Out and Back
The gray days in Oregon make it difficult for me to get up and get going. This morning we started hiking at 8:00am through the Three Sisters Wilderness. The terrain was rolling hills and flat single track. We hiked through the forest passing by several lakes.
By the afternoon we reached an elevation with snow. Jedi let us know how she felt about that...
By the evening we reached an old burn area. In the absence of thick foliage I could see the mountains and landscape all around me, including the ominous clouds circling around.
At 6:30pm I caught up to Jedi and Cosmo at the junction for Charleton Lake. Once we saw the campsite on the lake it was an easy decision to stop and camp.
The three of us ate dinner around a campfire and watched the sun set over the water. We stayed outside until about 8:00 when the rain started to fall and we rushed to our tents to take cover.
Fingers crossed that the storm passes.
The rain came down last night but mellowed out in the morning. I woke up with time to see a clear blue sky and the most amazing sunrise over Charleton Lake.
Most of the day was spent under clouds and through damp, dense forests. The weather was cool and the stormy clouds lurked in the distance.
Midway through the day we found a beautiful ski cabin built by volunteers. The cabin was a great place to take a break while rain fell outside.
At 5:00pm we came to the Shelter Cove Trailhead. We had thirty minutes before the grill and store would close, and Jedi took initiative, hurrying down the trail.
We made it just in time for french fries, warm space heaters, and cold beer.
As the rain started to come down, and the temparture quickly dropping we contemplated where to sleep. The owner of Shelter Cove took pity and offered us a 50% discount on a cabin room. Although none of us have disposable income, it was an offer hard to resist.
We happily settled into our warm room and watched the wintry scene unfold outside our lakeside view.
We enjoyed our cabin room until we absolutely had to leave at checkout (11:00am). We headed back over to the Shelter Cove Store and got breakfast at the attached café.
While we were eating we met Candyman, a local hiker who had just finished his PCT hike. We talked about the trail, and told him our concerns about weather. Candyman told us he would be at Shelter Cove all day and if the trail conditions seem too bad we could go back to Eugene with him later today.
Feeling good about our backup plan, we hiked eight miles up the mountain and assessed the situation as we climbed. We were told we would hit deep snow at 6300ft which was about 2,000 feet from where we started.
The air was cold and the forest was damp, but the sun snuck out every once in a while and the rain only fell in spurts. We were feeling optimistic as we started our climb.
Things began to change as we continued our climb. At first the snowfall was exciting, especially for Jedi who had never hiked in these conditions. The green forest soon transformed into a white wintry scene and the snow fell harder.
By the time we reached nearly 7,000ft we made the tough decision to turn around. The temperatures were dropping and were expected to get far below freezing, with snow was falling harder and covering the trail. We heard from local hikers that the trail was hidden under knee-deep snow on the north side of the mountain and that there were no tracks to follow. It took a good amount of deliberation before we agreed that it would be dangerous to continue on.
It was close to 7:00pm by the time we came down the mountain, and thankfully we were just in time. Candyman pulled up next to us on the road and we threw our packs in his car and warmed up on our ride into town.
We spent the night in Candyman's cozy apartment and felt grateful not to be out in the elements.
Today we slept in and spent the afternoon enjoying a 12 mile city hike exploring Eugene, Oregon.
After trompsing around town Candyman, Cosmo, Jedi, and I ate dinner at a vegan friendly Thai spot and then treated ourselves to VooDoo Donuts for desert! Thanks for the good times Eugene, Oregon!
We still don't know the conditions on the north side of the mountains, but today we head back to trail and hope for the best!