Horse Pasture Mountain

My father loves the outdoors and is a hiker. He hikes hundreds of miles a year. Before he married my mother he worked on lookout towers in the Oregon mountains. He and my mom even worked on one the summer after they were married. They instilled in us a love for nature and hiking. I was seven years old when I went on my first 10 mile hike. It was up Horse Pasture Mt. to an old lookout site where my dad had been stationed. The lookout was no longer there, but we could see the foundation and dad showed us where the outhouse had been looking over the side of the mountain.

Ten years later he took me on the same hike, just longer. It is still my favorite hike and I remember it so clearly. We began the hike walking through the woods and a few meadows to the tower site. The trail was dotted with wildflowers, butterflies and bees. Birds were darting around from place to place, filling the air with nature’s sweet innocent music. As we neared the summit of the mountain we could see where the old tower had been; the foundation and rocks scattered across what used to be the living quarters. The only real sign that a building had once existed was a metal plaque embedded in the ground. My father guided me to his favorite place to sit and look out over the country side. I climbed upon the rock and settled my self down. He pointed to each mountain in the distance and told me its name. Most were great monstrous formations, with little caps of snow on the top of them, making you think that the mountains had stocking caps on to keep their heads warm. My father pointed out the Three Sisters, The Husband, Three Finger Jack, Mt. Bachelor, and Mt. Jefferson. All of these were relatively close, and stood out against the stark, clear, blue sky. Mt. Jefferson had clouds circling its peak like children in a game of “Ring Around the Rosies.” After we had eaten our lunch we head down the hill toward the potholes.

We went off the main trail onto a small deer path down to the meadow know as the potholes. As we neared it the trees gradually thinned and we could see spots of green beaming forth with brilliant colors splattered across it. Suddenly we stepped out of the forest and were greeted by a shout of green smothered with a myriad of color. Every wildflower imaginable painted the meadow. As I looked around I saw why it had been named the potholes. There were great puddles of water and mud scattered through the meadow, and if one were not careful where he stepped, he could end up knee deep in water and mud. I carefully skirted about the meadow picking flowers and sticking them into my father’s hat and behind his ears. This was a rather common occurrence on our hikes; and the only time we could tease dad about being a “blooming idiot.” (hee hee) After I had successfully turned him into a wild flower bouquet we continued on cross country into the forest and along the ridge of the mountain.

We walked through the dense forest; streaks of sunlight dancing their way through the thick foliage playing tag with the shadows. Every once in a while the trees would clear enough so we could get a glimpse out across the country side where you could see the mountains off in the distance and massive expanses of forest that went for miles over mountain and hill. We followed a decline in our makeshift path and soon realized we were walking along a massive rock wall that seemed to reach to the sun.

There was moss and lichen on every stone and in every corner of the rock wall. The sunlight coming through the trees glinted off the moss making it appear as if it was glowing. Soon we were walking up again, and then, almost right in front of us, appeared colossal stone towers. They came out of nowhere, scattered along the end of the ridge. Some were in groups; some standing alone. I stood still, holding my breath, taking in the tremendous sight. I didn’t want to make a single sound in fear that I might somehow disturb this awesome wonder before me and break that magic moment. Finally, my father and I moved and started to explore them. There was one group that had formed four pillars together with a small space in he middle of them, which I climbed into and looked up to the sky. They towered well above my head. I felt as though I was standing in the remains of an old castle that had withstood thousands of years of wars. I felt as though I had traveled to the land of Narnia, described in the beginning of the book, “Prince Caspian” by C. S. Lewis, where the children discovered the old remains of the castle that they had once ruled in.

As we explored more we realized that we were standing on the rock wall that we had been admiring. As we wandered around the immense rock formations, we soon came to the end of the ridge, It bottomed out into a vast emptiness, where far below you could catch glimpses of another valley and forests scattered across rolling hills and mountains. As we looked up we peered out into the clear blue sky, and realized that from here we could see forever. I asked my father why we hadn’t ever come out here before, and he grinned and said that this was the farthest out he had ever explored; even when he used to live back at the look out tower. He put his arm around my shoulders and we stood there enjoying the beautiful view that stretched out before us.

After quite some time, we headed back to the car. I was sad to have to leave that magnificent, magical, mystical place. The hike had been my favorite since I had hiked it at seven, but now it was even more incredible.


Filed under Family, Memory, Personal History, Writing, Youth

7 responses to “Horse Pasture Mountain

  1. What a wonderful story Julia! I love the outdoors, hiking in particular! I could even smell the flowers 🙂

  2. This was so wonderfully descriptive of the scenery I could just feel I was there. You certainly do have a way with words, Julia.

  3. If I wasn’t already a little homesick for the Northwest and especially my favorite mountainous areas around portland and seattle, reading your little post here would have made me homesick all by itself.

    While I was reading, I was remembering back to hiking trips at girls camp during summers of my youth, I could see the mountain peaks, with the snow caps to keep their heads warm, I could smell the flowers, and I could feel the bushes, grass and trees brush along my side as I walked. Thank you for this beautiful story, I might have to use it as weight to convince my husband why we shouldn’t stay in New Mexico FOREVER.

  4. what terrific imagery. feels like you took us all with you!

  5. Thanks for the hike! I love nature hikes! That was very beautiful.

  6. I was doing a web search on Horse Pasture mountain because I had heard that it was a terrific hike and am trying to find out how to get there….any advice? and when are the wildflowers in full bloom…I would love to take a special someone there!

  7. I talked with my father and the best time for wild flowers would probably be in July. As far as how to get there we will look at a map and I will post directions when I have them. I should say that a lot of the hike that my father took me on was cross country and we did not go on any trail, but I think you will still find it a delightful and beautiful hike.

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