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Begins: Jul 18, 2009
Date: Mon, Jul 13th, 2009
Start: In my memories
End: Hunts Cove, sort of!
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Pacific Crest Trail Map
Back in the mid 1960s when I was around 12 or 13 my dad took my brother and I on a backpacking trip. We originally set out for Marion Lake, but, when we got to the parking lot there were so many cars we changed our minds and decided to go somewhere else. We asked around and decided that Pamelia Lake was the place. When we got to the trail head there was only one other car there so, on we treked. It seemed like it took forever to get there. I remember the big rocks along the trail and following the creek. Every time we got to a place where I could see blue sky through the trees I thought we were there.
Finally we arrived! A beautiful lake! There was no one else camped there so we picked a large spot and pitched our tent. We had a wonderful time playing and the fishing was great, the catching was lousy. Not a bite. We found an old log raft and floated out into the cold water one day.
Another day we hiked to Jefferson Park. I remember crossing the creek and the open meadows. Seeing the other small lakes was great. At one point we heard an elk bugle and we looked up the side of Mt Jefferson to see a herd of about 15 or so. The bull keeping his harem together. Below them we saw a black bear with two cubs. Something startled the mama bear and she swooshed the cubs up a tree then came rushing down the hill toward us! We climbed up onto a large boulder and waited. We never saw her again. At that point we decided to go back to Pamelia. I was in the lead and occasionally would hear someone or something coughing in front of me. I never saw whatever it was, but, let my dad know there was something ahead of us. When we got to the creek to cross again there were fresh bear tracks in the sand. So fresh that water was still running into them. Im fairly sure we were following a bear on the trail.
The next summer we went back to Pamelia Lake and camped in the same spot. We decided to hike to Hunts Cove and so we did. We took only our jackets and some snack food. We were going to spend the night just sleeping on the ground. When we got to Hanks Lake there was a pack train of horses or mules or both. Our dog didnt like them. We kept him leashed and tied so he wouldnt bother them and found a camp spot a little ways from them. We built a fire and ate our snacks and laid on the ground to sleep for the night. Sometime around midnight we woke up to a howling wind and our campfire blowing sparks everywhere. We had to put out the fire. We were getting cold so decided to make our way back to Pamelia Lake In the dark. I dont remember much about the trip down. Just that it was very dark and I think we only had one flash light with us. We arrived just before dawn and crawled into our sleeping bags and slept most of the rest of the day. We vowed to go back there again the next summer, and so we did!
We hiked all the way to Hunts Cove and Hanks Lake. This time we had all of our camping gear. Our dog even had a pack with his dog food in it. We camped again at Hanks Lake in the same spot. There were a couple of other campers there also. Once again we were awakened in the middle of the night! This time a herd of deer came into camp and our dog was going nuts trying to chase them. He was tied to a log and was dragging it around the camp. The next day we took all our gear and went to Hunts Lake. There were no other campers there so we picked a site between the creek and the lake and stayed. It was really beautiful and peaceful. We had the whole lake to ourselves. I remember shooting our .22s toward the rock slide on the east side of the lake and watching the bullets skip across the water. My dad tells me that we climbed the rock slide and looked over the other side into the Metolius area but I dont remember that. When we got ready to leave we decided that since we were coming back up the next summer we would leave some of our camping gear. We Left some of our pots and pans and other items between some of the big rocks at the rock slide. We would recover them the next summer when we came back up. We never went back.
Approximately 44 years later (2008). I decided that since I had never gone backpacking with my kids it was time to do so before I was unable or they were not interested. We made a vacation date to go to Hunts Cove and treasure hunt for the stashed camping gear.
We bought our gear, trained and finally it was time. My son (26), my daughter (27) and her husband (27) and myself(56) all met at the Marion Forks restaurant for lunch. Then to the trailhead to Pamelia Lake! We donned our packs and trekked our way to the lake. My mind was bursting with memories as we made our way. The rocks, the little bridges and the creek. It didnt seem to take as long as it did years ago. When we arrived, the lake was as splendorous as I remembered! The trees had grown thicker. I remembered where I had camped as a child, but, there were already people there so we continued further around the lake. We setup camp for the evening and explored the area.
The next morning after our breakfast we packed up and began making our way to Hunts Cove. It was great walking around the lake. The trail large and easy to walk on. When we got to where you have to cross the creek, I was a little confused. I remembered having to cross but didnt remember how we did it. We were trying to decide when I saw the big log about a hundred yards to the south. We crossed it uneventfully and continued on what I thought was the trail. After about 45 minutes of being confused we finally went back to the log and found the trail. We should have walked back north that same hundred yards. We continued on and I remembered the switchbacks and the rock slides. We finally got to the place where another trail meets and the sign points to Hunts Cove. We stopped there and took pictures. We continued on until we got to a small lake. It had similar features and I thought it was Hanks lake. We looked around and although it seemed familiar it was confusing me. I was thinking the lake had mostly dried up and campsites gone unused due to the PCT being used instead of the old Oregon Skyline Trail. We couldnt find what I was looking for (cuz it wasnt there) so I decided to shed my pack and walk up the hillside until I found the trail or Hunts lake or both, so off I went!
It took about 45minutes for me to get to a trail. A really nice trail! I followed it to Hunts Lake. Just as I remembered! There was another camp already set up so I decided we should stay at Hanks Lake that evening. I followed the trail down expecting to find my family and was shocked to find the real Hanks Lake instead! It was very large and everything was where it should be! I continued until I got to the main trail and followed it to the little runoff lake that made me confused. We all loaded up and continued to Hanks lake.
We had to cross a fairly treacherous snow drift that really made me nervous, but we did ok. When we got to Hanks Lake and shed our gear My son announced to me that he had stabbed himself in the leg while I was gone. My son in law had bandaged it so, While I was concerned I wasnt worried. We pitched our tents and made supper. Explored around a bit. I decided that we should change the bandage on my sons wound and discovered it was serious. The muscle was protruding and it was clear to the bone! At this point I suggested that we end the trip and leave the next morning. Everyone reluctantly agreed. We replaced the old bandage and made some butterfly bandages to hold everything in and together. Wrapped it all with an ace bandage and put snow in baggies to ice it.
We awoke the next morning and my son thought we should at least walk up to Hunts lake so they could see what they were going to miss. We did so and I showed them the camping place where we stayed many years ago. Pointed out the rock slide and where I thought we hid the treasure. We took lots of pics then gathered our gear and headed back down the mountain.
We got as far as Pamelia Lake where we checked his wound and there appeared to be no swelling or sign of infection. We decided we would stay the night and continue the next morning.
We finished our hike back to the car and left for Newport as thats where my son worked. The hospital there would have his insurance company information. We arrived and the doc took a look. He said we did all the right stuff! He glued it together a little more, gave him a tetanus shot and sent us on our way. We all agreed to go back to Hunts Cove again!
So, here we are! Just a few days from Treasure Hunt 09! This year will be a little different. First, my son will have no sharp objects. Second, we will hike to Hunts Cove and do all the things we were going to do last year. Then instead of going back to Pamelia Lake we are going to continue to the Pacific Crest Trail and follow it north to where it meets the Pamelia Lake trail.
We are looking forward and hope to find the past! Will update when we return!
Chris Wood, Ty and Kelsey Wilber and Jaron Wood!
The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a 2,650-mile national scenic trail that runs from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington. The PCT traverses 24 national forests, 37 wilderness areas and 7 national parks. The PCT passes through 6 out of 7 of North Americas ecozones. Learn more: www.pcta.org