Monday, August 15, 2011

Our Weekend Backpacking Trip. . .

That's the North Sister in the background
(one of the Three Sisters Mountains in the Cascades).
Elevation: 10,085 feet.

Sorry to repeat myself so often, but you can't
really get a feeling for these photos at all if you don't click on them!

I dubbed the big, blue, boxy backpack Aaron is wearing (in the photo above) “The Historic Backpack.” My sister's husband, Gene, has been a lifelong outdoorsman and backpacker, and this, I think, was his first pack. He carried the backpack when he spent three months traveling in the mountains and beautiful places of New Zealand, when he hiked for three months around the awe-inspiring Sierras, when he traveled in Africa  for three months, during a long sightseeing trip to Europe, and for countless days and weeks and months of hiking on mountains, in national parks, and on trails around the world.

When my sister said that it’s too bad Gene didn’t mark on his backpack the place and date of every place he took it, Aaron replied, “Yeah, like the stickers on old steamer trunks,” to which my sister responded, “Or like the stickers on motor-homes.” And this cracked me up because serious backpacking is about as opposite motor-home travel as can be. (Nothing against motor homes or anything!)

Most of our hiking was done on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) that runs
from Mexico to Canada. We met many through-hikers on the trail--
a young woman whose trail name is "Bugs" and an older gentleman
who must have been in his 70's and told us he was hiking a minimum of
26 miles a day. We mentioned the older hiker to a younger
backpacker who came along a while after him, and the young man said,
 "Oh, yeah. That's the Grey Ghost. No one can keep up with him."

This is North Matthieu Lake.
We could see it from the ridge on the hike into camp,
and we dropped down to see it on our way out of camp.

This is our campsite at South Matthieu Lake.
The tent in the back is the one I shared with Nicky.
We left the yellow rain cover off until bedtime
because we had a great view.

You can see our campsite in the background.

After setting up our tents, we explored the area.
Lava fields run for miles and miles and miles
through the Cascades. It is a volcanic range.

Conner and Gene discovered this snow arch.
The kids liked playing here.

Aaron took this picture from the inside.
I think it's super-cool.

We decided to hike up a ridge near our camp.
Wildflowers were everywhere.

Aaron took this shot looking east toward the high desert.

Looking north.
This is Mount Washington.
Elevation: 7,794 feet.

Further north.
Mount Jefferson. Elevation: 10,497 feet.

Breakfast. Instant oatmeal.
It was chilly, but not nearly as cold as Tuolomne Meadows
at upper Yosemite (21 degrees) a few years ago or
even the Grand Canyon the spring we were there (25 degrees).
Our South Matthieu Lake camp site sits in a sub-alpine basin
at over 6,000 feet of elevation.

The North Sister from behind our tent
on Sunday morning.

Aaron took this photo on Sunday morning.
(North Sister.)

 Gene and I went on a Sunday morning hike.
Everyone else had other things they wanted to do.
We started out on the PCT alongside a big lava field,
and went around to the backside of that black cinder cone
in the back, on the right. The views back there were spectacular.

 There were flowers growing all amongst the lava.

 Red lava trail. Red lava rocks are common in the Cascades
and along the roads of the high desert.
The road to our high desert home was covered with
red rock for a number of years. It was pretty!
 We hiked around this big cinder cone.
This is looking south toward the North Sister.

And now we're looking north.
This side of the cinder cone still has snow up top.

 A standard view on the hike.
Cascade Mountains dotted along the horizon,
south to north from left to right:
Mount Washington, Three Fingered Jack, Mount Jefferson, Mount Hood.

 We've climbed up and around the cinder cone,
and now we're hiking toward a view of the North Sister
sitting beside the Middle Sister and the Brother.

 Gene enjoying the view of the North and Middle Sisters.
We climbed the South Sister last summer
(it's out of view).

 North Sister, Middle Sister, and Brother.

 We stopped by North Matthieu Lake on our way
out of camp. Time to go home.

 There's more of that lava.
It's everywhere!

(You've already seen it, but I'm removing it for my own sake,
so I don't have to look at it on my blog.
The photo of me snapping a photo is just too indelicate! :-) )

And here is the grand finale.
It made us all laugh, too.
(Why is it that all of the goofy pictures feature me?)
No, I did not, and do not, spike my hair.
And my hair is not red either, but it sure looks
like it in the sun.
The wind was blowing hard up on the ridge where
I was when Aaron snapped this photo,
and my hair was like that the entire time I was up there
(or so I hear).
(Nicky wants me to make this my profile picture.)


  1. My heart soars with excitement to see these pictures. Our family is in northern New Mexico/Arizona and when we go home we go to the Colorado mountains for day hikes with my husbands family. Though I grew up in the desert and at sea level, it is a challenge to acclimate, but I still love as you say "to ponder the Creator". Your pictures gave me a glimpse of what looks like home. We now live in Ohio, after my husband did 20 yrs in the Marine Corps we came here to Franciscan for him to finish his undergraduate and are now waiting to see what God's next plan is.

