I was recently reflecting on Instagram that I’ve discovered it’s important for me to live in a place where I can get out and experience new landscapes as often as possible. Staying in one place too long makes me want to get up and leave, crawl out of my comfort zone, and throw myself into a new situation where I’m forced to adapt and grapple with the unknown. I’m afraid of getting too comfortable somewhere, too complacent.
Living in Oregon has been really good for me in that way. Just an hour or two drive from house, and I can be in the mountains, on the coast, at a waterfall, or in an ancient lava field. I’ve spent many a weekend exploring these places, but more recently I decided to check out some hikes closer to home.
Last weekend brought me to Eagle’s Rest, a trail just 40 minutes outside of Eugene. It was a hike I had overlooked in the past, both because I read it was often heavily trafficked, and because it was near some other trails I’d hiked before so I didn’t think it could be that different. Boy, was I mistaken!
My friends and I headed up to the trail late on a rainy Friday morning. The weather truly did not look promising, but, not to be deterred by a little rain, we layered up and headed out.
As we climbed higher on the gently ascending path, patches of snow were scattered through the forest, and much to our surprise, it didn’t rain at all, despite being rather overcast. We took several detours to search for wild mushrooms, and eventually filled a small bag with some hedgehog mushrooms and chantrelles.
The last mile or so of the trail was the steepest, with switchbacks winding up the mountain into drier and drier terrain. Toward the top, the trail was lined with short, scraggly madrone trees that contrasted sharply with the wet, mossy forest from which we had just come. The higher we ascended, the windier and colder it got as well, as if a foreboding winter storm were brewing in the distance.
All of a sudden I could see clear sky ahead and I knew we had made it to the top. We emerged from the madrones into a blast of icy wind and snow flurries flying up the mountainside from somewhere below. The view was breathtaking in every way.
After enjoying the view and enduring the freezing cold wind and snow blasting up from the mountain, we hiked down over the edge a little ways to a grassy knoll that my friend Liz called “The Shire.” The description was accurate — it did look very much like something out of Middle Earth. We romped around down there for a while until our hands and faces felt frozen, before scrambling back up to the top and back into the protection of the forest.
The way back down was quite a bit chillier than it had been on the way up, but as we neared the bottom of the trail, the sun peeked out for some time, bathing the woods in warm light.
As we got back to town, Eugene was still sopping wet under a heavy drizzle of rain, and I couldn’t help but feel immensely satisfied with the day’s outing. I had not expected to find such spectacular views so close to home, at the top of such a lovely trail! This is one I will most certainly be frequenting again.