Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Sitting on top of Angel Peak.  The top of Van Patten
Butte is just visible off Ginger's knees. 
Monday, August 26
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     Rick convinced me that today would be better spent hiking and climbing to the top of Angel Peak in the Anthony Lakes basin rather than working on sermon and worship preparation for Sunday, and....he was right!  A glorious hike and time spent atop the highest peak in the Anthony area.
     Left Baker City around 8:30 and on the trail by 9:30!  We start at the Elkhorn Crest Trailhead parking area on the east side of the campground.  Steady climb up past Black Lake and around the flank of Gunsight Mountain to the beautiful valley hidden from
Valley on south side of Anthony basin ridge.
most visitors nestled between Van Patten Butte and the Anthony Lakes ridge of peaks.  The south side of this valley is marked by a knife edge ridge of jagged rocks.  The valley floor has a huge meadow area etched with a winding snake of a creek.  The trail is rocky but shady.  Wildflowers are scarce this time of year.  A few dying pearly everlasting and fireweed, and still lots of asters.  We hike about 2 1/2 miles to a point below Angel Peak.  A chute or draw leads up to the top of the ridge.  It is about a 450' climb, rather steep among loose gravel and rocks.  I pause frequently to take pictures (which is really my excuse to catch my breath!)
The green highway to the top!
     On top of the ridge we can see south to all the Elkhorn Peaks and north to the Anthony Lakes basin (altho Anthony Lake itself is hidden by the flank of Gunsight Mt.)  We drop down from the ridge slightly to pick up what I call the green highway to the summit - a broad band of huckleberry bushes, grasses, and heather that slopes its way to the top.
     We spend nearly an hour on the peak.  I take a panorama picture, Rick explores an adjacent rock pinnacle (he had to do a little rock climbing for it!) and we eat!
Rick atop a rock outcropping. 
 Drop down into Angel basin and the draw between Angel and Lees Peaks - a lush meadow rampant with Rick's favorite flower: the Explorer's or Bog Gentian - a trumpet bell shaped deep blue purple flower.  The trail was lined with gentians muc
Bog Gentians
h of the rest of the way down - we are on the damp and wet side of the ridge now!  As we hiked down we found three Bolitz mushrooms which we took to Katy to cook and enjoy!  (And rejoiced that she confirmed what kind they were - we got it right!)
360 Pano from top of Angel.  
     Eventually we make our way down to Hoffer Lakes and then we take a game trail (which turns into one of the XC ski trails AFTER we climb over many a downed tree!) to cut down to Anthony Lake and back to the car.
Basin filled with gentians between Angel and Lees Peaks.

