Friday, July 29, 2011

Characteristics of Godly Living

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-8)
The believer must add knowledge to his virtue, increasing acquaintance with the whole truth and will of God. We must add temperance to knowledge; moderation about worldly things; and add to temperance, patience, or cheerful submission to the will of God. Tribulation worketh patience, whereby we bear all calamities and crosses with silence and submission. To patience we must add godliness: this includes the holy affections and dispositions found in the true worshipper of God; with tender affection to all fellow Christians, who are children of the same Father, servants of the same Master, members of the same family, travelers to the same country, heirs of the same inheritance. - Matthew Henry's Commentary

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Climbing Mt. Adams - Day 2

We woke up bright and early the next morning at 4:00am. I can’t say that I was particularly glad to wake up that early, but that night’s sleep wasn’t what you might call restful; I’m still struggling to get used to this foam sleeping mat I bought. Pulling on some warmer layers, I crawled outside and was greeted by a beautiful starry sky and hints of the sunrise on the horizon. Jonathan took a little longer to stir himself, and I used that opportunity to capture a few photos of the tent with the lantern inside (the truth is, I’ve been wanting to get this shot for a long time!). We both kind of wished we had decided to use the rain-fly since it would have provided some extra insulation to compensate for our warm-weather sleeping bags.

The town of Hood River to the south, and Mt. Hood

I quickly fired up my little MSR Reactor stove and began boiling some water to make coffee and oatmeal (yes, the dreaded instant oatmeal was back). The coffee needed more sugar and quite a bit more cream, but I forgave it for its inadequacies because it was so stinkin’ good at that time in the morning! The oatmeal? Not so much... But you have to get your calories somehow.

Stitched Panorama

It was a gorgeous sunrise!

Neither of us wanted to haul any more gear than necessary up to the summit so we stowed what we weren’t going to need inside the tent, locked it, and by about 5:45am we had begun the final part of the climb. I think my pack weighed about 20lbs at this point — perhaps a bit less.

The snow was significantly more icy than it had been the previous evening, making it ideal for crampons. I felt really good at first and kept up a pretty good pace — which would have been better were it not for the rocky moraines which kept forcing us to remove our gear to cross them — but I could feel my energy flagging by the time the sun came out in force. We still had a long way to climb, so I attempted to fuel up on a Clif bar and some other snacks, but my appetite was largely gone due to the elevation. Candy still sounded good though!

The false summit from Lunch Counter.
The false summit (Piker's Peak) as viewed from Lunch Counter

Panoramic view of the false summit from Lunch Counter.

The sun began softening the snow, but it remained pretty firm until about 8:30am

The steep slope up to Piker's Peak.
The climb up to Piker's Peak - that was a steep slope!

The climb up to Piker’s Peak was brutal. From Lunch Counter (9,000’) it’s another 2,700 feet to reach the top of Piker’s Peak, and that’s the false summit! The altitude was causing shortness of breath and overall sluggishness, which became rather frustrating. It was a struggle to find a balance between breathing normally and going too slow, and pushing too hard for the oxygen I had available. It was a good feeling when the climbers at the top of Piker’s Peak began to look larger than those just starting the ascent down below.

Looking down from Piker's Peak at Lunch Counter.
Looking back down over Lunch Counter from the top of Piker's Peak

Standing on top of Piker's Peak.
"We got this thing!"

Finally I reached the top and was treated to a fine view of the real summit. We had to cross a saddle to reach the final 750 foot ascent to the summit, and that forced us to lose about 250 feet of hard-earned elevation gain. This didn’t thrill me but I wasn’t about to become another example of why the false summit is called Piker’s Peak — a “piker” is one who turns back. I don’t remember exactly when I began climbing the headwall up to the summit, but it must have taken me at least an hour. The slope was at least as steep as that up to the false summit and I was running out of energy. Attempts to refuel with a Snickers bar, Clif bar, Clif bloks and candy were helpful, but didn’t seem to give me enough momentum.

At long last I reached the summit, arriving at 11:20am after 5.5 hours of hard climbing. It felt good!

