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|The trail beckons....|
|Three Fingered Jack makes a perfect reflection on Jack Lake|
|Ghosts from a past fire|
Of course I couldn't pass up a photo op like this! After dozens of shots, I packed away my camera and continued to climb above the lake. The trail wound through the burned-out forest. Temps were already rising, and sweat began to pour down my face. Some friendly mosquitoes decided to get up close and personal with my exposed arms. That lead to another stop to apply bug spray.
|Flowers brighten up the side of a pond|
|Mt. Jefferson glimpse between the dead trees|
Ambling through a barren, burned out area, I was delighted to see bright green undergrowth and lovely purple lupine flowers reaching up from the forest floor. A wonderful sign of rebirth for this area so devastated by an inferno. Looking through the tree skeletons, I noticed the fire had opened up views of adjacent terrain. Through a large gap, I spotted Mt. Jefferson outlined against the sky.
|Lupine going strong underneath the burned out area|
|My first amazing view of Three Fingered Jack|
|Amazing lower meadow|
|The flowers were going strong|
|"The hills are alive....."|
I slowly made my way through these wonderful meadows, stopping for many, many "Kodak moments." At the far end, the trail again climbed through a small wooded area. But again the forest cleared and the terrain opened up into a breathtaking lush, green alpine wonderland, bookended by the mountain's rocky wall. It looked as if I was in Austria. I felt a strong urge to do my Julie Andrews impression. Or at least attempt a yodel.
|Looks like you can reach out and touch the mountain|
|View from the saddle|
Then the forest and meadow terminated into a barren, rocky slope. It was the moraine for the mountain's glacier. I crossed a snowfield, and picked my way up through a steep climb in loose rocks and gravel. There was a very faint user path through the rubble, but I lost it several times. Route-finding became a challenge.
|Small lake in the crater is still not melted out|
The book described a path through the moraine to a saddle high above the meadows. After reaching the top of the first rocky slope, my legs, tired from the previous day's run, screamed uncle. Looking ahead, I could see there was still a fair amount of climbing left to reach the saddle. Although I'd been told by another hiker on the trail of amazing views from this perch, my body didn't have the energy to continue. So I took a snack break and admired the scenery from where I stood.
|A few hardy flowers grow amongst the rocks|
And the sights were plenty nice. Three Fingered Jack's steep cliffs dominated the western view. The mountain's crater directly below it's summit was still snowed in. A cirque lake in this crater, normally melted out by now, was just beginning to thaw (marked by a small blue ring in the snow). Looking towards the north and east, miles of forested valleys spread out before me.
It was breathtaking to be so close to this massive mountain. I stayed atop the moraine for the better part of 30 minutes, just soaking in the views. But then I noticed the sky starting to cloud over. There had been a thunderstorm the night before, and the clouds looked as if they could do repeat of last night's performance. Not wanting to be up so high if that happened, I decided it was time to go.
|Lovely forested meadow|
|Stark beauty of the burned area|
|Quite a fire!|
|Jack Lake in the afternoon|
Although hot, dusty and tired, I was happy to discover yet another beautiful trail in the Central Oregon Cascades. My trip to Bend was great fun - hanging out with my brother, completing a challenging trail run, and, best of all, discovering two new favorite hikes.