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Pacific Crest Trail – Day 5 Paradise Park to Lolo Pass

Pacific Crest Trail – Day 5 Paradise Park to Lolo Pass

on Aug 19, 2014

After a chilly night with some strange dreams at Paradise Park, I was ready for some coffee.

The previous night I had set all the coffee making implements right outside my tent door inside my vestibule so that all I had to do was unzip the flap a bit, light my stove, boil the water and pour it into my coffee pouch.  My plan was executed perfectly the next morning and a few minutes after waking I had a nice hot cup of coffee.

I had not yet heard anyone else stirring in camp, so I decided to get out of my tent and stretch my legs a bit.  It was very shaded in camp and quite chilly still, so I made the choice to seek out some warm sunlight.  Fortunately all the clouds and mist and fog had blown off the mountain and I could see the sun was out in full force.  All that was required of me was to climb up the mountain a bit to get to it.  I poured the rest of my coffee in my cup and took off.IMG_20140725_074932028We were in a really nice spot where all you had to do was take a short trail up and then you were on your way up the mountain.  It wasn’t long before I was sitting on a rock in the sun enjoying a very quiet, amazingly beautiful morning on the mountain, soaking in the sun and enjoying life.  If I could have lived in that moment for the rest of my life I would have.  It was a good 20 minutes before I saw anyone stirring down at the camp.  It felt like I had the whole mountain and the whole world to myself.

Suddenly there were no questions being asked, no restraints on my time, no having to carry a heavy pack up and down the hills.  I had absolutely nothing to do but just soak in the sunlight, sip my perfect cup of coffee and enjoy the moment.IMG_20140725_074359498Then I ran out of coffee…

Back to camp I went.

Everyone finally woke up and we ate breakfast.  We took some time to relax and enjoy the stunning view of the mountain before finally packing up and hitting the trail again.

We had some small climbing to do but most of our morning would be downhill to the Sandy River.  Then we knew we had some more hill up and then back down to Lolo Pass.  Fortunately our morning was beyond amazing.  If you ever get a chance to go to Paradise Park for a day, Would highly suggest it.  Up there you have a view from Mt, Jefferson to Mt. St. Helens and it is just utterly breathtaking.  I was able to get a couple Panoramic shots but they really don’t do it justice.

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IMG_20140725_095452560After taking a few moments to take in all the wonders of our little spot on the trail we continued on to Broken Rock.

Broken rock is just that.  It is a huge rock… in the middle of an empty meadow that is broken.  When I say huge rock… well here is some perspective.

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Stalker just couldn’t resist climbing the rock.

I was too busy taking in another perfect view of Mt Hood.  It literally felt as if we could just walk up and touch it.  Maybe in about 20 minutes we could scale it to the top.  It was so close it was surreal.  It is definitely a moment I will not soon forget.  If I could find a way to build a little cabin up there and live, I would do it in a heartbeat.

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Unfortunately we still had a lot more hiking to do for the day so we eventually had to peel ourselves away from this perfect place and hit the trail once more.

We started our descent into the canyon that housed the Sandy River.  Before we did that, we were once again amazing with another unbelievable view.IMG_20140725_105515501

The start of the Sandy River, flowing down into the canyon.  There was a waterfall that just took our breath away and the fact that we were here to enjoy this place… I was ecstatic that morning.  I was overwhelmed with this natural beauty that technically is right outside our back doors.  How had I never been here before?  How could I keep myself from coming back and just setting up camp permanently?

The trail called…

Finally after much time descending into the canyon through some pretty cool forest area we reached the Sandy River.  We took a little break and then had to cross.

The crossing of the Sandy River was a bit sketchy.  It was basically some wet logs laying across the river with no real place to keep your balance.  There was not really a good place to use your trekking poles to support you or to catch you if you fell.  We all crossed carefully and made it safely.

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We had planned to stop and eat at Ramona Falls.  It was only a couple miles from the Sandy River so we pushed through our starting hunger and made it there pretty quickly.  It was quite crowded but we found a nice spot and had some food and enjoyed the view.  I filtered some water and filled up everyone’s bottles and then back on the trail.  We still had plenty of miles to go before our day was over and we still had a hill to climb over.

Before we knew it we came to another sketchy log crossing over a river.  These logs were bigger than the previous logs and upon first inspection seemed to be quite a bit easier.  Once we got down to them however we realized that there was a rope tied across the top log as it was laying over the bottom log in such a way as you lost room for your feet by the end of the crossing.

We all gingerly crossed the logs and made it across safely once again.

We were actually pretty excited now because we got to do some elevation and go uphill.  We had spent the majority of our morning going downhill and our legs and feet were feeling it.  Unfortunately we didn’t realize the extent of uphill that we had to do.

We entered the switchbacks of Hell!

Eventually we started to see these signs.IMG_20140725_154937592We had to laugh because as steep and long as these switchbacks were, you would have to be genuinely nutty to try to shortcut one.  You would be climbing straight up for quite a while.

We finally reached the top and took a break.  We had entered some bug territory and reacted accordingly.  Then we began the descent down.

It leveled out for a bit and we once again got another amazing view of Mt. Hood.

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It was amazing to think that we had been right at the tree line, not far from all the snow just a few hours ago and had traveled quite a distance and seen some amazing things that day.  I was a little sad to leave the mountain behind but I was also excited to see what the next few days still had in store for us.

Stalker and I entertained ourselves and tried to take our minds off of our tired feet and legs by slowly going through and singing every Weird Al song that we could think of.  It worked pretty well and soon we made it to Lolo Pass.  We grabbed a little campsite with a table right next to the trail, and unfortunately a small parking lot but we were tired and didn’t care.  Stalker had to run up the trail about 1/2 a mile to get some water as it was a dry camp, so as he did that, the rest of us got dinner started, and enjoyed having a table for a night.

For the next days journey… Giant Hog Weed, more hills, biting flys and a cool mountain lake!