Journey Around Jefferson
Beginning Elevation = 6,250
Ending Elevation = 6,400
Elevation Range = 4,300 – 6,900
Weather: Sunny and clear, turned cloudy, thunder and lightning
I opted to join Snickers for his early 5:30am start again. We both were on top of our game and ready to go then. TW said he’d catch up. Today’s hike would turn out to be quite a wonderful experience, hence it’s quite possible that I got carried away with my picture taking…
We dropped down a little from our campsite onto a ridge and found ourselves smiling from the beauty of the sunrise on one side (to our right/east side), and also from the sea of clouds down below on the other (to our left/west side).
Snickers and I got split up, but I walked along enjoying the different scenes along the ridge. I went probably an hour or so just cruising with it like that.
And then, I started seeing this beautiful mountain peaking through the gaps between trees!
This is Mount Jefferson. We’d heard from southbounders that it’s a nice part of trail and for me, I found that to me an understatement! I was loving it, just snapping pictures around every bend and new lookout with a slightly different angle or perspective. Stunning.
By this point TW had caught up. We had a brief snack stop admiring one of the last views from south looking north at Jefferson. Then, we walked together for a bit. The morning had been a lot of slight up/down action remaining above 6,000 feet elevation, but this point we started going down .
Ok so there was another vista or two!
And we saw this team coming up the mountain!
And this strange creature hiding in a dirt hole in the trail. Like a giant one of those roly poly bugs. You can see it’s two eyes and seemed to have little legs too!?
TW pulled ahead and continued onward solo for while. I made it to another limited entry area, this one was called the Coyote/Shake Lake Zone. I’m not sure why it’s limited, maybe it’s seen over usage in the past few years? It was a beautiful area…
I also found my breakfast spot near Shale Lake. I chatted with a hiker called Iceman for a bit. He’d camped with a view of Jefferson and had some amazing pictures of the clouds enveloping around it with the top peak covered in a pinkish light. Here’s the lake where we ate.
Incredible right!? Afterwards, the trail went down down down, until reaching the low point for the day at Milk Creek. I caught up to Snickers along the way, somehow he’d gotten ahead. And there were some more incredible sites during the decent looking out.
Including this avalanche knockdown zone…
And a beautiful forest. Very serene. And some of the big guys that I have come to know and love.
Here’s Milk Creek and the side view of ole Jeffy.
Following this lovely stop drinking ice melt water, we began climbing, which would be the trend for most of the remaining part of the day! A lot of it was spent going through burned up forests.
We had our lunch in the midst of a large one of these at Jeff Creek. And a ranger came by and asked to see our PCT permits! This is the first time I’ve had to do so and was happy that I actually had what I needed! All of us did, including Schnitzel, the lady hiker from Germany who was eating lunch with us.
After lunch, more climbing. And another avalanche knockdown area. This spot had a rough go, fire and snow!
We crossed this creek…
And this bridge…
And made out way to Jefferson Park, which seems to be a popular area at the base of Mount Jefferson’s northern side (we’d wrapped our way around) where there are some pretty lakes, creeks, and meadows…
Pretty nice right? You may have noticed, this was about the time the skies started clouding up too. We’d heard forecasts of thunderstorms for the evening starting around 5pm. It was maybe around 4:00pm when we walked through here. I decided I was going to push it and try to get up and over the high point for our day, another 3 miles or so. On went the tunes and into super hike mode I went.
Looking back, clouds continued to form over Jefferson and the surrounding area…
It was a pretty steep climb, but I was pretty motivated. I’m not sure what time I got up to the crest, but I didn’t stay long. I was already hearing low thunder rolling in the distance. The view was nice though. I got my first glimpse of Mount Hood! Hard to see in the photo, but it’s the one with a large puffy cloud tower above it…
Going down, I was booking it. I wasn’t too excited that it was bare for a while, no trees! The thunder was getting louder so I filled up a bottle of water at small pond. Then, a bit further on, I stopped at camp site where there was a lady setting up. I paused for about 10 seconds before making the call to set up too. We’d hoped to get further, but beating the rain sounded great! And I was now down enough where I didn’t feel as exposed to the elements.
It worked out nicely. We both got our tents set up, and I helped Schnitzel set up hers quick too when she joined. A few drops of rain were starting, but it seemed we had more time than we’d thought. Snickers joined a bit later too! Once he got his tent up, the rain started again, still lightly, but steady.
It was quite nice to be set up and in our tents at a decent time. Our new friends name was Lisa and she was just out here for the one night, trying to finish a short section she’d skipped at one point. Her husband and she are hoping to section hike the Oregon section of the PCT.
The rain and lightning and thunder continued while doing my routine tent tasks like writing my daily log, organizing, looking ahead to tomorrow using Guthook’s, etc…
At one point Snickers counted the seconds after lightning struck before we heard the thunder boom…six seconds. Couldn’t remember how close that means it was, 3 miles way? But that’s seemed to be the closest it got, and the storm moved away afterwards.
What a day!