Category Archives: Backpacking

Stories of Backpacking trips, or something in that general area

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.

 

Hiking Mt. Eddy in 2019

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Friday through Sunday, 04-Oct through 06-Oct-2019

 

How did I miss telling this story, and posting these pictures?  2019 didn’t have that many trips, and this was definitely one of the standouts… even though it wasn’t particularly long or involved, it was gloriously beautiful, and a really excellent adventure!

David and I, with an energetic Ollie in tow, drove down to Northern California.  Just over six hours in the car with a hyper puppy, but it was all worth it when we saw the views!

 

Northern California is beautiful.  It’s (as far as I understand) a high altitude desert, and we were hiking and camping at almost exactly 8,000ft elevation.  The trees were gnarled and twisted, and there were nearly as many standing dead trees as there were live ones.  It reminded me of Greece, somehow, even though I’ve never been there.  It just seemed right, though… Once I go to Greece, I’ll let you know if that feeling was accurate.

It’s been along time since this trip, so excuse my brevity on the description.  The short version is that we drove down, hiked in, and set up camp.  Then, the next day we summited Mt. Eddy, took in the beautiful views of Mt. Shasta, and then circumnavigated one of the smaller peaks on our way back to camp.

Ollie had a blast of course, right up until I had to put on her boots to protect her poor paws from the volcanic rock we were traversing across… she wasn’t too happy at the time, but I’m quite confident that she appreciated it in the long-run… almost as much as she appreciated the cozy nest that I made for her after we got back to camp, when she bonked out like a light.

The next day we packed up, hiked out, and had an excessively delicious dinner at the local Blackbear diner.  Then the long drive back to Portland, full of amazing views and excellent conversations!

 

Backpacking to Peggy’s Pond, and summitting Mt. Daniel, 17-19-Aug-2019

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Saturday, Sunday and Monday – 17, 18, and 19-Aug-2019

Summiting Mt. Daniel in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Washington!

Vital Statistics:

Duration: 3 days, 2 nights

Distance: 17.59 miles, as the GPS records

Elevation: 5,800 ft total

Elevation, Saturday: 2,000 ft

Elevation, Sunday: 3,800 ft

Elevation, Monday: -2,000 ft

Campsite: Peggy’s Pond

Backpack weight: ~38lbs

Four years ago, roughly, Sarah and I started dating.

It was on a weekend adventure, sitting in a room in Hood River, and we discussed what we each wanted from our relationship, what we wanted in general, and whether we wanted to pursue those things together. We’ve had a lot of adventures since then, but that day was the start of it all, and the 15th of August is enshrined in both our calendars forever more because of it.

Our last adventure was a simple and easy hike on Mt. Hood… but for a 4-year anniversary (which is, notably, the longest relationship either of us have been in) we needed something bigger. The last post talked about epic adventures not always being necessary, but in this case an epic trip was definitely called for.

We needed a summit.

We needed beauty, crystal clear water, crisp air, and stunning views.

We needed Mt. Daniel, in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, in central Washington State.

So we drove.

Just us, incidentally – While Ollie is an amazing hiking dog, the path out to Mt. Daniel is fairly steep, and extremely rocky… not good terrain for a pup, no matter how rough and tumble she is. Tumbling isn’t allowed on steep terrain. So off to camp she went, for a chance to work on her socialization and playing well with other dogs.

Saturday

As mentioned, we drove.

We drove with bellies full of delicious breakfast sandwiches, and a huge thermos of coffee keeping us going. We took shifts on the way out, even – I drove for a while as Sarah napped, then I napped while she drove. It worked perfectly – the drive went quickly, and we arrived at the trailhead refreshed and ready to head in.

Quick note – holy crap the trailhead was packed. We’re talking overflow parking for nearly a mile down the road. Thankfully, our drive from Portland is a lot longer than the Seattle crowd’s drive, so by the time we arrived a few folks must have left already, and we found a parking spot right near the trailhead. Win!

The hike in was pretty clean, if rather impressively long and tiring. We hiked, we rested, we snacked, and we hiked some more. We hydrated a bit, and trudged onward and upward. The interesting thing about the trail up to Mt. Daniel is that the views sneak up on you. They’re always there, barely vqisible through the trees, but they don’t come through slowly – instead, you just turn a corner and get a face full of Cathedral Rock, bracketed by a beautiful meadow and views of the rest of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness range.

Magestic is the best way to put it.

The amazing views heralded the most technical section of the trek into Peggy’s Pond – traversing around Cathedral Rock itself. It wasn’t far, or too tough, but it was a noticable change from the wide switchbacks of the forest. Here we scrambled, following rocky passes around and up until we finally topped out into the basin between Mt Daniel and Cathedral.

I could say that we quickly set up camp and then zipped off to scout the route up… but that wouldn’t be true. That wasn’t the goal of this hike! Instead, we set camp and relaxed; cooked a few backpacking meals for dinner, read a bit, and were in bed before 9:00.

Sunday

We got up early… But not so early that we were the first people heading up the trail. Sarah actually got up to peek out of the tent at the sunrise, but pretty quickly crawled back into her sleeping bag for a few extra bits of sleep.

Breakfast was quick and beautiful; a mountain house and some oatmeal, along with some nice coffee packets we brought along. All by the shore of the pond, watching the sun burst over the peaks around us.

