Three Days in the Wild

FallsAfter the snowpocolypsemageddon cancelled my flight to Boston last week and my winter ski trip to visit my family was cast away like an unwanted snowflake (oh how we long for unwanted snowflakes here in the NW), I decided to salvage what I had of my vacation time and do something adventurous. I did a call-out to my friends to see who might be around with a few extra days on their hand, and low and behold one of my buddies (Mark O) is on sabbatical! Yes Please! We got together to pack up our gear and planned a three day trek through the Eagle Creek wilderness in Oregon.

Eagle Gorge

After some last minute purchases (dehydrated food, snacks, pack cover for the rain and some boots for my friend), we head out to the trail head on Saturday morning. Eagle Creek trailhead is at exit 41 off of highway 84 on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge. It is a popular day hiking spot because of the amazing amount of waterfalls including two spectacular ones: Punchbowl Falls and Tunnel Falls.

Tunnel Mark

Once we passed Tunnel Falls and the 7.5 mile mark, the rest of the day hikers disappeared and the two of us wandered deeper into the wild.  Up we went on a winding trail headed towards Wahtum Lake. There must have been some sort of storm that had recently passed as there was quite a bit of debris on the trail and I spent a lot of time “volunteering”.

SignsOne thing I was reminded of is following your gut. There are many ways the Universe tells you to STOP and pay attention. Often times on trail, it is in the form of a water break, tying of a shoe, stretch, clearing a path or taking in a view. Whenever I am at one of these stopping spots, I take a look around. Without a doubt, there is always something there for me to pay attention to, and it usually a trail junction. I can’t tell you how many junctions I would miss on a consistent basis if I were dug into the trail like a tick and ignoring the tell-tale signs from the big U to STOP!

U-Turn

(Mark about to make the hairpin turn – careful!)

 

 

 

Frozen LakeAs we ascended slowly into Wahtum Lake, we also came into a micro-climate. Everywhere within 100 yards of the lake was engulfed in a frozen fog. I’m not sure if any of you have seen frozen fog, but it’s a frozen mist that blows around like fog. It’s kind of astonishing. The campsites all along the lake were little skating rinks, and the lake was to be unseen due to the fog. We made our way around to the back side of the lake hoping that the higher elevation there would block the wind and would be warmer. This proved to be true, except there weren’t any places to pitch a tent. As we were starting to lose day light, we decided to backtrack to the first camp spot we found.

Cold Boys
At this point, the misty frozen fog was turning into a drizzly freezing rain and any attempt we made to get a fire going was thwarted. We decided to eat our dinner and crawl into our sleeping bags. It wasn’t even 7:00 pm yet.

 

Frozen WahtumThe morning arrived after a tossing and turning night and we climbed out of the frozen rain-fly into a winter wonderland. Everything was frosted. It was so pretty, silent and cold. The fog had disappeared and the precipitation in general was only slightly rainy. The glassy smooth frozen lake was being coated with a fresh bit of water which reflected the frosted evergreen trees that surrounded the lake. Breathtaking indeed.

After a warm breakfast of oatmeal and protein bar, we packed up camp and started climbing out the back side of the lake headed towards Benson Plateau along the PCT. It was a rain day. My 3.5 year old Columbia waterproof rain jacket had a PSI limit which had been reached. My bag pressing into the tops of my shoulders was a gateway for the rain to come in. I put on my emergency poncho ($0.83) and let it do the job of wicking away any of the rain I would soon be encountering.

Boys Fort

 

Look a Fort!

 

 

 

 

 

Benson PlateauWe reached Benson Plateau mid-day and filtered our water for the evening. The camp is in the middle of a plateau that hosts tall trees and plenty of bear grass. We had a warm lunch, walked around some of the other plateau trails, and then a bit more food for an early dinner. After we ate, we decided again to get out of the sopping wet and into dry clothing. My smartwool thermals felt warm and cozy as I got into my waterproof sleeping bag. It was only 5:30, but it was wet and dark outside. We didn’t have any cards to play with so we ended up looking at the map for a bit and I wrote in my journal before closing my eyes.

