With Summer officially starting for me this past weekend, Trish and I decided to start the summer off right with a few outdoor adventures together: first, a 70 mile bike ride over the top of McKenzie pass and back,
and then a 30 mile backpacking trip in Jefferson Wilderness – with a rest day in between the two activities. While I’m tired as all get out, I’m also so rejuvenated after spending hours on the bike and days on the trail.
What follows is a brief description of our backpacking trip, with a map and video of the route and experiences along the way.
The Map (including all of our detours and mis-stepped meanderings…)
Youtube Version (different music and ending)
The Original Plan
Trish and my backpacking trip was originally going to be a circumnavigation of Three Fingered Jack, but after realizing how exposed much of the hike is, we decided to instead to a hike in the Jefferson Wilderness with views of both Three Fingered Jack and Mount Jefferson throughout, and that has lots of shady forest sections to provide respite from what we thought was going to be a very hot 3 days of hiking.
We began our hike at the end of Big Meadows Road, FR 2267, and headed out on Lake Trail towards Duffy Lake. We veered slightly off the loop to camp at Santiam Lake, which we had heard was well-known for its views of Three-Fingered Jack, and were not disappointed. We camped at Santiam Lake our first night. Having started our hike around 3pm, we only hiked around 6 miles, with about 1,200 feet of elevation gain.
Day two brought us along Blue Lake Trail (Trail 3422), which passes through acres of landscape decimated by forest fires, before getting to the Pine Ridge Trail (Trail 3435), where the burn-out is less severe. Pine Ridge Trail did, however, have a bit of a weather phenomenon in store for us. Around 2pm we were introduced to the rumblings of thunder above, which quickly turned into drizzle, then rain, then torrential rain and hail, along with ubiquitous thunder escorting us to our campsite the rest of the day and evening.
Our original plan was to stay at Pine Ridge Lake, which looked like an excellent campsite and water source for us, before heading down the Turpentine Trail (Trail 3490) back to our car the next day. However, we found out on arrival to Pine Ridge that the lake is home to a Boy Scout camp and private property, on which we were not allowed to camp for the night. We additionally learned from one of the camp counselors at Pine Ridge Lake that the Turpentine Trail had suffered a severe wildfire in 2003, which apparently had not been completely rebuilt since. While I’m skeptical that this is true, we decided, after looking over our map and discussing our options over a can of wine, to play it safe the next day and take some forest roads back home. Our 2nd day consisted of just under 13 miles of hiking and over 1,400 feet of elevation gain.
As rainy and nasty as day two was, day 3 proved to be a beautiful and hiker-friendly hike back to the car. We took Twin Meadows Road (FR 536) to Horn Creek Road (FR 2257) all the way down to Big Meadows Road (FR 2267), where we hiked back to the car. The weather was much improved and the fast pace of hiking on roads was a nice respite from the more demanding singletrack trails we had hiked the previous two days. We finished the day hiking 10.5 miles (including a few undesirable detours) with 820 feet of climbing.
After such an amazing trip, I can’t help but be thankful for a healthy body, a flexible vocation that I love (and that has summers off!), a partner who, like me, sees physical health and fitness as an essential part of overall wellness, and the list goes on. Trish and I recognize and often verbalize how lucky we are to not only have found each other, but to share these values and try our best to utilize them whenever possible, as physical health is never a long-term guarantee. As summer continues, and with it many more outdoor adventures, the privilege of health and wellness is something I plan to intentionally keep present in my mind as a privilege and a gift.