I'm looking at year 10 since Oregon became my home. A decade in and I'm still blown away by what Oregon, and the Pacific North West in general hold in the wildlands that blanket the region. From the moment land begins to surface on the coastline, all the way into the high desert east of the craggy Cascade Range, the views are constantly transforming.
From a fire lookout southeast of Bend, with a line of site as far as Mt. Shasta looking south and Mt. Hood to the north, each direction brings a different blend of colors and shapes. It is the perfect spot to enjoy all this diversity.
It is becoming a tradition for me to visit this spot in the winter, when my winter skills in the backcountry will be put to the test. 4 1/2 mile hike doesn't seem like much, but consider the need for snowshoes, lack of trail markers, the steep elevation gain; you get the idea. None of this comes without an enormous award waiting at the top though.
A structure sits waiting for the victorious on top of the peak at 7,188 feet. Some comfortable beds, a wood stove, and windows on every wall. Even through winds over 110 mph and blizzards like I experienced last year the lookout stands strong. Like a fortress in the best king of the mountain scenario, you have a full 360 degree view for miles upon miles. To our north the high desert and rocky outcroppings create an alien looking landscape.
To the South a prominent Mt. Shasta raises up out of California demanding attention. In the evening, with the sun fading towards the west Shasta is set ablaze.
Before the sun fully sets the next light show is already beginning to warm up. An untarnished view of the stars encircle us. Cocooned inside warm sleeping bags, looking out of the windows on all sides of us; the thought brings me back now.
The car was quiet most of the ride back, running the experience through our heads of life on top of Hagar Mountain. May the tradition live on for another year...