I was shaming myself yesterday for being a bit soft during a tiring weekend adventure in the mountains.
Then I read about Morris and Sue Jenkins’ honeymoon spent scaling peaks, clambering down cliffs, and rafting across an alpine lake, and I felt downright wussy.
My saga began last Friday when I drove past Roslyn to the Cathedral Pass trailhead with my son and son-in-law, bound for Peggy’s Pond and a Saturday ascent of 7,960-foot Mt. Daniel. Despite training for a month, I slogged pathetically up the switchbacks toward Cathedral Rock (top picture), huffing and puffing and sweltering under the warm sun.
We crested the ridge and followed the PCT to the Peggy’s Pond spur trail. Some trail! It’s a goat path in places, faintly scuffed into the lower walls of Cathedral Rock amid a yawning 1,200-foot drop to Deep Lake. My fear of heights flared with each cautious step onto narrow, crumbly ledges.
I survived that torment and soon passed the collapsed ruins of an old cabin among the trees. Who built it, we wondered, on this remote and scenic site? And when?
After a night at Peggy’s Pond, we awoke to find our tent shrouded by mist that obscured trees a mere 50 feet away. We struck upward anyway, aiming for Mt. Daniel’s southeast shoulder, until prudence prevailed when we recognized the difficulty of retracing our steps to camp.
We aborted our summit bid, retreated, broke camp and hiked out. I felt disappointed yet somewhat relieved, being pretty bushed and sore.
Back home I remembered the old cabin and dug around to learn more.
I learned, yes, I am indeed a wuss.
Local historian Yvonne Prater wrote about the Peggy’s Pond cabin years ago, based on an account from Morris Jenkins, a longtime Forest Service ranger and avid outdoorsman – and in my estimation, a Cascade ironman. Jenkins died in 2006 at age 97.
Jenkins and his wife Sue spent their honeymoon in 1932 in the mountains north of Salmon la Sac. One day they hiked into the mountains with no pack and just a sandwich to share, and decided to climb Cathedral Rock. Back then it was named Jimmy’s Jumpoff, after Jimmy Grieve, a late-1800s gold miner who first climbed the peak, and who built the cabin below Peggy’s Pond.
The Jenkins’ had no climbing equipment and simply scrambled to the 6,724-foot Cathedral summit, which mountaineers today rate as a technical class 4 or 5 ascent. From the top they spotted Grieve’s cabin, climbed down and arrived at dusk, hoping to find food. They settled for a “fool hen” grouse that Morris struck with a rock, but once broiled it tasted so awful they went to bed hungry, shivering all night on an old mattress.
The next day they inexplicably decided to climb Mt. Daniel. So they did. Their descent took them down the cliffs above Hyas Lake, and once there they found no shoreline – just rock walls plunging into the water. But Morris spotted an old log raft nearby and ferried the newlyweds across the lake to a trail, where they hiked to a ranger’s cabin stockpiled with food.
“Sue was too tired to eat,” Morris told Prater. “It was quite an experience to do all that on one sandwich and a couple bites of fool hen.”
Photo of Morris Jenkins courtesy Frederick Krueger Collection, Central Washington University