Jefferson Park - September 1980

I spent a week in between jobs in late summer 1980, and one of my ex-co-workers was interested in visiting Jefferson Park at the base of Mt. Jefferson in central Oregon. I had heard of its beauty, and Jeff knew of a secret camp site that saved some energy compared to most visitors, so I joined in eagerly. The forecast sounded good, so I chose to experiment with a tarp for this trip. At the time it sounded like a good idea...

After a bumpy ride we reached the trailhead at Breitenbush Lake. The hike was somewhat tough and quite average for views for the first few miles. When we finally reached the near-timberline crest of Park Ridge, the view instantly became fabulous beyond description! The north face of 10500-foot Mt. Jefferson stands almost within throwing distance, while the lakes and meadows of Jefferson Park cower a thousand feet or more below Park Ridge. My new 28mm wide-angle lens was put to good use here as I crowded gnarled trees, the low greenery, and the tall mountain into the camera. The thin clouds added to the drama of the scene and appeared harmless. We resumed walking but camped partway down the ridge, which saved us a lot of work on the return trip. I rolled my bag under some gnarled trees and draped the tarp strategically, thinking I could be less than rigorous under the circumstances.

Enough foreshadowing already! Yes, it rained a lot that night, and I awoke chilled, soaked and miserable. The following week of rest before starting a new job was spent fighting, and losing, a battle with a bad head-cold. Before pulling out that afternoon, however, we took advantage of drying but foggy weather and dropped down into the Park. The bad night's sleep took its toll on my concentration, and I left my spare film at the camp, certain that the half-dozen exposures were sufficient in the foggy meadows. Of course, when the weather cleared and Mt. Jefferson leaped out of the mists and reflected off the lakes, I could only shake my head and mutter. The scenery was amazing, and I was carrying an empty camera.

I suspect the head-cold descended rather quickly, as I have no strong recollections after returning to camp. The weather was much better, but I was fading fast. The most I recall was how bumpy the road became when one continues south from Breitenbush Lake. The rest of my week's vacation was spent feeling lousy and preparing mentally for my new job.