TOP OF THE WORLD: Elkhorn Peak

Our summit crew near the flag.  
Friday, August 16, 2013
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     Today was an early rising from a dawn departure at 6am to climb to the summit of Elkhorn Peak.  Our climbing crew was Rick and I, Mark Bogart, Luke, and Zach Ellis, the youth pastor from the Nazarene Church.  The forecast for HOT and potential afternoon thunderstorms precipitated our early escape, but we were rewarded as we left town with the fiery ball of an orange sun bursting over the Baker Valley horizon.  A God-reminder for the day. 
Rising sun at 6am
     Early mornings always reward you on the trail with deep shadows and bright light, dampness with residual dew, and the freshness that comes with dawn.  We hiked the first three miles with animated conversation and silence, fellowship and contemplation, reveling in the changing panoramas, and agonizing over the hazy, smokey skies that told stories of forests ablaze. 
Momentary pause halfway up the peak.
     At three miles the hike changes to climb as we ventured off the beaten trail to ascend the shoulder of the peak over rocky terrain.  I thrilled to find new growth in tiny fern-like plants thriving in the hostile rocks.  By 9:30 am all five of us stood on top of the summit (somewhat amazed to find an American flag had been erected on top recently!)  We all took a few moments for solitude and silence, alone with our thoughts (and our lunch!)  
       Whenever I get to the top of a mountain, two songs always burst forth from my lungs: Pass It On and Top of the World.  I like to sing the latter the God's love as the source.  When you stand within touching of heaven, to sing to God is so very natural.  
     We gazed out on God's glory: the patchwork of farmland below, the indistinct outline of distance mountains in the shifting haze, tiny wildflowers struggling for survival in a cold and barren location, the myrid of Elkhorn peaks dotting the northern horizon, mountains goats grazing in a lakeside meadow, the piercing cry of hawks soaring on thermal breezes, the fluttering of hundreds of brightly colored butterflies - and a few bees according to Zach!, the cool and cleansing rush of the Spirit wind.  When on top of mountains you have a sense of place in God's creation, small and insignificant to the great big world, but close and in touch with a God who cares so very deeply about each part of God's creation.  
Goodrich Lake and Luke's inuk.
My pathetic inuk suk. 
Luke's inuk with Rock Creek
     I built an inuksuk which Luke informed me was a lame attempt.  So he built two more....yes, bigger and better ones....one either side of the summit.  One overlooking Twin Lakes and Rock Creek Butte, the other with a view of the valley and Goodrich Lake below.  We took some group pictures, altho the inuksuk picture didn't get focused very well.  (My fault!)  
     Zac had hiked most of the Crest Trail recently with his dad and wanted to finish the tiny bit he hadn't done.  So he and Luke took off straight DOWN the mountain to intersect the trail along Twin Lakes.  Around 10:20 am, Mark, Rick, and I slowly started down off the peak, retracing our steps from the climb up. 
     Not surprisingly, since Mark and I don't travel downhill much faster than we go up, Zac and Luke caught up with us just moments after we reached the main trail again!  Good hike back out to the pass, but I always think it is longer going out than coming in!  I get fooled by the curves in the trail!  
     Zac was curious about the quality of the road on the Sumpter side of Marble Pass, so we took it out (first time for us to travel down from the pass in probably 25 years!)  The road isn't much better on the west side, such that I wouldn't do it in a passenger car!  Quick drive home to get Zach to work shortly after 1:30pm!!  
Our out of focus group shot with the Inuksuk. 


Mini-Mission Trip for PYGs-Plus
August 1 through 4

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     We leave the church around 2:15 in the middle of a thunderstorms deluxe.  Rain and hail all the way to La Grande.  Brief respite, and then another storm over the mountain pass.  Pretty much ended as we arrived at the woods.  Nice. 
Our crew for today: Rick and Ginger, with Kourtney, Kate, and Bryson in our truck; Luke and Tom Averett with Sarah McNeil, Evan Bigler, and Spencer; Katy Nicole who picked up Amber, Carl, and Benny. Annalea will drive up later to join us.  Grandma Doris decided to stay home.  The weather forecast was too cold and wet! 

     Dale Wilkins gave a short presentation on our mission in fighting the St. John’s Wort (a plant we will be pulling) and tree thinning.  We took a walk of the woods and he shared stories and history.  All good, but kids were getting hungry!  Dinner was largely leftovers from the Missional dinner last Sunday night. 

     Campfire time with songs, devotions, and s’mores.  Annalea arrived just as the campfire was winding down.  We played a game in the dining hall, and then Luke, Annalea, and kids went up to chapel to watch a movie (with popcorn!)  Rest of us went to bed! 

Headcount at bedtime: 7 adults, 8 youth.  I will continue to give headcounts, as our group shifted constantly during the four days!! 

     I got up around 6:20 to a gray, but rainless morning.  Hoping we can get some good work done today.  Lazy morning rising as youth were probably up too late last night!  Around 7:30 Tom Averett came in for coffee.  Tom slept on the picnic tables last night!  (He started out up on the chess board, but it started to rain around midnight!)

Bark chipping the walkways. 

