Friday, August 10, 2012

Hiking Determination

I love to hike and for the past ten years we have attempted the Chief Joseph Trail (at Wallowa Lake) several times but with each adventure we were turned back without reaching the top. The reason this trail is so difficult is due to the 2003 BC Creek bridge washout. The U.S. Forest Service has of yet to replace the bridge and many have accessed this trail near the falls by navigating over a "log" bridge. (Note: Crossing the waterfall is life threatening until late in the fall. Then it is extremely dangerous and the Wallowa Lake Lodge does not recommend crossing). Due to these conditions, the best access to the trail is to climb up above Section A ... and I mean CLIMB ... straight up. In some areas we had to walk on all fours grabbing tree limbs to pull ourselves up.
We set out on our journey at 7 a.m. and it took awhile just to reach the trail above Section A. After Walt directed us on the wrong trail we had to backtrack to the correct trail, losing time and energy. Hardly anyone uses this trail so it is overgrown, hard to follow and steep ... but the views are amazing.
We made it to the open meadow and started toward what I call the "Oz" forest. It's usually dense and dark and many times this is where we have turned back due to time or weather. I was shocked to see the devastation ... it looked like Mt. St. Helens ... greyed trees forced to the ground. The entire forest GONE. We tried to continue on the trail through the devastation but finally turned back due to a large tree blocking the path. It was disappointing to not reach the top again but we were hot, tired and wanted one last day at the lake.
The next day while packing up to head home we realized how sore we were from the hike! Not good for a packing/traveling home day!
My goal is to train for a hike to Aneroid next year for my 60th birthday. It has been 18 years since we tackled that trail and I want to see it one more time!

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