Burnt, gnarled forest--Tim Burton like

Burnt, gnarled forest–Tim Burton like

As we turned the corner the logging road led out of the green woods into a Tim Burton like desolate forest with all the bark and the needles stripped off the gnarly looking trees. We entered into year-old forest fire area. Forest fires were actively burning not far and the smoke was so thick it looked like fog banks wafting through the gnarled forest giving it brown hazy look.

We finally pulled into the parking area. A few cars were there. I’m slightly irritated. I drive 2 hours and 45 minutes on logging roads only to hunt for a place to park. Ahh!
My daughter and I get out of the truck and load up our day packs for hike up to 8500′ on the side of Mt. Hood. We start out on the trail at a quick pace. The trail is up hill. I feel it almost immediately. “Oh great! I only have 3.5 miles to go and 3000 feet of altitude to climb.”

She is moving along and I slowly slip a little further behind each step. Finally, she waits as we break out of the big trees into a small canyon with timberline sized trees, smaller and wind blown. The trail is rough with golf ball to beach ball sized rocks forming the trail with boulders surrounding us. We are looking down at our feet each step so we don’t fall when we trip, which seemed to be every few minutes for me.

Climbing out of the canyon we crest onto the part of the trail that’s not quite so difficult to navigate and not quite so steep. The trees are different again. Smaller and more scrubby. I can feel my lungs stretching to claim every ounce of air I can suck in. That’s what I get for not working out.

One Step at Time -- Trail up Cooper Spur

One step at a time,as the trail gets steeper and higher in altitude

 

 

Now we’re climbing uphill and can see our destination another 2,000 feet vertical from where are as we break out of the timberline into a desert-like landscape. The mountain peak looms in front of us. We want to speed up but the trail gets steeper.

I’m now feeling like I won’t make it. I’ve planned this small trek for a couple weeks and walked around the neighborhood and at lunch break doing some, “training.” Clearly not enough!

“Oh, man. I’m going to have to tell her ‘I’ll wait here…I might not be able to make it.'” My heart rate was clearly too high. “It was a big goal. I should’ve started out with smaller hike at altitude. Too late we’re here and I want this. I can make it,” I think to myself.

One step at a time!

“Dad, one step at a time! You can do it. See? The spur is right there,” she yells out encouragingly pointing at our destination.

I look up and see it. “Wow. That’s still a long way up there!” I say to myself. “The goal. Keep the goal in mind. Look at it.”

“Yep, the tables have turned.” I mumble to myself. It wasn’t that long ago I was encouraging her on hikes, backpacking trips and other adventures we went on.

“Yes, you will get there. One step at a time. It’s always hardest just before you get there. Hey! isn’t that what I tell clients? Oh yeah. It sure is.”

I look up and my daughter is looking at me smiling. “Do you want take a break?”

Elliot Glacier Mt Hood

Eliot Glacier,Mt. Hood Oregon, August 2015.

We stop for a minute at the edge of the ridge looking down into Eliot Glacier. Wow! it is spectacular and dramatic with the ice falls, the steepness right at our feet and the cliffs dropping off into the crevasse-laced glacier. Rising out of the glacier are the east side crags, ridges, spires and avalanche chutes leading to the summit.

Our destination is a large spur on the east side of the peak 3,000 feet below the summit at about 8500 feet.

We take off again and this time I feel my lungs complaining bitterly a few steps back into the climb. We are in the switch backs on the last push to our destination. It’s there right in front of us but still another 800 feet uphill along the rocky trail.

“Hey, dad. Let’s take some more pictures here and rest for a minute.”

“No. If I stop I won’t get started again.” I look down and concentrate. I keep moving one step at time. I refresh the goal in my mind.

“I do like pressing on. I do like the feel of my lungs exploring new airways that haven’t been used in years. I do want to stop. No, no I don’t!” I feel like I’m on a forced march with drums beating so I can keep step. “It must be the lack of oxygen and the wheezing. Such drama!”

Not so hard reaching the goal—once there!

Cooper Spur -- The goal is reached!

Reaching the goal. Not as hard as it seemed!

 

Cooper Spur Mt Hood

Nice to achieve the goal.

Scrambling up a few more tight switchbacks through boulders we crest onto the summit of the spur. “Whoo Hoo!” We give each other high fives.

She runs along the crest trail formed along the ridge line that falls away steeply on both sides down to glaciers. We look down to severe ice falls right below us.

I strip off my pack and run along the trail too to get to the saddle.

We stop and take lots of photos.

“Wow this is incredible!” I yell out to her.

She’s smiling and nodding and looking around. It’s pretty windy up here and the smoke from the surrounding forest fires give an eerie, hazy look to the whole scene with the sun popping through the smoky haze every once in a while.

We can see the line forming the top of the smoky haze across the horizon. Above it is clear blue sky, below there is a smoky haze. Odd.

“I feel great! I can breath. I feel energized! That hike was not that hard, not that big a deal.” I say to myself happily.

My daughter is smiling brightly and this is a perfect day. Goal accomplished!

Yes, I reached the goal. It helped seeing the goal in front of me each time I felt like I couldn’t make it. It also helped having someone coach me along even though the goal looked daunting at times. “Just one step at a time.”


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