“How far do you think we should go?” I asked my dad. “I’m not sure,” he replied. “Maybe an hour more?” “Sure,” I said. Then, we rounded the corner of the trail. What I saw was like a picture! To my right, I could see Portland and the valley. To my left, I had a huge pile of boulders about 20 feet tall and for the backdrop, I had Mt. Hood. I instantly knew that I would remember that moment for a long time.
“Woah, that is absolutely gorgeous!” I said to my dad, as he was pulling out his phone to take a picture. “Woah is right,” he replied. After a few pictures, we walked a little farther down the trail and took more pictures of the valley, then set down my pack and poles down to rest my aching back. I walked over to the base of the rocks, and saw that there was a little cave that it formed. It was pitch black in side so I couldn’t see the back of it. “There’s a cave here!” I called to my dad. “Check for animals then, they like to sleep in caves” he said.” I instantly realized my mistake. We were practically in the middle of nowhere, and bears and cougars had been sighted in the area recently. I would have walked into the cave, and possibly startled something, if my Dad hadn’t given me that warning. I grabbed my whistle that was hanging around my neck, and blew it several times. I waited a few seconds, and all seemed fine. “No sign of anything,” I said to my dad. “Good,” he replied. I started up the rocks feeling a little safer.
As I was walking along a fairly flat rock at the top of the boulder pile, I almost slipped, but thankfully I caught my balance before anything bad happened. I thought to myself that if I had my hiking poles to help steady me, it would be much safer. I carefully walked down, jumped off the last rock, grabbed my poles and took off back up the rock outcropping, and jumped onto the first rock as if I was lighter than air.
I did some parkour-type moves, which made me feel great, except for my Dad’s grimace as he watched me leap from rock to rock. I was almost at the top when I spied a small rock in between where I was standing and the top ledge. I put one foot on the rock, not expecting any trouble, when the rock started wobbling! I felt a rush of panic but was able to grab the side of a ledge, steadied myself, and hopped back. I looked closer at the rock in question, and realised that it was just barely sitting on top of another larger rock. As I reoriented myself and reflected on where I had come from and where I was going, I knew there was only one thing left to do to complete my quest. I walked back, and set down my trusty hiking poles, which had been a great help, but would be a hindrance on the next leg of my journey. I carefully got into position, and started running. I felt a feeling of sheer terror and exhilaration as my adrenaline rushed into my muscles, allowing me to fly across the gap and safely land on top of the ledge. I had made it safely to my destination!
As I looked around and reoriented myself, I realized that a cloud was passing by, practically right in front of our faces. We were so high up, that the clouds were level with our bodies! I felt disappointment in the fact that the cloud was obscuring my vision. But that disappointment soon faded and I was delighted that I was actually in a cloud. After a few minutes, the clouds passed and I could see for miles. The view was breathtaking and I reflected on my surroundings as we stood at the top of Zig Zag Canyon.
I looked down and groaned. “How are we going to get down there AND all the way back up?” I asked my dad. “Hmm,” was his reply. I stood at the top of Zig Zag Canyon, looking down 1000 feet to a tiny river below. I knew that there was no way we could climb the sides. Looking around a little more, revealed a small trail leading down. Good, I thought. “We don’t have to go down an almost vertical side of the canyon”. I took one more look at the view from 1000 feet up, then grabbed my pack and kept on going. I took some pictures, and started to head down. The trip back seemed uneventful after such an invigorating and energetic climb up and for the fact that I was familiar with the route now.
I reflected on how beautiful and life changing just a day or two away from civilization could be. When you are this high up on a volcano in the middle of the wilderness, it helps put your problems and frustrations into perspective especially in comparison to the grandeur of this ancient mountain. The mountain and forest listens to our problems but never judges us and gives us a sense of peace about the world. As I reached the ground, I silently vowed to come back to this spot someday. I grabbed my stuff, and kept on hiking, with one final glance back at the spectacular view.