Cowhorn Mountain - August 31, 2013
Coordinator Jane Flewelling, narration by Jane Flewelling and pictures by Richard O'Neill

Eleven hikers met in the parking lot and drove up Hwy. 138 to the trailhead. From there they gradually hiked up the Pacific Crest Trail which was sheltered from the sun by a semi-open forest of mountain hemlock, lodgepole pine and noble fir. Soon, hikers got a brief view of West Windigo Lake nestled below the trail.

Further along were three different awesome view points , each inspired hikers with renewed vigor, just like a carrot dangling in front of a horse. After 4.3 miles, the trail left the PCT and worked its way up three distinctive terrains. The first was comprised of many switchbacks leading up- and up - and up on a crumbly scree slope. After working around and over big boulders and taking one big step down, three hikers found several convenient flat rocks to perch on. It was a perfect place to relax and catch their breath, sheltered by a stunted tree, and to watch others climb on up the mountain to the second type of terrain, a red-orange cinder hogback (a short ridge with abruptly sloping sides). It was hard to concentrate on the narrow trail across the ridge because of the lure of the magnetic views on both sides. Next, more uphill switchbacks and the third type of terrain with a non- technical scramble over rocks to the summit. It required careful placing of hands and feet to find secure footing and hand holds. Congratulations to the 8 intrepid hikers who made it to the top to enjoy the awesome views of Summit Lake, Diamond Peak, Sawtooth, Mt. Bailey, Crater lake and Mt. Thielson.

The three who stopped after the first section could certainly take pride in their achievements. They enjoyed watching their fellow hiker’s progress and they had time to contemplate the many varied patterned designs of the wonderful vertical rock formations on the south side and they had time to feel the sublimity and mystique of Cowhorn.

Back at the trailhead, the group encountered a PCT “ through” hiker . Yes, she started at Mexico then joined up with four other hikers; their destination, Canada. Richard asked for her trail name and she replied “Peter Pan.” She said she was given that name on the Appalachian Trail because she always wore green. When asked where she was going to hike next, she quickly answered, “The Continental Divide Trail along the Rocky Mountains.” John made her day by giving her two fresh pears – a REAL TREAT for her. Smiling from ear to ear she quickly claimed them.
The FOU hikers wished her well. “There’s always something new to explore!” What a great day!

Pictures by Richard O'Neill

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