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Rising Above the Fog

Posted by johnnieraz on February 13, 2025 at 2:45 AM

By John Rezell

     As noon approached it became ever so apparent the lingering fog smothering the Willamette Valley wasn't going anywhere. And if you didn't know any better you might scrap any plans for getting outside figuring it would just be a something of a downer.

     Having lived in Oregon's western valley for more than 13 years, luckily, we knew better. So my daughter Sierra and I packed our black lab Ridgely into the Santa Fe and headed for the hills.

     About 45 minutes later on our drive, as we climbed into the Cascades, we rose above the thick, puffy layer settled into the valley and felt the winter sun warming our cheeks. Ah, this is what we were looking for. The temperature inched up from its 38 degrees to 50 in a matter of miles, and by the time we rolled through Detroit a magnificent day lifted our spirits.

     A little research uncovered a potentially fun hike. Something that would be challenging, yet wouldn't bring us into the snow level.

     I didn't share the stats with Sierra at first, simply telling her it would be a Sierra-and-Daddy hike. We coined that phrase years ago, when we'd head off occasionally to explore on our own. Our first effort proved to be a steep, endlessly uphill grind that felt like walking up stairs for an hour-and-a-half.

     Since then, it seems any time that Sierra and I hike, we end up climbing and climbing and climbing. Of course, our greatest adventure was Zion National Park's Angel's Landing, my 18th birthday present to Sierra.

     So we hit the Stahlman Point trail and started our ascent. I hate to spoil anything, so when I glanced at the notes about this hike, I didn't look long enough to know whether the 4.8 miles was one way or round trip. But I did note there would be 1,300 feet in elevation gain.


    Hiking this early in the year, I wasn't sure how far we would go. Complicating matters, Ridgely is now 12.5 years old and not the same pooch who could hike endlessly. About 45 minutes into the hike Ridgely decided to surrender her position up front and slip back behind me. I was feeling it, too.

    Just a few minutes later, as the trail got steep again, two guys passed us coming down.

    "Just a couple more switchbacks and you're there!" they told us.

    Whew. Perfect timing. I started to think it was 4.8 miles one way, and that would be a little too big a task for Ridgely, especially this early in the year. Bouyed by the news, we kicked it up a notch and as we hit the summit, the spectacular view Mount Jefferson, iced with snow against a blue sky dusted with soft clouds.

    Oregon has its rap: rain, rain, rain and more rain. Oh, if you only knew ...




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