Monday, May 22, 2017

Summer School ~ McDowell Creek Falls

McDowell Creek Falls @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Today is our usual hiking day, but I spent all day in a local Classical Conversations Parent Practicum instead of hiking in this 90 degree heat. Since we knew we would be unable to hike this week, Holly and I (with kids plus two friends) took advantage of the 70 degree weather this past Friday and enjoyed McDowell Creek Falls (hike #6!).

We try to make it up here at least a couple times each year. We’ve had so much rain this season, and the water was rushing! Luke did climb up next to these falls (can you see him in the middle on the left?), but the kids certainly didn’t climb around behind the falls like they did in July last year.

We climbed all 140 steps up to the top of the Royal Terrace Falls (some of those steps are giant!), then descended again to continue our hike.

McDowell Creek Royal Terrace Falls Climb @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

The scenery here is so lush.

McDowell Creek @ Mt. Hope Chronicles


McDowell Creek Trees @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

We climbed the stairs to the top of Majestic Falls.

McDowell Creek Majestic Falls @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

The hiking crew.

McDowell Creek Hiking Crew @ Mt. Hope Chronicles


McDowell Creek Majestic Falls Rainbow @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Heading back down.

McDowell Creek Majestic Falls Climb @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

We found a peaceful spot to rest, snack, and wade (after Lola ran ahead and I had a small heart attack while trying to find her).

McDowell Creek Play @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

The kids played in the water a bit. Luke and Jake were insane enough to submerge their bodies in the frigid pool. I ached to look at them since my big toe throbbed when I dipped it in.

McDowell Creek Swimming @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

I’m already looking forward to next week’s hike!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Math Picture Book Review

Math Picture Book Review @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

[I received a free copy of this book for review purposes; opinions are my own.]

While I do love a charming fiction picture book, I often gravitate toward beautiful biographical picture books or picture books that help explain a variety of ideas in ways that help kids engage with the concepts. My shelves are abundently loaded with picture books about science, art, music, history, geography, bible, and math. I’m always on the lookout for new titles to add to my collection.

Granddaddy Parallelogram is a picture book introduction to parallelograms, rhombuses, rectangles, right angles, and perpendicular diagonals. The illustrations are bright and simple. Geometry was not my strong suit in high school, and I learned a thing or two from this one! The story is silly and appeals to my six year old. I found her reading it in bed, way past her bedtime.

The author invented a clever way to show that rhomuses have perpendicular diagonals which make right angles.

Math Picture Book @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Parents and teachers will appreciate the full page of tips and interactive ideas at the end of the book, including discussion questions, activities, and helpful explanations. The book also includes a page of math vocabulary and definitions.

Reading the book aloud, I found some of the conversation awkward. The main character has an eight syllable name. Paired with all the synonyms for “said” (interjected, suggested, grumbled, asserted, assured, pronounced), this was quite a mouthful. Also, some parents may not appreciate the sibling squabbling or school atmosphere (friends laughing and pointing when the rhombus trips and falls), though kids will likely relate!

I’m looking forward to trying some of the math activity suggestions with Lola.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Summer School ~ Marys Peak

Marys Peak @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

The forecast said rain. The day dawned with beautiful sunshine in the valley.

We didn’t have rain or much sunshine on Marys Peak, the highest point in Oregon’s Coastal Range with an elevation over 4,000 feet.

We were up in the clouds, hiking in 40 degree weather.

Marys Peak Snow @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Lola always ends up carrying something during the hike (and trying to pawn it off on me). Sticks. Rocks. Flowers. Branches.

Today she carried a snowball for miles.

Marys Peak Hiking Crew @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Twenty-eight of us hiked this adventure (two new families joined a hodge-podge of previous hikers).


One of my children was the advance guard, not waiting for adults, and almost lost his privilege to come on hikes.

One of my children was dragging her feet way back in the rear of the company and didn’t ever want to hike again.

One of my children had equipment issues—he wore sandals and froze his feet—and almost quit the hike halfway through.

One of my children had a fit of frustration in the middle of the hike and said he didn’t want to hike in the first place.

It was wonderful.

Marys Peak Trees @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesMarys Peak Flora @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesMarys Peak Hike @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

School today consisted of lessons in perseverance, personal responsibility, preparation, obedience, and good sportsmanship.

Who needs a desk?

Monday, May 8, 2017

Summer School ~ Angel’s Rest, Columbia Gorge

Angel's Rest Hike @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

After our beautiful hike at Silver Creek Falls, I was hoping our next adventure wouldn’t be a major letdown. Today’s hike in the Columbia Gorge was anything but.

