The Hills Came Alive

I could feel it; I just knew. It was in the air. The atmosphere was ripe. I was filled with anticipation. There was no preventing anything. It was just a matter of time. But, I digress.

Let me begin at the beginning.

Some of you may remember we got on the wrong trail last weekend–it was a most delightful mistake–and ended up onΒ Bachelor Mt. trail instead of Coffin Mt. trail. If you love mountains and wildflowers, have another look; it won’t disappoint.

So, this week we knew exactly where to find the trail head. The lump in my throat thickened the closer we got. What had I gotten myself into? Look at this cliff:

coffin_view of top from road_july 2016Me: “We couldn’t POSSIBLY be going up THERE, right?!

The husband: “No.

Me: “Oh, good.” (To myself, “He’s lying.“)

Part of me was relieved, since this, the lookout below the red arrow, was our destination (and it couldn’t be higher than Mr. Nasty Cliff). Right?

coffin mt trail_july 2016 (90)So far, so good. We started out, and it was, as expected, a lovely trail. My lungs noticed right from the start (they’ve always been quick) that it was just a tad bit uphill. No worries, I told them. I’ve got this one. I also went into rescue mode in case I were to pass out from sheer exhaustion (or anger).

  1. Should I pass out, they can simply roll me down the hill, it’s quicker than hiking down.
  2. There were signs of humanoids on the trail. Good to know if help is needed.
  3. The husband can yell very loudly project when necessary.
  4. Since this lookout is “manned,” there could be a place to land a helicopter.
  5. I can always begin divorce proceedings.

I was all set. The husband told me it was a mile and a half up to the top. Fine. I can do anything for a mile, right? Right.

coffin mt trail_july 2016 (6)
near the trail head

The flowers once again were amazing, bright, and cheery, and they kept me going. The Bear Grass was lovely.

coffin mt trail_july 2016 (23)Beautiful flowers sprouted everywhere the eye could see.

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Then, we stopped cold; neither of us have seen anything like this Queen Anne-ish, maroon stemmed gem. Any guesses?

As we continued to ascend, the trail started to change. It opened up and the mountains came alive. Our glorious Mt. Jefferson photo-bombed this tiny cloud. The peak dead center here is Bachelor Mt., last week’s “mistake.”

coffin mt trail_july 2016 (46)The trail was lovely, and my fabulous floral friends continued to cheer me on.

coffin mt trail_july 2016 (31)But, that nasty peak I saw in the beginning was getting dangerously close, and I was not seeing the lookout tower anywhere. Right about here, my “Are you SURE we are not going up THERE?!?” was met with a firm “NO!

coffin mt trail_july 2016 (45)Me: “Fine,” I said with a little more emphasis than the situation warranted. I’m sure it was a lack of oxygen. I kept hiking. That’s when I spotted something familiar. Can you see it?

coffin mt trail_july 2016 (37)OK, I’ll zoom in for a closer look. How about now?

coffin mt trail_july 2016 (43)Vertical, moving human-like structures.Then we heard them. Yep, there was life on the mountain.

We discovered two ladies who know how to hike. They stop and take lots of photos, and even walk off trail to sit and soak up this glorious view. We eventually passed them–not in a million years would I have predicted that would happen–but we beat them to the top.

The husband redeemed himself (by not having lied to me) as we continued to round this mountain, versus climbing to its top. Although, as you’ll see, our destination was higher than this nasty peak (bless my tolerant lungs!).

coffin mt trail_july 2016 (45)And there it is, the lookout at Coffin Mt. trail (and old Nasty Cliff a comfortable distance behind me). I was feeling a little less testy better already.

coffin mt trail_july 2016 (54)The steepness of this hillside and how this trail got its name kept gnawing at me, and I couldn’t keep the two ideas separate. The husband reassured me the name was NOT from those who perished trying to make it to the top (but hadn’t). Uh, huh.

coffin mt trail_july 2016 (57)But, there, in all its glory was the “manned” lookout oddly devoid of living souls as we know them (I did not look too closely over the edge and I heard no cries for help).

A few more steps and, aaaahhhh:

It doesn’t get much better. In fact, if it weren’t for the fact that I was giddy with relief that I made it to the top, I might have given him the glare when I realized the yellowing peak below–the one with the power poles–is lower in elevation and sits this side of the top of Mr. Nasty than where I stand taking this picture. Lucky for him, my energy reserves had been depleted.

coffin mt trail_july 2016 (73)

Can’t say I’ve ever eaten lunch on a helicopter pad, but that we did. The lookout station was closed to visitors. We could not have chosen a more perfect day to hike this trail. By the time we headed down, seven other idiots hikers had made it to the top.