Benson CampWet. By the morning, everything was wet. The tent fly leaked through and the water came through both the footprint and the floor of the tent. We had a small puddle at the foot of the tent by morning. My gloves were soaked, as was my jacket. My boots (Asolo) did wonderfully well however. I managed to keep one pair of socks mostly dry, so those went on triumphantly.

Columbia Gorge Cascade LockWe ate a quick breakfast, had some coffee and began the steep trek down Ruckels Creek Trail towards the Eagle Creek trail-head. We were in the rain for the majority of the first half, then we finally broke underneath the cloud layer. Amazingly, under the cloud layer, there wasn’t any rain, it was warmer and in some spots we even saw the sun. A half-million switchbacks later we got to the road. We passed some Native American Vision Pits along the way that were all mossed over. They were quite pretty.

Ruckel CreekIt was a wonderful weekend, regardless of the wet. It is always great to get out away from the societal numbness life and into the depth of nature. Movement, challenge, beauty and grace.

Happy Trekking!

-Denny

Cold Denny

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PCT Hike – Day 17 – The Last Day

PCT Day 16Up and at em! It is just dawn and though I didn’t get much shut eye, I feel rested, and excited to get a move on. Camp is basically packed and I only need to squeeze into my boots for just a few more miles.

Approaching Mt. Hood is fascinating. You walk along a ridge line, one of the arms of Mt. Hood and through the trees you can see the beautiful treeless peak of Mt. Hood. In and out of the trees you go as you climb up and up towards the Timberline.

Mt Hood

As you get closer to the mountain you begin to see Timberline Lodge and the ski areas. You can also depict the hiking trails that go through the timberline area. There was one very scary moment climbing up the side of the mountain where erosion had the path just a few feet away from a major drop off down to White River.

Jefferson

The sun was just coming upon the horizon line as I passed through the timberline into the upper part of Mt Hood. I turned around and as I did a great hawk flew over greeting the sunrise in a morning screech. I followed her flight South and my eyes fell upon Mt Jefferson. Okay, I may have cried a couple of quick sobby sobs, but it was kind of intense and amazing to know that I hiked all the way from Crater Lake.

Timberline Lodge

I arrived at Timberline Lodge around 7:45 in the morning, and made my way around to the front of the lodge so I could walk through the front doors. Timberline lodge is a beautiful hand crafted mountain lodge. It is a sight to behold in both it’s craftsmanship and it’s presence. I entered the lodge with a smile on my face and made my way over to the concierge desk. I was greeted warmly by a young man and woman.

I let them know I had just come off of the PCT and that I would be picked up this afternoon by a friend here at the lodge as this was my destination. I asked if they had a spare charger to charge my phone, and she did, so she took my phone and plugged it in the next room. I could hear the satisfactory BUZZ all the way at the desk. I asked if they still did their lunch buffet, which they did, however their breakfast buffet had just started and was going until 10:00! YES! The next thing I asked for was if it was possible to take a shower. The outdoor shower by the ski area was still open, though the water would be cold. That was better than nothing. Though, in the kindness of a stranger, I was offered one of the hot showers in the lodge. I was so grateful.

I got into the beautifully old tiled bathroom and stripped off my clothes. WHEW – I stank! I hadn’t been in a clean enclosed space in weeks and the amount of stink on me was incredible. I began washing my clothing in the sink so that I would have something clean to put on after I showered. After my clothes and flip flops were washed, I un-bandaged my feet and got into the shower. Hot, steamy, running water. YES PLEASE. It was delightful. I scrubbed and washed and scrubbed some more. It was so rewarding. I dried off with a clean fluffy towel and smiled at the stranger that was in the mirror. WOW – I am skinny! My waistline is quite small. My legs look great and thick. My abs are all sorts of ripple without any fat and my arms are tone from lifting that heavy bag and using the trekking poles.

