A few short weeks ago, some members of the Posse climbed Mcloughlin. It was a fun, snowy adventure. This new story details the climb we enjoyed with some of the other Posse proud. The snow wasn't as deep; we were still swimming in happiness like grandma in the deep end of the pool. Grandpa doesn't cannonball anymore, he has a bad back.
We stayed at a nice campground at Fourmile lake which is three miles from the trailhead to Mt. Mcloughlin. The info I read about the camp was that it's first come, first served. When we arrived, there were reserved signs hanging all over the place. I noticed they had a lake of the woods resort logo on them. Please do not call lake of the woods for a reservation. The number to call is 877-444-6777. The lake was cool and all. People were boating and fishing. I thought about a dip in the coolness. I decided against it. It was a little on the cool side and the mosquitos were out in droves. After we set up camp, we walked around a bit, hoping to see the star of the show. Sure enough, through the trees we could see it. What a beautiful sight.
We spent a few moments figuring out what that cloud looks like. What do you think? Here's a close up of it...
The evening was very pleasant. We sat around the campfire and ate dinner. Our conversation, casual as us, had some thought provoking spots. Certainly we talked about the maker of such a great spot in the world. Always thankful. We decided that a very early start would be best. Wake up at four to hit the trail by five. Hoping to get sleep, we burrowed into our tents around half past eight.
When my alarm started yelling at me, my first thought was, "Man I don't want to work today." Then I remembered I was bound for the top of Mt. Mcloughlin. Sweet! I have to say that this group was all business. Everybody was up and packing their tents and eating breakfast without a word. We were in the PT Cruiser headed for the trail at 4:45. I have to admit that the first expedition group could learn a thing or two from the youngsters. I will only mention one person by name. My competitive nemesis, Tyler. You got schooled. What took you an hour and a half, was done in forty five minutes. Faf, Dave, Peter are the gold star winners of the day. We trucked up the mountain with precision and purpose and it all started with a quick up and out at camp.
Once we arrived at the trailhead, the now infamous can of bear spray struck again. I had my backpack sitting in the drivers' seat of PT. Not watching what I was doing, I hit the trigger. SSSSSSSWWWWWWSSSSSSSHHHH. Soaked the side of the car door and my arm with the poignant stuff. I was expecting to fall down while grasping at my eyes and trying to breathe. I did cough and gag but it wasn't as bad as it could've been. I am fortunate. Long ago, I lost the trigger locking piece for the spray, every since, I have been using the stuff on myself instead of the bears. Will I break down and buy a new can? All signs point to, probably not. Am I smarter than a mince meat pie when it comes to bear spray? Again, probably not. One time I thought I had met a mince meat that was very smart indeed. Turns out, it was my brother. I can't see so well without my glasses, and he had a bad case of teenage acne happening.
The good thing about the bear spray was that it acted as a great mosquito repellant. They were a constant companion until we left the tree line. The first mile of the trail is an uphill climb. Not very difficult to handle. Mile two is the easiest of them all. From three miles on, it's steep and steeper. The trail is rocks and bigger rocks with a light peppering of cinder thrown in for good measure. I was really amazed at what we had walked over in the earlier snow expedition.
Mid-week is the time to climb Mcloughlin if you want solitude. We made the summit and were well on our way down before we saw other travelers. It is always nice to have a mountain to yourself. After a break at the bottom of the ridgeline, we continued upward. It took us less than four hours to summit. The last mile is really a lot of fun. There are white dots painted on the rocks to help you stay the course. If you like, you can pick many different routes up the mountain. Make sure that you stay close to or on the ridge though.
The weather was mild, it was nice. We didn't have to worry about being blasted by the sun when we reached the exposed part of the journey. The clouds hung around, this gave the atmosphere a mysterious feel. It also blocked the views. That was the only negative aspect of the expedition. I hoped that as we climbed higher, we would pop up above the cumulus. It was not to be on this day. That's ok. The feeling on the summit was more intimate in a way. We had a personal meeting with Mcloughlin, members only. You won't find out about it on facebook. Mcloughlin deleted it's account years ago. It was a big hassle. One of the three sisters got turned sideways because friend requests weren't acknowledged and soon all the mountains were freaking out. Almost caused an eruption. Mcloughlin was out. Bye bye facebook. The day before, while driving to camp, I watched the clouds. They were so high. When we were among them, I was well aware that we were dancing in the sky. The height that Mcloughlin achieves is neat beyond belief. It's a different world and it sinks into a person.
We hopped and skipped and dazzy-waddled our way to the top. We laughed and enjoyed the morning. Being in the wilderness has freedom attached to it. It's a good thing. At the tip top, I again, thought about how different the mountain was. There were a few nervous moments when we were in the snow; without snow it was fun and light. It was comfortable, the zephrys were light. Right below the final summit push, the going was steep and the path we chose was cinder and loose. This is when the seven rest technique was invented. It's simple yet effective; take seven to ten steps, then rest for a few moments. Crazy leg burn won't make itself home inside your gams and movement up the mountain is steady. I will be using this new way of climbing often.
I mentioned earlier how fast we climbed the mountain. Not only was The Mcloughlin, I think it's appropriate to call it that now, instead of Mt. Mcloughlin, I say The Mcloughlin. Not only was the mountain different, the group made it different. The joy of climbing a mountain is the way the people and the earth together, make a unique experience. I am very thankful that Faf, Dave and Peter joined me. Our identity as a unit was no nonsense, scoot and boot up the ridge to the peak. The snowy spine, which is the picture on our homepage, was replaced with big honkin' rocks. We looked through the geo-cash boxes, signed our names on a piece of paper, then started down.
On the descent, we would stop and look back up toward the top. The clouds parted and I was able to get some shots.
, The total amount of time we spent on the trail was six and a half hours. PT was blasting down the highway for Central Oregon during the noon hour. A tired bunch of happy travelers snoozed away; I was glad to be sitting. Mt Mcloughlin is pure joy in the form of a huge pile of rocks. If you haven't had the chance to visit, I highly recommend it.
A few nights after the climb, I was laying in bed thinking about it. I've found that there are specific spots that burrow into my brain from each mountain. On this climb it was right above the false summit. The clouds were thick, as we approached the edge of the ridgeline, it looked as if it dropped off into nothingness. My mind took me back to the spot. Imagining myself there, in the dark, I felt the wind blowing and the peak of the mountain watching me. A mountain is a lifeless chunk of earth. I understand that. At the same time it seems to be a quiet, powerful force. It watches the people come and go. The clouds pass endlessly. Sunrise and sunset. Years and decades push time up against the slopes. Still it watches. There is something fear inspiring about The Mcloughlin. Could be that it makes me feel small. It reminds me that my time on earth will pass and it will remain. That spot will still be there. I find myself wanting to be there, in the dark, with the wind running wild through the rocks and trees. I would be ok with the fear and uncertainty. It's as close as I can get to timeless for now, maybe that's why I like the mountains so much. Eternity runs through my veins. A mountain let's me live in it for awhile. Soon my thoughts are back to laying in a bed, in a room, Safe. There's something to be said for being safe too. Who would want to read about that though? I sure wouldn't. I wager that The Mcloughlin wouldn't either.
Here's a video of the day...