We have hiked and camped on this mountain many times, in all seasons of the year, but it has become somewhat of an annual springtime ritual for us; making the two hour drive up from Portland, hiking a trail and camping near the peak.
On the car ride we talked about the different passages to the top. There was the easy one most of us had done before, the steep one a few of us had done, and the long one we usually ignore. There was another way as well, overgrown and unmarked, we'd only heard accounts from others who had done this hike in the past.
The trail had been purposefully left off the maps at the trail head. Our directions were vague and none of the stories we heard were very promising. "He tried once but had to turn around...", "She always goes down that way...", or "That's where the big rock slide happened, it's not the same anymore."
This was the route we chose before we had even entered the car in the morning, no better way to start the summer. Halfway up the mountain we found where the now overgrown trail hid. There were some objections, they were ignored. We had the time to get lost and the time to turn around so there were no excuses worth listening to.
It was steep and the stones were loose beneath our feet. We pulled each other up through small holes in a cave wall, and raised our bags up a rock face with a long rope.
At the top the sun was still struggling to melt the ice out of the pond, and we walked through waist deep snow to find our camp site. We took off our boots and started a fire to dry them. We crept around barefoot to pitch our tents and gather more wood into the night. The fish we caught were too skinny from the long, harsh winter so we ate beans and slept like logs through the night.
Now we all had our own story to tell about the old way up Tumbledown.
All pictures shot on Kodak Tri-x pushed to 1000 and stand developed in Rodinal.
Photo - Blair Kemp
Text - Rich Vessey/Blair Kemp/Reggie McCafferty