2016-01-20

Jefferson Park

A Blessed Life

There really aren’t a ton of luxuries I look for in life: third wave coffee, immediate and unfettered access to all 202 episodes of The X-Files, and nice sunglasses come to mind. Mountainous public lands within a few hours also make the list. While my residency in Oregon does not grant me immediate and unfettered access to all 202 episodes of The X-Files or nice sunglasses, it does make accessing mountainous public lands (and third wave coffee, for real though) very easy, easier than it is for most people.

In fact, access is so easy that I can think to myself on a Thursday afternoon, “I would like to go backpacking,” then on Friday afternoon, go backpacking.

Such was the case with this brief trip to Mt. Jefferson, regrettably my first in the area (an oversight in no small part due to Mt. Hood’s considerably brisker drive). I drove out there, I parked, I hiked, it was nice, it got dark, I read a bit, I went to bed, I woke up, I ate breakfast, it started pouring, I finished my book, it was still pouring, I hiked out in the rain, it was nice. I really like the area and look forward to coming back with a chance at seeing it with daylight. There wasn’t a whole lot to this trip, nor did I have much opportunity to photograph, so I’ll keep it succinct.

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As I’ve found in a majority of popular areas up here, the trail from the Whitewater lot to Jefferson Park (the last bit via the PCT) is in great shape. I’m a huge fan of the windy, ridgeline trails that seem to be common around Northwest’s volcanoes, popping in and out of the trees to look out foothills below. I knew I would be pushing daylight into camp, but the late afternoon light as I climbed was just fabulous. Perfect weather, too.

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Unfortunately I pushed that daylight a little too far, aimlessly milling around Scout Bays Lakes looking for a campsite. After circumnavigating both bodies of water—some truly thrilling accidental bushwhack included—I plopped my back down, grabbed water in the last light, and fired up some macaroni and cheese. I did, unfortunately, tell two groups of folks that they weren’t allowed to have fires. I fucking hate being the goody-two-shoes party police but it’s not like the bans are put in place for shits and giggles, so I piped up. By the time I headed for temporary unconsciousness low clouds had fully moved in, so I didn’t feel my usual pang of guilt about missing a chance at stargazing as I nod off an hour after sunset.

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Luckily I woke up before the rain started, chancing me the opportunity to eat breakfast dry, but the rain set in soon after. I was in no rush and had a hundred pages left in my book, so I cozied up and finished it, thinking the precipitation might let up. It didn’t, but I had no trouble getting moving, invigorated from the peace and quiet. Of course, hiking in the cold rain is an easier sell when the trail ends at your car and some dry socks.

The rain wouldn’t relent till I neared the end of the trail, but the combo of the NW Alpine Eyebright and Black Spider Hoody (and, more importantly, removing the jacket in a timely fashion) had me feeling great. I’m still not convinced the Altras are for me, though the integrated gaiter Velcro patch is about the coolest damn thing ever.

Blessed by luck, man. Health, money and location to drive four hours round trip, on a whim, just to tromp around a beautiful mountain for a day. Hope it lasts forever.

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Side Note: cruising along a well-maintained gravel road, windows down with crisp mountain air rolling in, feeling exercised legs and a relaxed brain: can’t beat it.

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