Going Into The Wilderness Alone?
Since I started photography I’ve always wanted to photograph Jefferson Park Wilderness in the Central Oregon Cascades. Jefferson Park is one of the most stunning places to see in Oregon. Ever since I saw the images from other photographers, I knew that I would have to visit this place someday. Every summer for roughly 2 weeks a year this area fills up with wildflowers. A few years ago I had signed up for a photo tour in Jefferson Park but due to weather the venue was moved to the Three Sisters Wilderness. So my dream would have to be put on hold for the time being. As every summer approached I anticipated getting up there but for one reason or another people could not join me; Jefferson Park Wilderness is one place that should not be traveled alone. In past years I had tried but by the time I made my move up there I was too early or too late. So this year I figured it would be the same thing and somehow I would miss my open window. This year has been on odd year for wildflowers in the Pacific Northwest with everything almost a month behind. The night before I get a phone call from fellow Photo Cascadia member Adrian Klein mentioning he was going to do the 11 mile round-trip into Jefferson Park. Here was my chance to visit this place that had seemed to have eluded me until now. Hesitantly I asked if I could join and concern came up whether I could make it because of my replacement hip. I told him I would keep my backpack to 20 pounds and hike slow. Needless to say the very next day I found myself at the beginning of the trailhead everything ready to go. For the first 5 miles, we casually hiked while we reminisced about the past year. Just as we were coming to the top, something had gone terribly wrong with my hip. After further walking I had realized my hip popped out and I was 5+ miles from the car. After hobbling the last half-mile to the campsite, I told Adrian to go ahead and scout out some possible locations. I could not move at this point and decided to lay out in the dirt as I could not muster the strength to even put my tent up. In past similar experiences a few hours of doing nothing helped my hip but not this time. As sunset neared I asked Adrian if he could just carry my camera and tripod roughly 100 m to the first spot I could find flowers near the campsite. I ended up firing away a few shots and waited for Adrian to finish. Hobbling back to my camp I decided to turn in early. I went to bed assured that I would feel better tomorrow as long as I got a good nights rest. The next day I woke up and I could not even put any pressure on the leg or hip. I was not going to be able to shoot sunrise at the very minimum. Realizing we had no cell reception and no spot messenger to call emergency services, I would now have to hike out of here on my own two feet. After a discussion with Adrian about what to do next we decided he could carry a good portion of my camping gear; so we made some makeshift crutches for hiking poles and began the journey back down. In the end, I made it back to the car after a full day getting back, which should have only taken a few hours. If it had not been for my friend’s generosity and backpacking skills, I could have been in serious trouble. The ten essentials that Adrian always carried in his backpack came in very handy. The point of this story is that when traveling in the wilderness you should always travel with someone. You never know when something might happen that limits your mobility and puts you at risk. I also learned another lesson to expect the unexpected and always carry the ten essentials when backpacking. I will never forget this outing to Jefferson Park wilderness.