Blonde Moments, humor, Kvetching, PSAs

The Mountains are Calling and I Must…NO.

Go Jules Go Title Graphic The Mountains Are Calling and I Must NO_10JUL2019

I glanced at the clock. 1:15pm PST.

No matter! I’ve still got eight hours of daylight left here in beautiful central Oregon!

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It’s 10:00pm in Oregon. Do you know where your local hard cider is?

I checked Google maps and my guidebook. Gack. Seven miles too far. I turned the car around.

When I eventually pulled into my target destination, the Green Lakes trailhead parking lot off of the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway, I inspected the tags hanging from other cars’ rearview mirrors.

That kid at R.E.I. better have sold me the right one.

America the Beautiful Park Pass
Don’t be fooled. Apparently there are 47 different kinds of national/state/city park tags you’ll need to purchase if you want to (spoiler alert) suffer wildly.

On top of the colorful car tags, I also spotted a lot of these:

Mountains-For-Auto-Car-Bumper-Window-Vinyl-Decal-Sticker-Decals

The trailhead parking lot was nearly full, but I found an empty spot – thanks to someone who probably started their day before noon unlike some jobless hobos. I filled out a “day use voucher” (a.k.a. Evidence I Was Here Should Things Go Horribly, Horribly Awry), stuck one half in the slot beneath the signage and the other half in my backpack.

Since quitting my corporate job in March, I’d been hiking constantly. In New Jersey. Now, three weeks into my new Oregon life, I was seriously upping the ante.

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That’s how we do(odle).

The first five miles to Green Lakes, though mostly uphill, were breathtakingly scenic and only slightly buggy, with a well-marked, moderately trafficked trail.

By the time Uncle Jesse and I hit the lake and stopped to enjoy some peanuts and cherries, we were feeling bold.

“Once you’ve taken in the glory of the area, continue along the shoreline toward the east, where you’ll wrap slightly around the lake before noticing a number of side trails…” my trusty new guidebook read.

That sounds…confusing. I shook off any niggling doubts and headed east. At least, I was pretty sure it was east. Soon I found what was certainly the proper path. I persisted onward, but the lingering snow made it almost impossible to tell if I was still on a trail, let alone the right trail. I wonder what cougar tracks look like…

Every now and then we’d hit an open area and I’d gaze around hopefully. There is seriously no trail. Uncle Jesse and I bushwhacked for another seemingly endless stretch before I finally gave up. That’s it. Broken Top [mountain] is behind me, that means the water is in front of me. We’re going west (f%@&, it’s west, right?) until we hit the damn water.

The next thirty minutes felt like twelve hours, until at long last, I heard the familiar sound of rushing water.

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My Jersey self never fails to think it’s the din of ever-present highway traffic.

I spotted people on a wide, luxurious trail…on the other side of the creek. F%#&. We walked south along the water’s edge, constantly being forced back uphill to more level ground, stomping over fallen trees and coarse, woody debris. In spots where it might have been safe, if highly unpleasant, to cross, the bank on the other side was so steep, we’d never make it up to the trail.

Eventually I succumbed to our less than ideal Fate. Uncle Jesse, always eager to show off, sensed my resignation and bounded towards the water.

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It ain’t no thang!

“WAIT,” I said in my sternest Mom voice. “COME.” The water was rushing with the force of Donald Trump’s combover. Uncle Jesse stopped in his tracks, just inches from the crashing falls, and ran towards me.

I said a prayer and put both feet in. It was deeper than I thought, almost thigh-high. Okay. This is fine. It’s not so bad.

Uncle Jesse followed and immediately got scooped up by the raging current. I grabbed his collar, shocked by the water’s might. This won’t work. With not a second to spare, I gathered him in my arms, above the roaring waves, struggling to keep my balance. I made it nearly to the other side when my shin collided with something hard. A rock? A log? Holy s&#% it’s cold!

Uncle Jesse sprung out of my arms, and after a heart-attack inducing second or two, scrambled onto solid ground and up a steep hill. One more step, two, three… my head spun and my heart pounded. There. I clung to soil and suddenly realized my phone -secured in a race belt (all right, fanny pack) around my waist- had been completely submerged.