With a clean fresh body and clean’ish clothing, I repacked my pack and headed to the restaurant. A full breakfast buffet! YUMMY! Eggs, Eggs with cheese, toast, potatoes, pancakes, french toast, waffles, fruit, pastries and delicious coffee. I ate everything. It was so delicious.

I retrieved my phone from the wonderful hosts and sent a note to Mom and Tim letting them know I was at the lodge. Tim was at work and said he would leave early to come and get me. I hung out in the lodge for only a couple of hours. I ran into the brothers who were on their second day of relaxing as they had arrived the day before. They were heading into the lunch buffet.

I feel great, alive, accomplished. My body feels strong and my feet did not get destroyed today. I have two purple toenails, one is light plum, the other is dark. Not sure if I will lose them (I did lose one, and the other seems not far away).

I feel elated, but perhaps it’s all of the coffee. I could use a big fat nap. I am scruffy. This is the most beard I’ve ever had. I will manscape a bit tomorrow to see what it looks like. It is far past the itchy stage of growth, so I could do whatever I wanted with it.

It is a little chilly here. The elevation and the change of season. It is quite nice really.

I am grateful that I got to share my adventures with you. I look forward to sharing other adventures and reviewing gear as I go along.

Happy Trekking!

Denny – aka Gemini

Clean Denny

 

PCT Hike – Day 16

PCT Crater to Hood

Crater Lake to Mt Hood

Today is the Equinox! I am about to begin my last long day trek. It will put me in Timberline range on Mt Hood. All my gadgets batteries are dead and my pen is almost out of ink!  So, no pictures today except for the mental ones I get to take, unless I can find a sunny spot to get my phone a little charge.

It has been a never ending UP heading towards Mt Hood. My feet aren’t as unhappy as they have been when I go down, but I’m definitely working hard on the climb. I’m hoping for a water and camping spot soon. According to my maps, there should be one not far from here. I actually think I can hear the trickle of a stream not far away. Off I go.

Just as predicted, WATER and a wonderful last night camp spot in the middle of the woods on the side of Mt. Hood. I am just three miles away from Timberline Lodge where I will be going in the morning.

Crater to Hood

Crater Lake to Mt Hood

This has been quite the adventure. I was hoping for silence. I got some, but I got a lot of internal arguments as well. Still a lot of processing going on and I can see how making a longer trip would be more conducive to silence. I still am glad I did this alone.

I am dirty. I really hope I can shower at Timberline tomorrow. That would be the sweetest thing ever.

I made my last trail dinner – Lentil Soup and Trail Bread. The asshole birds showed up and were diving at my bread trying to take it away. I went maniacal on them waving my trekking poles at their darting attempts while yelling obscenities at their existence. I’m sure the scene was epic from an outsider’s perspective. They didn’t stay around long (thankfully), so I was able to eat without them swarming around my head.

The creek in the gully is gushing and the sun is setting. I have been out of “communication” for two days (since Warm Springs). I hope I can charge my phone at Timberline. Mom isn’t one to worry or panic, but it would be nice to check in. I am grateful I was able to send out the “battery dying” notice to Mom and Tim, otherwise I might have had a search and rescue team tracking me down.

I am very grateful I have been able to experience this adventure. It has been amazing and difficult. Not a boot happy experience, that’s for sure. My feet dictated most of my internal conversations for the past 5 days. Conversations which were needed I guess.

I am looking forward to the winter. Time to change things up a bit. I will have a lot more free time than I did last year and I am hoping to grow my client base during the slow work and winter hiking months. I am also looking forward to seeing my cats (meow).

I keep randomly catching myself doing things and wondering if it is “okay” to do, like hanging my handkerchief by my tent door. Is it okay to put here? We are so conditioned to making sure that what we are doing does not effect anyone else in a negative way. It’s kind of annoying. I mean really, who the hell is going to say “no” out here? My other me? Am I waiting for my own self-approval to know that it’s okay to do things? Well, go do things. You’re approved.

