July 7, 2018…. Packing began to prep myself for the following morning. I was ready for the first hike of the Six Pack of Peaks challenge. All of my supplies were packed in my hiking backpack, my trekking poles and snacks in their proper pouches. My alarm was set for a 3 a.m. wake up call so I could get out to the summit by sunrise.  I declared myself Ready.

I was not ready.

For the first part at least. I woke up at 3 as planned, was downstairs filling my coffee and out the door by 3:30 a.m. The 30 minute drive to the base of Paulina Peak had begun. Upon my arrival, it was completely gorgeous out. The sky was completely clear and there was zero light pollution. I strapped up my backpack, grabbed my walking sticks and begun the trek up to the summit. About 25% into the ascent, I realized that I really should have done more stretching/prep for this hike. 

Climb Every Mountain…

Even though I have completed this hike before, I apparently forgot how steep it was right out the gate. Needless to say I was winded fairly quickly. I had to take multiple breaks early on, standing still with my trekking poles supporting me. My lungs were attempting to repair the imaginary damage it felt it was facing akin to a proverbial Kobayashi Maru test with each break for air. The fact that the temperature was 38 degrees when I started with the air being mega thin already probably played into the absolute furnace that was my lungs. Eventually my body regulated to the fact that we were in this for the long haul up. Let’s get some stats out of the way:

Tale of the Tape:

Paulina Peak: 5.5 Miles in/out. Elevation of 7,984 FT, Total incline of 1,594 Ft. 

For the Six Pack of Peaks challenge for Central Oregon, Paulina Peak lands about 3rd in total incline and 4th in distance (by a narrow margin). Being that I chose this summit as my first “victim”, is the fact that I’ve already completed it about 2 years ago. When I took on Paulina in 2014, I was suffering from pretty deep depression. If you haven’t been following along with the rest of the class, my wife, Natasha has been ill with Lyme Disease and a host of accompanying ailments to go along with it. Needless to say it’s been a struggle but with that as a factor, there were many others that contributed to my depression. If you look at pictures from that hike vs now, you will see two different people. Observe:

Depression is no joke. I believe I tried hiking to get some time to think. I needed to get my head off of the hustle and bustle of work, worry about my wife’s health and finances. And no matter how far I trekked into the woods, all of those items stayed with me. Thanks to therapy, time, understanding, and a job change, I was able to actually enjoy this hike. Two years ago when I first attempted Paulina, I had every intention of getting to the summit by sunrise. That did NOT go as planned. Unfortunately I missed it by about 30 minutes due to the fact that I got lost looking for the base of the trailhead while it was pitch black outside with minimal signage. Oregon get your act together!

Not This Time, Satan!

Knowing exactly where I was going this time and getting an earlier start, I accomplished my goal of hiking the trail (all the while whipping my head back and forth looking for eyes belonging to cougars reflecting from my head lamp so much that Willow Smith would be proud) in time to reach the summit and see beauty like THIS:

It was beautiful. There was absolutely NO sound. The wind had stopped, there was zero road noise and I sat upon the highest point in the rock formation just to observe this site. I then put my headphones on and listened to one of my favorite tracks from the Man of Steel soundtrack (thank’s Alan Silvestri). It was absolutely peaceful. I can’t even begin to tell you how relaxed I had become even though my legs were now the ones on fire, giving my lungs a break.

I snapped a few more pictures and began my decent back down. Slight tangent. The sign I’m about to show you is deceitful.

You see that part that says Crater Rim Trail? There is neither a crater nor a rim. Just a trail that leads to the road that you can drive up to the summit. And it’s not even at the bottom or the top. The trail leads smack dab in the middle. That added an additional 30 minutes to my trip. -_-

Back on course

I continued my decent and had a musical interlude:

Not sure why I posted that but figured I’d share! So, in conclusion, if you are near Central Oregon or plan on taking a trip, I suggest you take on Paulina. She’s a great hike and I the views are stellar! Stretch before you go, though because you calves and thighs will be looking at you like this for the following few days:

Want to help me Gear Up for the next challenge? Check out my Amazon List: http://a.co/9jD9QP2

Want to sign up for Six Pack of Peaks? Go here to register: https://sixpackofpeaks.com/

Like Their Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/CentralOregonSixPackOfPeaksChallenge/

And last but not least, the full gallery from today!