May 28, 2009:
There was this one day, when I was out west, that I managed to steal away for a few hours by myself. I didn’t get to take a backpack and a fishing pole, but beggars can’t be choosers and I wasn’t going to complain! I drove through my old hometown, stopped at main st. and ran in. As I sat in my car afterwards, I looked around and saw so many people I went to school with. I don’t think a single one of them recognized me. It was interesting to see how people have changed after more than a decade, and to realize how much I’ve changed and how long it has really been since I lived there and was part of the community. Then a half a dozen trucks on big mud tires drove in and parked all around me. Muddy trucks, with 6 inches of lift and chains rattling around in the beds. I laughed. Ah, so the next generation still does what we did – runs to main street, grabs a burrito and a pepsi, and goes muddin’ on lunch break, hoping to not get stuck, or to get stuck and pulled out before 12:03! They looked like kids. Were we ever that young?! And DRIVING?!
I left there and drove down around past the fairgrounds, over the little old bridge, and peeked down at the playground I spent so many happy hours as a kid. I went up the hill instead of around by the old property, I still don't like to drive past there. At the top of the hill I turned right, then on up the hill and left onto the old gravel logging road that follows the creek. I drove slowly. There just is no way to make words encompass all that this road holds in memories for my life.
I looked up the dirt road that goes up to Mickey Thompson. There are, of course, new hill climbs and new mud holes. Things change. On up the road I went, remembering how many times I went up that road standing in the back of Jake's truck, wind blowing through my hair, bugs lodging in my teeth 'cause I couldn't help but have a big, cheezy grin. I drove past the place where a friend rolled his truck that summer before my junior year, past where my parents and brothers and I used to ride our bikes up to a swimming hole, past the turn off to the bridge we all used to jump off into the deep, clear pool below. I drove past the trail to the secret waterfalls, and past where cousin David drove Jake’s truck off the road on a steep curve and nearly killed both of them. I drove through where the big mudslide was and past the steep creek that we used to hike up.
And then I ran into workers clearing branches and trees from the road, so I had to turn around. Dangit. I thought about parking and hiking up that creek, but decided against it since the workers were so close, and decided to drive back down and hike to the secret waterfalls. So I parked next to the road, grabbed my camera and phone and locked up the car. Took me a few minutes to find the trail, wandered through the ferns and sweet-and-sour grass, vine maples, and of course, the obligatory spider webs (no, I did NOT spontaneously start sprinting through the woods here, I’ve learned my lesson!). Just as I started down the steep part of the trail and I could barely catch a glimps of the creek, I stopped just short of putting my foot down in a pile of bear poop. Oh my! Is that… BEAR poop??? Holy cow, it IS bear poop!!! And it’s STEAMING! Oh good lord. My heart racing, I turned tail and headed quickly back up the hill. The underbrush was dense enough, and the downed trees big enough that I felt certain a bear could be hiding around any one of them, feet away from me, and I was bound to surprise one and it wasn’t going to be good. In my head I could hear my brother warning me of how dumb it is to surprise a bear, that I should make noise and warn the bear of my presence, shake some branches, whistle, ring a bell, I don’t know – something!! And at the same time I’m hearing that voice in my head, my own brain (or was it just the adrenaline?) was telling me to just get out of there as quickly and quietly as possible. Which is exactly what I did. lol.
So I had to find a new plan. Maybe, since I was alone and all, going the route of a more popular hiking trail might be not so bad after all. Sad, isn’t it? Scared out of the woods by a little bear poop? Great. Not only am I now a flatlander who gets car sick going through sweeney’s and feels like we’re going to fall off the road going up dock grade, (never mind the white-knuckling I do when I drive over the green bridge) I’m apparently now more scared of animals than people. Sick and twisted, I know.