It’s a Small World After All and It’s Fucking Cold

Locals keep titillating me with eye-witness reports of violent weather and I keep chasing after them like a Golden Retriever after a tennis ball.

This time it was high winds at Crown Point. Not only were the knots up, but the temperature was sharp as razor blades against the skin. Swaddled in everything from polypropylene to Polartec, I cinched my hood down to a sliver narrower than an Inuit’s squint and bounded from a warm truck cab into a raging gale. I forgot my polar goggles, though; The wind literally shaved the moisture from my eyeballs. Holding a camera, framing a shot, and not tumbling to the pavement was an interesting workout so forgive the quality of the photos below.

The white dots in the middle of the water aren’t birds, they’re whitecaps. I did see some geese attempt to fly into the wind. They slowed to a complete standstill, flapped madly in place, then gave up and turned downwind.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAll sorts of waves were shearing themselves at opposing angles. I didn’t see a single boat or barge on the water, surprise, surprise.

 The ponds next to the highway looked more like Alaska than Oregon.
This would not be the day to summit Silver Star Mountain. Human parasail, anyone?
The intensity of the gusts rose and fell in a rogue wave pattern, so body surfing was a difficult but not impossible respite from bracing myself against the concrete railing. When I lost feeling in my fingers, I climbed back into the truck and felt it rock back and forth in the storm like a squad car in an East L.A. riot. People came and went over the course of an hour, parking their vehicles, shuffle-running to the edge for a quick group photo, then scurrying back to their car heaters. There was a lot of cursing and giggling.

One guy showed up in jeans and a light jacket and stood still for several minutes, holding up a small personal anemometer. He reported that the gusts were 30 mph. Not quite, dude: The prevailing wind was 30 mph, the gusts were closer to 50. 30 mph has yet to knock me off my feet or spill my coffee. Here’s a primer.

So, short on thrills and all bundled up with no place to go, I decided to downshift to the bottom of the hill and check out the frozen falls. Off in the distance, Cape Horn was decked out for ice climbing.

 Latourell was bending into elegant ribbons in the wind.
 Frozen in digital time, it resembled a fragile, ghostly veil, but the truth of the matter was noisy and violent, splattering ground zero with the force of a fire hose.
 Wahkeena wasn’t any warmer but the bridge did have all the excitement of a slick layer of ice to traverse.
Plant’s low crowns were flocked beyond recognition into chilly undersea creatures.
Ice crystals were beginning to take hold and multiply on my nylon shell and pants, so I decided to get the flock out of there. Not a hundred feet down the trail, I met up with a dynamic duo: two gentlemen who radiated warmth, wit, and smart-aleckyness. Chatting with them was the most fun I’d had all day so I changed my plans on a whim and gave them an impromptu tour of Multnomah Falls. Luckily for us, the falls were decked out beautifully that day in tinsel and frozen lace.
A photographer taking a picture of a photographer taking a picture of the falls.

The tall one, Patrick, flashed a smile brighter than a Halogen lamp and explained that he and his buddy had decided on a lark to detour from the highway en route to Bend to race in the Cyclo-Cross National Championships, which they call “vacation.” My ass hurt just thinking about that.

He said I’d recognize his cohort as soon as I learned his secret identity. Clark Kent turned out to be none other than Brad Carvey, older (and wiser) brother of actor Dana Carvey. In fact, tech-nerd-genius Brad was Dana’s inspiration for the character of Garth Algar in “Wayne’s World.” I’m too much of a Luddite to explain what exactly it is that Brad does but his Wikipedia entry makes a short job of it. Basically, from what I could glean from the photo collection on his Blackberry, he renders super-cool digital editing effects in movies like “Men in Black” and “Wolverine.”

They were both in disgustingly good shape and tough to keep up with on the trail. Brad explained that he and Patrick inadvertently bonded while embroiled in a swirling sea of testosterone-soaked competitiveness during a race. They’ve been hanging out, racing, and teasing the hell out of each other ever since. That’s Brad on the left.

Guys, that was a blast. I’d follow you up any trail, just for the commentary. Thanks to you, I will always remember to “take a moment.” May you both kick some serious ass in Bend.
December 9, 2009

One thought on “It’s a Small World After All and It’s Fucking Cold

  1. Pingback: Captain Jack Sparrow and a Cappuccino 10-9-07 | All Thoughts Work™ Outdoors 1

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