Extreme Bushwhacking

It’s one of those days I am tempted to let the photos speak for themselves. But I can’t because they don’t. These pretty pictures might imply that I spent five hours in high heat (33 plus degrees) lolling around in a meadow filled with wildflowers. I wish this were true. It is not. Oh no – I spent five hours doing something that cannot be called hiking. Rick, who was my partner today in the wild, called it “extreme.” By that he meant extreme bushwhacking.

I can’t quite begin to describe it. I can say that when I got home my legs were covered with dried blood as well as dust, dirt and muck. I brushed something off my back that was tickling me – it was a tick (yuck!) (pun sort of intended). I got eaten by mosquitoes to the point where crashing through blowdown and thick stands of alder began to feel good because the twigs and branches were doing such a good job of scratching my itches.

I should have known, of course, right from the start. Rick is a retired forest worker. He set off wearing heavy pants and a long-sleeve shirt. I was wearing shorts and a tank top. You can see the disparity right there. His method of bushwhacking was to plunge through whatever stood in his way. If I had done that I would have lost enough blood to require a transfusion.

We started off at the highway by crashing through a 7-foot high stand of thimble berry – a signal of things to come. Up we went on a hogback ridge with enough blowdown to build a mountain. Then the real uphill began – the kind where you pray you don’t have to come back the same way – but you do.

So – about two hours of mosquitoes and scrambling over horrible sticks, twigs, branches, logs, rocks and scree. Yay!

Finally – some open meadows but still with steep slopes and some treacherous footing. When we got to the highest place Rick had ever been, we opted to keep going to see how far we could get. We managed to circumvent most of the cliffs until at one point I got so tired of finding ways around and thrashing through undergrowth, I thought climbing a cliff was the more viable alternative.

So we did that – and decided we’d better come back down another way.

After three hours of mostly hell, we stopped for lunch. And then back down. If it’s even remotely possible – this was worse. I bum-slid several times as all sorts of soil, moss and scree slid out from under me. Still, it was preferable to the trees that continued to attack me all the way down.

Five hours later we were back at the cars – I was never so happy to see a machine in my life, and to get out of boots and into sandals.

I highly recommend that no one ever do this – um – what to call it – how about a shike? I’d warned Rick at the top that I would be doing a good deal of swearing on the way down. I think I used up my year’s supply of f&^k.

But we did see lots of wildflowers.

And nobody died.

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