At the summit!
Climbing buddies

My pompous mountaineer pose

There was Rainier to the north, Baker barely visible on the northern horizon, Glacier Peak to the northeast, the North Cascades, St. Helens to the east, Goat Rocks, Hood to the South, then Jefferson, the Three Sisters, and finally, Broken Top. And we had just accomplished our highest climb yet!

Mt. Rainier.
Mt. Rainier to the north

It was an incredible day to be standing on top of Adams! I thumped down in the snow to snack on some jerky and another Snickers bar while waiting for Jonathan to finish the climb (he was dealing with some really painful blisters). We hung out for a while, shot some photos and portraits, then packed up and prepared for the descent.

View to the north.
If you click through on this image and view the largest size, you may be able to spot Mt. Baker to the right of Rainier.

Jonathan was on skis and I was planning on glissading on my little homemade roll-up sled. The idea was to capture some footage of each of us making our descent, both with our borrowed helmet-cam and DSLRs, so Jonathan began his ski run first while I captured some video, then I began my glissade while he filmed from below. You remember what I said about my glissades on Mt. Hood? Well, these slopes were a whole new adventure! I used my GPS app to clock my max speed on each run. The first time around, I reached 23.8mph — that was fast! However I was convinced that I could top 30mph on the way down from Piker’s Peak, and I actually managed to hit 32.9mph! It was crazy, and certainly one of the highlights of the trip!

We reached camp around 1:00pm and got everything packed up. I was not thrilled to hoist my loaded pack again! It was a beast, but we didn’t have that far to go and it was mostly downhill.

Once we reached the lower slopes of the mountain, Jonathan had a distinct advantage over me with his skis. I must admit that I was a bit envious of his ability to cruise around on the snow (though the sun-cups made it pretty difficult at points) while I just had to trudge along on foot. I caught up with him while he was taking a break and he said that his blisters were killing him and he wanted to get back on dry trail so he could switch his ski boots out for flip-flops (the only alternative footwear he had brought); we planned on meeting at the car. Off he went and I kept slogging.

Finally I found a guy who told me that the trailhead was only “10 minutes away.” 10 minutes, my foot! That gentleman owes a personal apology to my feet... I didn’t have any blisters but I was sure footsore, and didn’t care to be boots any longer than I had to.

At least 30 minutes later I finally reached the trailhead, having taken every little detour to stay on the snow as long as possible. The car was parked another 1/4 mile away, but when I reached it Jonathan was nowhere in sight. There weren’t any signs of him having been there at all — strange, because he was well ahead of me. I thought he must be waiting for me somewhere so I stashed my gear and ran (if you could call it that) back to the trailhead where I met some climbers who told me he was a good mile up the trail. I kept on running and had one guy ask, “you gonna run all the way to the summit?!” Yeah, right...

I met Jonathan a little while later. He was in a lot of pain from his blisters and had to take a very slow pace. It was weird that we had missed each other on the trail, but then I realized that, whereas I was trying to stay on the snow, he had been trying to get off of it onto dry trail. We must have taken slightly different routes.

All ended well and we were soon descending the crowded gravel road back to Trout Lake, where we picked up some PowerAde and a few legendary Jolly Rancher sticks. Highway 14 was a parking lot around Washougal so we re-routed through some backroads and made it to Jonathan’s place around 9:00pm. I hung out for a bit, had some supper, and made it home myself around 10:30pm.

In the aftermath of these climbs you usually experience some side-effects like sunburn and soreness, but those little inconveniences quickly fade away and all that remains is an incredible sense of accomplishment and gratitude. God didn’t have to give us mountains like Adams, or Hood, or St. Helens, but He chose to do so, partially because they magnify His name, and also so we can enjoy them. For some people, their main take-away from mountaineering is a sense of personal accomplishment and satisfaction, but for me it has more to do with an increased satisfaction in God and His Creation.

O Lord God, you have only begun to show your servant your greatness and your mighty hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as yours? (Deuteronomy 3:24)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Climbing Mt. Adams - Day 1

I’m burnt. Climbing glaciated mountains on bluebird days without wearing adequate sunscreen will do that to you. But the experience of climbing Mt. Adams for the first time completely eclipsed the side effects. Jonathan and I have climbed St. Helens and Hood, but last Saturday morning, we had the privilege of standing on Adams’ summit at 12,281 feet — the highest we’ve ever climbed.