  A slow start to the morning (it was the youngest crowd who stayed up the latest with the movie!) but at the 9am designated devotion time, all were present and ready to go!  Of course, Dale had been up here for at least an hour or more….puttering.  I think he rises around 4:30 every morning! 
     Luke divided the youth into two work crews with Tom as lead in one and Rick the head of the other. (He did a good job splitting up siblings and senior high leadership!)  One called the Narwhals and the other the Manatees.  Luke and I are Shrimp and we float between both group, helping as necessary and I am assigned to take plenty of pictures!  At first both groups are spreading bark chips on the upper trails near the volleyball court and meadow.  Then we are given garbage bags and begin the process of pulling and bagging fields of St. John’s Wort – this weed has medicinal value in some areas as a treatment for depression.  However, it is toxic to livestock and multiplies rapidly to the detriment of the native plants.  A great time pulling, chanting the crew songs (Kate and Kourtney provided leadership here!) and in general encouraging each other. 
Singing our grace at lunch!
     During the morning, Jodie Averett joined us to bring our count up to 16: 8 adults and 8 youth. 
     Lunch is sandwiches, courtesy of the leftover deli meat tray from the Boyd funeral reception last Saturday.  After lunch, Spencer and Bryson were picked up by a family friend – they had to leave due to family commitments that night.  However, shortly after we returned to work, Roxanna Swann and nephew Nick arrived.  Count stayed the same but shifted: 10 adults, 6 youth!
Giving some directions before tree cutting.
     Afternoon work was wort pulling in the chapel area and tree thinning.  Many youth were able to wield a bow saw and practice their “Tim-brrrrr!” signals!  Most of the trees we were falling were 2 to 6 inches in diameter and under 20’ in height.  Many white fir were cut, but also a few lodgepole, ponderosa, and larch.  The larch hurt to see cut down, but thickets were growing that needed to be cleared.  Much of this is being done to keep the clearing in front of the chapel healthy and open.  Youth enjoyed the ‘scavenger hunt’ aspect of finding the orange tags and then cutting that tree down!  Other work done included Tom who fell a couple of trees and then bucked them up for firewood.  Evan eventually helped Tom with the final load in the truck up to the storage shed.  Much of this wood is donated to needy families in Pendleton during the winter. 
  We stopped work around 3pm….time to relax and PLAY!!  While many of us adults just gathered around the cookies, fruit, and water on the picnic tables, Luke, Annalea, and all but Carl and Benny headed out to make a ‘Neature’ video.  Luke will put it all together into a mini movie, but it will be pretty hysterical.  Kourtney is such a ham.  Carl, Benny, and Nick took off on a walk in the woods!
     While the weather just after lunch threatened a little storm, none materialized, and the sun came out.  It was nearly HOT!! 
     Jodie Averett brought up all the fixings for a spaghetti dinner!  Sixteen of us gathered for the meal together.  Sadly, after the meal, 5 people departed: Tom, Jodie, Kate, Sarah, and Kourtney.  We also had received the phone call that Michelle Lehman wouldn’t be able to come up.  Disappointing. 
     Ten play ‘Luck of the Draw’ after dinner….the first time out for my new copy of the game purchased after Christmas last year.  It is such a good big group game.  Evan was the winner, but everyone, including Benny, possessed cards at the end!  Hurray!  Luke served as our MC, and I gave up my spot after a couple rounds to Carl. 
     Campfire tonight was plenty of singing!  Roxanna brought her violin down to the campfire to play along with Luke’s guitar.  We took the green books down which are an eclectic mix of traditional campfire, gospel, and 70’s music!!  We sang John Denver, Joan Baez, spirituals, you name it!!  S’mores and devotions, again from Luke’s Praying with the Earth book. 
     Earlier bedtime tonight!  By 10:30 all have made their way to the dorm or trailer to bed down for the evening!  G’night! 

