoughts about the smelly resin the leaves leave on my hands – and how I want to make a salve of it. I can't wait to see her in bloom again.

Plants hold memories, my olfactory senses hold memories. Every time I smell something I gathered, folds in my brain open bringing up knowledge, memory, idea. Parts of my brain that go dormant this time of year I feel come back alive. It reminds me that it will be warm again, that the lush green will be back. That I will be able to move about in the world again in shorts and a thin shirt and that my skin will brown and I'll be back in my season. That I will learn more about my plant friends this season. That I will get to see them again.

I have moved my jars from my pantry to my kitchen table now. Until then when spring is back, I will keep huffing my jars.

Winter is just a little rough on me, I'm a solar powered spring kid.

It comes early here though and very soon, maybe in a couple of weeks even – maybe now even! Poplar buds will begin to fall, young nettles shooting up, cleavers doing their cleaving. My brain is sorting and prioritizing my picking places. What I will do with them? What new things I will learn about them this year?

I CAN'T WAIT.

How plans are made. This is not my usual M.O.

How plans are made. This is not my usual M.O.

Right now, I am mapping potential areas to be with plant friends and for hikes... and for backpacking. This being my first full spring/summer season with a car, I am like a horse chomping at the bit. Ready to go! We shall see where, eventually.

For now, this book is great inspiration and updated frequently which is very handy.

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I'm rather keen on getting the Eastern Oregon book too. Right now I am totally mystified by the desert. I eye the maps of the ODT longingly but seeped in intimidation. Looks beautiful, doesn't it?

In this guide you can find the OCT route.

In this guide you can find the OCT route.

I am thinking about a thru-hike of the Oregon Coast Trail over the summer, if I can swing it. 380ish miles. It looks to be a relatively easy and accessible entry point into long distance hiking. While the PCT is just over on Mt. Hood, I do not really want to walk it in large sections. I feel like it would somehow be like a movie spoiler to section hike the PCT with my looming 2017 thruhike.

At any rate, it seems this post is divulging into hike talk. This is what I have been reading as of late. And by reading, I mean that I have a circulating pile of books that sometimes I get around to finishing. These are the few that are frequenting my hands lately. And I just might finish them! I've been a focused and diligent reader lately.

A photo posted by Carrot Quinn (@carrotquinn) on

I'm actually rereading this one right now, before I fall asleep at night. 1. The cover is a play on the Fool Card, which is totally awesome. I am wondering... someone might wanna make a hikers tarot deck. I mean, could be good right? Yes, it would. Tarot all the things. 2. It's just really good. I can feel her feels.

The author, Carrot Quinn has a blog too! She completed the Continental Divide Trail last year and is preparing for the Hayduke, which I can't wait to read about.

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My friend Ashley mentioned his books on IG and I checked them out and bought this one. It's good stuff. I find myself breathing better and smiling at myself randomly. Which, does in fact promote a better mood and brain space. When I smile at myself, while I am driving, walking somewhere, working, washing dishes, cleaning the cat box I suddenly feel like I am standing in a sun beam and in a place I love, like a mountain, yet still present to my place and what I am doing in that moment – and I am happy.

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I feel like this book pairs really well with the writing of Thich Nhat Hanh, I bounce between the two over coffee in the morning as time allows. I recommend it if nature, writing and self-development are things you like. I've really been enjoying it so far.

And if you are reading neat things, do share. I love adding to my increasing book pile ;)

Tilly Jane + Old Man Wy'east

The first week I had my car I left one of the doors open while it was parked off street by my apartment, like a dingus. Not a good thing as I live at a sort of sketchy intersection. My neighbor said, "hey! You left your car door open!" and I said, "oh shit, thank you! I'm still getting used to this car owner thing." You know, getting used to basic things like shutting the door and locking it when you're done with it. Anyway... I haven't done that again!

I am also very indecisive when it comes to any sort of adventure plans, now that I am basically able to get to any and everything. There's just too much to see out here! So I made a firm decision for Cooper Spur last weekend.

I have mixed feelings about adventuring around Mt. Hood. Firstly (and I am not alone in this), Hood puts off the feels. Like he's angry and shit. I would be too if people were trampling around on my slopes leaving all sorts of trash, lighting fires and being generally disrespectful. It's a high traffic area and I prefer less traffic. Being the animist that I am, I do my best to tread lightly and respectfully. I also bring treats, which usually wins some kind of favor. Just make sure it's the right treat!

When I reached the road to get to the trail head I saw another trail, the Tilly Jane ski trail. Not wanting to drive the 10 miles of switchbacks to reach the Cloud Cap campground, I took this instead as it eventually links up with the Timberline and then Cooper Spur. Overly ambitious, but whatevs. It totaled at I believe, 12 miles there and back with an elevation gain of something like 3000 feet. I stopped at the iconic stone hut, where there's the junction between Cooper and Timberline. There was a shit ton of people there and it was sometime after 4pm so, not wanting to hike in the dark I was quick like a bunny and went back. So in actuality I never did Cooper Spur, but this was nice.

This trail takes you through an old burn, back from 2008 I believe. The contrast of the silvery dead trees and plants moving into their fall colors were stunning to say the least. It always makes me want to paint.

Mountain yarrow! Some of the best yarrow grows along coasts, at higher elevation or rough wild terrain. Cultivated yarrow is considered inferior by some herbalists. When these little plants are exposed to harsh environments, like growing out of a rock on the side of a mountain, they're stronger for it and have much more potent medicine. You can actually smell the difference. Compare yarrow growing in a garden to yarrow on a windy, rocky slope and you'll smell it.

Little plant lessons: exposure to extremes can lead to strength, tenacity and potency.