Our complaint about Oregon was that it had been boring, which is kind of a spoiled thing to say considering one of those days was spent walking past Mount Hood. A couple of views of Mount Hood aside we had mostly just seen a lot of trees. How we accomplished the AT without ripping our hair out in boredom I am not sure. Now we grew weary after one day too many of wooded surroundings. What wimps we are. The day after Timothy Lake did not unveil any marvelous views. Instead we continued to walk through pond and lake land, through trees and tufts of bear grass. At one point we were stopped at a spring and chatting with a couple of NOBOs who told us that they thought from there to Shelter Cove (south of where we were) was some of the prettiest trail they had seen thus far. We were skeptical but decided to keep our fingers crossed anyway.
That comment just goes to show how different people are, how one person can revel in the tree covered pond riddled grasslands of central Oregon and another person can find that boring and spend their day dreaming of the high alpine parks of Washington’s Cascades. Take a while guess at which camp we fall into. It was a long day and we saw a lot of people, none of whom seemed to have any idea that they were in a bubble. Everyone of them commented on how they hadn’t seen anyone in days, but we are privy to the truth and we informed them that there were actually people all around them.
We hiked a long day, from dusk until dawn, and ended at Ollalie Lake, a favorite amongst hikers. There is a resort there, filled with beer and snacks and games. But we have grown accustomed to our solitude, and increasingly skeptical of hiker culture, hermits unwilling to walk into large crowds of rambuncous hikers. So we camped right up the hill by the lake at an amazing campsite. Early risers again the next morning we ran into Pink Lady on the trail, which was quite the surprise. We had met Pink Lady on the AT, so it was confusing to see her on the PCT, but a really pleasant surprise.
It was on the day out of Ollalie lake that things finally started to look up. Or in other words, we were finally given a reason to take our eyes off of our feet and look up. The day started with a climb and at the top were views of Mount Jefferson. Kyle and I were immediately infatuated. I started to use the hashtag “I’d rather be climbing” on all of my photos. But we couldn’t stand and gape for every and we were disappointed to have to descend and then walk along it’s slopes, too close to see it summit. But the end of the day rewarded us once again with amazing views and an incredible campsite. The site was located on a neighboring ridge, which dropped off suddenly in steep cliffs, affording us a view straight across the valley at Mount Jeffersons Southwest side. We just missed sunset because we ran into our friend Michael from the very beginning of our hike but sunrise the next morning did not disappoint. The first couple miles of our day continued along the same ridge line and even though we were in a hurry to get down to Santiam Pass we couldn’t help but stop and take numerous photos. Eventually we also began to see Three Finger Jack, The Three Sisters, Broken Top, Mount Bachelor and many more mystery mountains to the south.
The crazy thing about Oregon is that the big mountains rise our of mellow rolling hills, their prominence notable and easy to spot. In Washington it is often hard to see some of the more notable peaks, because they are surrounded and hidden from view by thousands and thousands of other smaller crags. Oregon’s range, on the other hand, is a high wooded plattue, from which giants rise, all of them volcanic and crumbling, some of them snow capped. We walked through a large burn area, along ridges and contours, and eventually popped out next to Three Finger Jack, a gnarly looking cliffy mountain, three peaks close together and thrusting high into the sky. We had read about Three Finger Jack previously and there is really only one climbed route on it, coming up from the South side. Off trail hiking in the area is forbidden because the mountain is eroding so quickly, not surprising considering its volcanic origins. We took a snack break at a saddle in the shadow of the peak and then begun our descent down to Santiam Pass where we were meeting my friend Conor. Most people take Santiam Pass into Sisters or sometimes into Bend, but we were getting a ride into Salem to stay with Conor and Larkin and enjoy the town I went to college in. Conor met us part way up our descent and we hiked back to the car together, where he had prepared by bringing cold drinks, skittles and peanut M&Ms.