Living in the Cascades, we have Mt. St. Helens virtually in our backyard. Mt. Hood is visible from all over town, especially as you near the Columbia river, and Mt. Rainier may be seen almost any time you reach a few thousand feet in elevation with a view to the north. Mt. Adams, on the other hand, is comparatively shy and likes to hide behind Silver Star and the neighboring hills so we don’t see it very often. In fact, full views of the mountain were hard to come by even in Trout Lake, the “gateway” town right at the base of the mountain!

The climb was Jonathan's idea, and he managed most of the planning. Last weekend, as predicted, the weather was beautiful and by about 1:30pm on Friday we were cruising down Highway 14 toward the Hwy 141 cutoff which would lead us up north to the trailhead. We reached the town of Trout Lake by about 3:30pm, bought our permits and a few gallons of gas, then headed up Mt. Adams Rec. Rd. toward Cold Springs Campground — the starting point for the south climb route. Unfortunately, I missed a critical turn which set us back by about 20 minutes. The road up to the campground was pretty bumpy and required a great deal of care and not much speed, but we finally made it. We had to park about 1/4 of a mile from the trailhead since the campground had begun to fill up fast.

After changing into our climbing clothes and gulping down a few last blueberries (picked fresh that morning), we donned our 38lb+ packs and hit the trail around 6:00pm. The first half mile was virtually snow-free, but soon we began hitting light patches of snow, and it wasn’t long before the snowpack was sufficient to strap on skis and crampons.

Jonathan taking a quick breather

The climbing that evening was fairly uneventful. The snow was pretty soft but still decent for climbing. We could see both Piker’s Peak (the false summit) and the true summit for much of the climb, but eventually we were only able to see Piker’s Peak looming above us at 11,700 feet.

Destination in sight!

At about 8:30pm we decided to call it a day. I was wiped out and starving, and Jonathan was in similar shape. We found a sweet campsite on a moraine at about 8,100 feet, set up camp, cooked supper and enjoyed a beautiful sunset with great views of Mt. Hood to the south and St. Helens silhouetted to the east. For me, supper consisted of my very own "Bland Potato Casserole" with plenty of cayenne pepper and salt, and a mug of tea. You have no idea how good such a basic meal can taste when you've been climbing for a few hours!

I love Mt. Hood from this angle! That's Mt. Jefferson peaking out on the left.

Stitched Panorama

St. Helens to the west

This was our first time actually camping on a mountain and it went surprisingly well. We were bracing ourselves for the possibility of a lot of wind, but that evening was completely calm, and though I got a bit chilled in my 35 degree bag it wasn’t awfully cold and I was able to catch a few hours of sleep — at least, I think I slept. It’s hard to know for sure when you wake up the next morning at 4:00am!

Just for kicks, here’s my journal entry for that evening (yes, we were tired):

Forgot bone-saw [inside joke], but haven't needed it just yet so we're OK. Tired but satisfied; had a good supper. No big-foot sightings so we're kind of on edge. The fact that we don't see them doesn't rule out the possibility of them seeing us. They like coffee so we're keeping it in the tent tonight where they wouldn't dare take it.

To be continued...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Does God Want Us to Be Happy?

Does God want us to be happy?

It’s a common enough question, but one which has caused many to reach the wrong conclusions. Some teach that true happiness can be derived from things — possessions, money, etc. — and therefore our pursuit of happiness should really be a pursuit of more stuff. This is commonly known as the “prosperity gospel,” and is really no gospel at all. It is a delusional attempt to justify greed, and to excuse misplaced priorities. Some even go so far as to treat God as a kind of “cosmic investment”; the more I give to Him, the more He blesses me.

There are also those who argue that God does not want us to be wealthy, but Scripture offers no support for such a position.

I’ve been thinking about the difference between joy and happiness lately. Can someone be unhappy, yet joyful? Take me as an example. I’m not particularly happy working all by myself (don’t get me wrong — I like working for myself, but not by myself). It’s hard for me to be a graphic designer in a solitary, “non-collaborative” environment.