As we descended, I began feeling that old familiar feeling of elation, gratitude, satisfaction, happiness, and pride that I, once again, made it to the end without falling on hiked one of Oregon’s magnificent trails. With one last look, a farewell to our new friends, and lungs filled with mountain air, we began our descent.

coffin_near the top_july 2016
lookout is at the top of this cliff to the left

When the trail opened up, what with the air, the smell, the trail, the flowers, the oxygen or lack thereof, I was powerless to stop myself. I just had to open my mouth:

And, “that’s it,” folks.

26 thoughts on “The Hills Came Alive

  • Excellent, I am going to spent more time here later. We have a big trip with friends and RV planned to the west coast in 2018. ( I know far away, but with friends all around the world some planning is handy) Beautiful photos btw!!! xo Johanna

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    • Thank you! Oh, it’s absolutely gorgeous in the Oregon area as far as hiking. We LOVE it, but my feet have stopped me from fully enjoying it the past few years. I go anyway (and deal with the pain) because I don’t want to sit inside on these most gorgeous days. I’m determined if nothing….:)

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      • Well, I hike with a creaky body too. But I tell you, last year I had an MRI and that doctor exclaimed right away: “You are a hiker!” He told me to keep on hiking, it saved me so far from a wheel chair…I had a bit of mixed feelings with that message ;o) But I do ,like you, I just keep on walking and hiking on a daily base and ignore “the creaking’

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        • The husband and I found two new hikes this past summer and I could not get enough of that air and the view. One was Coffin Mt. Trail and the other Bachelor Mt. Trail. They are posted under Oregon Trails. I hurt the whole way, but I kept on. My issue is bunions and feet that pronate. But, I refuse to let it hold me back so I trudge along (and sometimes let out a little whine). I am glad you persist as well. I think if we didn’t we’d miss so much. Do you have good trails where you live?

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            • Never been to Colorado, but it’s on my list. Iceland does not sound appealing now, but only because we were hit with another blast of snow last night, with more coming today, and lots of folks are just hoping they keep their power. Brrrrr. (But, I want to hear all about your trip.) πŸ™‚

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  • What a magnificent hike Karen. Felt like I just went on it with you!
    Have to admit to laughing part of the way through, as I’ve often felt that sense of “what will happen if I pass out half way …” type of feeling when trekking up a mountain. But I’m glad you made it, the views were awesome. Thanks for sharing. πŸ™‚

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    • I am glad you came with us! πŸ™‚ My husband and I have this joke about favorite trails, that I seem to say, “Oh, THIS is my favorite trail” for each new and pretty one we find, and I did just that on this one AND the last. πŸ™‚ I seriously thought he was trying to cover his tracks, to make me think we were not going to climb that cliff, that he’d made a mistake and didn’t realize it until after we’d started hiking, but didn’t want to tell me. He hadn’t lied, but for a while there I was thinking I may have to turn around or roll down. It was truly a magnificent hike. πŸ™‚ ❀

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  • Bravo for making it to the top, even if you weren’t going to the top… I just can’t even begin to explain how gorgeous all your photographs are! I can’t imagine what it’s like to see those beautiful mountains in real life!!

    Those flowers, Queen Anne’s possible cousins, have me stumped. Especially that dark stem. Aren’t Queen Anne’s part of the carrot family? I’ll do some looking because now I’m curious. Ha!

    Tell your husband’s “woo hoo” on making his singing debut! I was waiting for you to belt out a tune as well!

    Great post. Your humorous story-telling cracks me up. And, makes me feel as if I’m on the trail hiking along side you guys! πŸ™‚

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    • The husband says Queen Anne is in the carrot family. We have never seen that flower, though. It was gorgeous. And, um, we really don’t want to encourage his singing, do we? πŸ˜‰

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  • Another gorgeous place! Is there anything ugly out there? πŸ™‚ I love how you write. One question: how long did it take to get to the top? And how long did it take to get back down?

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        • Now, Amy, you have walked into this one too; I COULD say, “Yes,” and sign off. But, since you asked…I’ll be nice (but not without telling you this is how we tease our children, every chance we get). So, 1 1/2 hours, and 1 hour, respectively. πŸ™‚

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          • Thanks for indulging me. And I also torment my children with similar responses. The one they hated the most was when in response to them announcing, “I’m hungry,” or “I’m bored,” I’d say, “Nice to meet you, Hungry (or Bored). I’m Amy.”

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            • This is the fun part of being a parent. The look on our children’s faces in response to my husband’s “Studies have shown…” was priceless when he wanted to convince them of something/anything. My sister made up the best one ever, telling her children, “It’s in the Parents’ Handbook.” It gets really fun when the kids say, “It says in the Children’s Handbook there is no Parents’ Handbook,” and on and on and on. πŸ™‚

              And, about that trail, it did take a long time because my endless stopping to take pictures certainly added to my time to the top, less so on the way down.

              Liked by 1 person

            • I have one friend who told her kids that certain things were town ordinances. They believed her for a long time. On the other hand, my father hated when I answered, “what are you reading?” with “A book.”

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