    I had to laugh because I was trying to figure out how we can go camping this weekend and absorb some of that beauty before school starts.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Beautiful pictures! We haven't hiked at all this summer, farm life has been so hectic, but we are planning a day hike on Mary's Peak soon. Glad you had a good time!

  3. ohhhhh, susan. i savored this post, clicking on every single photo to get the big picture. i'm nearly weepy, overwhelmed by the stunning beauty of Him. you are BEYOND blessed, girl, to live near those trails and that terrain. sigh, i'm utterly aching to go on one of your camping trips!
    p.s. the photos of you were pretty great, too! :) :)

  4. {*~ magnificent ~*} just doesn't come close to describing God's finger tipped creation. wow.

    love all the pics - the one of you 'balancing' the pack: the young lady on the right of that first i thought was *my* daughter. the stance and frame are exactly 'lizzie.' :o)

    thank you so much for these pics.

  5. Hello Susan! Your trip looks wonderful! Thank you for sharing. I am so glad you are writing this blog again.

    I have a question for you that I would love your perspective on-- may I please write to you off- line? Thank you, Barbara (not Patrick!)

  6. Your trip looks so fun! I am jealous.
    Oh and my favorite picture is the one with your crazy hair. ha ha ha! :)

  7. Mrs. Peterson, if your heart soared then I know you are a kindred spirit. :-) You must sometimes *long* for the mountains. Once you've lived with them and in them, they hold a strong pull for ever and ever, I think. So beautiful. So refreshing. They point us to Him. I'm glad you enjoyed the pictures.

    Mrs. Fordyce, yes, the duties of daily work on the farm keep a person busy, don't they? It's such *good* work, though. I hope you'll enjoy that lovely hike at Mary's Peak!

    Well, Megan, your comment made the whole post worth doing! :-) I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I cannot possibly express how much I love all of this, so it's nice to know someone gleaned a bit of appreciation from it.

    jAne, thank you, too. I know from reading your blog that you, too, appreciate the beauty of God's creation, and here in the west, we get to see such grandeur, don't we? My niece saw your comment that your daughter has the same build and stance as her, and she smiled. Long and lean!

    Michelle Renee and Aimee Lauren, you are *not* supposed to make fun of your mother! But I'll let it go this time because those pictures really are pretty goofy! :-) xoxox (Hug my grandkids!)

    Okay, Barbara--I'll get right to it!

  8. gorgeous! just gorgeous!! The lake pictures are my favorites.
    I'm so glad you shared that last photo ~ that's pretty much how I picture 'hairbender' ;-) I love it!!

  9. Wow, Susan, so beautiful!! At first, a few of the mountains reminded me of our CO mountains, but I haven't been to the volcanic ranges here. I love the snow arch photo you took with your nephew (?) framed in it. And the one of the wildflowers amongst the lava made me think how God causes beauty to rise from ashes. What a sign of grace and hope!

  10. Susan, beautiful! I laughed at the "grey ghost"! That is SO awesome! Oregon is SO beautiful. I live here too! Thank you for all of these gorgeous pictures. And now I think that I can visualize what you might mean when you say in your daybook posts that you have your morning messy hair going on!

  11. the momma--yes, Hairbender! haha. I had some of that coffee this morning and thought of you.

    Rebecca, your Colorado mountains are so gorgeous. I love the west! Yes, that's my nephew, and my son actually took that one (it's the only photo of his I didn't attribute to him). I like it, too!
    I like your "beauty from ashes" thought. So true and sweet.

    Timberlyn, I love that you laughed at that part. I thought it was pretty great, too! Yes,OR is beautiful. Aren't we lucky?! Haha about the hair.

  12. That looks like real serious walking! But how beautiful and hugely enjoyable too. I'm so pleased I found your blog again, or rather your new blog. Yes, I think Nicky is right your 'hair' photo would make a great profile picture..!

  13. Annie, I visit your blog all the time. It's one of my absolute favorites! You live in such beautiful country and in such a beautiful home, and your photos and writing make your blog a pleasure to visit (and they make me envious! lucky you!). My son has looked at your scenic photos with me many times and enjoys them as well. It was really nice to see you here!

    Mominapocket, yes, truly beautiful. :-)

  14. Oh wow! My knowledge of this area is zilch(I'm born and raised in PA, not that that is a good excuse, but... :)) so thank you for all these physical landmarks and geographic locations to go and study and learn more about. I remember you writing about the red dirt from your high desert home. The only time I've seen red like that is from Prince Edward Island(PEI)here in Canada.
    So glad you're back safe and sound and that we get to share in your experiences.
    Off to finish the rest of your posts. :)

  15. Susan, thanks for your recommendation that sent me over to Annie Hoff's blog. It is absolutely beautiful! Those photos took my breath away. I just added it to my ever-lengthening list of favorites. :D


  16. Heather, It is really beautiful out here! I'm impressed you remember me writing about our red dirt road. Good memory! (I tend to remember little details like that, too--they just stick in my head for some reason. :-) )

    Judi, I love Annie's blog, too. It is a wonderful, beautiful place.