Have you ever climbed a mountain over 9,000 feet? The definition of “hard” changed for several Trailmen from Troop OR-1531 when they did just that this August. The Troop arrived the night before and camped alongside Diamond Lake. There was a nervous energy among the Trailmen, as other troops stopped by and said their hellos. The Trailmen made sure they ate enough protein and drank enough water to start the hike off right. As the sun dropped below the horizon the sudden chill reminded them that they were already at a high elevation.
Mt. Thielsen is a 9,182 foot peak in southern Oregon. To get to the peak, there is a 5 mile ascent over a variety of biospheres. It was an area event, so troop OR-1531 enjoyed the fellowship of 5 other Troops from the Oregon Trail Area. They all lined up for a safety briefing from the guide, a seasoned climber from the area and registered adult, and then they were off. The first four miles were relatively straightforward, but once the trail crossed the Pacific Coast Trail and the tree line things got more difficult.
At times the Trailmen had to scramble along the trail, exposed to the elements. At that elevation, and with the sun and wind doing their part, the Trailmen often had to stop and refuel. It was also a time to sit back and marvel at how high they had gone. One surprising view was a helicopter flying thousands of feet below. Another was the distant forest fire (thankfully the wind blew the smoke away from Mt. Thielsen).
At the very end of the climb was an 80 foot scramble to the peak. Out of an abundance of caution, the Trailmen who wanted to make it to the peak used ropes. All of those who wanted to make it to the top without incident, and everyone broke the 9,000 foot line.
The descent in some ways, especially for the Traildads, was just as punishing. However, everyone made it back from what was the hardest thing any of them had set out to do. The only question for Troop OR-1531 is, “which peak is next.” For the fathers that accompanied their sons, it was a wonderful bonding experience.