Getting lost in the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness

October 31, 2009.

We had the best of intentions. I’d chosen a hike in the back of the red William Sullivan book, invited two friends to join me and packed up my rain gear. We were going to have a pleasant hike in the woods to a less-commonly visited destination.

After arriving at what we thought was the right trailhead, we loaded up our packs, zipped up our coats and headed up the trail. It was a dreary, rainy day. But we’d been in Oregon long enough to know the drill. This is just what a fall hike should feel like.

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Away we went, trudging through the mud and snow. I stopped to giggle at the Wilderness sign, that specifically prohibited the use of hang gliders. I imagined there must have been an incident that triggered adding that language to the sign. As we walked I pictured rogue hang gliders causing trouble in a national forest somewhere. And then literally every sign had to be re-printed to take that bozo into account. Seemed like a good use of resources…

These are the kinds of things I was thinking about, in addition to: are we in the right place? Shouldn’t we have come to a trail junction by now? And, is it hunting season?

After an hour or so of walking in the woods, suspecting that we’d done a poor job of trail research, we admitted defeat and headed back the way we came.

There are many reasons that a hike is relegated to the back of the book, and one reason is that it’s hard to get to. Some of the forest roads in the Mt. Hood National Forest are poorly marked or not marked at all. Mileages in the driving directions may not be entirely accurate. And when you don’t have a driving map of the forest roads, well, you end up using your best guesses. While we did end up at a trailhead for something, we weren’t exactly sure where that was.

Fortunately, we were smart enough to know when to turn back. And we still had a good time being outside, spending time with each other, and seeing a new part of the forest.

Next time, perhaps, I’ll pick something I am sure I can navigate to!

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