We had breakfast the first day at the Timberline Lodge, the hotel where the Shining was filmed. In a way, that set the tone several days later. Maybe it was foreshadowing what was to come. A carb filled breakfast before setting out on a multi day hike, and the Timberline is known for its great breakfast buffet. We had juice, eggs, waffles, fruit, and potatoes. There wasn’t anythi8ng we felt was missing. We even served up some laughter. Five of us were pumped on adrenaline of what was to come. We were able to put the 40 pound packs we were to be wearing out of our minds. Before we left, we bought tokens for marking our trip. Our ride helped us strap up and took pictures. Then there were four.
None of us had packed this much weight before, and we were put to the test immediately, uphill. This was another foreshadowing for the trip. We met our first backpacker right in the parking lot. He was a volunteer for the forestry service. He helped people with advice, direction, and the forms. He knew the weather forecast and fire closures. He was our friend right away since none of us had been backpacking before nor had we hiked the area.
Hours later when we saw him for the third time we were happy to talk to him about our first big creek crossing (we’d call it a river in NV). It was the Zigzag and the terminus of his trip that day. We received great advice and encouragement. “After you climb this, it won’t be as tough,” he said as we crossed and headed up the mountain side. We believed him. He was experienced, and we were supposed to be going down in elevation. Another hint of what was to come.
After the first mile, we fell into our rhythm – what it could be anyway, and we just kept plugging along. We stayed together or mostly together that day. It’s a good thing too; there were obstacles we had to team up to get beyond. There were downed trees of unexpected size and difficulty to worry about. The trail was as wide as us or just a bit bigger with a mountain side on our right and a drop off on our left. Trees surrounded us, stumped us, and stressed us. At first we could climb over them or under them. Then we had to take our packs off to push them before us and slide under after them. The big one, though, was two trees that were wider than we are tall which had fallen along the path instead of across is. We couldn’t go under, and it would have been dangerous for me and my bum knee to go over. We had to go down and around. There was a little social path at first, and then it disappeared. The drop off got steeper and there wasn’t much to grab hold of. Camazon and Babyzon could make it easily. They climbed up and dropped their packs to help direct us or to give us a hand. I went first. There seemed to be large stair steps near me. I took them but ended up having to crawl up the second step because my knee couldn’t lift me and my pack. Once on my hands and knees, I couldn’t stand up again. So, I crawled until I had to go under a tree. My pack and I couldn’t fit under the tree together, and the pack came off. Babyzon and I drug my pack as I crawled the last few feet back to the trail. My cousin went the same way Camazon did and didn’t seem to have any trouble. He was even able to twist around and get under the tree where I had to unload with his pack on. It seemed that I was going to choose the more difficult way from then on.
We hiked on from that tree like a heard of turtles. All of us were tired and in need of a break. When we found a spot to go to the bathroom, we also found a couple of logs to sit on. The packs came off with an audible sigh from all of us. The food came out, and the chattering began. I started counting on my fingers like an abacus – one part of my mind marking the water crossings, 3; another for the trees, 8. This was a nice area with an overlook of the valley below the mountain. We will later wish we camped there because there was water nearby, but I’m getting ahead of myself. This is the last potential camp ground until dusk when we are all forced to set up our tents angling downward. We crossed several more trees totaling 12 for the day. But there was only one more water crossing and that was our last snow crossing too. It was difficult.
The snow covered the boulders so half of us went down the hill and around the snow and the other half went directly across it. It was scary either way being cautious not to slip on the ice and worrying about breaking through. Camazon and Babyzon filtered water and filled their packs. My cousin and I still had a lot left, so we did not. Mistake number one. That was the last of the water we were to see for the night.
As the sun set, we began hearing hummm, whap whap, hummm. I kept listening to see if I could figure it out. It wasn’t scaring us but we were definitely curious. There was a group of late teens early twenties who caught up to us and passed. They were questioning what the noise was too, but you could tell that some were nervous. “Was that a bear?” “What was that?” “Did you hear it too?” Even Babyzon laughed. After we set up camp we learned that it was humming birds. We were sitting on rocks looking around us and saw the humming birds zipping around and caught the sound as they passed. We think that they were echoing off of dead trees or something to amplify their sound earlier.
Past one of our snow crossings (5-6) we saw ice rings on the ground. It took a few more times to realize that our trekking poles were making snow donuts. We had fun with that off and on for a few days talking about a new business selling snow donuts in the summer.
Once we found and set up camp, Camazon and Babyzon went on down the trail with a few water bags and filters to see if they could find water. They went about a mile to where the trail really dropped and didn’t see anything. They could see the waterfall and river many feet below, but nothing close enough to get for us. We really conserved water in our cooking. I used Babyzon’s macaroni water to cook my soup. I ran out of water at dawn. My cousin shortly afterward. Camazon and Babyzon had run out during the night. After dinner, we played card monopoly. It was fun, but we couldn’t keep focused on it. Just before dark, we all crawled into our tents and went to bed for the night. It was a rough night for me. I kept hearing rustling around outside of my tent. I kept imagining and even dreaming of chipmunks eating into my pack. At one point, I flashed my light outside to scare off anything that might have been there. I even opened up my door cautiously and shown my light around to see what might have been out there. But the lack of sleep didn’t cause any problems the next day.