Oh! I found a surprise piece of dark chocolate at the bottom of the bear vault – SCORE!

Thank you Didi for the amazing kale chips, the cookie and the full flask of 14 yr old scotch – what a divinity!

Theme songs from the trek (the songs I found in my head on endless repeat), and I have no idea why: Theme from Raiders of the Lost Ark (okay, I had just seen this before I left, so that’s probably why), Thriller – Michael Jackson, Malaguena from the Madison Scouts 1989 (5 beats for the 2 steps and three trek pole hits), and She Bangs – Ricky Martin (not sure why this one came up, but thinking it may be because he says “Gemini” in it).

I went from falling asleep while I wait to go to sleep, to wide awake while I should be sound asleep. The stars are out and it’s quite silent in here.

I have a light UP day tomorrow morning. The final approach to my destination.

Peace & Happy Trekking,

Denny

 

PCT Hike – Day 15

PCT Day 15Coyotes and Owls were on this morning’s wake up call fallowed by an immediate and desperate need for a morning movement. Having been on trail 15 days now, the ability to dig a hole efficiently has been mastered.

It is dark in this deep part of the forest down by the stream. There are very large trees that canopy the ground from any skylight filtering in, we are one day away from the equinox, and it is a bit cold. The gentle whisper of Warm Springs stream is a delightful soft sound.

I was invited to morning coffee, “a shot in the dark”, with the boys. I packed up my camp and headed over and they were just starting their brewing. They were making espresso!  Wow, I was being spoiled completely and loving every second of it. They poured a hot espresso into my weak camp coffee and VOILA, instant total yumminess. They also gave me the last of their coffee which was just enough to get me to my destination without having to sacrifice a day of camp coffee on the trail. Many blessings.

They were headed out the west side of Timothy Lake today, and I was heading to Little Crater Lake. It should be a 14-15 mile trek for me, slow and steady with my boots. I try not to spend too much time thinking about my feet in those boots, as I don’t want it to deter from all the amazing things I am experiencing while on trail.

The battery on the DeLorme is dead. I sent my last “check-in” notice to my family to let them know that I was out of battery power and the solar panel was not doing a good job of giving it any type of charge under these trees. The battery on my phone is also gone, which means, no more pictures. Wah! 😦

Today’s trek was long, slow and steady. The hike around Timothy lake was inviting, yet I kept on going until I got to Little Crater Lake. It is a lake as deep as can be and it shines bright blue. It is quite pretty and extremely cold too. (Yes, the poet in me is here all day, just leave a tip in the jar). Keeping itself at a consistent 34 degrees F due to the underground spring that passes below it, I’d say that it is NOT a swimming hole. When I approached the lake on my way to the campground, there was a guy easing his way into the lake in just his swimsuit. No!

I’m camping in a Fee Campground, which of course means lots of big vehicles with big camping gear and folk that haven’t been in solitude for days on end. This is definitely the beginning of my adjustment period back into the world of society. I saw more people on trail today than I have since the beginning of my trek.

The campground ranger came by in the early evening and asked where I was parked. I let her know that I was a PCT hiker and she said, “Oh, then I’ll just leave you alone.” No fee, I camp for free! Yes Please and Thank You!

I grabbed my water filter and headed down to the lake to get water out for my pack and my food. There was a Boy Scout troupe there with about 5 dads and 20 kids. They were completely intrigued with me. I sat at the edge of the lake and started pumping out my water, and before long, I had a group of kids asking me all sorts of questions about filtering water, hiking, where I came from and “what happened to your feet?” They were lively and fun, and though the dads were all apologetic for having my space invaded, I didn’t find those inquisitive kids intolerable at all.

Tonight for dinner I made trail bread like I usually do, but I used less water than I had been and made a dough ball to fry in the pan. The bread came out fantastic! Golden and crispy, dense and delicious. Yes!

