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Greg Hatten and the Great Outdoors: Moved by the Wallowas.

IMG_4825Ed. Note: It’s National Park Week, and in the spirit of outdoor adventures, we’re sharing excerpts from a post by our friend Greg Hatten of Wooden Boat Adventures fame. He  took a trip into the snowy Wallowa Mountains this spring (or what’s passing for spring here in Oregon), and experienced nowcats, fly-fishing, Pendleton blankets, hot beverages and lobster tails. Read on below.

Six hundred pounds of Oregon Elk thundered up the small freestone creek in a desperate dash for life as a pack of gray wolves gave chase. In a final powerful move to avoid the wolves at her heels, she wheeled left and attempted to jump up the six foot bank from the bottom of the creek bed. Her fate was sealed when her front legs sunk to her shoulders in four feet of deep snow. The trailing wolves, running lightly on a thin layer of crust, caught her quickly and ended the struggle for life at the top of the bank in a flurry of fangs and flesh.

Snow prints told the story.

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It was a solemn moment in the middle of a remote area that had taken us several hours and a variety of vehicles to reach. Our destination was a cabin by the river…We reached the little cabin, started a fire, unloaded gear, and propped our wet boots by the stove to dry out.

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Clearly this was going to be a steelhead trip to remember… but the Pendleton Whiskey after dinner would challenge us to recall the details. The next morning was clear and crisp. I slipped on my waders, slipped out the cabin door and hiked to the pools upstream.

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We fished hard all day – upstream, downstream, swinging, nymphing, plunking….. we tried it all with the same result. A fishless day – not at all uncommon or unfamiliar to steelhead fishermen…. and so, we headed to the cabin for ribs and lobster.

After another elegant dinner I grabbed my Therm-a-Rest cot, my sleeping bag, and my Pendleton blanket and headed for the river to do some open air winter sleeping down by the river.

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I explained it as a field test for winter gear – but I really wanted a closer connection to the river, the valley and the Nez Perce tribe of Native Americans that called this place “home” more than two hundred and fifty years before us. I looked up at the stars in the night sky and thought of them in this place.

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My breath was heavy and my nose was cold but the familiar sound of running water over rocks and the rawness of the night was something I’ll never forget. The image of the slaughtered Elk was something else I’ll never forget and a few times during the night imagined I was being surrounded by the Minam pack of wolves that patrols this valley and did my best to snore loudly hoping to be mistaken for a hibernating bear. When I woke to the first light of dawn, I was pretty glad I hadn’t been eaten by wolves and figured either they thought I was a sleeping bear, a mad dog, or a middle aged fly fisherman that wouldn’t taste very good…. or maybe the wolf pack was only in my dreams. I hiked up to the cabin and made coffee.

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IMG_5028…it was time to pack up and leave the valley. We made our way back up the steep narrow trail and near the top we stopped for one final look down at the river snaking it’s way between the mountains of the Eagle Cap Wilderness.

In 1877, 800 members of the Nez Perce tribe and their 2,000 horses fled the valley and headed Northeast in a desperate attempt to elude the pursuers hot on their trail. They were searching for a new home and chased by the U.S. army for over 1,000 miles and three months across Idaho and parts of Montana before a final bloody battle less than 40 miles from the safety of Canada. It was the battle in the foothills of the Bear’s Paw Mountains where the Nez Perce were finally forced to surrender and Chief Joseph is said to have pronounced to the remaining Chiefs and the U.S. Army “Hear me, my chiefs! I am tired. My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”

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As I looked over the raw beauty of the Wallowa valley with the steep dark green Mountains on all sides dusted with a fine layer of white snow tumbling into the river below, his words took on a depth that made me ache for his people and the way of life they gave up. I was moved by the Wallowas.

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Read the full post here: Moved by the Wallowas

All photography courtesy Greg Hatten

 

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See product here:

Chief Joseph blanket (tan)

Pendleton Buffalo Creation mug

Men’s wool shirts by Pendleton

 

 

 

A Woodenboat Adventure: Greg Hatten in Rocky Mountain National Park

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Our friend Greg Hatten took a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park this year. it brought him some memories, some nostalgic and some frightening. Says Greg:

Rocky Mountain National Park was established in 1915 and is one of the most visited parks in the entire National Park system. It’s located in north central Colorado and has so many incredible natural features it can take days to experience them all.

It was the first National Park I ever visited and when I was 10 years old Smokey the Bear seemed real, the Park Rangers in their pressed wool uniforms and flat brimmed hats were super heroes, and the park itself was an outdoor paradise just waiting for me to explore each year on family trips.

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With all the beautiful waterfalls, hiking trails, snowy peaks, and colorful meadows of the Rocky Mountain National Park, the feature I most wanted to see on my recent trip was the headwaters of the Colorado River.