If I believe that God wants me to be happy, whatever the cost, what should I do? Should I go work for someone else? Should I abandon the challenges of pulling a one-man job and move into something I like better? Is my relative unhappiness really an issue at all?

What if, instead of believing in an artificial “happiness” construct, I embrace what Scripture teaches about joy?
Light is sown for the righteous,
and joy for the upright in heart.
Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous,
and give thanks to his holy name!
(Psalm 97:11-12)
Only the upright can experience true, lasting joy; the wicked may find some semblance of “joy,” but it will only last a moment. If my walk with the Lord is lacking, I won't be joyful.
Do you not know this from of old,
since man was placed on earth,
that the exulting of the wicked is short,
and the joy of the godless but for a moment?
(Job 20:4-5)
It is God who puts joy in our hearts (Ps. 4:7), and we are told that, in His presence, there is fullness of joy (Ps. 16:11). I think Webster’s 1828 dictionary offers some helpful comments on the meaning of the word “joy” - “the passion or emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good.” (emphasis added) Notice how even the expectation of good may excite joy? Think of heaven.

For the Christian, true joy is found in God alone, not earthly possessions. It springs from hope in His promises, regardless of our immediate circumstances. We are told to “rejoice in all things,” or “in the midst of” all things. You won’t find me overjoyed when a loved one passes away, but Lord willing, you will still find me joyful. Our joy is founded in something far greater than our temporal lives and the troubles we encounter!

I think Scripture is clear - God wants us to be joyful, not just happy.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Zion National Park - Fond Memories

I've been reliving some of the awesome memories from our 2,800 mile road trip in February as I go back and edit / re-edit photos from the trip. I don't think I ever finished publishing my best photos so here are a few for your enjoyment, as well as an excerpt from my "adventure journal."

Our goal was to reach Zion National Park by noon, but we got a later start than we had hoped. We took AZ-64 east out to Hwy 89, where we headed north, then west after passing Page, AZ. Scenic Highway 9 led us into the park. We were immediately in awe - this place is spectacular! Both Jonathan and I were constantly snapping photos through our open windows, while winding down the twisty roads into the valley. I don’t think too many of mine turned out but you never know!

At the park fee station we asked the ranger about conditions on Angel’s Landing Trail and he said it would probably be fine since they haven’t had much precipitation lately. He was mostly right. 

After entering the park we went straight for the trailhead and headed out at about 3:30pm. Angel’s Landing is a 5 mile round-trip hike, so I figured we had enough time to make it there and back before sundown. The first 3/4 mile were fairly easy, then it got really steep for another 1/4-1/2 mile and then leveled out for a while. The last part of our hike was probably the most fun because it involved skirting sheer cliffs on both sides while gripping a chain anchored into the rock. Truly adventurous. We passed on the last 1/4 mile because the trail got too icy and would have been too risky.

Zion Canyon, viewed from near the top of Angel's Landing. Zion National Park, Utah.
Zion Canyon and the Virgin River, viewed from near the top of Angel's Landing

The Great White Throne, Zion National Park, Utah
The Great White Throne, viewed from near the top of Angel's Landing
Looking down Zion Canyon from near the top of Angel's Landing. Zion National Park, Utah.
Zion Canyon at sunset, viewed from near the top of Angel's Landing (the rock prominence to the left).

Zion Canyon and the Virgin River at dusk. Zion National Park, Utah.
Zion Canyon and the Virgin River at dusk

Starry night sky, Zion National Park, Utah.
Starry night sky in Zion National Park

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Marketing Can Be Deceptive

One Standard

“For the assembly, there shall be one statute for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you, a statute forever throughout your generations. You and the sojourner shall be alike before the Lord. One law and one rule shall be for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you.” (Numbers 15:15-16)
In our egalitarian culture we are constantly hammered with the need for equality. Men and women must be equal in every sense possible, the distinctions between rich and poor must at all costs be erased, “equal opportunity” must be required of employers, and the list goes on.

But is this kind of “equality” desirable? More importantly, is it Biblical?

Here we must tread dangerous ground — dangerous because our culture is so blindly insistent on their version of “equality,” and we have been conditioned to think about these issues using their standard.

