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All in the Family: Climbing an extended family tree and the nature deficit disorder 

click to enlarge October snow on the Wife
  • October snow on the Wife
October snow on the WifeTHE WIFE

Of course, we have the confirmed Bachelor in our midst. And everyone knows the Three Sisters. But, as holiday party season approaches, it can be good to embrace long lost relatives. So, are you familiar with the rest of our Cascades family?

Last weekend, a small group of friends decided to climb the Wife. If you haven't visited the Wife, it's probably because there is no trail that leads you to her. She plays a little hard to get. To access the Wife, we parked at the Devil's Lake trailhead and hiked the trails to Wickiup Plains. Fall was evident in the brisk air, red groundcover and snow-covered hills. The Plains are enjoyable because of the open vistas of South Sister with the Rock Mesa Obsidian Flow in the foreground. When we reached the PCT, we could spot the Wife to the northwest and we started to cross-country. Soon thereafter, we lost sight of her because the clouds closed in and cold rain began to fall. We passed a small group of hardy deer hunters camped near the base of the Wife and prayed for the deer when we spied their hoofmarks a few hundred yards later. We headed clockwise around the base of the Wife and upward. It's a bit of a scramble to get to the top (which would have been a piece of cake without my arm in a sling and six inches of snow), but we arrived and enjoyed a quick lunch of breakfast leftovers from McKay Cottage, brown rice sushi and organic ginger snaps in the wet flurries. Slip-sliding back down the snowy slope, our return was uneventful and it made for a nice 10-mile roundtrip adventure -followed by the hot tub and hot chai, of course.


Next up, the Husband. As my single female friends say, "If you don't have a husband, at least climb one!" The patriarch of the Cascades Family, the Husband rises to 7,524 feet and is within yelling distance of the Wife. To her northwest, he seems, predictably, to be the most remote and distant of the family. The plan for snagging the Husband is such: Start at the Foley Ridge trailhead off of the McKenzie Pass Highway. Follow the Foley Ridge Trail to the Husband's south ridge, to the only chink in his armor of vertical rock on the east side of the ridge near the top. The summit supposedly requires a bit over a mile of cross country travel and some short Class 3/4 rock climbing, but is doable in a long day. Besides the views, the reward for (sur)mounting the Husband is knowing that you're one of the few who's done it. Poor fellow.


When I was a kid, I hiked two miles through the woods to my bus stop every day in a driving blizzard. OK, so it was only half a mile and I tromped through snow deeper than an inch maybe only a couple of dozen days a year. I grew up in rural Connecticut during the '70s and most days after school I hung out with the Rosson sisters in the woods and collected salamanders. We were the founding, and sole, members of the SSSS (Secret Salamander Spy Service) and Cathy, Allison and I built a clandestine fort near a big boulder in the woods that we dubbed "Anniversary Rock." We spent hours on end there each afternoon until Mom clanged the dinner bell.

According to research conducted last year by Kreg Lindberg, professor of Outdoor Recreation at OSU-Cascades, that kind of unstructured outdoor play is what today's kids are lacking. Lindberg's survey, the results of which he shared at a Sierra Club meeting earlier this week, was part of a study for Oregon State Parks and confirmed that "youth are not getting outside as much and are suffering from Nature Deficit Disorder." Lindberg attributes the phenomenon to two causes: technology (i.e. Xboxes and iPods) and safety concerns of parents.

"Sure, children are playing soccer, but they are missing out on the mental and physical benefits and skills developed from just being in the outdoors," Lindberg said.

He says that this issue has struck a national chord and spurred a "No Child Left Inside" movement. This year, the state of Washington created a $1.5 million grant program for outdoor education and recreation programs for youth and Oregon State Parks are attempting to get a similar program funded. Maybe it's time to put our money where the future is. In the meantime, consider taking your kids fishing instead of letting them play Grand Theft Auto some afternoon. Or maybe take them to the Working Wonders Children's Museum on Saturday, October 18 at 11am where REI Bend Camping Specialist Samuel Stumbo will be teaching PEAK (Promoting Environmental Awareness in Kids). Not only will kids learn about respecting the environment and wildlife, but they will get to play some fun interactive games too. For more information, visit or call 389-4500.


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