March 10, 2015,
I book another Airbnb in the College Hill area of Eugene, Oregon for a couple of nights. The owners converted their garden shed to a guest cottage in their backyard. It’s on a quiet street in a well-kept neighborhood of Arts & Craft style homes. The white paint wood interior has simple furnishings, a kitchenette and a small bathroom with a corner shower; perfect for my needs. It has a calming, charming, cottage feel and I instantly adore it. After settling in, I walk around the neighborhood. One thing I notice is how
many people care about their appearances when it comes to their yards and homes. Beautiful shrubs, ornamental trees and flowers adorn the landscape. It’s almost as though it’s a contest to see who has the most well-cared property. Each home out doing the previous home in Garden Beautiful.
The following day I decide to hike Spencer Butte . The address is 85804 South Willamette St, Eugene, OR 97405. The weather is overcast but dry. It’s only a short drive and I find the parking lot quite easily. The trail head is close to the parking lot with bathrooms. After looking at the map, I decide to hike the longer but easier trail up to the summit and hike the steeper, shorter trail down. It’s a 1.8 mile loop which isn’t bad at all. The dirt trail is well maintained and fairly wide in certain areas as it winds its way. I feel as though I’m walking through King Arthur’s enchanted forest. The conifer trees are tall and straight with very few limbs. Moss grows heavy on the bark. Large clumps of ferns dot the forest floor among the rocks. I listen and hear only the sounds of nature.
As I near the top, the trail narrows and becomes steeper. Rocks jut out of the path. My breathing is heavy as I ascend the switchbacks. It always looks easier on the map than the real climb. I hear a couple of guys behind me and I decide to let them pass. I say hello and make eye contact. Something about them give me the creeps, as I feel my heart begin to beat faster. They eye me up and down. One has short blond hair with steel-blue eyes and a red T-shirt and beige shorts. The other has a crew cut, with a white T-shirt and jeans. I can see tattoos on their arms. It’s not what they look like but how they look at me which makes me nervous. My imagination runs amok.
I’ve traveled solo for several months but this is the first time I feel danger. I wait about 10 minutes until I can’t hear them before I continue. For a moment I consider heading back to the car, but I’m not going to let my fear get the best of me. My goal is the summit and hell or high-water, I’m getting there.
As the trees become smaller, the summit is in view. The trail is rocky with bits of dirt and loose gravel. I lean forward and gingerly pick my way. Finally, I reach the barren summit of jagged rocks, scrubby tufts of grass and a few meager trees. Even though it’s cloudy it’s quite beautiful. Waves of distant hills and valleys in shades blue and green surround the mountain. Perched on a rock, I rest and enjoy the views.
It’s getting late as I descend the steep rocky trail on the other side of the mountain. I choose my steps carefully, holding rocks and roots to steady myself. I stop and turn, looking up towards the summit. The path is almost hidden from the rocky outcropping. I can barely tell where the path is. I stop often to admire my surroundings. It’s difficult to enjoy the scenery when walking on a steep path. One must concentrate on the task at hand or risk tumbling down the side of the cliff.
I arrive back to the car close to 3pm. What a great hike, I’m glad I did it.