Okay, so that’s a bit overstated. Here’s what happened, and I swear it’s All True...
The last two Sundays in a row, I’ve gone hiking with sanguinity and grrlpup. Perhaps you’ve read about it on the Internet. Since those hikes went so well, we decided to do it again. Today we went up the Gorge, parked in an almost-empty State Park lot, and followed the guidebook’s instructions down a rough road to the trail head. The trail narrowed, but was still quite passable as it wound its way up through one of the beautiful side canyons extending south from the main gorge.
grrlpup was in the lead, about twenty feet or so in front of us, heading uphill on switchbacks. sanguinity had been trying to talk me into eating a bug, when she suddenly jerks backwards. Flails at her head. And says a Very Bad Word. I see the tiny insect bodies swarming around her head. We run.
The next seconds are a blur, with moments of extreme clarity. I slipped, my foot sliding off the downhill edge of the trail. I caught myself before hit the ground, and I felt the torsion on my spine. I had a vivid mental image of my back going out right then and sanguinity tripping over me and everything getting just much, much worse. Then I’m on my feet again, running, and I’m glancing back and sanguinity is barreling downhill too, and we’re at the switchback, and I stop at the far outside of the corner so she can run past me, and I tense to defend myself against bites or stings... but there are none. I’ve escaped unscathed.
sanguinity stopped farther down hill, past the next corner. We seem to have run away enough, so the mental emergency checklist clicks in. I ask about her status (I had enough presence of mind not to say “Are you OK?” because the answer to that one is obvious). We establish that she’s not in immediate medical danger. But the little flying bastards had gone for her eyes; the bites were on her ears, temples and forehead. If you’ve ever been stung by yellowjackets or wasps, you know it hurts. A Lot.
We establish that grrlpup accidentally riled up a nest at the edge of the trail, and sanguinity walked into the angry mob. Unwilling to edge past the nest, we call for grrlpup. Eventually she realizes that we’re no longer following her, and she comes back. She bushwhacks down across the switchbacks, so she doesn’t have to approach the nest either. We retreat back to the service road, and reassess. We decide that a wasp attack is a sign that we are not to hike that trail today, so we went to the Mosier Twin Tunnels. It’s a wide trail. A paved trail. No nests of biting insects there.
I’m pleased to say, the day then just got better and better. We walked along the Tunnel trail, which has a fabulous view of the river. People zipped past us on bikes and skates, and even one truck (but it was going quite slowly), and many said “Hi!” as they passed. A little after noon we turned around and made our way back to the car. It was sunnier and warmer on that trail, but we had the perfect remedy.
We went to Oneonta Gorge. After changing our shoes, we started walking. I generally don’t like hiking where there are lots of other people. Nor would a quarter-mile distance seem worth it. Usually. But in Oneonta Gorge, one walks about fifty yards up a rocky riverbed and then clambers over a large logjam. Then, and this is the good part, up the narrow chasm, where the stream often spans the entire width. The water ranges from ankle-deep to hip-deep, and is stunningly cold and clear. On a hot day, wading up a stream to a sparkling waterfall with a pool deep enough to swim in was just perfect! I waded out to where I could feel the spray off the cascade, and sanguinity and grrlpup swam in the pool for a bit. We then ambled back downstream, almost to the road, and sat on a log to eat our snacks and watch the parade of other people off wading to the waterfall. After being hot and dry on the hillside, sitting on that log in such a gorgeous little canyon was just a big, tasty slice of Paradise.
For a hike that involved running away, the rest turned out to be a quite wonderful time.