But according to the recently released report, on the afternoon of June 7, 23-year-old Colin Scott and his sister left the boardwalk near Pork Chop Geyser and wandered to the Norris Geyser basin looking for a pool to soak in.
The report quoted Scott’s sister as saying, “her brother was reaching down to check the temperature of a hot spring when he slipped and fell into the pool.”
She had been filming the journey to the geyser on her phone, and caught Scott’s accident. Officials say they won’t release the video.
Later, a rescue team found portions of Scott’s body, along with a wallet and orange flip flops. The rescuers had to stop due to a lightning storm, and when they came back the next day, they couldn’t find any further remains in the highly acidic water.
Unlike Oregon’s mild hot springs, which, at 85-112 degrees, are perfect to soak in amongst old hippies, hot springs in Yellowstone can reach up to 250 degrees.
“In a very short order,” a deputy said, “there was a significant amount of dissolving,”
I woke up with my arms wrapped around a giant tree trunk—literally hugging the tree. I was wrapped in a sleeping bag, lying next to five people on cold, wooden planks.
We were camping in the sky—in a treehouse 200 feet in the air.
Hummingbird Hill is a hip treehouse just 20 minutes from downtown Portland. But being in it, you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere.
I rented the house through LandApart, a new website based in Portland that lets private landowners rent out their outdoor areas. Think of it like Airbnb, but for the forest.
LandApart has been in development for the past two years. The site’s co-founder and CEO Ven Gist says he and his friends came up with the idea after realizing it was hard to find places to camp—something anyone who’s tried to find no-reservation campsites in forests near Portland have probably experienced firsthand.
With nearly 200 state parks, access to public outdoor areas in Oregon doesn’t seem like it should be a problem. But, as Gist explains, this access is stifled because of overcrowding.
“Every place in the world has an access problem with public outdoor access. On the East Coast, they don’t have it. Here we have it, but it’s crowded,” Gist says. “We have places to hike, but not places to stay, and that’s the important thing because that’s when you experience the elements and the change around you and experience that time in nature.”
In terms of accessibility to nature, it’s not the worst problem to have, but it does limit some people from getting outside, especially alone. Gist says they wanted to find a way to completely redesign the experience of deciding where to go camping.
At first, they were going to create a site that helped people find public campgrounds. Then they realized there was an untapped outdoor resource: private land.
They began calling up landowners, sending postcards and scouting lands to get a database of places for the site. They were worried people wouldn’t want guests on their land due to privacy concerns. But for the most part, he says the reaction has been the opposite.
“At this point, we’re getting calls every day—focused in the Northwest for the most part,” he says. “A lot of the landowners don’t even care how much they’re making. A lot of times they’re excited to share; they live there for a reason and they want people to enjoy and value their land for the same reason they do—to allow people to reconnect to the land in a different way.”
The site—headquartered in Portland and Denver—officially launched this past Earth Day, and now has 31 properties, including nine in Oregon.
So we decided to rent a treehouse.
If you’re unfamiliar with the treehouse craze, educate yourself here and here.
There were other options. For example, Camp Lizard—which is 190 acres of land an hour and a half outside of Portland that you can camp on for $10-$40 a night.
Camp Run A Muk is a “30 foot deluxe glamping yurt decorated in a bear theme” just south of Seaside. It also has a king-size Tempur-Pedic bed, another king bed, a full-sized mattress, stocked kitchen, big TV and a bunch of other flossy stuff for $100/night.
But dude. Treehouse. It was only 20 minutes from my house in Southeast Portland—close enough to order a pizza, which is so not the point, but whatever.
The land hosts get to set their minimum stay. For Hummingbird Hill, it was two nights. I messaged the host to see if I could only do one night, which he agreed to.
Hummingbird Hill cost $84 for each night, which includes a 15 percent booking fee that goes to the LandApart—this is one of the higher priced spots, which go as low as $10 and as high as $2,000 for a 300-person event space with a barn. Most fall in the $25-40 range.
The treehouse is described as being in an “urban forest 13 miles from downtown Portland” with “unfinished, limited amenities.” As described, it truly was “camping in the trees.”