Right now I’m not going to address the specific implications of this subject — i.e. marriage, wealth, employment, etc. — but rather, will deal with the overarching Biblical principles, without which application is impossible.

Egalitarian Equality vs. Christian Equality
“You and the sojourner shall be alike before the Lord. One law and one rule shall be for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you.” (Num. 15:15a-16)
The egalitarian idea of quality is “sameness” and equality of outcome. Under this model, if women are to achieve true equality with men, they must be allowed and encouraged to do all the things men do. They must go to war, be able to vote, run for office, and pursue an independent income or they can never be truly equal!*

The important thing here is to recognize that sameness of outcome requires differences in the standards. When women are unable to perform at the same level as men (in the military, for instance), the standard must be adapted. In many cases, legal intervention is the agent used to ensure “equality.”

The Biblical concept of equality, however, emphasizes justice and equity. “You and the sojourner shall be alike before the Lord.” (Num. 15:15a) In the Biblical system, there is only one standard, dictated by God. Since men and women are created differently, the standard will affect them differently, resulting in (*gasp*) different outcomes.

When Biblical justice and equity reign, this is true equality.

In Closing
A just balance and scales are the Lord's;
all the weights in the bag are his work.
(Prov. 16:11)
Unequal weights are an abomination to the Lord,
and false scales are not good.
(Prov. 20:23)
You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice, nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his lawsuit. (Exodus 23:2-3, emphasis added)
You shall not pervert the justice due to your poor in his lawsuit. (Ex. 23:6)
Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are joint heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)
*Remember, I’m dealing with the principle, not the applications. It may be legitimate for a woman to hold a job outside the home, but it should not be a “given” like our culture believes.

I owe the majority of these thoughts to Doug Wilson’s excellent sermon series on marriage, available from CanonPress.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Is the Lord's Hand Shortened?

But Moses said, “The people among whom I am number six hundred thousand on foot, and you have said, ‘I will give them meat, that they may eat a whole month!’ Shall flocks and herds be slaughtered for them, and be enough for them? Or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, and be enough for them?” And the Lord said to Moses, “Is the Lord's hand shortened? Now you shall see whether my word will come true for you or not.” (Numbers 11:21-23)

May we never be guilty of doubting God’s absolute power. In our finitude, we sometimes make the mistake of assuming that God is like us — limited — when, in fact, “It is He who made us, and we are His...”

Moses knew this; earlier, in Deuteronomy 3:24, he says:

O Lord God, you have only begun to show your servant your greatness and your mighty hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as yours? (Deut. 3:24)

Whatever our circumstance, however desperate our need, the Lord’s hand is not shortened and He is able to work mightily on our behalf!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Backpacking Eagle Creek: Day 3

On Saturday morning I woke up comparatively refreshed. Snoring tent-mates were still an issue, but since the disturbance could be adequately regulated by a nudge or a swift kick, I managed alright.

Once again I had coffee and oatmeal for breakfast, and this time was able to heat water using my little alcohol stove. It’s pretty cool to be able to boil water over a pop-can stove, even though it could be rather finicky. This morning was quite a bit warmer than the previous so I didn’t find myself wishing I had brought warmer clothes (for some reason I decided to just pack shorts instead of lightweight pants).

We had about 11 miles to hike before we reached our original starting point, the Eagle Creek trailhead. As we set out, I think most of us were experiencing aches and pains of some sort. My right boot was crimping a bit as I leaned forward, causing numbness on the top of my foot; thankfully that wore off as the day progressed! For me, the last day brings the most mental challenges. Knowing that our mission was nearly accomplished and that we were headed back to the land of ice-cream and french fries made me resent those mile marker signs. “What do you mean it’s still another mile and a half?!”

Wild Snapdragons
Wild Snapdragons

Jonathan's Gorillapod setup for taking vertical shots of a waterfall.
Jonathan's Gorillapod setup for photographing waterfalls vertically. These things are neat!