Headcount at bedtime:  11: 8 adults, 3 youth

     Beautiful morning!!  Clear skies with a few puffy clouds.  Up around 6:15 to write, drink coffee, and enjoy the quiet of the woods!  (And to catch up on the blogs I haven’t written in the past two months!)  It is well over an hour before I see or hear anyone else!   (Rick at 7:45!)
     We are dragging a little this morning!  Definitely feeling the reduction in numbers…. Katy, after a mock Presbyterian committee meeting last night, was given permission to work on funeral sermons this morning instead of pulling trees.  Roxanna and Nick were pulling out sometime during the morning after a leisurely breakfast.  By 9am, the rest of us were ready for morning devotions and a romp up to the upper meadow to help Dale thin the thickets of the large island area.  And oh my, what thickets were growing along the edge of the meadow with easy access to the sunlight.  Everyone was wielding a bow saw or the lopers to take down trees from 18” to 20’ – again mostly white firs or white pines, but also some ponderosa, lodgepole, and a few larch.  Douglas firs were left no matter what!  Our guide was a large, ‘valued’ tree every 8 feet – clear out the rest! 
     I ended up walking – two trips to the chapel area to retrieve saws and covers, another trip making a wide circle of the area in search of a missing set of loppers (which we still haven’t found!)
During the second half of the morning, more waiting periods while Dale chain saw cut down trees, and then we would move in and drag them into piles.  Eventually most of these will be chipped up for more bark and wood chips for paths.  Luke lost his camera during one of the ‘hide in the pile’ fiascos, but Carl later found it – thankfully in a bright lime green case! 
     Break for lunch.  Our group is tired.  Annalea and Evan are napping on top of the tables after lunch.  We excuse Carl and Benny as they worked HARD this morning.  Dale wanted to do one more section of thinning, so Luke, Amber, Katy, and I went up to help. 
     By 2 pm it is time to play!!!  Frisbee golf!  Carl, Benny, Evan, Annalea, Katy, Luke, and I head up for a round of golf.  After the first hole, it is evident we need a Frisbee throwing lesson, so Luke takes the group into the softball field (right after the 1st hole!) and everyone practices tossing into the backstop!  That helped!  We stop around the chapel and practice ‘search and rescue’ technique to spread out in search of the missing lopers.  No luck.    Maybe the PYGS will just buy the Woods a new set.  One more hole and then it is time to highball down to the dorms and get ready to leave for the WATER PARK!!! 
     The Pendleton Church made arrangements to host the group to attend the Pendleton Aquatic Center and provide dinner while we are there.  Everyone from the Woods Commission came and brought part of the meal.  Wonderful time spent talking with people I have come to know from the Pendleton church: Dale and Judy, Jack Skutt, etc.  We had a great time sliding down the giant tube slides, playing water basketball, and watching Luke, Katy, and Evan go off the diving boards!  Eventually, all enjoyed a little hot tub time after dinner. 
     Back to camp for evening devotions, a short game of Blink, and all into bed by 10 pm.  A tired crew! 

     A beautiful clear sky morning.  Little cooler, but not bad.  Up at 6:15 again to write, shower, and begin preparations for cleanup, etc.  Mornings in the woods are SOOOOO pretty!!  Katy rose quietly and left around 8am - bound for church in Baker, although thankful that Jim Kauth is preaching!  So now....we are down to 8: 5 adults and 3 youth!  
     After breakfast, we gather up at the chapel for Sunday morning worship.  A simple service of music, readings, and some individual time outside in the woods.  I sat at the edge of the patio and gazed at a towering larch tree.  I wrote the following poem the next day:

Take a few moments, Luke said, to find a holy place. 
Walk around, sit in the sunshine, 
Meditate.  Listen for the voice of God. 
We all spread out from the chapel
To spend some time alone.

I found my holy place

Along the edge of the patio. 
Beneath a towering tamarack tree. 

I leaned back and gazed upward. 
The air was still but the branches gently floated in the winds.  
Graceful and feathery, the needles of the larch. 
The longer I sat, silent and still, 
The stronger I felt God's presence, 
One with the tamarack tree. 
The strength and power of the trunk,
Tall and mighty. 
And then the waving branches,
Shifting by the winds of the Holy Spirit,
Changing direction through Spirit power. 
Butterflies, birds, dragonflies and bugs:
Darting in and out of lacy spaces,
Carrying tiny messages from God to the world,
Little angel carriers connecting the pieces of heaven. 
The sun lit up the branches until they glowed...
Lit from within by the sunlight,
By the Son Light? 
Am I lit from within as well by Son Light?
Father, Son, and Spirit -
A Holy Place. 
A Holy Tree.  

We don't need to be IN the church building

To find the places where God dwells. 
Our holy places are everywhere,
Just like God.  

(Based on Westminster Woods Worship on Sunday, August 4)

     After worship...time to CLEAN!!!  We divided up the jobs: bathhouse, bunkhouse, kitchen and dining room.  Sweeping, vaccuming, toilets and showers to clean, etc.  Rick took on the kitchen, and just piled all the food on to the outside tables for lunch!!  Dale came and checked us out around 1pm.  Annalea gets the task of driving home alone....she wanted to stop in La Grande anyway!!  

     Another good time spent at the Woods!!  Hard workers!  

