Editor’s Note: In July 2017, Amalie Dieter wrote a My Adventure column about her first trip into the Kalmiopsis Wilderness as an intern with the Siskiyou Mountain Club (http://mailtribune.com/lifestyle/learning-lessons-from-the-trail). That trip didn’t end well. This year she went back.
EAGLE MOUNTAIN — A different kind of beautiful. ?That’s what I think when I look upon what is left of this forest on the edge of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. With the white snags spread out for miles, you can see all of the rock, making the mountains a patchwork of color.
Almost a year has gone by since I took my first steps on the Kalmiopsis Rim Trail No. 1124 as a Siskiyou Mountain Club intern and was defeated by the ascent of Eagle Mountain. In some ways it feels like yesterday.
The wildflowers and butterflies are out in full force as I make my way, but I remember my first hike here with the sun setting and SMC field coordinator Aaron Babcock saying, “The mountain is just around the corner,” after every corner.
With every step I expect the pain to come, but it doesn’t. Sure, my feet are a little sore and my knees aren’t thanking me for the downhill, but I’m not struggling for breath and I’m more concerned with the beauty around me than with the difficulty of the trail.
In some ways it feels like yesterday, but in other ways it is obvious that it wasn’t. Hiking through a very burned section of the trail, I find myself wishing for a Pulaski to dig out the trail that is disappearing underneath the sliding rock and for loppers to take out the thorny brush reaching for my clothes.
It is like a sandy beach at Eagle Gap, with many fallen snags to choose from as a bench. Taking a few bites of a granola bar, I look up at its steep rocky ascent. I remember being unable to breathe the whole way up and the feeling of failure all the way down.
I didn’t run up Eagle Mountain, but in comparison to last year, it felt like I was flying. Reaching the top was a bittersweet moment. Sweet to have made it, but bitter to think, ?if only I could have done this last year.
Last year I couldn’t make it, but today I can. Last year I had never gone backpacking, done trail work, or stepped foot in a wilderness area. Today I jump at the chance to do any and all of those things.
The Siskiyou Mountain Club changed my life in so many ways, and I cannot thank them enough for this view and all the others I will get to see because of my time with them.
Amalie Dieter lives in Talent.
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