Saturday, August 20

Badassery of the Summer: Hiking Mt. McLoughlin

When you're back home in Oregon for a mere 6 days, you tend to cram/pack the snot out of it to make sure you leave tired (and thusly can nap while Mr. Wookie drives the 11 hours to Southern California). And the Wedding Week of Middle Sister was no different. Although there were plenty of activities to keep us busy (a golf tournament for the boys, nails for the girls, rehearsals, dinners, and picking up dry cleaning), we decided to take the one free day (Wednesday), and tackle this beast of a mountain.

As you can see below (and yes, I'm from Medford!) there's this tiny mountain that lurks from the Eastern side of the city. That first knoll is no more than 1,000 feet above sea level. That snow-covered peak...misses the 10,000 foot level by a few hundred feet. Yes, it's a bitch. Yes, I've been wanting to hike this for years. And yes, I got my chance. And yes, my dad was able to join us!

I'll be honest, I was a little nervous. I hadn't hiked up past 9,000+ feet in a handful of years. It's not a forgiving altitude for those who live down in Southern California and are only accustom to beach air. But that Wednesday morning, at 6:09am precisely, we headed the 47 miles to the trailhead to take Mother Nature head on.

Nay to it being 38 degrees at the trailhead.
Yay to there being Forest Service-maintained restrooms at the trailhead.
Nay to the Sheriff not having Purel in his car.
Yay to the Sheriff having baby wipes instead.

The first 3 miles were cake. The trail was well groomed. We were the first ones on the path. Plus we were warming up since we didn't expect the temperature to be so low! And we were holding 25:00/miles (yes, this sounds slow, but trust us...we were zooming). The board said this hike was about a 4 hour trek upwards, and with our great time, we assumed we'd be summit'd in less than 3 hours. 


Enter that nasty elevation...where breathing through a straw sounds like a better idea.

We knew from the thinning trees that we were coming up on the tree line where it transitions from a mosquito-filled jungle of evergreens to the sheer rocks and boulders that you have to traverse for another 2 miles. Here is where it got sporty.

With more than an hour left, the summit was in site. No, I didn't document this process of seeing it so close but so far away. Sorry. I was too busy fighting altitude sickness where I was getting extremely dizzy, nauseous, and needing to stop every 20 steps to try and grab air. This is really a joke because you can't ever feel like you've caught your breath. By this time, we were being passed by 2 people and their dog who are holding a long-winded conversation like they're Nepalese on vacation in Oregon. I wanted to shoot them.

But finally, we made it. 4 hours, 6 minutes after setting off for glory, we summit'd.

Elevation: 9,495 feet. Trailhead: 4,555 feet. Gain: 5,000+ feet in 5.5 miles. Yes, we really did hike 11 miles for fun. Yes, it was fun....when it was over. Would I do it again? Yes, with Mommy McD. She's jeal...

Mr. Wookie enjoying his Clif bar...

And if you can squint, you can see a cloud-covered summit in the distance. That's Mt. Shasta (that large ass mountain we drove past on our way up!).

So naturally I needed a picture with it. Yes, that's a half marathon technical shirt I'm wearing from my PR effort in June. It's all I had to wear that wouldn't be cotton for this mission. Sorry, fashion folks. I'll do better next time?

The rocks you see is literally how the last 2 miles are...rocky and difficult. The next day my back was sore from having to mountaineer up and down these things.

Yes, that's a dragonfly investigating the Sheriff.

And thanks to one successful 10-second self timer action that we were able to capture our success before ravaging our backpacks for snacks. We enjoyed a beautiful 38 minutes at the top before it started to get crowded (one guy hiked his father's ashes up in a ziploc bag....uhh...okay, it's windy...I'm going to leave now).

Our hike down was sporty too. The Sheriff almost biffed it a few times. I did biff it a few times. The Nikon survived...obviously. We had to refill our 100 oz. Camelbaks (this is the biggest size they make, people!) with snow (yes, snow in's 9,000+ feet!).

And we learned our lesson: Pack up cold beer to enjoy on the summit. It's refreshing and fuel. Lesson learned for sure.

But 3.5 hours of scaling boulders down (and randomly running into one of Middle Sister's wedding guests [seriously, small world!]), we made it to the truck. We downed a warm Gatorade each, I peed for the third time, and we headed for home. Once there...we "hydrated" some more. Okay, okay, this time it was hefty vodka tonics. We deserved it. Plus we were thirsty. So win/win. Then we looked up our calorie burn for the effort.

Mrs. Wookie @ 142 lbs: 4,500 calories
Mr. Wookie @ 210 lbs: 5,200 calories
The Sheriff @ 215 lbs: 6,000 calories!!

So you can imagine our post-hike meals...they were legen...(I need a refill)...dary.

The end.


  1. Ok, first off - this is one of my favorite posts. It's just gorg. Not THE gorge, but gorg. Also, that picture of Big One? He. Looks. Hawt. (Is that weird that I think that?) Frame it.

    Le sigh, one day I'll be back there and we can climb mountains together. I'm glad you had a good time.

  2. Haha - I agree he looks PHENOM with scruff. Uber sexy. Anytime we can have a 4-day vacay I know I have scruff to oogle. :)

  3. Bless you, thinking the Sheriff weighs 215...

  4. Yea, McLouglin! I always think, "Wow, that's pretty. We don't have those in Illinois." But I've honestly never thought, "I was to climb it!" :)

  5. Holy sh*t. I'm so admirable of you. And now I totally want to go hike a mountain. Except that I'm not a runner like I'd whine and whine and whine some more for those hours of climbing. But 4,500 calories? Maybe I need it!