for the Siskiyou Hiker
by John Maglinao
Check out this short video from their project.
15 JULY 2017 | SISKIYOU WILDERNESS, CALIF — July 3rd, 2017 a huge project was bestowed upon us in the Siskiyou Wilderness. I think most of us were unaware of the rigor and adversities that were in store. We’d be the first SMC crew to explore and work within the Siskiyou Wilderness.
Our crew, SMC Wilner, was comprised of Rynn Hamilton, Brandon Larrabee, Samantha Nixon, Zac Wilner, and myself, a recent graduate from Willamette University with a BA in Environmental and Earth Studies. With a diverse, but like-minded, crew with fervent feelings towards adventure and Wilderness, we were anticipating the 10 day self supporting hitch.
The journey started at Elbow Springs Trailhead, hiking along the Kelsey National Recreational Trail (later to be termed “The Trail of Inconvenience” by Hamilton). As we embarked on the hike, my ankle takes a roll within the first half mile and brings me down to the dirt. Our destination, Harrington Lake, about eight miles away from the trailhead.
However, the brutal switchbacks and difficult terrain wore on us after 10+ hours of hiking and we camped about a mile from the lake, anticipating our arrival there the following morning. Along the way packs were slowly decayed, sleeping bags rolled down hills, and f-bombs were dropped. But the bliss, virtue, and blessings the wilderness area had to offer were soon to surpass said hardships.
Harrington Lake, at the base of Harrington Mountain was well worth the hike in. This area is untrammeled by humans, a place where clarity perseveres. We spent a few days at the lake. We spent a lot of time locating the trail, making slow progress until the trail became more prominent. Then we began moving camps every night.
The hike up out of Elk Hole stands out, where grows the world’s most southernmost stand of Alaskan Yellow Cedar. The trail went up about 100 ft. but slowly disappeared. Brandon, strong willed and encouraging, suggested that we, “… zig-zag up this […] like the […] we are.”
And so we did, choosing different routes. Larrabee heading to the right while I stuck left. I lost sight of him for a few hundred feet. Calling for him, I didn’t get a response and grew a little worried given the class three climbing conditions.
A few hundred more feet and I see his bright red backpack, and let out a sigh of relief. We exchanged stories of our climb, took sips of water and pushed through to the saddle of Sawtooth Mountain. That wasn’t enough for us, so we dropped our packs and hiked to the top of Sawtooth Mountain waiting for the remainder of the crew to make it up the mountain.
We convened at the saddle, discussed where we were camping, and ate the remainder of our food as our hiked out was the following morning. Larrabee and I set our tents up on the edge of the ridge where we had a stimulating view of the sunset. Antsy to hike out, we were up two hours before our morning briefing and decided to pack up and watch the sunrise from the same saddle we hiked the previous evening.
Our final mile was in view of Turtle Rock which was strikingly coincidental as my Mother’s gift to me for graduation, a turtle pendant. It was a moment of bliss unpaired with anything I’ve experienced thus far. It reminded me that “All nature is your congratulation, and therefore you have cause momentarily to bless yourself.” ###
John Maglinao is a 2017 intern for Siskiyou Mountain Club. He considers the wilderness experience a gift.