I continue to wake many times during the night, and last night each time brought a different sky. The stars would be there in all their dazzling brilliance on one turn and then next they’d be obscured by rolling fog.
I finally decided to get up and packing around 6am when a bunch of cars rolled up with climbers heading for Three Fingered Jack. Though it hadn’t rained my sleeping bag was soaked. I was toasty and dry inside but packing it away meant cold hands. I hate having cold hands.
I thanked Andrew and Ian for their angeling and just as the sun was about to reach our spot the fog came back in and we were enveloped in cold. It got me moving quickly, heading above the clouds, and I was rewarded with incredible views south to Mount Washington poking through towards the sun.
I caught the Noodleheads at the end of their morning break and hiked continuously with them all day. It certainly made the miles go by. We swapped adventures in Europe and I heard about their cycling tour of the US. They’ve effectively been retired since they were 34 and we talked about how that has given them the freedom to really do what fulfills them. Truly a remarkable couple and I hope to stick with them for a while.
The scenery today was amazing. With a few days rain the flowers seem brighter, the greens stronger and the huckleberries were numerous. Crossing over a saddle to see the north side of Three Fingered Jack was quite a climb but so worth it. The top few hundred feet consists of alternating red and black stripes of volcanic rock making quite a sight. Up there I got a strange feeling of winter. Though I was looking down on burned fir forest it reminded me of the woods from my childhood in Sussex. The grey trees, a cold nip in the air and pale blue skies. The ground would be crunchy underneath the mud frozen solid overnight.
After Shale Lake (now a small pool in a mud circle) we passed through a gulch of purple lupins and small fir trees. With Mount Jefferson shrouded in cloud as a back drop it was picture-perfect and should certainly be in the Oregon brochure.
Tonight I am camping below Mount Jefferson, which finally lost its clouds in time to turn pink at sunset. I’m not putting up my tent but I have all my clothes inside my sleeping bag where I hope they’ll be dry and warm in the morning.
More photos of this day’s journey can be found at Bend to Little Crater LakeDistance today: 27.1 miles. Total distance: 2033.9 miles