Thursday, August 05, 2010

Snake #2

I had been on the dirt, but decent, Stolle Meadows Road in Boise National Forest for only a half mile when I decided that I'd eat lunch on the beach at Warm Lake when I was done with my work, which consisted of driving five miles in to Stolle Meadows Cabin, photographing it, and driving back out. Easy enough, right? Uh huh.

About a mile past the cabin, the road is under construction, and since the spur road to the cabin was not signed, I missed it and headed right into the mess. If you've ever been on a dirt road that's under construction, you know it's not a pretty sight. Heavy, heavy machinery and dump trucks were running constantly, creating big ruts and dust so thick it was like a white-out when they'd rumble past. The dirt in the area was more like silt, or very, very fine sand. Several times I'd pull over to the side and wince as they'd cruise past me, and then I'd have to sit for a couple minutes and wait for the dust to clear so I could see again.

I knew I'd gone too far. As I was waiting for an earth-mover to do just that, I jumped out and went to ask a contractor for directions. After exchanging pleasantries, I asked "Where in the hell is Stolle Meadows Cabin?" He chuckled and was very kind when he pointed across the meadow and said I'd missed it. I thanked him, got back in the car and waited for the earth-moving, turned around and headed back. A half dozen double dump trucks had passed through in the 15 minutes I was there, and the ruts were enormous now. The largest was over a foot deep. I had to psych myself up to drive through it because I was about four inches short on clearance. When I got up the nerve (and saw a dump truck coming up behind me) I hit the gas and silt flew up over my hood just like in Subaru commercials when they drive through fresh deep powder. I made it through just fine, and to be honest, I felt kind of cool.

Long story short, I made it to the cabin after having to ask someone else for directions too, shot some photos, and headed back out. I reached Warm Lake over an hour after my "I'm eating lunch at Warm Lake" declaration, and was starved. Camera bag on one shoulder, peanut butter sandwich in one hand, water in the other, I walked down a trail to a quiet(ish) spot and as I went to step on a rock at water's edge, a giant black water snake slithered out of the grass. I screamed and jumped (of course I did), and quickly noticed I had many witnesses. I just shook my head, smiled to myself, and walked further down the trail to a dirt spot NOT surrounded by grass. I ate standing up just in case I had slithering visitors.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Better Late Than Never

Good things come to those who wait. Better late than never. A journey of 1,000 miles (or 10.4) begins with one step. All of these quotes come to mind as I try to begin this happy post. I'm a year late making the journey to Jardine Juniper (#31 on last year's list), but we did it yesterday, all 10.4 miles of it, and I was elated. I practically skipped down the last quarter-mile of trail to the tree, and once we reached the trailhead after we were done, I ran to the car, arms outstretched zombie-like, chanting "Gatorade. Gatorade." Thank goodness we'd left a cooler of the fruity, ice cold electrolytes in the car.

The trail was beautiful as ever and didn't seem nearly as long as I remembered. Maybe it was the excitement of seeing the tree after a four or five year hiatus, or it was the thought of crossing the most difficult item off my birthday list, or it was the simple fact that I was out on the trail with my husband, my best friend, and the most patient hiking companion I could ask for. Whatever the reason, it was one of the best days all summer, and a great way to begin August. After encountering only four hikers, five mountain bikers, and a handful of squirrels, chipmunks, and one little lizard, we reached the mighty 3,200-year old tree perched on the side of a cliff above Logan Canyon in Northern Utah. Peanut butter sandwiches, apples, grapes, and raw almonds were devoured as we basked in the sunshine on the deck. I was overjoyed, and I'm happy to report that with the photo below, #31 is officially crossed off.