(more pics at the bottom)
Dennis enjoying his apple and the no view atop Maiden Peak
I had had a good day, driving down from Kennewick to the trailhead for Maiden Peak. Earlier in the day I had the pleasure of hiking up to the top of Bachelor Butte but I barely beat the rain off of that peak and made the mistake of bringing it with me as I drove south on some of Oregon's windy backroads to get to Oakridge and then to this trailhead. I squared my Tacoma up to make it as level as I could and crawled into the back seat of the access style truck and burrowed into my sleeping bag and went to sleep with the patter of raindrops helping to lull me off as I dreamed of sunshine and warmth.
Upon awakening at about 6:30 a.m., I was dissapointed to find it still raining but hey, this is Oregon and everyone knows it rains ALL the friggin time in this state. Afterall, what do you think of when you hear the words Pacific Northwest? Yup, you think of rain so if you plan to hike much in Oregon or Washington, you put up with the rain. I had three friends going to meet me at 8 a.m. (rain or shine) and so I busied myself in making the effort to get up and make some breakfast off the back tailgate. At 8 a.m., Tom
drove up and parked nearby. It was good to see them again since it had been awhile since we did Sacajawea in eastern Oregon together. I had met them both on top of Mt. McLaughlin in southern Oregon and they are good people to hike with. A few minutes later, Dennis
pulled up and we were now all accounted for. The rain which had been steady all morning stopped shortly before Tom and Shelby arrived and that was a good sign and lifted my spirits a bit. How many Oregon peaks have I climbed in the rain? Too many but that topic has already been hit on so time to leave it be.
We shouldered our day packs and headed up the trail which actually heads south a bit before switchbacking back to the north and eventually eastward. One small creek crossing required a bit of careful boulder hopping and was a good place to get some last minute water since we were not going to see any more for the rest of the trip except in the form of snow or drizzle. We made a brief stop at Wait Here Camp, a spot just off of the trail as it passes the old PCT trail and took off our rain gear as we were now working up a bit of a sweat as the trail began to climb a bit. Before long we crossed the present day PCT and the trail that we were interested in, the Maiden Peak trail was really beginning to gain some elevation. As it did so, we began to hit patches of snow and before long the trail totally disappeared under the white stuff.
There was no need to worry about losing the trail as it is well marked by little blue diamonds adhered to trees that can be seen at a regular basis. We had one place where we lost sight of the blue diamonds and the trail but intersected it after heading up the slope
(postholing a bit) for about 300 yards (when we sighted the blue diamonds once again). We were making good time since the snow was generally supportive enough not to make us posthole very often and the blue diamonds eliminated most of the guessing as to where the trail grade was. Finally we headed pretty much straight uphill
on a GPS heading to the summit and found this part to be the slowest part of the whole hike. Cresting a ridge, we could see where the true summit was as it drifted in and out of the fog and we made a beeline for it as best as we could. Climbing up through some brush and trees we soon made the summit ridge and found the pile of rocks that marked the summit area. Ah, the view.....
Well, the view that might have been wasn't available to us but a cold wind was and it cut our stay at the summit probably in half since no view and cold wind equalled lack of desire to linger much longer than it took to grab a bite and make a cell call or two. I was going to meet Bob Bolton
in Oakridge later on as we were planning to go north and do Chucksney Mtn the following day along with Carpenter Mtn, both Oregon prominence peaks that we were interested in. After establishing contact with Bob and setting a meeting time, I called my wife to clue her in on my plans. Dennis had his usual celebratory apple and Tom and Shelby grabbed a bite or two while I made my calls. It had taken us a little over two hours to get up to the summit from the trailhead and our abbreviated summit stay had us moving downward again. It actually snowed on us a bit while we ate our snacks and that was enough incentive to get us moving because no view was opening up although we were teased a bit with a view down to Lake Odell and the ski area.
On the way down, not far from the summit, we met a couple from Austria who had followed our tracks up towards the summit. They thanked us for breaking a nice trail and I had to ask how they happened to choose this peak to hike up. The man said he had a guide book that mentioned this hike and I later found that to be the book by Bruce Grubbs, "Hiking Oregon's Three Sisters Country".
For a brief moment the sun came out but just as quick disappeared as the clouds moved back in to make it more Oregon like. It started to rain on us again as we neared the PCT junction and that was ok since we just simply donned our raingear again and made our way to the trailhead. Up in two hours and down in an hour an a half made for a nice hike despite the conditions and enjoyable thanks to the great companions I had during the hike.
I had a nice Mexican lunch at the Mazatlan in Oakridge with Bob and listened to Bob describe the views that were to be had from Maiden Peak on a sunny warm happy day. Oh well, I love Oregon and will return again and again. I still have many many more places to visit in the Beaver State.
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