Sunday, July 1, 2012

loving an unknown country

What is it about some of us that the most difficult, crazy places are the ones we love?

I love the uncomplicated mosaic of the Wallowa Mountains. There it is straightforward and simple. Pines, water, lakes. But it is the moody Hells Canyon that fascinates me. As I stand on the rim I feel the weight of history on my shoulders. The doomed Nez Perce, their pit houses still visible in the dreaming sunshine. The sweet curve of the benches where desperate settlers in Depression era times tried to make a go of it. Each layer of the canyon is seductive. When I am on the rim, I want to be on the bench. When I am on the bench, I want to be on the river. When I am on the river, I look above me. I want to do it all, take a backpack and months and months and disappear into the canyon.

evening from our campsite
It's not an easy place to love. We climbed to Somers Point, a finger of tawny land looking out over the whole expanse of canyon and sky. You have to trust your map and hunt for the springs or die of thirst. The trails are disappearing from lack of use and you need a good eye and a GPS to find them. Just getting to the canyon is a challenge in itself, in this case miles of teeth-jarring road that you drive at three miles and hour, then you have to get out and walk. But in other ways it is easy to love. The last light falling onto the folds of the canyon. A sweeping view. My heart is full when I am in the canyon. It scares me but it pulls me in.

on the trail
This is a herd of hundreds of elk we surprised hanging out by the spring.

a few of the herd
I love you, Hells Canyon, even if you don't love me back.

J and Sierra take it in.
This would be a good picture if I had remembered that J put his baseball cap on my head so I could "hold it" while he did something. Dork!


  1. Looks so beautiful! Glad you two had great weather and got out to camp together.

  2. I have a friend from Idaho who speaks often of Hell's Canyon. There is a trail race there evidently as well. Glad it went well.

  3. Yaaaaaay! Hubby finally went camping with you :)


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