When we arrived, we parked and lugged food and drinks up a small trail next to the host’s home several times. We still had to bring all the gear we would if we were camping, besides the tent.
I was expecting the treehouse to be nicer.
It’s bare bones: There’s a chemical toilet, the windows are completely open, and there’s a twin mattress with a wool blanket on the ground. I pictured paper lanterns and string lights and piles of cozy Pendleton blankets.
Basically, we were camping—except we were 200 feet in the air.
Still, the host did provide a card table, binoculars, bird-watching book, mattress, wool blanket and a cooler. And my merely moderately outdoor-loving friends wouldn’t have wanted to camp in the middle of September in just tents. Having the roof and knowing the ground would be dry was a big plus, even if it meant crawling down a ladder after three vodka sodas to pee.
And there are things you can’t get in a tent, like waking up to a view of the Multnomah Channel and Sauvie’s Island, off a gorgeous balcony made of tree branches.
Later, I learned the host works at the Oregon Paleo Lands Institute, which sheds even more light on the greater purpose of l;LandApart—it’s a conservationist, environmental endeavor. The host’s entire lifestyle, from his free-range chickens to tiny cannabis plants, was about appreciating nature.
The next day, I felt that grime you get from dew, pine needles and dried leaves: the Oregon musk. I crawled over to the balcony, took it in, then crawled down to get brunch 20 minutes away.
Typhoon Songda may have been kind of a letdown if you were expecting widespread power outages, having to eat all that weird food in the back of your pantry and being able to justify doing nothing but watch How to Catch a Predator all weekend. It certainly was a letdown for the people behind the Yelp page for the storm.
But hey, there’s snow on the ground at Timberline Lodge right now. You can see it on their webcam.
According to their current conditions, it’s 32 degrees and snowing and there’s been 11 inches of new snow in the past 72 hours.
“Snow fell in the low elevations overnight! A nice blanket of snow all the way down Molly’s this morning,” their site reads. “Season Passes are on sale now — Be sure to take advantage of our early bird season prices. Do your snow dances!”
We asked John Burton, Timberline’s spokesman, what this meant for the opening date of ski season.
“All I can say is November openings are very common,” he says. “But you never know, it’s opened earlier than that before.”
This morning, a tornado touched down and damaged several city blocks in the beach town. Manzanita’s mayor has declared an emergency state.
Our news partner KATU-TV has footage of the tornado.
KATU reported thousands are without power and one home and two businesses were destroyed. Three to four houses also have significant damage.
The National Weather Service says there’s currently a lull in the thunderstorm activity. The threat will continue along the northern Oregon coast, but we shouldn’t expect it in Portland.
“We’ll see a thunderstorm or two across the metro area,” says Matthew Cullen of the National Weather Service. “The next storm is still developing, and will be coming late afternoon into the evening on Saturday.”
We should expect 55-60 mph gusts in Portland tomorrow afternoon and evening, with more showers today. The coastline tomorrow could see winds at 80-90 mph, with 65 mph wind in the coastal communities.
“In the tornado there’s a wide range of speed. We haven’t weighted it yet, but the strongest winds are in a localized spot,” says Cullen.
“The Saturday system is probably a once every 10-15 years system,” says Laurel McCoy of the National Weather Service. She says seeing typhoons isn’t uncommon, but doesn’t happen every year. “It’s not going to be a typhoon or hurricane when it gets here; it will get some cold air in it, but it’s going to bring a lot of moisture and energy with it.”
The energy is so significant that the National Weather service is issuing a high wind warning for Oregon over the weekend. The Oregon Coast could see winds at 80-90mph on Saturday, which certainly isn’t kite-flying weather.
A September 24 “swooping” by an owl in Forest Park marked the sixth time since June that a Portland park visitor has reported being buzzed or attacked by an owl, says Portland Parks and Recreation ecologist Kendra Petersen-Morgan.
Petersen-Morgan says these were the only significant incidents involving aggressive animals that have been reported in Portland parks this year.
On September 24, the owl merely buzzed the jogger—but among the 12 recorded cases in Portland over the past three years, there have also been scratches to the back of the head and neck. None have resulted in serious injury.
