It appears that I have bad luck with Oregon hiking. That, or I am just so gosh-darned Northwestern by nature that the world throws storms at me because she knows I can take it.
Saddle Mountain is rated “hard” and the sign at the bottom describes the path as “a constant climb”. Even still, with my current fitness level, it’s a pretty straightforward hike; out-and-back, about 2.5 miles each for a total of just over 5 miles.
The views are meant to be some of the best around and you’re surrounded by breath-taking panoramas for more than half of the hike, so you really get the bang for your buck. Funny thing about views, though – I have recently discovered that you can’t see through clouds.
The weather report for Saturday promised rain. Lots of it. My cousin was coming into town for the weekend and we’d planned to spend Saturday hiking. “What’s a little rain,” I thought, “A little rain never hurt anybody.”
Is this sounding familiar yet?
The weather report for Saturday looked grim. Grim as in rain. Rain, rain and more rain. And COLD. The temperatures were dropping. I received this news unfazed. When is it not raining in the Pacific Northwest, really? I expected as much. I was prepared. I borrowed a rain fly for my backpack and sealed all my clothing and supplies in zip-loc baggies. I wore the froggy-green Marmot jacket that looked invincible.
Rain? Bring it.
It rained all night before I left. It rained all morning. It rained during the 45 minute drive east. It was raining when I turned up the first switchback.
Who cares about rain.
The first 3 miles went straight up. Switchback after switchback. My pack is a hand-me-down and just a little too big. I could tell. This is the part where gear is really, really important. If you’re walking up the side of a hill over root-strewn dirt paths with 30 pounds worth of gear on your back then you need everything to be dialed. Shoes, socks, jacket, pack. I had everything in place except the pack, and I was feeling it.
I pressed on.
At 1.5 miles I came around a switchback and uttered the only words that I spoke out loud all day long: “Holy shit. You are fucking kidding me.”