Tiger Lilies
Tiger Lilies, I believe

This was probably the least eventful day out of the three. We followed the Herman Creek Trail north, intersected with the Pacific Crest Trail which took us west toward the Bridge of the Gods, and eventually joined Gorge Trail 400 at Cascade Locks, which borders I-84. Along the way we got some great views of Table Mountain across the river - a hike I’ve been really wanting to try - and also found a Spotted Owl along the trail! My “birder’s eye” really paid off this time!

We had the privilege of seeing a Spotted Owl up close. Federally, they are on the Endangered Species list, and are listed as threatened in Oregon and California. Being nocturnal (like most owls) they aren't commonly seen in broad daylight, but this little guy was hanging out right next to the trail!
Spotted Owls are Federally endangered (and listed as "threatened" in OR and CA) and have caused a great deal of controversy over the past few years, especially concerning the logging industry up here in the Pacific Northwest.

Jonathan and Chelsea resting up at Herman Creek. We stopped here to fill up on water  since we didn't expect to encounter another creek between here and the trailhead.

The Pacific Crest Trail crosses several thousand miles from Arizona to Canada. I'm told the section between Stevenson and Snoqualmie Pass is particularly beautiful - I'd love to hike it someday!

Jonathan putting away his water filter.
Jonathan putting away his water filter

Frog :)
I found a very cooperative frog. Now I'm in trouble because I didn't tell anyone I found a frog - as though it's a big deal? He was pretty cool though.

I can’t quite remember when we reached the cars. What stands out most in my mind was seeing a sign that read 1.5 miles when we thought we only had half a mile left, and traveling most of that distance on asphalt (painful when you’re footsore!). Oh, and Jonathan sprinting ahead at the last minute, yelling wildly. I didn’t chase him, since I know I could beat him any day - why prove what I already know? ;)

It was with great relief that we all hoisted our packs into the cars, got a group photo, and headed off to Cascade Locks for some ice-cream. Sometimes, when you’re out on the trail or pushing for the summit, you can get caught up in the exertion, the soreness, the shortness of breath, and forget what it feels like to reach the finish line. The sense of accomplishment is really something else! It amazes me how fast I can “flip the switch,” forget about the difficulties and immediately want to hoist a pack again and get out there in the wild again. It’s almost like McDonalds - you forget just how bad you felt after your last experience eating there, and it’s all you can do to resist the urge to walk through those doors again.

So why bother?

My two driving motivations are: 1) To experience a side of God’s creation that comparatively few people get to experience, and 2) To challenge myself physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Scripture makes a connection between physical discipline and spiritual discipline, comparing our spiritual walk to “running a race,” and noting that we must run “with endurance.” We need to be careful not to equate the two in a literal sense (i.e. “John is overweight, so he must not be very spiritual”), but I think there is definitely a connection. Discipline and self control in one area of life usually flow over into other areas. Conversely, laziness and a lack of self-control cannot be easily confined to just one thing – they soon begin to define us.

I need to keep challenging myself, even when it hurts.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us… ~Hebrews 12:1

Can you say "bad hair day"?

The Gang!
The Gang. Fun times guys!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Backpacking Eagle Creek: Day 2

I awoke to the sound of chainsaws and thought, “what are they doing running those things so early in the morning?” Oh wait, that’s Zach snoring. No offense to the guilty, but next time I’m bringing earplugs.

12 hours of sleep made a big difference, but not as big a difference as 12 hours of restful sleep would have… I’m still getting used to my closed-cell foam sleeping pad, and the fact that our tent was situated on a slight slope didn’t help either. The cool thing about my sleeping pad is that it folds up into 6” segments (kind of like a paper fan), so you can double it over to add head support, or if you need additional back support. I was also missing a pillow - a stuff sack with my coat inside just wasn’t cutting it!

Wahtum Lake in the morning.
Wahtum Lake in the morning

Breakfast improved my spirits, even though it consisted primarily of instant oatmeal. I found that I was one of the few people on our trip who was able to tolerate the stuff, but I can heartily agree with the others with the fact that instant oatmeal is not good for the world. Starbucks Via, on the other hand, is very good for the world.

Our campsite the next morning after we packed up.
Our campsite, all tidied up. "Leave no trace" as they say...

We broke down camp and were back on the trail by about 9:30am. Our destination for day 2 depended on a few factors: how far we wanted to hike on the 3rd day, and how navigable the snow conditions were at a higher-elevation junction we needed to reach.

