A trip to NorCal – Backpacking Mt. Eddy with Mike!

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Saturday and Sunday, 28 & 29-June-2020

 

Saturday:

Mike and I were talking, and realized that we don’t actually live that far apart. Kind of concerning that it took us 5 years to realize that… but you know how engineer are with details. Sometimes we miss the obvious ones, right? Like this one.

We met in the middle – almost exactly, actually. I’d been introduced to Mt. Eddy about a year ago, as a beautiful secluded backpacking trip that was pretty mild, but also had amazing views of Shasta… and since it was super close to halfway, it was a perfect place for Mike and I to meet up, hike up, and catch up.

So we met up at Blackbear diner, ate probably too much food, and then drove out to the trailhead. Found parking spots in the packed lot, packed up, and headed in.

I mean, okay. This is backpacking. The story can basically be “we walked for a while, then rested, then walked some more, then set up camp”… the fun of the trip is in the views (see photos) and the conversation (no audio logs available). I can’t really describe the pictures, since they’re each worth roughly a thousand words, and I don’t really want to transcribe the conversation.

I can tell you that it was excellent, though. Good walking, feeling good and strong, and great conversation. The elevation definitely did get to us a bit (we were around 8,000ft), but it wasn’t too rough. We persevered, and hiked onward.

The interesting part came when we reached Deadfall Lake, and realized that most of those cars at the trailhead were backpackers, also staying at Deadfall Lake. All of whom arrived earlier than we did, and claimed spots before we arrived. Which made finding out own spot pretty challenging, to say the least. Seriously – it took us something like an hour and a half to hike in… and then nearly another hour to actually find the campsite.

When we did find it though, it was pretty quality. A flat area on a slight hill, trees and brushes to break the wind, and a great view of the sun setting over the Northern California mountains.

 

 

Sunday:

I woke up first, and busied myself with filtering water, making coffee, and heating up breakfast. It wasn’t that early, but still early enough that the warm morning light was filtering through the trees, and the air was still beautifully crisp. It was a strange transition from the previous day – when we got lunch at the diner, it was 91 degrees in town. When we’d parked, my car read 68 degrees… and I’d guess it was in the 50s when we woke up. Not bad for summer, yeah?

The day got colder, though.

As we ascended toward the summit of Eddy, it kept getting colder and colder. The wind started up too, bringing some pretty heavy cloud cover along with it. We went pretty far before finally calling it – When we got to the ridgeline that leads up to the summit, and saw that the whole summit block was in a massive cloud bank, we officially pulled the plug and decided to head back to camp. The wind definitely wasn’t helping either – both of us were hiking in our jackets at that point, during the last weekend of June. Dang, man.

Anyways, the rest of the trip was beautifully clean and simple. We trekked back, packed up our gear, had a snack, and then headed back to the cars. More photos, more conversation, and more enjoying being away from everything for a little while.

We did stop into a nice diner in Yreka on the way back, but aside from that it was a pretty straight-forward route home. A long drive, to be sure, but absolutely worth every minute.

 

The Start of the Summer – Hiking, dining, and sleeping on Mt. Hood

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Friday and Saturday, 19 & 20-June-2020

 

Well.

2020 has been a year, hasn’t it?

 

It started in Scotland, then dove into a global pandemic, then protests across the United States. Now, when COVID cases are starting to rise again, Oregon has decided to re-open itself.

Well, I can’t do anything about that. I can’t really do anything about any of those things… but what I can do is keep distancing myself, keep wearing a mask, and keep active. And maybe take advantage of the re-opening as best I can.

Today, I went hiking on Hood for the first time in recent memory.

From the Timberline Lodge, the Timberline Trail circumnavigates the whole mountain – to the West, there’s ZigZag Canyon and the beautiful paradise park. Perfect day-hike destinations. So I went East instead, where no one else generally goes. I saw not a single person on the trail, but had what seemed like the entire side of the mountain to myself.

It.

Was.

Perfect.

Warm weather, a good breeze, and bright sunlight. The mountain was in full glory, peaking above the treeline at almost every turn of the trail.

I went all the way down to the White River – not far, by any means, but something like a 5mile round trip. I felt good… for a starter hike, trying to regain my legs after nearly three months of COVID-related staying at home, I felt strong. I felt tired, but I’m proud of myself for pushing through and hiking at a fairly strong pace the whole time.

After the trail dropped me back off at my car, I treated myself. I’ve been trying to eat a bit healthier, after the stressful and sedentary recent months, but today I’d hiked at altitude, and had skipped lunch. And, I’d parked at the Timberline Lodge, which was still open for dinner.

I walked in 10 minutes before they closed – I was going to head back to the car to cook up a mountain house, but the waiter insisted that I should sit down anyways. We chatted a bit, I ordered, and that’s how I found myself sitting by the window, watching the sun set on the Southern face of Mt. Hood, with a pastrami sandwich, two cups of hot cocoa, and a full cup of whipped cream topped with chocolate and caramel.

The crazy thing is – I only ordered the sandwich. The cocoa? I saw the waiter walking by with them, and asked what they were. See, I love the cocoa at Timberline, but I hadn’t noticed it on the menu… so when I saw him carrying them, I needed to find out more. It turns out that they were mistakes – and he was carrying them back to the kitchen to be thrown out. Well, he offered, and I couldn’t say no! When he brought over the cup of toppings, I lost it.

I’ve had a bad year. It’s been unpleasant, challenging, and just simply a not good year. I recognize that many people have had it far, far worse than I have, and I’m infinitely thankful for everything I have in life. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been hard.

The gift of two cups of cocoa, after my first hike, right before camping out on my own, was exactly what I needed.

Now, as I sit in my camp chair typing this up, I feel good. I’m tired, but it’s a good tired. A well-earned tired.

I can’t say I’m doing great. But sitting here, looking at the mountain, I can say that I’m doing well.

Hiking the Leif Erikson trail with Ollie

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Sunday, 14-June-2020

 

I’d recently learned that Forest Park was a much shorter drive away than I remembered. Maybe it’s the lack of traffic, or maybe it was just a mistaken memory, but either way I’ve been thankful to have some forests to get into, and some mud to get under my boots.

Ollie and I went for a hike.

I… don’t really know what else to say about it. It’s forest park, so the trail isn’t particularly challenging or long, and there really aren’t any good views except for the ones of Ollie running through the trees. It’s fairly quiet, which is nice, but in the end it’s not a crazy big hike or anything.

It’s just quiet. It’s a chance to escape the city while still staying within city limits.

We enjoyed it, spent as much time adventuring together as we could, and then went home.