The Cascade Mountain Range in the state of Oregon is the most well known mountain range in the state. The range stretches from the north to the south through the entire state and the top five peaks on the 100 highest peak list are located there. To be honest, climbing in the cascades is a totally different world than climbing almost anywhere else in the state. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy climbing in the cascades, but I also enjoy having a little solitude when I’m out too.
The ascent went very well, I passed a couple groups and physically I felt amazing. I could definitely tell that all of the climbing/hiking I’ve done in the past four months is paying off. Walking up through open alpine terrain in the dark with only a sliver moon lighting the way was spiritual. I listened to a little Newton Falkner on my IPod then switched over to a genius list of classic rock for the remainder of the trip. I watched the sunrise on the upper section of the mountain and as luck would have it as the sun rose over the eastern ridgeline The Star Spangled Banner by Jimi Hendrix played on my IPod.
I reached the summit crater shortly after 7am then traversed over to the high point and enjoyed the views from the top; I had the summit to myself it was spectacular. Little did I know that it would be the last moment of solitude I would have for the remainder of the trip. I stayed on the summit for almost 15 minutes before beginning the 6 mile descent back to the car. As I crested the crater rim I looked down and saw the ant line of people heading in my direction…rush hour on South Sister.
The descent was a surreal experience, all summer/fall long I’ve been hiking in isolated remote areas where I would typically only see a couple people for the entire trip and from the crater rim I could see at least 15.
I kept hearing the same question, “did you make it to the top” and after I answered yes a myriad of questions followed. I enjoy talking to other hikers/climbers, but after the first 30 people I began to realize that if I stopped and talked to everyone it would take all day to descend back to the car, so I picked up the pace. I was amazed at the number of people hiking up that morning; I averaged passing a group of people every 5 minutes on the trail. In all fairness I knew that the South Climbers Route was the most popular route, but I didn’t expect that this late in the year that so many people would be out. All in all I enjoyed the hike/climb and the view was amazing, 43 down 57 to go.