“Savor the solitude,” reads a PCT sign board as we entered the wilderness last Thursday evening. It was aA simple reminder that the most important things for the next few days are, in fact, not things at all. Starring Staring square at us was a vast wilderness full of abundant opportunity to explore and experience in any way we chose.
Three high alpine adventure dudes got together for a weekend in the Central central Oregon mountains and there was no doubt something big was going to happen. Something that will change the way they see life; at least for a few important moments.
My friend Ben rallied the troops including Henry, (Ben’s dog), Jon and memyself. We met at Big Lake on Thursday afternoon for a few days of peace in the mountains.
Thursday evening welcomed us with a nice warm- up hike into George Lake. George Lake, near Mt Washington, was roughly 10 miles from our rally point at Big Lake. Stack that on top of the 12.5 milesM that Ben, Henry and Jon hammered out earlier in the day and you have yourself a respectable number of miles.
Our peaceful walk on the PCT to George Lake was littered with through- hikers walking Northnorth. All with the same question: “Are you guys Southsouth- Boundingbounding?” No! No! No! We must have answered the same question ten or so times. There were that many people through- hiking the PCT, a 2,665 mile hike trek from Mexico to Canada. Yes! I have been considering this suffer-fest. I don’t know why yet. Maybe it sounds cool. Maybe there is some deeper meaning to it like there are to most abnormal adventures I do in life.
After roughly 9 miles on the PCT we hopped off the trail and bush whacked toward Mt. Washington to George Lake. We were happily welcomed with a stellar view of the mountain, one other camp party and a pristine mountain lake. Ok! Honestly, the lake was a bit of a challenge to find. We wandered around in the woods for a little over an hour, fiddled with our iIPhones, maps and eventually found the bugger just before night fall.
Dinner was great! Noodles, tuna and Sriracha. Ben, was thankful that I threw in the Sriracha. You can truly make almost anything taste really good with the stuff. Maybe because it is just hot enough to kill your taste buds.
After a great night of sleep we awoke to a beautiful day. A day that would bring stories, laughter, pain and a true test of what we were capable of. We grubbed some oats, packed our gear and began a 26 mile march.
The first mile was a bush whack back to the PCT and the next few miles pleasantly rolled through a forest that had been destructed destroyed by fire.
We entered the lava field near McKenzie Pass and travelled through some of the most barren country that Central central Oregon has to offer.
As we neared the McKenzie Pass road crossing, a large and rather colorful trailer came into view. A This trailer that provided some relief to PCT through- hikers. At this point, we had covered close to 10 miles and still had many more ahead.
We settled down for lunch at South Mathew lakeLake near the intersection of the PCT and Scott Pass trail. It was beautiful, humbling and a great chance to just be.
After lunch we saddled back up for an additional 14 mile march to where we would be camping for the night. It was a long walk in the woods. Just as dusk was settling in I felt the first of many raindrops to come. The last 4 miles welcomed us with a refreshing steady mountain rain shower and wonder. Was it going to poorpour? The Central central Oregon mountains are known for periods of rain storms that come without warning. Luckily, just before dinner, the rain and clouds broke to provide a magnificent star filled sky. It was a A wonderful way to end a day with 26 miles of hiking.
The next day, (Saturday,) we awoke to a view of South Sister and Middle Sister towering above Camp Lake. Today’s goal: Summit Middle Sister. A, a 10,000 foot peak in the cCentral Oregon Cascades.
After breakfast and tending to our battered blistered feet, we were off. Two and half hours later we were on the summit; . Dogdog and all! We sat on top of the mountain and just soaked in the solitude;, unlike my past three or so summits this summer. Ben made a comment that I will not soon forget - “I just love being on top of mountains.” If you do not know why one would enjoy the top of a mountain then I suggest you rally on up one. The view will surely delight.
That evening we rested heavilyslept soundly. After close to 45 miles in two and half days for me and 55 for Ben, Jon and Henry one could honestly say we were beat.
Our final day brought the usual anticipation to get back into the reality of our busy day to day. Each passing mile meant we were closer to our car at the Pole Creek Trailhead, cell phone service and the noise that life off the trail brings.
I will always appreciate the time I get to spend in the mountains. This trip reminded me that the greatest things in life are in fact not things at all. They are experiences and the people you meet along the journey. They are freedom to choose your own destiny. They are happiness.
On to the next adventure :)
Summit as friends!
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