We were a bit worried about the long drive up through the Portland area, but the six boys in my truck were well-behaved, traffic was light, we found our destination easily, and everyone arrived at the same time: Alicen and her two kids, Alicia and her three girls, Char and her two kids, Holly and Ivy and friend, Christina and Jake, Sarah and her four kids, and I and my four kids. Did I miss anyone?

Angel's Rest Hiking Crew @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Angel’s Rest is a picturesque hike, and my pictures don’t do it justice. It’s 2.3 miles up.

Up. Up. Up. A very long 2.3+ miles, past two waterfalls. According the the trail guide, the elevation gain is 1450 feet. If you consider a flight of stairs to be a 10’ elevation gain, that’s equal to 145 flights of stairs.

Angel's Rest Trail @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Can you see the bitty person on the rock below? We had hiked for what seemed like forever before getting to this point, and we were headed all the way up to that rock (where several of our kids were already waiting).

Angel's Rest @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

The hike was gorgeous, but the spectacular view was rewarding after all that work. This is the Columbia Gorge, which separates Oregon from Washington (we’re on the Oregon side, looking across to Washington). I wish my pictures could give a better sense of perspective and magnitude.

Angel's Rest, Columbia Gorge @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

After the strenuous hike up, we picnicked and explored at the summit for quite a while in the glorious sunshine and 70 degrees. Hiking weather doesn’t get more perfect than that.

Angel's Rest Lookout @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

This is the western view, out toward the Pacific Ocean.

Angle's Rest Hiking @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

The 2.3+ miles back down were more difficult than previous descents due to the rocks and tree roots in the path. By the time we returned to the trailhead, we felt we had earned our stripes today.

Some of us drove on to see Latourell Falls after the hike.

Columbia Gorge, Latourell Falls @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

And then up to the Vista House to again view the Gorge.

Eastern view:

Columbia Gorge East @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Vista House:

Columbia Gorge Vista House @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Western view:

Columbia Gorge West @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

There were several more waterfalls we could have viewed, including the famed Multnomah Falls, but we were dead tired and had a long drive back through Portland traffic so we headed home.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Summer School ~ Silver Creek Falls

Silver Creek Falls Hike @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

We visited Silver Creek Falls at the beginning of our hiking adventures last year. We had a large group, the weather was rather cool, and we hiked a longer distance, so there wasn’t much time for exploring and playing. Luke had asked to return so he could spend more time exploring the caves in the rock behind the main falls. The weather forecast looked good for Thursday, so we added an extra hike to our schedule.

Under the Falls @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Holly and Ivy picked up Jake, Monet, Isabella, Julia, and Sophia. I brought my crew of four. The parking lot was almost empty at 10:30. We started the hike at 72 degrees and ended it three hours later at 78 degrees. We only hiked about 3 miles, with a good mix of incline, decline, and flat path.

The weather could not have been more perfect. Everything is so lush at this time of year.

Hiking Silver Creek @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

The lower falls:

Lower Falls @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Behind the falls:

Behind the Falls @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

The hiking crew (minus Luke, Holly, and me):

Hiking Crew @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesSpring Flowers @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesSilver Creek Path @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesSilver Creek @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

We were rather hot halfway through our hike, and the kids thought the water looked inviting. We made time for wading and swimming. I am not sure these kids really understand the magnitude of the beauty surrounding them.

Hiking and Swimming @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Hiking with my very own Ranger, Beartican Wolf:

Beartican @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

And my very own dragon, Leela, in her cave:

Dragon Cave @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesFern @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

I think this is one of my most favorite hikes. Multiple spectacular waterfalls. Many walls of trickling water and perfectly child-sized waterfalls. Lush greenery. Places for wading and playing. Caves. Woods. Constant sounds of water rushing and water dripping. All less than a gorgeous hour’s drive from our home.

Big and Little Waterfalls @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Summer School ~ Peavy Arboretum

Peavy Arboretum @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

We had a little better weather for this past Monday’s hike at Peavy Arboretum. At least it wasn’t windy and rainy. (It may have sprinkled on us a bit, however, and clearly it wasn’t hot.)

It was still a hefty 2.5 hour hike with quite the incline for the first half, but I felt marginally stronger after last week.

Peavy Hiking Crew @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

It was a completely different crew this week. The kids and I joined Christina and Jake, Cheris and her four kids, and Jessica and her four kids.

We took a couple snack and tree-climbing breaks, but otherwise it was onward and upward.

Tree Climbing @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesPeavy Hike @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesHiking Peavy @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

The good news is that I could still walk the next day.