Zach's fun-meter was fresh after 12 hours of sleep (we know he was sleeping because of the snoring...).
Fun-meters were skyrocketing!

The junction with the Pacific Crest Trail. We had a good mile of GPS navigation due to the several feet of snow that still covered the trail, but we managed to follow the

Nope, coat stays on! It was a bit chilly that morning, and the snow certainly didn't help.
The coats ended up staying on until we got through the snow.

When we reached the junction, several feet of snow blanketed the ground, completely obscuring the trail, so we had to rely on the “blazes” (double notches cut into the bark of trees at intervals along the trail), and GPS (Jonathan’s iPhone) to navigate and correct our route. Oftentimes we had to fan out and search or even retrace our steps for indications of where the trail should be. Fun times!

Consulting the map.
Consulting the map

This was taken before we reached the bulk of the snowpack.
I shot this photo before we reached the bulk of the snowpack. It got to the point where all you could see was snow and trees - no trail.

After about a mile, we again reached open trail and descended down to Mud Lake. Despite its name this little lake was quite scenic, so we dropped our packs, grabbed our snacks and enjoyed the sunshine.

Hills surrounding Mud Lake.

Mud Lake was quite pretty actually. It seems to be named for its color, not for its high mud content...
Mud Lake. It seems to get its name from its color, not because it has a high mud content (it doesn't appear to). I thought it was beautiful.

Continuing along the trail, we encountered at least 2 campsites, one of which - Noble Camp - was situated in a grove of massive cedars. It would have been a great place to set up camp but none of us wanted a 14+ mile hike on the next day, so we pressed onward until we reached Casey Creek junction. Here we found an excellent campsite and decided to call it a day. We had hiked just over 9 miles from Wahtum Lake.

We crossed innumerable small streams the second day

Getting water was much trickier this time, and involved scrambling down a very steep ravine with no obvious trail, filling up, and climbing out again. We figured that we only wanted to do this once, so we brought as many of our “receptacles” as possible, and retrieved enough water for use in camp as well as for hiking the next day (knowing that we would need to stop again the next day to fill up).

Supper was excellent. I finally managed to get my little “penny alcohol stove” running - the previous night I had to give up since it wouldn’t prime - and cooked an awesome (spicy!) meal of rice, beef, and veggies. If you’re looking for an ultralight, warm-weather, cheap stove, look no further than the famous penny alcohol stove. With only 2 soda cans, some heavy-gauge wire, some aluminum foil, and minimal tools you can make a stove that will work quite nicely (provided you figure out how to prime it). It burns denatured alcohol, found cheaply at your local department store - probably in the paint section, marketed as a paint thinner. Here are the instructions I followed.

The "penny stove" in action. There are six holes drilled around the rim of the stove cup, channelling the vaporized fuel into six distinct jets. The way it works is the fuel in the top primes the stove by boiling the fuel in the "canister," causing it to vaporize and travel through the 6 holes, at which point it ignites. Pretty nifty!

Supper! This evening it was a homemade dehydrated meal - brown rice, beef, jalepeno and bell peppers. Mmm.
One of my homemade dehydrated meals - it was actually really good!

After supper, there wasn’t a lot to do around camp besides crack jokes, stare blankly into the fire, and take photos. Not that we didn’t have fun, but it would have been great to have some stories that surpassed my retelling of the “shaggy dog” story. I don’t know… Wodehouse or something. We’ll give it some thought for next time.

We hit camp at the Casey Creek junction around 2:30 in the afternoon, so the sun was still high and there was plenty of time to lounge around before an early bedtime at 7:00.

Best fire so far!

After hiking 9+ miles, my feet need a break. That's why I bring flip-flops.
Happy feet :)

There. This picture proves I was actually there.
Yes, I was actually there!

Rather an idyllic scene, don't you think? It reminds me of those paintings of a medieval shepherd boy reclining in the shade, playing a flute, while watching his flock... :)
Rather an idyllic scene, don't you think? It reminds me of those paintings of a medieval shepherd boy reclining in the shade, playing a flute, while watching his flock... :)