In Rocky Mountain National Park, the 1,400 mile Colorado River comes to life as a babbling little brook several hundred miles upriver from the Grand Canyon. A few weeks ago I trailered my fully restored and freshly repainted Portola across the plains of Kansas toward the headwaters of the Colorado River.  I had a lot of miles to think about that experience.

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Since it was before Memorial Day, the park area seemed to be just waking up from winter.  A few of the campgrounds were opening and most were unoccupied, new park rangers were still training for the upcoming season, and patches of snow were as numerous as the visitors were sparse.  

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The river snaked its way in lazy “s” curves through a valley that seemed to have 1,000 shades of green and then it rounded the corner and disappeared into a deep, dark canyon in the distance. We set up camp on that scenic stretch of the Upper Colorado River just outside Rocky Mountain National Park with towering bluffs on one side and dramatic peaks on the other.  The flat valley beside the river had a rough-hewn log fence that ran the length of the river and when we set up our cots and canvas tents, it looked a little bit like a civil war encampment.

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dsc00520-copyThere are adventures galore in this post! You can read the rest here:  Greg Hatten at Rocky Mountain National Park

Pendleton for the National Parks: SHOP

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Greg Hatten’s WoodenBoat Adventures: Olympic National Park

rangeGreg Hatten’s travels took him to Olympic National Park earlier this year to paddle Lake Quinault and fish the Quinault River (shown from above).

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Olympic is one of our rainiest National Parks, and Greg visited during one of the rainiest winters on record. This is Washington State we are talking about. In our upper left corner of America, it takes a lot of precipitation to make us even notice it’s been extra-rainy. And Greg and his wooden boat were headed for the Olympic Penninsula, which is actually…a rain forest.

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The river was rough and full of strainers, and the fish were hiding in the unsettled waters. This wasn’t an easy trek, folks.  You can read about it here, and see more photos.

We were taken with this photo of a magnificent herd of elk Greg encountered on his way in (his boat is on a trailer in this shot, if you’re wondering).

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And he even checked into the beautiful Lake Quinalt Lodge for the night.

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Lodge-viewview from the lodge – what a place to get married!

Being Greg, instead of sleeping here…

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…Greg opted to sleep here.

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You really want to read about this journey over at Greg’s blog. It was a mighty adventure, with some scary moments and fun rewards. And if you’d like to sleep like Greg, you have your choice of our Harding blanket in Thyme, new this year:

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Or Greg’s trusty Badlands bedroll, which has seen him through many nights of camping:

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You can shop for Pendleton’s Parks blankets and more at http://www.pendleton-usa.com.

But this?

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You have to go out there and get it on your own.

 

Greg’s Olympic Adventure

Greg’s WoodenBoat Adventures Blog

 

 

A WoodenBoat Adventure: Crater Lake and the Rogue River with Greg Hatten

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Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States, and its water is the darkest azure blue I have ever seen anywhere.” So begins Greg’s trip to experience the waterways (but not the lake) of Crater Lake National Park. After you read our post, with its own exclusive photos from Greg’s trip, be sure to read his detailed account (link below).

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Greg’s adventures are on his blog here, and they started with a trip to the headwaters of one of his favorite rivers in the West, The Rogue. Mighty rivers start in high places, and the Rogue is no exception. As Greg explains, “The Rogue River gets its start in Crater Lake National Park.  It explodes out of Boundary Spring, then sprints down the valley in a race with the Umpqua River to reach the Pacific Ocean. I hiked the trail up the river toward the headwaters, where it’s so narrow you can jump from one side to the other.”

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Greg’s trip was nearly a no-go, because he arrived at the launch to discover that a flipped boat hadobstructed the river. But the river took care of the obstruction. “It took the current less than a day to twist the frame and break the back of the metal boat, sending it to the bottom of the river. I couldn’t help but wonder what it would do to my little wooden boat in that spot if I made the slightest mistake.

IMG_0187Here’s a shot of Greg consulting his playbook (yes, he holds it with his feet while he rows). This book holds detailed, color-coded notes about the best way to row the Rogue. One of his notes is, “Never run at less than 1000 CFS.” Of course, this trip was taken at 950 CFS…

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Greg and his mates carried on, witnessing a trainwreck at the Slim Picken’s rapid, where an ‘unflippable’ catamarn wiped out. Below, Greg investigates Slim Pickens in his woodenboat, where the fast river “caused problems for the group in front of us, stranding one raft on the rocks and flipping another upside down, ejecting passengers and gear into the fast moving water.”

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Here’s a short video of Greg threading the needle at Slim Pickens. Not easy!

You can see another video of his run through Mule Creek, complete with sound effects, at Greg’s blog post.

