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Devils Peak: A Very Personal Journey

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We had no idea we’d run into 8 inches of snow, we’d get lost twice (once for 30 minutes) or what we’d find at the end of our hike.

We should have known when the website said:” not a family friendly hike” that we were in for a long day.

The Cool Creek Trail starts at a little sign four miles up Still Creek Road off Highway 26 right outside of Zigzag. (Mt Hood)

It doesn’t take long to realize you are in for a workout. Right off the bat you are headed up and up and up.

The forest is deep the tree’s enormous and the sound…still.

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We run into a hiker who is headed back down, turned back because she wasn’t prepared for all the snow ahead. Dressed in shorts and hiking boots we look at each other and forge ahead.

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It doesn’t take long to run into snow. First a few flakes here and there and soon, very soon, we are in eight inches of white-powder.

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There are enough views of Mt Hood to keep you interested. Hiking is always easier with a view and a destination in the forefront of your mind.

The snow is so deep we get to a place in the trail where we miss the turn and head a few hundred yards in the wrong direction to a dead end.

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I’ve done too many stories on missing hikers and don’t want to be a headline news story or a body being pulled from the mountain so one of us stays on the trail while another heads up the mountain to see if we can find the trail.

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For 30 minutes we climb and plow through trees and plants when finally Jess goes back to the trail, heads a bit to the East and finds a Forest Services marking on a tree that gets us back on the trail.

A mile or so later it happens again. The storm last fall tumbled tons of trees over pathways and trailheads and the blanket of snow doesn’t help.

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Again, Jess finds the markers and we trudge onward and upward to what seems like a never-ending destination.

Finally we come to a marker that reads “Hunchback Mountain Trail” (Another really tough but amazing hike) and know we are moments away. As we come up the hill there in front of us is the historic Devils Peak Lookout.

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On a clearer day I’m sure you can see the Three Sisters (not my three sisters) and the rest of the Cascade Clan but on this day only the base of Mount Hood is exposed, her top unwilling to show itself through a thick layer of clouds.

We bought wraps at “Wraptitude” a cool little restaurant in Welch’s. Before lunch we decide a little exploration is needed.

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The lookout is begging our attention so we climb the steps and make our way inside the fairly spacious cabin.

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Inside you feel like you have stepped into a place where only a few dare to venture. These adventurers leave behind bits and pieces of their trip and a message for those to follow.

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We find this funny note talking of marijuana and a joint left behind however someone else must have found it, which is fine I gave that up 30 some years ago, and have no need to go “There” again. There is a log dated and time stamped by others who have made the 5045-foot climb to the top of the world.

A woodstove, hand-warmers, decks of cards, games and matches fill makeshift cupboards and tables. Lamp oil and even toilet paper left behind for the next person to enjoy but no garbage, people who come here seem to respect what it is and refuse to let it become what we left behind.

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The sun is warm and we find a place in the snow to eat our lunch. Jess brings a beer to the top. I guess he knew we’d depend on his guiding skills to get us out of trouble and too the top and that is worth celebrating.

It takes us more than three hours to get to the top and about two to get down. Going down always sounds easy until your knee’s start to complain about slippery snow and steep descents.

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This morning as I sip my coffee and relax my tired, sore, 55.5 year-old muscles in the hot tub I am thankful to God for my family and the honesty and ease with which we live.

On Friday we got to be with Jakob in Portland and I never knew being together could be so comfortable, effortless and easy.

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Sometimes being with extended family can be a chore. We hide and cover things as not to make waves or stir up things that need to simply settle. We walk on pins-and-needles watching what we say and more importantly how we say it.

I always felt that way with my father and he probably felt the same way with me. Perhaps that’s why this weekend feels so special to me. It seems something has passed-over my family that seemed to dominate the one I came from.

I feel myself when I’m with Kathy and the boys. A calmness that wasn’t there when they were growing up no longer holds me. I feel free to be me and allow them to be who God created them to be.

As our boys grow older I feel them becoming the adults and me the child. As Jess guides us up the hill it feels almost natural to hand over the lead to he and his brother and in doing so a sense of peace lingers.

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