This weekend The RHPB, Divot, and I went on a backpacking trip. It was time... we'd been talking about going off and on all summer but it seemed like one or both of us was always busy with something. Timing clicked for once: we both had Labor Day off so it made sense for him to take a weekend off from playing golf. Head to the wilderness, we did.
Based on recommendations from friends we decided to head to Jefferson Park. I was wary of heading to such a popular destination over a holiday weekend so was prepared for a lot of people. Which there were. From time to time it was annoying, but overall I'm glad we went. Next time I'll go mid-week!
We hiked into Jefferson Park from the Whitewater Trailhead, between Detroit Lake and Marion Forks. It's a well-documented hike and I can't really add much to the well-written descriptions that are already out there. Here are just a few of my thoughts...
It's uphill the whole way there. Except for two (very short) sections that are slightly downhill. But once you reach Jefferson Park, it's basically flat. Which also means it's downhill pretty much the whole way out. So while it took us four hours to hike in, it only took a little over two hours to hike out. For the most part it's a rough and rocky trail so wear good boots! (This goes for your dog, too!)
The first section of trail is described as "four wide switchbacks". I'd say it's more like two medium distance switchbacks, one really really long switchback, and one super short switchback.
There is no "footbridge" crossing Whitewater Creek. It's a combination of logs, wobbly wood planks, and boulders to skip across. Good times, and you earn the "badass" badge if you make it across dry.
Everything I have read said to be prepared for bitter cold. It was NOT cold at night and it was really hot during the day.
Swimming in Scout Lake is pretty sublime. It's cold - for sure. But lucky for me our campsite came equipped with a rock that was shaped perfectly for a post-arctic-dip-sunning session. Ahhh.
We were a little late for wildflower season, but also missed mosquito season. I'll take no swatting over scads of pretty flowers. Easy. Especially since there were still some pretty flowers.
There are fish in those lakes but they are too smart to be caught.
Scout Lake has arguably the best view of Mt Jefferson, but Bays Lake has more interesting geology. Russell Lake (a little further north) is also a good option for beautiful mountain views.
Cooking was a breeze. We packed in both a Jetboil and an Esbit stove, and I made good use of both. Between us we ate pizza, orzo, apple crisp, hot cereal, mac & cheese, beef noodle soup, rocky road pudding, and pancakes. Most of the recipes were from One Pan Wonders. If you are going backpacking, check out this site before you go purchase backpacking food. It was delicious. We did not go hungry.
I love wooden trail signs. I don't know why. They just make me happy.