Portland area winter hikes. Part 1

11050714_10153261569423675_1855416915072077955_n-3 By Josh McCarroll

One of the many things that make hiking in the forest such a beautiful experience is the knowledge that it is far older than us and the perception that it will be around long after we die. This perceived permanence always allows us the space to appreciate Oregon’s forests some other day. However, any of them could burn away by next summer.

I was born and raised in Oregon but since I started school I have used it as an excuse to be less adventurous. In light of the Eagle Creek and subsequent fires, I have made an effort to explore more and appreciate the beauty Oregon has to offer before it disappears.  

This post is the first in a series of three winter hikes. Many hikes become inaccessible or too dangerous in the winter time, so I will focus on hikes that are not only safely accessible and trekkable, but still beautiful during the cold months.  

Macleay Park

On a snowy Tuesday morning, I opted to go on a hike that requires no driving for Portlanders or park fees whatsoever, and I found Macleay Park.

From campus you can take the NS streetcar line to the NW 23rd and Marshall stop. From there you can make your way through a cute neighborhood by foot until you reach NW Upshur Street. The west end of this street dead ends at the park. After walking under the Balch Gulch Bridge, you will find the entrance to the trail, which has very clear instructions on possible routes depending on how deep into Forest Park you want to explore.

The great part about this hike is you can easily add it to the beginning or end of a busy day with not much preparation or planning. The trail is wide, easy to walk and is in excellent condition. I was able to hike the entire 2-mile loop comfortably in everyday tennis shoes. Same goes for the 6-mile loop: no hiking poles or fancy boots needed.

The small 2-mile loop brings you back to the top of the historic Balch Gulch bridge which is the route I enjoyed on my quick excursion before class. One of the things I found lovely about this hike was the structures. The beauty of this hike doesn’t necessarily rely on the lush greenery that comes about it in summer. The Lower Macleay trail runs along Balch Creek, and hikers encounter several wood bridges across the creek before they reach the Stone House.

The Stone House, known by some as the witch’s castle, is about fifteen minutes in. It is the point where the Lower Macleay trail intersects Forest Park’s Wildwood trail.

This trail is popular for Portlanders that want to get out of the city for a quick escape. However, this may make it a bit crowded on weekends. I would recommend visiting it on a weekday before the locals from the surrounding neighborhood get off work. I only encountered a handful of hikers during my visit on a Tuesday morning.

Food for Thought On Exercise and Weight Loss

img_7471.jpg By Naomi Kolb

While the recent sunny days have given us a tentative promise of the beautiful seasons to come, some not-so-beautiful conversations about our bodies have also begun taking place. There’s a certain rhetoric around “shedding the layers of fat” that we gained during the winter, or hitting the gym to get “bikini body ready” that seems to get more prevalent as we draw tantalizingly closer to spring break. I recently started working out more and was floored when someone asked me how much weight I was trying to lose. The answer? None. There have certainly been times in my life before this that I was actively trying to lose weight, but my relationships with food, exercise, and my very sense of self were deeply fractured during those times.

It was jarring to again be exposed to the idea that working out is often synonymous with losing weight, or that losing weight prior to being able to don a swimsuit during spring break is some sort of inherent expectation. So why am I working out then, if not to lose weight? For one, I love the way that yoga makes my body feel and how strong I feel while doing it. For another, I want to be able to go camping and hiking with my friends without getting too fatigued. Lastly, I’m doing it just because I’m finally able to try to develop a healthy relationship with exercise.

My desire to work out is no longer fueled by the hatred, self-loathing, and internalized fatphobia of my past. Rather, it’s become a new and exciting way for me to connect with myself, my friends, and the world around me. So let’s stop associating working out with losing weight, and let’s start looking forward to a spring break hopefully full of radical love and acceptance for our bodies no matter where they’re at. 

Blazer Break

nc1 By: Naela Cabrera

Have you ever walked through the buzzing halls of the Moda Center during a Portland Trail Blazer game night? It’s madness, but it’s exhilarating! Over the last two terms, my friends and I have been taking advantage of the Blazers Student Pass, which gives college students access to last-minute Blazer tickets at prices as low as $10.

My partner and I spent Valentine’s Day watching the Blazers as they took on the Golden State Warriors. Coolest Valentine’s date ever — and no, it wasn’t because Steph Curry was there, but that was a bonus. The week prior, we also took advantage of $10 tickets through Campus Rec’s “Night at the Blazers” event, hosted by the Intramural Sports Program. Campus Rec hosts this event yearly, and it comes with the opportunity to meet other Blazer fans around campus. Plus they host a pre-game food party. What student doesn’t love free food — am I right?

To be honest, I know hardly anything about basketball but I still enjoy it. I’m a strong believer that you don’t have to be a full-on basketball know-it-all to enjoy a game. Just a couple of friends, a short streetcar ride, good food/drinks and some exciting rivalry between the teams is all you need.

Between the stressful long weeks of studying, exams, work, meetings, etc., we all need a little Blazer break sometimes.

 

One Stretch At A Time

nc1By: Naela Cabrera

When you have constant terrible pain in your leg, walking through an urban campus with hills and long distances between places is not fun! That was my struggle this past year until I finally decided to help myself.

At the start of the year, small leg and hip discomfort lead to unimaginable pain, which led to numbness all the way down to my toes and the inability to even get out of bed. By the summer I was on crutches! After a long time with pain, I learned I was a victim of sciatica, a pinching of spinal nerves that affects the back, hips and outer part of the legs. A lot of damage to our spine and nerves are caused by bad habits such as poor posture or excessive sitting, or a lack of good habits, such as walking, stretching and exercising. This experience taught me that the pain was there only because I wasn’t doing enough to help myself. I could have stopped the pain myself with small habit changes.