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But it wasn’t all a vicious struggle to make it downriver. Greg camped with our blankets and bedroll, and enjoyed his share of fishing, grilling and good conversation under the stars. After a day on the Rogue River, could there be a better place to lay your head than a Crater Lake National Park Blanket ?

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it looks like Greg had some Pendleton Whisky to keep him warm, too.

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This is your last Greg Hatten WoodenBoat adventure until January, so enjoy the thrills while you can. And start planning your own adventures for 2016, when our National Park Service celebrates a century of managing and preserving America’s Treasures. These are your parks. Go enjoy them!

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Read Greg’s post here: Crater Lake

See Pendleton’s Crater Lake National Park blanket here: Crater Lake Blanket

See Pendleton’s National Park drinkware here: Mugs

See Pendleton’s elbow-patch Trail Shirts here: Trail Shirts

See Pendleton’s National Park bedrolls here: Roll-Up Blankets

See Pendleton’s National Park Towels here: Towels

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Greg Hatten and a Wooden Boat Proposal

Greg Hatten is our guest blogger today. Usually he writes about heart-stopping whitewater river journeys in his wooden boat, the Portola. Today’s post is about another kind of adventure, and it’s more heart-tugging than heart-stopping. We hope you enjoy it.

My youngest daughter and her serious boyfriend, Josh, took an Oregon river ride in my wooden boat one hot summer weekend last year. Despite the lack of fishing time, we all had a great time. This trip was about the water, the waves, and the old man checking out the young man in my daughter’s life. He checked out fine. I liked him much more than the others that had come and gone before him.

One year later, he was eager to come back to Oregon. He was ready to get back in the boat and maybe catch a steelhead on a fly. Understand, this is an accomplishment that requires thousands of casts and years of suffering broken rods, broken leaders, broken spirit. But he had a goal, so we saved the date. As it approached, his interest and questions about the details of the trip increased.

It was going to be a hot, sunny day. We started early. ‘0 dark 30 early, 4:30 AM early. Mentally making our offerings to the steelhead gods, we climbed in my FJ40, pulled the choke, turned on the headlights and headed up river, boat in-tow. We pulled into the boat launch. Judging by the lack of trucks and boats at the ramp, most fishermen had stayed in bed, conceding the day before it even began.

The most elusive of Pacific Northwestern fish proved to be just that. For two hours we fished some of the best pools and slots on the river and felt nothing – not a bite, not a hit, not a take-down, no sign of a steelhead. A familiar fishless ache in my gut prompted me to remind Josh of the degree of difficulty and disappointment associated with chasing steelhead on the fly. And then–WHAM! Josh felt “the tug” — a strong one – and suddenly line was peeling off the reel and the rod was doubled over in a rainbow arc. I heard him say, “WOW.”

It was a great fight with impressive runs and a few sharp jumps caught in vivid HD by the Go-Pro mounted on the bill of a fishing hat. A thirty minute tug-of-war brought a tired fish to the net and into the boat. He did it! On one of the hottest, sunniest days of the summer, Josh had hooked and LANDED his first steelhead on the fly.

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We took the required pictures. He sat there holding the big fish in my boat, looking very serious and clearing his throat. Then he asked my blessing to propose to my daughter. Then it was my turn to feel “the tug,” and Josh heard me say “WOW.” But this had nothing to do with a fish. I thought, are you kidding me? Who’s writing the script for this? He’s holding a trophy fish in my wooden boat and asks for my daughter’s hand in marriage. What could a fly fishing father say but, “Let me shake your slimy hand and welcome you to the family, Son.” Especially since fifteen minutes later, in the very next pool, Josh hooked up and landed a second steelhead in a battle that was even more dramatic than the first. That time, we both said, “WOW”.

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That evening, after a dinner of fresh steelhead on the grill, Josh pulled out a ring and proposed to my daughter Sarah by the light of the campfire over the sound of the McKenzie River flowing behind Eagle Rock Lodge. She said yes. And then I’m pretty sure she said, “WOW.”

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Quite a day.

 

Our congratulations to the happy couple. Be sure to read about Greg’s river adventures here, here and here.

Night in the Canyon by Greg Hatten

Enjoy this, out third and last guest post from Greg–for this trip, anyway.

Nighttime in the Grand Canyon adds another dimension to darkness for me.

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Towering walls rise up almost a mile above the Colorado River to touch the night sky, soft sand wraps around our sleeping bags in a warm embrace, and the river of darkness between the canyon cliffs overhead is filled with so many bright stars that most nights, the ground is visible without the aid of a flashlight.  Darkness in the Grand Canyon is filled with light, and my favorite light comes from the campfire after dinner.

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Photo by Nate Pickens

We throw another log onto the bed of half-spent coals in the fire pan, sink deep into our camp chairs…and take a long breath.  No rapids to scout, no river to run, no boats to wrangle.

