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UP THE RIVER AND THROUGH THE WOODS


There are many ways to tell a story.  My stories were always told with paint and clay.  Now they are frequently dredged from memories made long before I discovered words.

The same story often differs from the version told by my husband (aka Dr. Advice), though his version is sometimes more interesting.

As urban people, a walk across the Olympic Rain Forest was a daunting thought for first time backpackers 50 years ago.  With borrowed packs and dry food, the hike began at the Hood Canal, Washington for two people and a small dachshund named Hilda.  We were experienced campers and hikers, but had never attempted this distance carrying full packs.

With a choice of river trails including the Hamma Hamma, Dosewallips, Duckabush, Elwha and Hoh rivers, we chose the Duckabush which was well-marked on the Geologic maps, and would connect with the Quinalt trail midway across where we could be met and returned  to Lilliwaup.  (Don’t youlovethose wonderful old Indian names?)

Hilda was in rare form, cheerfully trotting along ahead on her short little legs and reveling in all the strange smells and occasional scurrying of invisible varmints.  Dr. Advice marched happily along singing his old Boy Scout songs and generally behaving as if he were going for an afternoon stroll.   After about 5 miles and eating handfuls of grapes to keep hydrated, I called a halt to remove my backpack  and overcome my sudden nausea.  Meanwhile Dr. Advice, being of such strong indomitable Danish heritage, suggested I throw away the grapes.

We continued for another few miles that first day, until strangely, my pack gained another 16 pounds, and I begged to stop for the day.   Just about that time, we heard singing coming from along the trail behind us, and a large group of Boy Scouts came marching cheerily along and heading for the same bivouac we were planning to stay.   Hilda was thrilled to meet some new people and would gladly have joined their group, but we decided to go on a bit further instead of sharing the space with a bunch of 12 year old boys!

We set up our camp about half a mile further on near a tiny stream and Dr. Advice asked if I had seen the “Beware of Bear” signs.  We had no food the bears might be interested in unless you consider Hilda, so I tucked her snugly into my sleeping bag,  hung some laundry including a pair of red lace panties, and we collapsed for the night.

The next morning we packed up and struck out.  After three days, two of which were raining, we had only gone about 20 miles, and given the length of the remaining trail, we decided to call it quits and head for home.

It is difficult to stash all your belongings in their proper places when it is raining and your hands are cold, and a tiny rain-soaked dachschund is begging to climb into your pack, but somehow we did it.

Going back seemed shorter as it usually does, and it was great to see the trailhead over the crest of a hill.  As we got closer, we saw something red peeking out from a small pile of rocks as if to mark the trail.  I picked up the rock and found my red lace panties!  Rain Forest Lost and Found.

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”  Martin Buber

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4 comments on “UP THE RIVER AND THROUGH THE WOODS

  1. You could write a whole story about how the Trolls stole your panties and dropped them where you could find them, not knowing what to do with fancy lingerie.

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