I only have one more day of intense hiking. Holy Shitballs Bathan! I’m really looking forward to being done with these boots.

mm 2074-2088, 14 miles

Happy Trekking,

Denny

Contemplating going into Big Crater Lake (two weeks ago!)

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PCT Hike – Day 14

PCT Day 14Morning Journal Entry:
It feels longer than 13 days on trail. I’ve become quite accustomed to trail living. There are a lot of noises in the woods this morning, in the water and on the land around the water. The abundance of animal life here is thick. I can hear coyotes calling each other not far away.

Mt Hood

The small amount of drizzle that happened yesterday has pretty much cleared out. There is no destination in today’s hike, it’s just a “one foot in front of the other” day until I stop. With my cranky feet, I imagine I will be hiking nice and slow. Mt Hood gets closer by the step.

Evening Journal Entry:

I am very grateful for those who have walked this path before me. Every time I see one of the PCT Trail signs I smile and tap it with my trekking pole. A sign of hello and thanks for the consistency, the comfort and feeling of home.

Pack & Crest16 mile day today. Right in the average of this trip. I am camping at Warm Springs, though quite truthfully, there is nothing warm about the water in the creek. Brrrr!  It is a beautiful spring with a foot bridge. I have met up with two guys from Portland (Kevin & Seth) who are hiking around Timothy Lake. They are camping on the other side of the creek from me. I shared fire with them this evening and gave them my Dark Chocolate Cheesecake as I had just had one two nights before in Jefferson Park.

Warm SpringsI filtered water, washed my socks and soaked my feet in the icy river while I made a conversation with the guys. They started backpacking and trekking together a handful of years ago. They’ve known each other since they were kids. It’s pretty cool.

Warm Springs River

I will be in Portland in just a few more days. I am ready to be home. Not only am I excited to start checking off my check-lists, but my feet and boots are in a constant argument now and I’ve been contemplating hiking in my flip-flops. I’m actually hiking with my right pinky toe up on top of the piggy that didn’t have roast beef just so the first four toes can fit into my boot from side to side. It is not the most pleasant experience, but it sure beats the beating my toes get from trying to cram them in. I had purchased these boots a size too big to begin with, and have hiked in them for over a year. My feet have swollen so much that now they feel two sizes too small. Saturday I will have a 14 mile day, Sunday 17 and Monday 5. The good news (and there is always good news) is that I believe most of the next three days will be an elevation gain heading towards Mt Hood. My feet will be much happier as they will not be going down so much. I can do this.

Ratatouille

I had ratatouille for dinner. It was quite yummy. I ate a lot today: Mango, trail mix, fruit leather, granola bars, pumpkin seeds, diner and breakfast. I’m quite hungry, I don’t think my body has the fat reserves to pull from anymore so now I have to eat to feed it. The food was all good though, and the more I eat, the lighter my pack gets. The lighter my pack gets, the happier my feet will be. Lessons learned. It’s all good stuff.

mm 2058-2074, 16 miles

Happy Trekking,

Denny

Camp Spot Warm Springs

PCT Hike – Day 13

PCT Day 13

It was a beautiful morning to wake up at Jefferson Park. A bit on the cool side and Mt Jefferson was wearing a morning cloud hat – a cap cloud!

Jefferson ParkThe Sun rose over the East side of the lake illuminating the mountain in an early morning glow. As the Sun began to shine on me, I noticed a growing buzzing behind me. I looked down at the ground and saw that there was a small hole with yellow jackets coming out to greet the morning rays.

Jefferson Hat

I do believe I packed up more quickly than any other camp spot I’ve been in. Though I’m not allergic to yellow jackets, I have no interest in hanging around the entry to their hive as they are coming out for the day. I am definitely going to go back to Jefferson Park for more exploration.

My feet were not happy going into my boots. They were swollen still and my right pinky toe was already pressing up against the side of my boot. I’m hoping that today has a lot of UP and not very much DOWN as the down part is where my feet jam into the front of my boot.

