Day 98: A day in the clouds…

Day: Sunday, 4th September 2016

Miles: 2005.4 – 2038.8 (33.4)

Three Finger Jack Remote Site 2005.4 – Remote Site 2038.8 (33.4)

Wow. What a great trauma a little morning chill can bring to a precious and spoiled thru-hiker! We were all feeling some trepedation at venturing out this morning. In my case, both the outside (damp) and inside (condensation) had frozen solid on my tent. It was supposed to be a cold night but I never expected that even in our somewhat sheltered spot, that it would have frozen. To add, a very energetic dog attached to some other campers close-by had spent half the night digging holes around camp, so there was mud everywhere. Keep those furry friends close readers. I think my fear of the chills was shared by Outro who ran out of camp early (trying to warm up), muttering words that she was finishing right here if it was going to be this cold from now on! As I clutched my morning coffee closely, and attempted to dress myself inside my tent, I certainly wasnt far behind her in making some remarks about the morning!
The clouds were hanging closely as  I departed camp, but they did provide one startling view of a rock outcropping just above our camp in a fleeting and dramatic fashion.
But all too soon, the clouds descended, and I resigned myself that today would be a day in the clouds, so I needed to make something of it, whether through music, or just talking to someone or myself! Thankfully FlyBy caught up early on, and we spent much of the morning trying to chomp through the miles.



It was kind of spooky in the clouds…

A good portion of the morning was spent hiking through another burn zone, and the stark tree silhouettes in the mist were really quite beautiful. The only sound and movement was threads of cloud, rippling over head, so close you could touch them.
Showing the drama of the day, at one point, the clouds instantaneously lifted, and gave us a view of Three Fingered Jack rising just above our camp site a few miles back. All too soon, it was gone again.
All through the morning, I was hoping that the sun would manage to burn off the clouds, as the mighty peak of Mt.Jefferson lay just to the north. Today we would circumnavigate it, and it would be really disappointing not to see the peak up close, after the views of it over the last few days.



Apparently this point gives a magnificent vista of Mt.Jefferson, so I decided to make do with some hiking poles and my imagination.


Eventually dropping down into a deep valley, I started to enjoy some of the pleasant mature vegetation and met some day hikers, arriving via a side trail (including one fully camouflaged hunter with his bows). The clouds rose a little but never enough to give a view of the peak, by now to the east.
Crossing some of the rivers that are fed by Mt.Jeffersons glaciers, we could see some signs of awesome power with huge boulders and recently gouged valleys providing some crossing challenges. Myself and FlyBy took our lunch with some other hikers by one of these rivers, and I threw my tent on top of a bush to dry out (after its icy night).
The trail eventually entered an area of pleasant alpine meadows, as we began to depart its western flanks and exit the Jefferson area through a high pass on a ridge to its north.
The pass was a dramatic and beautiful spot, with some signs that the weather was burning away to the north, as we could almost see the sunshine beneath a stubborn blanket of clouds.
Finally beginning our descent in the direction of Breitenbush, and one of the prizes of the day came into view, as Mt.Hood in all its glory lay just 60 trail miles to the north. This was a really inspirational moment for me, once of those great first-views, when your heart races as you see something you’ve work hard for, just within touching distance.
Myself and FlyBy had hoped to catch up to Outro, however we had not seen her all day. We passed a sign for the Breitenbush trail cut-off but decided to hike just one further hill to a lake that existed on a high ridge. Sadly, when we got there after darkness, we could not find any suitable spot to set up camp, and kept going for another mile into the forest. Finally deciding to call it a night in a small clearing between a fallen log and two trees, we quickly cooked some food and went to bed. It had been a good day of miles, and with a lot of elevation gain and fall, it felt great to take the weight off!

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