“It’s pretty scary to have an owl swoop your head,” says Petersen-Morgan. “The injuries are minor, but people have gotten talon scratches.”
While the numbers aren’t high, all of these swoopings, “boppings” and attacks are believed to have been perpetrated by a single species of owl—a highly territorial and aggressive species of owl called the barred owl, which is originally native to the east coast.
The reporting of barred-owl incidents has increased significantly in Portland in recent months.
Petersen-Morgan says that this increase probably doesn’t stem from a greater number of owl dive-bombings, but rather increased reporting by locals. Portland Parks and Recreation put up signs this June warning visitors to Forest Park and the Hart Arboretum that you may be “Entering Barred Owl Territory.”
The signs also ask visitors to report any incidents to Parks officals, so that officials are able to track individual nesting or fledgling owls who may be aggressive.
(Note: In case of aggression, cover your head with a jacket and walk away. In case of nonaggression, stare at the owl It’s an owl. It’s cool. (Edit: Parks officials do say not to stare too long, or too close, lest the owls indeed become aggressive.)
Barred owl aggressiveness in Oregon made national news in late 2015 after a well-publicized series of jogger dive-bombings in Salem. In Portland, one of the early reported victims of barred owls may be none other than mayor-elect Ted Wheeler, as WW reported last May:
“Wheeler tells WW he was on a half-marathon training run near his West Hills home recently when a large bird ‘whacked me in the head.’ Ever cautious, Wheeler declined to speculate on the species. ‘It was dark,’ he says. “’No harm, no foul.'”
Rachel Maddow picked up on the owl swoopings—making an owl-swooping sign sign for Salem to install in particularly bopping-prone areas.
Bob Sallinger, conservation director at the Audobon Society of Portland, says that while the behavior is specific to barred owls—other owls in the area include great horned owls, screech owls, pygmy owls and barn owls—it’s still pretty rare for a barred owl to swoop.
It’s likely to be more common, he says, in the spring during nesting periods, and in the fall when young owls are dispersing.
“Sometimes it’s a buzz, sometimes they do hit people,” says Sallinger. “Most often it’s dusk and dawn, and oftentimes it’s people with ponytails. Somehow they’re triggered by that—that’s a question mark.” According to Petersen-Morgan, at least one jogger has also had a had a headlamp knocked off by an owl.
Though the phenomenon hasn’t been studied extensively, Sallinger also thinks it’s possible ponytails may simply be read as prey.
“Ponytails, we’ve had people get bopped in a variety of cases,” Sallinger says. “The youngsters maybe are confused. They see something that looks like food. A human being is not the size of prey.”
Nonetheless, Sallinger says these incidents should be thought of as a rare occurrence—especially given how widespread barred owls have become, extending even to urban areas: “In the vast majority of cases we don’t have conflicts. When you consider how common they are, conflicts are actually relatively rare.”
He also stresses that while barred owls did travel cross-country to get here, they’re native to the United States and are a protected species.
“People call and they say, ‘I saw a barred owl, what should I do?'” Sallinger says. “My answer is, ‘Enjoy it.’ They’re not going anywhere. At the refuge we have a pair that nests every year. They nest on one side and take their young down to the pond. You see them hanging out with their youngsters. People love seeing them.”
Ever wanted to be a pirate/Goonie, but without the death traps and/or toothlessness?
Well, there’s going to be a treasure hunt. On the beach. In Lincoln City.
Starting on October 15, Lincoln City “Float Fairies” will place 3,000 handcrafted blown glass floats from local artists on the beach, from Roads End on the north to Siletz Bay on the south. If you find one, it’s yours.
This year will mark the 20th anniversary of Finders Keepers, put on by the local government of Lincoln City, presumably to lure in tourists during the cold and rainy months. Consider it PirateLite™—no pillaging, plundering, scurvy or lawlessness, but plenty of booty.
The floats will be hidden throughout the winter, with this year’s hunt ending next May, on Memorial Day.