Color Path

I am heading to Olallie Lake Resort today to pick up my Cache drop that a friend of mine delivered for me. It should not be too long of a trek to get there, and depending on the resort, I may stay the night.

As I got onto the PCT, I noticed the track marks of the Brothers. My first inclination was hoping that they at least stopped to camp in Jefferson Park and that they did not just hurry on through it to put in miles. There are some spots worth stopping for. I actually caught up with them after climbing up to the first ridge line and they said they had camped just south of the Park the night before. They were also headed to Olallie to stop at the little store and have lunch. I’d see them there.

Color Path 3Down I went out of Jefferson Park over some glacial snow and into the woods. It was a meandering kind of day and the Sun was going in and out of the clouds. It was also a beautiful part of the wild. I stopped for a snack of dried mango and granola a few miles before Olallie on the other side of Olallie lake. No sooner did I have two pieces of mango, did the asshole birds show up! So I didn’t stay long, but put my pack back on and headed down hill. The brothers caught up to me and skirted past while I was busy taking pictures. The misty weather made all of the colors jump out. It was impossible not to snap shots!

Fog Path

The weather had shifted and the misty clouds had rolled in filling empty spaces with a foggy depth. It was a welcome change to the mostly consistent blue and sunny skies that I had been experiencing for the past two weeks. TWO WEEKS. Wow, it doesn’t seem like it could be that long already, yet it’s amazing how far I’ve trekked in such a short period of time.

I got to Olallie Lake Resort around 1:30 and the cute little store they had with a bunch of hiker treats was being run by a new owner, Diane. She was sweet as pie. She informed me that my friends were up in the kitchen making their lunch out of the rain which had just started. So I did some shopping in the store (snickers bars, potato chips, cookies, fruit leather and any other fattening items I could find). I still can’t believe how much weight I’ve lost.

My Cache box was up in the kitchen and it was a pleasure to unpack. I totally spoil myself. I packed myself $50.00, some ramen (which I would be eating that evening in the cold, wet day), a happy cookie, another pop-tart, another dark chocolate cheesecake package and a bunch more goodies besides food. I had also packed enough food for about a week and I still had some left over. So, I sorted through all of my items and packed what I would need for the next four days plus one extra (just in case), and told the boys they could take whatever they wanted from the remainder. They grabbed themselves a couple of goodies and I put the rest in the PCT Hiker box hoping that someone coming through could use it.

To say those chips tasted good would be a complete lie. They tasted AWESOME. As did the double chocolate chip cookie.

Top Lake

My pack felt light, even after the cache pickup, so I was quite pleased. It was still quite early in the day, and the resort did not have PCT Camping spots, so off I went. There was one spot just North of the resort overlooking a lake, but after contemplating camping there for about 10 minutes, I decided to put in a few more miles.

Pathway 1

The next section of the trail was densely wooded and very quiet. I didn’t see anyone, or hear much of anything except the occasional scurrying of an animal. After a few miles I took out my maps and saw that there was a trail to a lake a couple of miles up on the PCT. There are usually camping spots around lakes even if they aren’t marked on the map, so when I got to the junction for Russ Lake, I took it. It was 1/4 mile to the lake. My feet were already cranky, but the side trail was easy to go along. When I got to the lake, I noticed a small trail off to the right, and my intuitive nudge pulled me along that trail, up a small hill and put me on a ridge line between TWO lakes. Just a few short strides along the ridge line and there were two great camping spots waiting for me. I took the smaller one that was nestled in the trees between the two.

I heard a lot of animal noises that evening, which didn’t surprise me as there was an abundance of unmanned wooded area all around. The ramen I packed was absolutely delicious, and such a complete change from all of the heavier dense meals I had been eating. The broth was warming and quite tasty.

Camp Russell LakeI decided that it was time to dismantle my toenails. They were already cut down short, but I took out my fingernail file and filed them down to nubs. I have no idea it this will work, but I really need to relieve the pressure of the boot hitting the toenail. First Aid for the evening – CHECK!