The banter is lively as we replay the day – the heroic runs, the botched lines, and the close calls.  Laughter and teasing settles into quiet conversation and reflection as we enjoy the flames of the fire and each other’s presence.  Together, we unwind from the challenges of the day.  Sometimes the only sound in our circle of camp chairs comes from the flickering fire and the river (and occasionally, snoring from Tony).  We listen to the river every second of every waking hour and we hear it in our sleep.  Darkness in the canyon is filled with the sounds of the river and laughter from the circle.

When we’re talked out, we fold our chairs, and one by one, leave the warmth of the fire. Sometimes two or three of us take the campfire conversation deeper into the night.  The smoke from the fire follows us to our sleeping bags and tucks us in. Our best and our worst is on display in the stressful situations of the canyon and in the solitude of my bedroll each night, I sort through which of those “won the day” – and then I sleep.

Darkness in the canyon is filled with the smoky smell of a campfire and self reflection.

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Photo by Izzy Collett

Brightly colored tents sit below the steep rock walls of the canyon.  Some are scattered between boulders and sagebrush or even clustered in bunches on the sand banks of the river.  They glow with a dreamy light.

Some nights there is a special sound to the darkness as Izzy plays a Native American wood flute while she sits on her boat.  The rich low sounds are from a different time and place.  Authentic music mingles with the smoke trails and travels up the canyon on its way to the stars.

It adds a richness to the experience that I will never forget.

The darkness in the canyon is filled with the haunting sounds of the Anasazi flute.

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Photo by Dave Mortenson

In the daylight, my canvas tent blends with the light tan color of the sand.  It’s the same material they used for tents and bags on the 1964 trip we are replicating.  I use the tent when there is a threat of rain or I want a break from the strong winds and blowing sand.

When we’re not in tents, we sleep on the open ground with nothing overhead except the stars in the night-sky.  The distance we hike away from the river to throw our bags down on shore is in direct proportion to the energy we have left at the end of a day spent rowing heavy boats through heavy rapids.  Most of the bags are within 100 feet of the boats on the sand banks above the river.  Some mornings we wake up as part of a sand dune and have to shake our way out of our bags.

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Photo by Greg Hatten

Many nights we sleep on the boats.  It’s my favorite place to spend the night.  Down here boats are life… they’re everything.  We row them through the valley of death and they deliver us from evil… repeatedly.  They carry everything we own and faithfully get us to our next campsite at the end of our rowing day.  They “connect” us to the river with a bond that’s hard to explain.  We love our boats.

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All covered up in our warm blankets, we peek out in the dark and occasionally see a falling star in the night sky as the water gently slaps the sides of the boat and the river rocks us to sleep.  On “two-blanket” nights it’s cold enough to see our breath – which makes the blankets feel even warmer and the boats seem even cozier.

The darkness in the canyon is filled with cold cheeks, cold noses and gently rocking boats.

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Marble Canyon Tunnel – Photo by Robb Grubb

The darkest dark I found in the canyon wasn’t on the boats at night.  It was in an exploratory tunnel drilled deep in the side of Marble Canyon where construction had begun in the 1950s on one of the last proposed dam projects in the west.

A couple of us tied off our boats on river left and scrambled up the loose shale to the mouth of the tunnel – a hundred feet above the river.  From that elevated vantage point, the canyon looked spectacular.  I tried to imagine a dam in this special spot and couldn’t.  We turned from the river, climbed over the railroad ties and boulders guarding the entrance, and crawled through a portal into the heart of the Marble Canyon wall.

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Marble Canyon Entry – Photo by Robb Grubb

Twenty feet in and we were covered in darkness.  Real deep dark heavy darkness…. an eerie black quiet darkness… and I thought of orcs, and goblins, and the Lord of the Rings.  We turned on a laser light, splashed our way through the puddles on the packed-dirt floor and tripped over loose rocks that had fallen in the narrow passageway.  Walking with an awkward stoop, we finally reached the end of the tunnel several hundred feet from the entrance.  For a moment we turned off the light and just stood there listening to “drip…drip…drip” coming from the dank ceiling and falling to the floor somewhere in the blackness.  For the first time in days we couldn’t hear the river – it was silenced by the tunnel and it was deafening.

We shimmied back out the portal, slid down the shale pile back to our boats and spent a quiet afternoon rowing through the beautiful rose colored walls of Marble Canyon.

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Marble Canyon – Photo by John Schroeder

That night, I reflected again about what the trip in 1964 meant to river runners like us.  That trip and those guys made a huge impact by shining a bright light on the beauty of the canyon.  Their pictures, their videos, and their words inspired millions of people to take a closer look at the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon and for the first time, many of them saw this place as much more than just a source for water.

The darkness in the canyon is filled with passion.

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Last of the Three Part Series by Greg Hatten