I woke up smelling wildfire…a storm had moved through last night, dumping a bit of rain and one rumble of thunder.
I slept a few hours later than yesterday and know my body needed the extra rest. This hike is demanding, and I’m trying not to burn myself out too fast. Listen to the body!
In fact, the physical challenge is preventing me from thinking about much else…exactly what I needed.
I made it to the shoulder of Strawberry Mountain, a hulking 9,300′ mass of rock towering over John Day. I decided to pass on the summit because I wanted to leave time to deal with overgrown or fire-damaged trail. And, I wanted to spend a little extra time swimming in Strawberry Lake!!!
I had reception on the shoulder of Strawberry Mountain, so I called my dad for his birthday. He is 72 years young today.
The walk down rivaled any alpine mountain wonderland. Lush wildflower-covered meadows, babbling brooks, towering mountains, and waterfalls.
I ran into the first people of the trip near Strawberry Falls. The first trailhead I’ve encountered is a short hike away from Strawberry Lake…my next destination.
Unfortunately, the spot i picked for a swim was shallow and mucky, so I resorted to splashing off.
I filtered some water and readied myself for the next climb….and climb I did. The next destination for some at the trailhead is Slide Lake. I would be heading in that direction for a while, which meant the trail was in great shape. For as stunning as this mountain range is, it is remote enough that it doesn’t get much traffic, and trail conditions away from the one popular trailhead were not awesome. That said, the trails weren’t totally neglected, I have only had a few spots where I lost the trail so far.
And then down and back up…and that’s when some big trees were down on a steep bunch of switchbacks…it appeared that someone had gone through because branches were broken at just the right spot to climb over. I did overshoot a switchback and must have been following a game trail instead of the real trail. I caught myself before I had gone too far (thanks GaiaGPS!).
The rest of the afternoon I strolled in and out of burned areas, but there was always a way through…I looked for the cut ends of logs which indicated a trail crew had gotten most of the trees cleared from the actual tread.
I called it a day just short of another trailhead. I will have some gravel road walking, and some trail that may or may not be there tomorrow.