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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mt. Jefferson (#5), July 26, 2008

Caps Ridge Trail, out and back, 5 miles total.

We were on the trail by 7am today. Both of us were excited and looking forward to rock scrambling up the Caps.

We walked through a very easy, pleasant forest.

After the intersection with the Link Trail, the grade became much more steep and steady. However, the steep bits were interchanged with fairly easy and flat bits, so the experience did not seem overwhelming.

As we approached the first Cap, the trail became very rocky and steep. Views opened up here and stayed fabulous throughout the hike, until we came back down this way a few hours later. The day was perfect. Cool temps, clear skies, crystal-clear views into the descent of the Gulf from Mt. Washington, miles and miles of perfect vista.

When we reached the first Cap, we looked at it and thought...what's the big deal? We had both been told by other hikers that this would be a major undertaking, and that we might have to turn back at this point. This was no different than the rock scrambling we've done in countless other places. Not a problem whatsoever, and actually rather fun.

Up and over we went. Then came the next Cap, which was actually a bit more tricky than the first Cap.

Now we were getting rather tired, and looking forward to getting over that third Cap and moving onward and upward to the summit.

The third Cap was rather puny in comparison with the first two, and we got over it easily. Then came the constant rock-hop to the summit. This was the most difficult part for both of us. We were tired after the Caps, and we wanted to be on a smooth path again. There was a lot of complaining, and most of it was from me.

We were about ten feet from the summit when....Alex tripped over a rock and slammed her knee. She's a tough kid, but this obviously hurt her. We sat there for a few minutes until she felt ready to continue, then we slowly made it to the top. She held my hand and limped, but she did it on her own. As you can probably tell from the next two pictures, she was really feeling the pain. I was beginning to worry that she had broken something.

After the summit, we descended sightly to the flat spot on the east side of the summit cone, the bit with the large cairn.

We sat there for a long while and ate Powerbars while Alex rested her knee. I was prepared to carry her back down to the car somehow if it came to that...but after half an hour or so she asked for the camera and began taking pictures of the mountain flowers and plants (below are two of her photos).

Her knee seemed okay, but sore, so we began a very slow descent.

We took our time, that's for sure. It was a slow, slow hike down to the Caps. I did not want to push Alex with her knee, and she wanted to stop and sit every twenty feet.

We finally made it to the Caps and climbed down the three of them with little trouble and apparently not so much pain.

After the Caps and the immediate rocky steep descent, Alex picked up her pace and fairly ran the rest of the way down the trail, her knee better (I guess?). She made up a long story and cheerfully narrated it to me the entire 1.1 miles down (after the Link Trail connection). She practically bounded back to the trailhead.

She then told me she wants to do Mt. Field next because she thinks it's silly that a mountain is named Field.

We're now sitting, watching a movie. My legs burn burn burn! Alex, on the other hand, is awake and as peppy as ever. Wish I could bottle that energy.

PS -- two days later, she's running around with no pain whatsoever. It's official. Kids are made out of rubber bands.

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