Four old-timers trade city life for a few days in truly remote country in the heart of the Great Northwest
photography by Graham Hiemstra, shot on Contax T2 with Portra 400 and Ektar 100 35mm film
It has become a tradition in my family for myself, my father, uncle, and cousin to get together each summer for a family backpacking trip. No one can remember how or why we decided to hike into Oregon's Mount Jefferson Wilderness together four summers ago, but we are all glad we did.
Each trip takes a similar shape—we begin at lesser known trailhead in a lesser known wilderness area in either Washington or Oregon, hike a handful of miles to join up with the well known Pacific Crest Trail, tack on a similar number of miles to a body of water, then make camp.
Sometimes we establish a base camp and do day hikes from there. Other times we break camp each morning and log more miles with full weight. Either way, after a few days of fly fishing, huckleberry picking, book reading, and joke cracking we hoof it out, head for the nearest burger and beer, and begin planning the next trip.
This year, we covered a solid 20 some miles along the eastern border of Mount Rainier National Park, hiking SOBO (south bound) on the PCT.
Due to conflicting schedules, we were forced to push our hike well into September. And though concerns of bad weather and alternative routes were discussed at length, we lucked out and wound up with exactly the opposite. A few cold nights for sure, but beautiful sunshine and blue skies otherwise. Plus a welcomed lack of smoke—something that has sadly become a part of summer recreation along the whole West Coast in recent years it seems.
As the photos show, we found some serious wilderness this year. It felt more remote than years past. And I for one welcomed it with open arms. After living in New York City for nearly a decade these moments have become increasingly valuable. To trade living among nearly nine million people for a few days of lakeside camping in a truly remote landscape with no modern distractions nor noise—save for the occasional elk bugle—is an experience well worth the effort.
Now to decide on where to next...