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


Jed and Luke strike a pose in front
 of Gunsight Mt.
June 28 to July 8

     Jed flew back up to the Pacific NW just for a week to attend Becca Johnson’s wedding.  He flew into Seattle and caught a ride to Tri-City area with Ethan on Friday, June 28. Good time with Ethan, Lindsey, Becca, and college friends during the wedding weekend.  On Sunday, June 30, Rick drove up Becca’s to bring Jed back to Baker City.  

Monday, July 1.  We head up to Anthony Lakes for a picnic together.  Rick goes up early to do a little fishing, Grandma, Luke, Jed, and I after my doctor’s appointment in the morning. 
Jump pictures!! 
  Rick was successful in the fishing, lazily paddling around the lake in the raft.  Boys and I did a little swimming (it was quite warm in Baker City – high 90’s – so the water felt good!)  Boys spent most of their time on the far side of lake taking jump pictures!  They also had a wild game of Frisbee golf in the trees!
Rick and Mom eat lunch.  
           Monday night Rusty Munn and Annalea Kauth were over for dinner and then games!!  Our first game was a round of Frisbee golf out in the side yard!  


Tuesday, July 2.  Luke has to go to work.   But Rick, Jed, and I head up to the mountains for a hike.  Our destination is Pole Creek Trail on the west side of the Elkhorns out of Bourne and Cracker Creek area.  Rick has been up this trail once before.  It was STEEP and LONG!  Probably we noticed the climb more because it was quite hot today.  Much cooler when Rick climbed it before.     About a 1800’ foot climb to reach the Crest Trail, but it seemed relentless.  We only hiked about a half mile down the crest to a lunch view looking down into Eilertson Meadows and Rock Creek Lake.  We were bushed.  The wildflowers were just preparing to burst forth in color up on the crest.  Still a little early. 
On the crest trail overlooking Rock Creek basin
     I love getting on to the crest trail.  I just wouldn’t recommend the Pole Creek access again!  The Little Cracker access was steeper, but much shorter!!!  Hopefully that road has been improved!  But once on the crest trail, the hiking is easy and the vistas far-reaching!  Sooooo  pretty!!    And, as always, hiking is such a special time together with the sons!! 
     Nothing special this day.  Catching up on family time.  No youth group tonight, but Luke and Jed went out to the Lehmans to play a little sand volleyball with a crew out there! 

     Up and on the road from Baker City to Newport early Thursday morning.  Jed will fly out of Portland next Monday, having spent the weekend with Luke and Kady in Newport and Sunday night with Todd and Amy in McMinnville.  A good 10 days for him of family and close friends.  


30th Anniversary

Our little cabin in the woods!  
July 9-11

As I seem to be writing all these journal/blog entries months after the fact, this will also be short and sweet! 

     Our official  30th anniversary celebration (eg the one where we spend money and time) will be in February when we journey to Hawaii for the first (and hopefully not ONLY) time, courtesy of our World-Mart reservation at the Kona resort!  Plane tickets are going to hurt, but…….you can’t take it with you and we don’t splurge very often! 
Reservations ready!
Beautiful dancing clouds in the
early morning on Wednesday. 
     So….our mini anniversary trip!  We booked two nights at the cabins at Emigrant Springs campground up near Meacham!!  Drove up Tuesday afternoon.  Evening meal was our traditional ‘fancy event on the road’ meal: fake crab, sourdough bread, gouda quality cheese, and a couple bottles of wine!!!  We took walks in the woods, relaxed and read….I started and finished a book in the two days! 
     Wednesday we drove down to Pendleton around noon to pick up the Presbytery t-shirts for Triennium for Luke and we ate dinner out at a Thai restaurant.  One fun part of the trip down was taking the old highway from Deadman’s Pass rest area down into Pendleton.  What a vista drive, although heading west would be the best way to take the road, especially on a clear day when you could see the mountains in the distance!  I would have pictures, but alas, the SD card was left in the laptop!  
Fireweed - one of the
flowers on the walk I
COULD identify!
Blue Mt. Fiddlers jammin' in the picnic area. 
     Wednesday evening we took a walk around the area, ending up in the picnic area parking and listening to the Blue Mountain fiddlers who are gathered for a music fest!  Fun to listen and watch for a little while!
     Back to Baker City at a leisurely pace on Thursday! 

View all the pictures HERE!