Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Hell And Out

Standing tall on a dim evening.

It looked like rain. I was stompin' it downhill.

Distant beasties.

Didn't notice these guys across the valley until editing the photo.

My home for the second night.

See the elk now? Same photo as the previous one. Anyway, I found a place to camp, and walked through poison ivy. And survived.

At least someone was happy.

Some of the plants were in a good mood. I was trying to figure WTF.

An early brief, hopeful flash of morning sunlight.

I finally got that figured out, dumped my food, slept, and bugged out the next day, two days in and one day behind schedule.

Rolling, rolling along.

The weather was better — not cold, not windy any more. Sometimes it's like that when you give up.

View down toward the river.

In fact, things looked pretty good overall.

Yeah. Go figure. If you can.

I had a Forest Service map, which was so detailed and tiny-printed that it was almost useless, and had a couple of photocopied pages from Douglas Lorain's book, which were good, but little help from what signs were there — all old, wiped clean.

My only friend.

If you look closely, and have nothing else to do, you see little stuff.

Overview.

And there's lots of big stuff to see as well.

Just about the only legible sign.

Hey! A sign! With letters on it. At least I knew that I was still on the trail. For a while.

Ridge to hell. Or the Snake River.

I never did actually get to touch the Snake River. It was over there somewhere.

About where I lost it (the trail).

And then things got confusing. Coming in it was all clear. Going back out the trail sort of seemed to evaporate.

Happy because flowers can't get lost.

Hmmm — a flower. Not a serious marker. I wonder where the trail went.

Clear, clean upland.

Not up there.

Which way is out?

Not out there, I think. But who can say?

Elkers. Running. From me.

Probably not over there, but even if I went to ask the elk, they weren't in a helpful mood.

Hmmm. Do I want to go there?

No evidence of a trail. How the hell did I get in here? Anyhow?

Landmark.

Well, I finally decided just to go in one direction, and decided that this was a good landmark. A few minutes later I saw the trail on the other side of the valley, backtracked, chased it down, and got back on it after only two or so wasted hours. Heh.

Another scorched tree.

OK. Trees. There were trees. Looks like a lot of them have had hard times. But they came through.

OK, this looks like the way out.

Ahhh. Finally. Clear trail. Actually, this was way farther on, but it makes a good story. Mostly, in fact, the trail was clear to see if not great to walk on. Overall, I probably averaged 1.25 miles an hour, pushing hard. No wonder I couldn't make my 15 miles a day.

You're happy too, aintcha?

Well, since it was just a matter of following the trail out, I once again had time to admire the flowers. While still keeping an eye out for snakes.

On the trail back to the top.

And then there was the long trudge back up to the ridge, from where I was able to make a long trudge back down the other side to get back to my car.

Still pretty.

OK. Color. I get it (pant, pant). Still a damn long way up.

Definitely the trail out...

Etc.

Been there, seen that.

Finally, at the top of the ridge, the only other readable sign. But it only told me what I already knew.

The end, except for a couple more miles down the other side.

In the end, I decided that I'd like to go back some time, and maybe aim for a shorter hike, going in one day and then heading east, toward Snake River, taking the trail down the long slope and forgetting about making any grand loop. The trail gets worse and worse as you go north, and all the worst poison ivy was up that way, and along the river coming back from the north end. A little wouldn't be too bad, but... You know?

More:

Post 1 To Hell, Briefly

Post 2 Hell Again

Reference: Backpacking Oregon, by Douglas Lorain.

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