I found myself at 7,000 feet and miles outside Bend with the helicopter doors literally off and Mount Bachelor almost within arms reach. Wind washed over me as the impossibly small helicopter tossed us around in a gut wrenching and bravado checking dance to stay aloft. What the hell.
In that moment I realized three things. 1) I was actually quite shook. 2) It's for the best I didn't have my phone, because I'd have no doubt dropped it out the door and into oblivion. And 3) A strange dissociative comfort could be found in experiencing the moment through the camera viewfinder, allowing me to appreciate the impossibly beautiful volcanic landscape without considering the fact that a dinky little lapbelt was the only thing keeping me in place.
"Terrain. Terrain. Terrain. a soft voice repeated as we narrowly avoided skimming the outer rim of Broken Top"
We were in Central Oregon with Portland-based Danner, maker of some of the finest and most hardwearing boots out there. After a few days of hiking around Smith Rock and Tumalo Falls the decision to check out Big Mountain Heli Tours was icing on the cake.
Once the winds subsided I began to enjoy the extremely rare vantage above a dramatic portion of the Cascade Range. We floated above Mount Bachelor, a ski hill I'd spent countless days exploring as a youth enamored with snowboarding, before shooting the gap between Broken Tops' craggy peaks.
"Terrain. Terrain. Terrain" a soft voice repeated as we narrowly avoided skimming the outer rim of Broken Top, before buzzing over to appreciate South Sister and its siblings from what felt like a stone's throw. Mount Hood, Mount Jefferson, Three Fingered Jack, and Mount Washington were all within view too.
Once back on the ground what we all had seen set in. The adrenaline of dangling thousands of feet over the forest floor with barely a seatbelt to hold us in began to subside. Yet the feeling that this incredible earth is so wild, so foreign, and so worth preserving for others to see for themselves in years to come, is a feeling that, hopefully, will never wash away.