I freed it from its pouch as I crawled uphill, utterly amazed by my own stupidity.

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I suspect this will look more impressive over the coming days.

When I made it to the top, finally back on the proper trail, I looked for a place to sit down. I sucked in a few deep breaths, adrenaline coursing through my veins. You’re lucky no one is here to witness your fool self.

I decided to keep walking, glancing down at the rushing rapids. If I hadn’t caught Uncle Jesse… I tried not to think about what might have happened; the next half mile was even more treacherous than where we’d crossed.

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Quick question. Why are you so dumb, Mom?

We trudged the final, endless mile back to the car, swatting away hundreds of blood thirsty mosquitos, the pain in my left leg growing.

107…108…I did not know it was possible to sustain this many mosquito bites
and live to tell about it.

When we reached the parking lot, I peeled off my soaked, mud-covered socks and collapsed in the driver’s seat. Thirty minutes later, a dripping wet, bug-bitten, bleeding blonde could be seen purchasing several bottles of wine from the local Fred Meyer.

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And this souvenir was spotted in my trusty guidebook. (Vegan disclaimer: Many, many bugs were harmed in the making of this post, but not on purpose.)

~*~*~*~*~*~

Had any fun run-ins with Mother Nature lately??

~*~*~*~*~*~

24 thoughts on “The Mountains are Calling and I Must…NO.”

  1. Visiting the great state of Maine for a few weeks, I’m treated to regular visits from the Maine state bird: the mosquito. Fortunately, they haven’t flown off with my brother’s little dog… yet. All I can say is forget about all the “natural” bug repellent and go straight for the deer.

  2. So much to unpack here…
    First – Damn, that’s a gorgeous area! I may never get there, so I’ll just say thank you for moving so I can experience it from my desk chair.
    Second – Hiking in New Jersey? Puh-lease! You can’t get high enough above the smog.
    Third – Lovely Uncle Jesse pictures. Whatever camera you’re using, it’s wonderful.
    Fourth – You’re from Jersey! What the hell made you think you could ford a creek?
    Fifth – Hope your leg isn’t too sore. And if it makes you feel any better? I have never been in the woods/wilderness/mountains when I haven’t been bitten within an inch of my life. Mosquitoes flock to me like Richard Simmons at an all you can eat buffet.
    Great post!

  3. When I first experienced the West after growing up in Jersey, I was amazed at how little idiot proofing there was in regards to nature. No lifeguards, chain link fencing or other impediments to keep me from doing anything stupid. It was both liberating and terrifying to discover.
    I hope I didn’t just insult you, if only there was a warning sign next to the “Post Comment” button.

    1. Indeed! And when I travel to New Zealand and other “you do dumb stuff, it’s on you” countries, it’s even more the case. Which is AWESOME.

      1. YES. My favorite part of traveling is what I call the “utter lawlessness”! Oh, you’re standing on the edge of a canyon trying to take a selfie? Ha. Okey dokey. Best of luck to you!

  4. Rule #1 in Oregon: mosquitoes at 6,000′ or higher in the early summer. Rule #2: the mountains are for looking at, not venturing into. Rule #3: We only tell tourists and NJ noobs rule #2 because we know they’ll ford a raging river carrying a dog. At least he’d have had unlimited cold water to drink if you dropped him!

    1. I actually wussed out for the first time yesterday — I was too scared to go back to Broken Top (my original plan)! It was my mosquito fear more than anything.

  5. When my daughter was very young, I promised to do somethings she really wanted. She wanted to ride a horseback trail (we will NOT talk about that) and she wanted to walk a good trail. We walked until I was very tired, then I decided to cut across a corner to the trail, saving us a good 1/2 mile. We got so lost. Ended up, I was battered and beat, we walked an extra couple miles, and I was so scared (read: The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon).
    A couple years ago, I asked my now-adult daughter how she stayed to calm back then.
    “I was with my Dad; I wasn’t worried” (Ouch)

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