Mt Jefferson (x2)
Caps Ridge Tr. 5 miles RT
Sept 11, 2010
This is the 2nd year we did ?Flag on the 48?. Last year we did Eisenhower and Monroe and the clouds were so thick you could barely see the flag in front of you, let alone any kind of view. We're not officially part of the 'flag team', but find it's a great way to honor 9/11.
We decided to do Jefferson this year, as we?re still at the point where we think it would be cool to see other flags on other summits. Uncle Rick hasn?t done Jefferson yet, and Melissa wasn?t crazy about doing it at all, but I agreed to give it another go round. It would be my 4th trip to the mountain, only my 2nd visit to the summit however.
We once again got lucky with the weather, as we had another near perfect day. I still can?t believe out luck this summer! We were mostly cloud free the entire day, with short periods of clouds passing over the summits (a very strange thing to see as they move over/through you!). We had great views of Washington, the southern presi?s, and Adams, Not to mention everything else that you can see from up there!
You could see and hear the trains summiting all day, and I still prefer the old school smoky engines and eerie sounding whistles. I know they switched them over for a reason, but they older I get, the more I like the way things used to be.
We started out around 9 at the busy trailhead. Because it was a short hike, we didn?t have to start out quite so early, which was nice. We made a quick (for us) first mile up to the overlook and took a few pics and continued on. So far so good.
We started getting to the larger rocks in the trail and I knew the 1st cap was coming soon. Melissa was starting to dislike the scrambles over some of the rocks that had large gaps beneath them or between them. She was expecting the worst and wasn?t looking forward to the Caps as much as I was.
We rounded the first cap and made it up and over without too much difficulty. Melissa wasn?t having as much fun and Rick and I, and as we headed for the 2nd Cap, I saw the nice steep section that I remember from my last couple visits to this mountain. Anyone who?s been there knows the large, steep, slabish section of rock that has little easy options. There?s mud and roots on one side, and some cracks and ledges one could use, but she didn?t like any of the routes ahead of her. Uncle Rick went up first and waited. I went up and over to the other side and waited also. Melissa started up but made the mistake of stopping to think a little too much about her next move and couldn?t find one she was comfortable with. She was clearly out of her comfort zone, although we knew she was capable and could do it. She was frozen with fear, although she was only 10 feet off the ground at this point. We talked her through it, as she clawed at the mud and couldn?t find a good foot hold below her. She started to hyperventilate a bit, and I had never really seen anyone have a panic attack on a mountain before. It took her a while to recover from her ordeal, although she continued up to the top of the section with little issue.
She said it was the scariest moment of her life so far. We started planning a safer route for her to go down, since she clearly didn?t like these Caps. I didn?t see the slab being any easier on the way down.
We continued up the mountain, trying to make light of her ?ordeal?, and I think it became clear later on that the slab was the only real hard part of the hike.
We headed up the summit cone and Melissa was on a mission to ?just get there?. She got quite a lead on Uncle Rick and I, as we stopped to enjoy the views and catch our breath. Much to our surprise the wind was on the other side of the summit, so we were virtually wind free on that final push up to the top. We caught Melissa once the rocks got bigger and more ?rough?. We all summited together, and there was a pretty large crowd on top. There really isn?t a right or wrong way to the actual summit at this point, so we picked our way through the crowd and stood with the flag for our photos.
On the actual summit, there was plenty of wind! Adams had a cloud mass moving over it, which bummed me out. We quickly moved back down to the flat spot just below the summit, opposite the flat spot with the giant cairn. There was sat in the sun, ate lunch, and enjoyed the views and the nice temps without the wind.
I can never fully relax on a summit, since I have to keep getting up to look around and take photos. Rick and Melissa relaxed and I wandered about. Adams cleared, as did all the summits. One woman was turning 50 and a cake was brought out to celebrate and we all sang happy birthday to her. We spend the better part of 2 hours on the summit, then decided we needed to get off this thing sometime.
We started the trek down, along with a fairly big group of hikers. We all rested at the trail junction just below the summit cone and everyone decided to head for the caps at the same time. There was a small traffic jam at the start of the 3rd Cap as someone went to check the ? trail to nowhere? that might lead around instead of over the Cap. I went over and waited on the other side for Melissa, but had to wait for all the others to come over first.
We headed back over the Caps and down the steep slab. Melissa didn?t do much better on the way down, but didn?t have a panic attack. One woman was in a hurry to get around and headed down the mud and roots way, only to lose control, dislodge a rock that headed straight for me, and almost took me out. I thought she was going to hit me too. I only had a few more well plotted moves before I would have been out of the way.
We stopped at the overlook on the way down and soaked in the sun. We somehow managed to turn a short hike into a really long day, but it was worth it. We went home tired but happy. My second successful summit of Jefferson was a great day.