Fed and caffeinated, we struck out onto the trail.

It went up.

A lot.

Sometimes there were switchbacks, but sometimes it was scrambling.

Always though, there were views. Amazing, magestic, sweeping, soaring, and awe inspiring views.

The trail up the slopes of Mt. Daniel basically follows a huge ridgeline, climbing up the Southern face from the Eastern side. The trail actually mounts the ridgeline pretty early on, though Sarah and I missed the well hidden trailhead and ended up doing a bit of exploratory scrambling to catch the ridge trail itself. That’s pretty good though, since we’re both rock climbers and are quite comfortable on semi-exposed rock… for me, at least, I’m honestly more comfortable there than the alternative option of going up a scree or talus field, so I was quite happy to do some clambering on rock.

The trail went on for, roughly, an eternity. There’s not much to say about it, honestly, aside from the fact that it went up and that we took a few breaks to drink water and eat some excellent apple / brie / prosciutto sandwiches. We kept going until we got to the top, is the real report.

The fun part of the path were the views, unsurprisingly. Unlike the day before, we had amazing views for almost the entire route up the mountain – we switched which side of the ridgeline we were looking out over a few times, but the views were amazing and somehow kept getting better as we moved upward. It was actually a bit of a problem, since we ended up hiking a bit slower than planned due to how often we were stopping to take pictures… or even just to gawk at the amazing vistas opened below us.

The summit itself was pretty low-key. We topped out, relaxed a bit, napped for 5 or 10min in the sun, and then headed back down. The only real excitement was when another team that was heading to a further peak took a small fall off one of the ridgelines – they were okay, thankfully, but it was definitely scary to see them desperately clawing their way back up to the ridge. We don’t really know what happened, but from what we could tell two of their team members got off-trail, and found themselves partway down the steep ridge slope below the trail… and then slipped enough that they triggered a small rockfall and slid a hundred yards or so down the slope.

Doubly-scary was that fact that it wasn’t just the two people who fell, but that their dog was with them and followed them down! Thankfully all the mountaineers in question, both human and canine, were merely scraped up a bit. No one needed a rescue, and everyone was able to walk out that same day under their own power.

Our descent was, thankfully, uneventful. It was definitely long, and definitely tiring, and I absolutely didn’t enjoy it… but it’s a descent. That’s kind of par for the course, you know? The descent isn’t the fun part – dreaming about dinner is the fun part! And dinner was worth dreaming about… delicious beef stroganof, hot cocoa, and relaxing by the pond were in order. And for me, I even took the chance to swim for a bit! The water of Peggy’s Pond was frigid, but amazingly fresh and enjoyable, definitely helpful in washing off the sweat, bug spray, and sunscreen of the day.

Dinner was, similar to the night before, mountain-house freeze-dried dinner with some lunch leftovers added in for flavor. Not the most exciting… but hey, after a full day of hiking and scrambling and summitting? They were pretty amazing, thankyouverymuch.

Bed came soon after, though I did enjoy the chance to read a bit of my comic book in the sunset while Sarah sketched a bit. It was a good evening.

Monday

You’d think that after two days of going to bed super early we’d wake up early.

Remember, though, that we’d just summitted a huge mountain. We were tired, man… we slept in again.

I mean, okay. We didn’t actually sleep in that late, in comparison to how late we usually sleep when we’re in Portland. We were up and moving by 8:00, if I remember right, and on the trail pretty soon after. We still did a lot of photography and sightseeing, but the trail was mostly downhill on the way home, and so we made pretty good time while taking pretty infrequent breaks.

We did see a pair of jets flying through the mountains at one point… maybe F-18s, though I honestly couldn’t tell you what they were, since they flew by so fast. It was really neat to see, but also a little disconcerting that they were flying so low, and so close to the various peaks.

There’s honestly not much to say about the hike out. It happened, we were tired, and we drank a lot of water? It’s the hike out – you don’t really want it to be eventful, you just want it to be safe, and quick. Which it was, though it did feel pretty long at the time…

Anyways, after the hike came the drive home – two parts stick out in the story.

First – the food in Roslyn. Sarah’s been to Roslyn before, when she was working on the pilot for Man in the High Castle, and so she took some time to show me around town… “town” being quite small, so the tour was basically us walking the 5 minutes from where we parked to the diner that she remembered being the best in town. It was amazing – a perfect burger with excellent pulled pork (I was hungry leave me alone) and the absolute best parmasean truffle fries you could ever imagine.

Second – the adventure home. It’s been a while since I’ve had to use my AAA membership, but thankfully I still have the number saved in my phone from all the times that they had to come and save me during drives home from the Loj, back in New Hampshire. It came in handy again, when the car lost power in central Washington on Monday evening during our drive home. Thankfully the nearest tow truck was not only a local expert, who was able to pinpoint where we were on the highway after a few quick questions, but he was also less than 20min away.

The drive home wasn’t quite what we’d expected when we left the Alpine Lakes wilderness – It wasn’t as quick as we’d aimed for, but it was a heck of a lot tastier than we could have hoped for. And hey – not only did we get home well-fed, but we still made it back to the house in time to get some good rest before work the next day.

Not a bad anniversary weekend. Not bad at all.