Backpacking in Jeff Park

At the trailhead

To close out the summer backpacking season, we met our friends at Jefferson Park over Labor Day weekend.  The Jefferson Park Wilderness Area sits at the base of the craggy Mt Jefferson and its numerous alpine lakes made for a relaxing and picturesque weekend backpacking escape.

Our friends, expecting the masses to converge on this beckoning wilderness, opted to leave early friday morning to hike in with their two kids and secure us an ideal camping spot.  Having a Timbers game to go to on friday night (which they amazingly won), we told them we would plan to leave early saturday morning (I think we actually said 8:00 am) and radio them once we were headed up the trail.

Of course, we didn’t get home from the game with L&L until 10:00 pm and finally collapsed on the bed close to 11:00 pm.  We slept in and tried to overcome laziness as we both regretted having agreed with our friends to meet them.  “We could just not go,” I said.  Curt replying, “We can’t not go.  They’re expecting us.”  I also added that in a couple of months, the weather would be crappy and we would’ve wished we had gone anyway.  So, at 11 am, we drove an hour to Salem, where we dropped our dogs off at a pet-sitter and stopped by the grocery store for last minute essentials (i.e. chocolate, mac&cheese, etc).

We eventually pulled into the dusty trailhead parking lot at 3:30 pm and, already weary and exhausted, hit the trail at 3:45 pm.  It was a beautiful, cool day, without a cloud in the sky.  Amazingly, Laird hiked the ascending first 2.5 miles entirely on his own before Curt realized that at our pace, we probably wouldn’t make it to the lakes until after dark.  So, having Leini already strapped to his chest, he packed Laird onto his shoulders (in addition to his 30+ lb pack) and we tore up the trail for the next 1.5 miles.  For the last mile and a half, I carried Leini while Curt attempted to calm our overtired and tantrum-ing son, as we passed gorgeous views of the mountain and its glaciers.

After connecting with Ian on the radio, who then met us at the trail leading to our campsite, we arrived at our weekend getaway at nearly 7 pm.  For the next day and a half we delighted in gazing at the looming peak, throwing rocks, foraging for huckleberries, taking a cool dip in Scout’s Lake and staring at the bright yellow glow of the full moon.  It was a perfect finale to our reintroduction into backpacking and, just as we expected, it was definitely worth it.

**I apologize for the poor photos.  I brought my point-and-shoot and haven’t bothered to edit them yet.

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