Jefferson Park: Mount Jefferson Wilderness Part 2
I started my hike late today. Why? Because today’s itinerary is pretty open. There is no schedule to uphold in the high country. The high country. What a contrast from yesterday’s rainforest. And what a rare treat to see the forest’s progression from deep jungle to this high alpine scenery. It’s like seeing all of Oregon in one hike really. Just about every type of scenery found in the Oregon Wilderness can be seen on this hike from 2400 feet to 6800 feet in elevation. My new camp is on top of the world so it seems. At 6800 feet, the scenery here is quite comparable to what you might find in Colorado at 12,000 feet. Dense forest has given way to vast fields of wildflowers and sparkling streams. Views extend in all directions revealing entire mountain ranges in the distance. And Mt. Washington is a constant backdrop to this all. It shoots right out of this sparkling paradise in unimaginable beauty to an elevation of 10,500 feet. Massive glaciers of ice and gleaming white snow cling high on its slopes. To reach the summit I’d have to ascend another 3700 feet of loose rock, ice, and snow. I think I’ll stay right here in the Garden of Eden. I don’t need to see God just yet.
Today I woke up in the alpine paradise of Jefferson Park. By 11am I was on the trail. A nice and early start for a change. Last night the rain and hail finally came and the skies are now washed clean and blue. The hike descends from the lovely high country and back into the dark shaded forest again. But the shade is welcome and soon I’m back in the land of ferns and rhododendron once again. Just beautiful, and so lush. So different from yesterday, it’s like being in another world. Most deep forests, for me, seem dull. They leave me longing for a meadow, a mountain, or a lake basin. Something with expansive views. But not these forests. Here in these dark tunnels through the woods there is so much to see! Before long, I am picking blackberries and huckleberries for lunch. They are perfectly ripe and plentiful along the side of the trail. Such a treat to pick wild berries while backpacking! Stopping at rushing Milk Creek, I take a much-needed bath, have some lunch, and take a nap by the stream. When I wake up, my thought is to just stay here for the rest of the afternoon and night. It’s so beautiful here and the views extend in all directions. But it’s only 3 o’clock and there is just too much day left to spend it all in one place. So I hit the trail once again as it descends back into the dark of the jungle. Several hours pass before I emerge from this psychedelic botanical tangle of forest and back into the open. Now, completely spent from hours of walking, I pitch camp at the first flat spot I see, crawl inside, and take another nap. Second nap of the day but much deserved. And needed. If we could just slow our lives down enough to allow for naps when we need them, I think we would all have much more enjoyable days. Why is it that we have a work ethic that tells us to work more? Work harder? Longer? Anything less than eight hours is unacceptable? Towards the end of a typical work day, how productive are we really? Are we really working at that point, or just staring at the computer screen. Staring at the clock. Surfing the internet. Passing the time. How about working smarter? How about focusing on production instead of hours? How is it that with all the advancements in technology over the past twenty years that we still need eight hours a day and forty hours a week to get the job done? With advancements in science, you’d think we’d be down to about one hour instead of eight to net the same amount of production. Now that is evolution. But no. That is not the way the world works, you say. This country is based on growth. More production is the key. Well, I say this. Until we evolve from the anthill mentality of work, work, work, I say we haven’t evolved a bit. Let’s figure out how to work less and play more! This is evolution. This is revolution!
So after waking up from nap number two, I climb out of my tent to make dinner. Bacon, sautéed green pepper, and cheddar cheese quesadillas with hot sauce. Delicious. I scarf them down and make some green tea for dessert. Sinking into my camp chair, I gaze out into the landscape before me. A sea of pine trees, lakes, streams, meadows, and the various peaks and spires of Mt. Jefferson. A truly spectacular camp I’ve stumbled in to. And for the first time in the five weeks since we’ve started this road trip, I feel a tinge of longing for my friends and family I’ve left back in Boulder and beyond. Jason and Sarah in Lyons. Our dear friends Michael and Ronnie, Steve and Kieu in Boulder, and my good friend Brett, who I’ve known close to thirty years now. My Mom and Dad. My Uncle Bob. Aunt Nadine and Uncle Bill. The names and faces go on and on through my mind. Drifting to familiar places I’ve come to know. Southern Sun Brewery in Boulder. Hapa on Pearl St. Lester and the gang at UBikes. Bart and Fred at Blue Spruce. But hey, wait a minute. UBikes. Blue Spruce. I’m on a year-long dream vacation and I’m thinking about work? Am I nuts? But it’s funny what you think about and truly appreciate when you are deep in the wilderness and all alone. Life is put into perspective. And what a grand sufficiency it all is!
But don’t worry. I’m not ready to come home yet. There is much too much to see in this darned big ol’ country of ours to go home now. And when I reunite with Valerie and our truck camper (still don’t have a decent name for her yet. Any suggestions?) it will be time to head to Bend. The Three Sisters Wilderness. And more hot springs. More mountain bike trails. More backpacking trips. More exploring than I can possibly imagine. But I truly appreciate you all. Thank you for coming along with us on this journey. It’s fun to journal. But it’s even more fun to know it will be read by my friends and family who care about what we are doing. Joann, Lois, Dave, and everyone else who have made comments on this blog, your feedback is appreciated. If you like what you read, please spread the word. Because if I can inspire someone, even someone I’ve never met, to take that first step down a wilderness trail. Or to see for the first time beauty in the bark of a tree, the frost on a windshield, or sunlight on a drop of dew, then it truly makes sense for this blog to exist.
How truly blessed we feel to have this kind of opportunity in our lives. How truly lucky we are. Thank you for following along.