August 25-27, 2009: Pasayten Solo Trip

I had just completed the WAC Basic Climbing course earlier in the summer so the obvious next step was to do a solo trip into the Pasayten Wilderness Area to summit a dozen 8000′ peaks in half as many days. Naturally, this was going to be easy.

I didn’t have a car at the time so my mom decided that since she didn’t want me borrowing her car, that she would rent me one for my journey.  Turns out, I have a pretty awesome mother.  Morning of the 25th, I take off from Enterprise with a full 80-liter pack and an idea that I wouldn’t go crazy from six days of solitary in the mountains.  Neither turned out to be particularly good ideas.

Across Highway 2 and up the east side of the mountains to my first ever pit-stop at Mazama.  Mazama is a great town on Highway 20; famous for two things: 1) being the last stop for gas as you go West before crossing the passes. 2) having a general store with the hottest 20-year-old blonde girls any podunk town has ever seen.  The store (there is only one) is always packed for a reason.  Also they have good sandwiches.

A couple of turkeys on rye added to my pack and I was off up the dirt roads to the trail head.  The first part of the trail is 13 miles of flat on just about the easiest terrain you will ever encounter.  The only challenge here is the repeated beating your body takes from carrying a week’s worth of supplies over that kind of mileage.  Sadly it may also lull you to sleep and cause you to go two miles past the turn-off to high camp before you realize you’ve gone too far.  This ended up being the straw that broke me as just as I had backtracked to the turn-off my right knee finally gave out from the weight and millage.  Being 13 miles from the trail head, I really had no option but to go the final two miles up steep switch-backs to the high camp where I had planned to spend the night.  Things were very slow, and even more painful as I pulled into camp just as the sun was setting.  10 pounds of food carried over 19 miles and I end up being too tired to cook anything for dinner.  Go figure.

The morning brought on a decision that wouldn’t be rivaled in magnitude until the next year and the state of Miami basketball.  Do I go home, or try to wait out the knee injury?  I pondered my options until noon when boredom finally convinced me to attempt nearby Osceola.  It’s a straight scree slog and a good metric for if I’ll be able to continue on.  Goings were excruciatingly slow as I could only bend one knee and really couldn’t use it to stabilize myself on the constantly tipping boulders.  At least there would be one summit for all of my suffering.

Summit photos and back to camp for a nap.  I ran into my only human contact after my nap when a woman on horseback rode by near my camp.  I eagerly indulged my extrovert and had a short conversation while making a mental note to find friends who owned horses.  I packed up camp and headed down and out.  Nightfall beat my limping body to the trailhead and I was forced to bivy next to the trail and spend one more night in the wilderness.  On the plus side, it gave me an opportunity to use my enormous 70mm astronomy binoculars to do some massive star gazing.  Why did I bring so much stuff?

On to the pictures!

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