A physical therapist helped me learn more about things I could change in my daily routine. Water sessions taught me how a simple back and forth walk from one end of the pool to the other could really make a difference. Land sessions taught me about powerful workout machines that only take 10 minutes of my day to really help the pain. Five simple stretches a day also keeps the pain away!

The pain has slowly lessened over time, but when I feel it coming back I quickly hit up Campus Rec to follow the therapy routines on my own. My access to Campus Rec has been a game changer. The facility has a ton of equipment that I used during my PT sessions, and the pool couldn’t be better. I realized a lot of the free aquatic fitness drop-in classes are very similar to my pool PT sessions, so I’ll definitely be taking advantage of those to help myself! It’s amazing to know how much you can do for yourself to overcome pain and keep yourself healthy.

 

Small Body, Big Dreams

nc1-e1509748844344.jpg  By: Naela Cabrera

Being a first-generation college student is hard. Being the oldest sibling is also hard sometimes. When you are both, it gets even harder. Having a role like this can come with a lot of responsibility, but mostly pressure. For first-generation students of color, the pressure to encourage the younger generation to receive a higher education is something many experience due to our community’s circumstances. In my experience, having a 15 year gap between me and my only other sibling makes my job a little more challenging, and the pressure a little higher. Yet, there has never been a day when I don’t feel appreciative of my little brother and the opportunity I have to encourage his future higher education goals.

The start of my college journey was very challenging for him. I was the only other person he counted on to be a friend, playmate and sometimes parent, which made me realize that it was extremely important to stay close and connected to my family. But although visiting my family only involves a 50-minute drive, I found balancing classes, work, and extracurriculars while making time for him was, at times, physically and mentally challenging. I then thought to myself, what would be easier to do? If I can’t continuously go to him, he could come to me! I quickly took advantage of all the fun, kid-friendly things to do on campus and in downtown Portland.

What is the best way to get kids active and ready for a midday nap while you catch up on homework? Take them to Campus Rec. One of our first spots was Campus Rec because working there taught me about their Youth Program. During a fall term, for six straight Saturdays he would spend the day with me getting active, catching up on play time, and taking a cool down walk through the farmers market afterwards. The days started with an early morning youth swim lesson, then sometimes lead to hours of rock climbing and court activities like soccer, basketball, and his favorite – table tennis. Soon enough Campus Rec became his spot! My coworkers would see him come up the stairs and immediately cheer him on, greet him and make him feel appreciated much like they do with a lot of the youth that come by our facility. Another favorite activity has been Spooky Saturday, which just went on this past weekend for kiddos in the Halloween spirit.  

Thanks to resources like the Youth Program, on and off campus activities and my willingness to take time and appreciate my little brother made it possible to bring a part of home and family values with me to my experience at PSU. Not only does this help cool down the pressure of making my first-generation experience valuable for my family, but it also allows my little brother to have exposure to the college setting and what it means. Just last night we continued our campus visiting routine when he attended the Day of the Dead annual cultural celebration with me, a very important family tradition for both of us.

#WalkToTheBeat

blog1 (1) By: Xylia Lydgate

It feels good to be a part of a cause that is greater than yourself. On Saturday, May 20, I joined with hundreds of Portlanders as we walked together to raise awareness for heart disease and stroke. Although I do not personally have any close relatives who have battled with heart related illness, it was empowering to walk for such a large cause with millions of supporters nationwide. Participants wore signs honoring those who have passed as they marched around the Portland International Raceway.

At the beginning of the race, our team gathered before the start line where we could explore the vendors, win free swag, make signs, and more. As soon as 9 a.m. rolled around, the first wave of walkers began the course; our team followed shortly afterwards. Volunteers near every mile marker cheered us on. Even a rap DJ boosted our energy as we approached the finish line.

Overall, I believe the positive energy and spirit of the cause was transferred to the hearts of the walkers and their loved ones. This walk reminded me that we are all in this together. We are only born with one heart. As living and breathing human beings, any one of us could be susceptible to heart disease or sudden stroke. Events like these speak to the value of life.

Completing this walk has allowed me to take a step back and remember that there are other vital events happening around us aside from school and work. Especially as a busy student, it is easy to lose sight of our surroundings and other crucial life events. If you haven’t already, I would highly recommend searching for a local walk for charity near your city.

http://www.active.com/charitable

http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/workout/running/tips/get-fit-for-a-cause/

https://www.verywell.com/walk-finder-events-by-state-3435354

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Let It Move You

blog1 (1) By: Xylia Lydgate

Four simple words. Four words that can make a lasting impact.

When I hear the phrase “dance like nobody’s watching,” it makes me nervous because what if someone IS watching. It is the fear of being criticized, made fun of, looked down upon, that causes me to tighten up and not want to just “let loose” in public settings. But at the end of the day I try to remind myself, who cares? Who cares if you’re having a great time and someone else thinks you look funny. What really matters if that you’re having fun and you’re enjoying your life.

The reason I am writing about this is because there is always another side to the story. The fear of being “laughed at” or made fun of is a minuscule concern compared to some of the day-to-day fears others may be facing. Not everyone is fortunate enough to be attending school with a stable living condition, steady job and same amount of emotional and financial support from family and friends.

Across the nation, thousands of women are fleeing from domestic violence and seeking safe shelter. Each year Campus Rec partners with the Women’s Resource Center to host their annual Zumbathon. All proceeds from participants go towards funding to provide shelter to victims of domestic violence.

Don’t be afraid to dance your heart out, let loose and let the music move you. I encourage you to participate in community events that stand for a good cause. Portland State offers hundreds of events that connect you with volunteering and relief efforts.

It is a simple task to drop your worries, be brave and dance for those who can’t.