Today I thought a lot about things to do when I get back home. I will rearrange my room (which I typically do in the Spring and Autumn. I am compiling a winter movie watch list. The cooking/baking list keeps getting bigger. Work on my 2nd book (first book by the way was Mirror/Mirror – A Holistic Approach to Living Well). The 2nd book is an 8 week life change course book based on a program I created in my business Peaceful Roots and have been teaching since 2007 called Fit Club. My journal is filling up with a lot To DO list and I’m very excited to get at it!

As it goes on trail, early to bed, early to rise!

mm 2042-2057, 15 mile day

Happy Trails,

Denny

PCT Hike – Day 12

Crest

The things one focuses on the most end up becoming one’s belief systems, and once those are established, they are very difficult to readjust, change or break down.” – From the Spirit of the Trail – Gemini

 

PCT Day 12I awoke this morning bright and early and to a general BUZZ of life around me. After I got out of my tent, I realized that there were an abundance of Yellow Jackets swooping around. They seemed to be quite attentive to my tent. I didn’t hang around long. I had my camp coffee, oatmeal and my morning movement, then hit the trail.

According to my maps, today would continue a descent around the back side of Three Finger Jack with a long low-lands trek, then an upward and circumnavigation of the Western side of Mt Jefferson (one of my favorite mountains in the Cascade Range).

Jefferson

I passed through some amazing wilderness today. My left foot is being quite the crank. Toes, heel, achilles and now my left quad is cramping up consistently. Oi! I’m doing more hobbling than I am trekking. There were also a lot of spider webs today as we had some misty raindrops last night.

I met a young man on trail today, Travertine, who was heading south on the PCT. Bright, energetic, insightful, journal writing adventurer who is out for one year in the wild to find himself. Kudos to him for his journey.

CrossingThere was one “creek” crossing along the way that left me doubting whether or not I’d survive. The water from the glaciers was coming down hard and fast, and it was no mere creek. If the depth of the Russell Creek were a river, these would be at least a class 5 rapid. There was even a warning on my map that said, “Milky glacial water, can be dangerous crossing.” The big boulder in the picture that sits in the middle of the creek towards the end of the trail was bigger than I was. I actually walked up and down the side of the trail looking for the best cross-over point, second guessing every potential pass over. Eventually I just had to cross. I knew that if I fell in, not only would I be wet, but I would be tossed down the creek a bit before I could get my footing again. In terms of “danger” on the trail, this was the most dangerous part of the trail I experienced (besides the possibility of getting hit with a stray bullet).

I got to Jefferson Park mid-day. This is definitely the most stunning environment of my journey to date and I will be coming back here again just to spend some days exploring this part of the wilderness.

Camp

I am camped on the North side of the park next to Russell Lake. To say the view is stunning would be an understatement. The early fall foliage on the deciduous trees and specifically the huckleberry patches, which are abundant, give the whole landscape a deliciously warm and rich glow against the stark high peaked glacial face of Mt. Jefferson.

Laundry 1I set my tent up at a designated camp spot and took a few short strides down to the lake. I plunged my achy feet into the icy cold water and it felt wonderful. I washed all of my clothing and then washed myself. The coldness of the water was so refreshing. There was no way I was getting INTO the water, so I used my bandana as a washcloth. After 10 minutes of a foot ice bath, they were numb and cold and ready to come out. It looked like the ice had reduced some of the swelling in my feet and toes. It was very refreshing to have clean feet again. I do believe that this was the dirtiest I had ever been in my life, or at least, the dirtiest for the longest period of time.

Today I had dessert after my Rice and Beans. I packed a Backpacker’s Pantry Dark Chocolate Cheesecake. It was way too much for one person. Rich, creamy and delicious, but I force fed it to myself anyway. No one can let that chocolate goodness go to waste.

I did some yoga before I went to bed and stretched out my legs and back which seemed to have helped quite a bit in the over reacting quad cramping.

Happy Trails,

Denny

 Tent Camp