Glass floats were originally used by Japanese ships and fisherman, who would use the them to float their nets. Beachcombers would then find them washed up on shores. Now, ships use buoyant plastic, but many floats are still adrift in the Pacific.
Here are some tips from Lincoln City for the hunt:
Floats can be found above the high tide line and below the beach embankment
Floats are placed on the beach during daylight hours only.
Floats are hidden throughout the day, not just at one time.
Floats are out there every day rain or shine. On rare occasions weather and ocean conditions can create unsafe situations, official notice of any cancellations will be made on our social media channels and website.
Start your hunt at public beach access points.
During special drops we place other kinds of glass art, look for sand dollars, sea stars, shells, crabs and coins too
If you find an official numbered float, the registration number is located on or near the “button” on the underside.
When you find an official numbered float, call the city at 800-452-2151 to register your treasure. You’ll receive a Certificate of Authenticity and information about the artist who crafted your float.
September is here and summer is unofficially but immediately gone. It’s 65 degrees today, which is 31 degrees less than just five days ago.
Kelly Point Park reopened today, but judging by this early onset of cold air and rain, does anyone care? Especially when you still can’t swim there and there’s one to two inches of snow are expected at 6,000 ft and above this week at Mount Hood?
The park is long thought of as a quintessential Portland swimming hole, but park officials want to make sure people know just how dangerous swimming there is. They have since installed two additional “Do not enter water” signs—bringing the total up to about three dozen.
“I want to make sure the danger of swimming off Kelley Point Park is clear to all park visitors,” says Portland Parks & Recreation Director Mike Abbaté in a statement. “We know the temporary closure was an inconvenience for some folks, but we felt it was necessary. With the park open once again, we hope visitors to Kelley Point will enjoy the trails and other on-shore activities with an eye on safety.”
“Coffee. Surf. Beer.” Besides being a chill guy’s Instagram bio, this is also the slogan for Portland’s upcoming surf/lifestyle shop Cosube, which will open this fall on Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, at the same address as the space once held by afterhours Armenian disco Ararat. They will be the first tenants to occupy the new The Slate building.
The cold water surf shop is designed to fit the Portland surfer lifestyle, which combines local coffee, craft beer and local board shapers, catering to both actual Blue Crushers and the people who have Endless Summer posters in their rooms.
The shop will open at 6 am for coffee, which also makes it one of the earliest places to fill up a growler on your way out to the coast. Besides the basic board rentals, wet suits specifically made for cold water and other surf gear, the shop will sell supplies for a trip to the Pacific—including blankets and even firewood.
The shop’s owner Alex Morris has been surfing in Oregon since the early 1990s. After living in Costa Rica, Barbados and San Diego, he says he moved back to Portland and was shocked at how many more surfers we saw at the coast.
“When I started, it felt like there were a dozen people who surfed in Oregon, and now it’s just packed,” he says.
Morris’ observations may be backed up by the fact that by next spring, two more surf shops will open in North and Northeast Portland. Up North Surf Club is set to open on Northeast Killingsworth in late September with a beer-and-wine bar of its own—and the same Kinfolk-on-a-white-sand-beach aesthetic for their website.
“I look at it as less that I can’t believe more surf shops are coming—I was more surprised that there hadn’t been one yet,” Morris says. “Now there’s validation that this idea wasn’t totally out of the blue.”
Morris envisions customers coming in at 6 am to get a cup of coffee and pick up their gear, and then come back for a beer at the end of the day. There will also be a shaping bay that both novice and experienced board shapers can rent out by the hour to practice their craft. Morris wants to showcase local shapers, too, starting with Mike Hall from Blackfern Surf.
The idea isn’t new—Morris first got the idea from a surf lifestyle shop called Saturdays in New York City, an equally hip, on-trend surf shop that also sold coffee.
He believes new wet-suit technology will encourage surfing in Oregon, because of newer suits’ ability to hold heat.
“There’s definitely sort of a romance with surfing. I think people have always had an interest and wonder, but never really had access or equipment that could do it,” he says. “I laugh thinking about the first wetsuit I was wearing in 1993 and how inflexible and freezing I was all the time.”
Cosube is set to open this fall, in late October or early November on 111 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.