Vs. The Horrible Hike

Every once in awhile, my sense of adventure gets me in trouble. If not trouble, pain.

This photo was taken two, maybe three years ago. I have fond memories of the trip now but at the time, I wasn’t so sure about the whole ordeal. The hike included the unholy trinity of snow, brambles, and blood. Throw in some cops, convicts, and some crazy environmentalists, and you almost have the full picture. Almost.

It started out with the grand idea to go on a hike. It was my idea. I have outdoorsy friends and I wanted to do something fun. Somewhere on the internet, I came across Memaloose Lake, which is tucked away in the shadow of Mt. Hood.

So I did what any smart, non-athletic person would do. I recruited friends. There was an Eagle Scout, a Paramedic, a Paralegal, and a Sharpshooter. I wasn’t too worried about needing the latter two but I knew that anytime you’re trekking, the first two could quickly become handy. Besides, I’m terrifically accident prone.

We all piled into the SUV early one Saturday morning. It took us awhile to get to to the access road that would lead us to the trail. Only one of the gang was familiar with the territory, he who grew up on the side of the mountain and explored it often.

Our driver pulled into the back country road, only to be flagged down by a posse of policemen, county deputies, on the side. They were huddled around their portable stoves, drinking coffee and eating something out of a steaming mug.

“What are you kids up to today?” asked the officer who sauntered up to the window.

“Just going for a hike.”

He grunted and let us pass. The SUV tottered along the road in silence before all five of us started offering our opinions and speculations on the matter. A white jeep turned the corner, causing us to pull of to the side of the road.

All too soon, we found ourselves behind a slow white bus. The next mile seemed like an eternity as we followed close behind. After a few more turns, it stopped in a clearing, beside two other white busses. Inmates spilled out enthusiastically from the doors, ready to start their community service day.

“Did you know about this?” the driver asked, looking back at me.

I shook my head. “How would I know about it?”

“Don’t listen to her! She’s been writing to a convict for years and this is her once chance to spring him out.”

I could have killed my cousin at that point.

We kept driving.

A mile later, we hit a small canyon. Trucks of all shapes and sizes were pulled to the side of the road and bbq tanks were smoking away. The crack of a rifle echoed in the canyon.

We had come across a shooting party.

“Can I turn back?” the driver asked.

“No way, this is just getting exciting!” The back row of the SUV had created an overly-adventurous alliance. There was no way we were going to turn back.

Then we hit the snow.

“Just keep driving! We’ll hit the trail soon!”

As a matter of fact, we never hit the trail. We ditched the SUV and started hiking. The snow had a thin layer of ice on the top and there were times it hit our hip-bones when we broke through.

For the next four hours, we hiked. And hiked. Somewhere in the middle, the two men decided that we should climb up the nearest hill and see if we could spot the lake. The two women looked at me expectantly, hoping I would stop the insanity.

Nope. I gingerly followed the men up the trail. That’s when I discovered the blackberry bushes hiding under the snow. I would later count 57 scratches on my legs.

Once we were at the top, we could see for miles and miles. But alas, no Memaloose Lake.

Getting down was tricky. I remember it involved a lot of falling, tripping, and sliding down icy slopes. I also vaugely remember a makeship rappeling apperatus compliments of my cousin, the Eagle Scout.

Down on the trail, we spotted cougar tracks. At least, that’s what the two men decided. I wasn’t going to argue. I thought it was cool – until I looked down and saw that I was bleeding from the ice. I still have the scar from it, actually.

“Cool…you’re bleeding!”

Not exactly what I wanted to hear. Fresh cougar tracks + bleeding me? Not what I had originally planned.

“Don’t worry,” said one of the men. “I have a knife!” He drew out the knife and threw it at a tree, hoping it would stick. Instead, it whizzed right past into the woods.

Great. I was going to be eaten by cougars.

I think that’s the time we turned around and started to hike back. The men had fun, the women didn’t (they were battling colds to begin with), and I started thinking that sometimes, the best adventures are the unplanned.

Oh, and the crazy environmentalists? They started yelling at us as we drove back down the mountain. Between them, the cougars, the convicts, and the shooters, we couldn’t get off the mountain soon enough!

I only wish I could make this stuff up.

4 Responses to “Vs. The Horrible Hike”
  1. brittanyk1 says:

    Very glad you lived to tell about it, CM. Very glad indeed.

  2. Oh goodness Caitlin, what a trip!!! It’s amazing you lived over it! That’s quite a nasty cut too, but I guess adventure has some costs. (For me those costs are always bug bites and bee stings) It kinda looks like something that my family would get ourselves into, lol : D I think you’d fit right in here girl!

    ~ Hattie

  3. Liz says:

    Haha! I think the convicts and the shooting party was the craziest combination. What a hike!

  4. caitlinmuir says:

    Liz – I still think we should retry this hike. In late summer sometime. What a fun trip.

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