Who are the Mazamas, you may ask? And what’s BCEP, you may enquire? Well, let me fill you in dear reader. When I first moved to Oregon, I pretty quickly heard about a mountaineering group in town called The Mazamas.
Similar to the AMC back in Boston, they teach classes and do conservation outreach projects. Over the years, I’d interacted with them tangentially – attending a few classes, volunteering with a few groups, but I’d never been able to actually take a course officially. I’d applied to their Advanced Rock climbing class, but wasn’t accepted for one reason or another.
Now, nearly seven years after first moving to Oregon, I was trying again. This time beginning at the bottom – while you may notice that I’m not quite a beginner when it comes to the outdoors, I was tired. These last few years haven’t been easy, and I was just tired of fighting… the chance to just sit back and meet new people while enjoying a few group hikes was more than worth the price of admission.
I swear, I’ve hiked more new areas this year than I can freaking count.
I mean, okay that’s not true. It’s actually pretty easy to count – I have a count right here. But allow me my hyperbole for a moment, if you don’t mind. It’s been a lot of new hiking trails!
I had a feeling that I’d be getting a lot from this BCEP class, and this is absolutely proving that correct – so many new places, and so many amazing (if foggy and cloudy…) new views to be had!
Today’s trail was up in Washington State, near one of my favorite climbing spots – Beacon Rock. Interestingly, right in the Beacon Rock state park! With that name in mind, I’d actually brought all my climbing gear with me, and had coordinated with one of the other students to do an ascent of the SE Corner of Beacon Rock after we finished the hike!
That… wasn’t in the cards, though… for a few reasons. One that I found out later on in the hike, but one that was readily apparent at the trailhead.
It was pouring. Or… steadily raining, at a minimum… which is still way too much sky-water for rock climbing.
But you know what? That’s part of living in the NorthWest, and we took it in stride. Literally in stride, since soon enough we were heading up the trail and into the woods, to hike and train and practice ropework!
As usual, I’ll skip most of that stuff – the hiking was fun and beautiful, and the practice ropework was interesting (especially since this was glacier travel, which is new to me), and I adored the landscapes that we were hiking through. Think rice-paper painting, with separate levels of beautiful evergreens fading into the distance…
But the hiking itself was… pretty standard hiking.
Right up until the point that me knee started clicking and giving out. Again.
Yeah… I have doctors appointments, and Physical Therapy sessions, and all that jazz all set up now, don’t you worry. But at the time, none of that was on the books, and even if it was it couldn’t have helped. That nagging injury from years back, compounded by that hike up to Colchuck Lake and Asgard’s Pass, reaching forward in time and reminding me that I still have work to do before my knees are back up to strength.
The hike continued onward though, regardless of the knees. I was fine, and kept in communication with the hike leaders so they knew what I was going through, but… in this kind of situation, there really isn’t anything to do at the time.
It’s a simple binary equation – Can you walk out? If so, walk out. If not, someone carries you out. I wasn’t feeling great, but I wasn’t feeling bad enough to ask my new friends to lug my damaged frame down the mountain… so I walked slowly and carefully, using my hiking poles maybe a bit more than normal.
At the trailhead, I rested a bit and then politely ducked out of the post-hike lunch trip… These repeated injuries have a tendency to wear on me, and while I was walking with barely any limp, I was still rattled. With the post-hike climb already canceled, I took the chance to head straight home – a nice dinner, and a long bath, did wonders for both my knee and my spirits.
Link to Hike info: