Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Bold Spirit

As the week of unexpected furlough rolled on, I found myself desperate to have an adventure. I had gone for a nice run on the moraine, I had ridden my bike..but now it was time to venture into the unknown. Specifically, into the southern end of Hells Canyon, near the dam. I had never gone here before because it seemed ridiculous to drive two hours to backpack, and because there is a dearth of information on the trails in this area. The meager information I could  find in my guidebook terrifyingly stated "A thick rush of vegetation, including an explosion of poison ivy, may deny access. Often continuation of the tour requires recent trail maintenance or a bold spirit."

Well. I knew there hadn't been recent trail maintenance--the sequestration took care of that. A bold spirit? I wasn't so sure, but I packed a GPS just to be on the safe side. And a hefty dose of Technu.

I was bound for Spring Creek, aiming to hike up onto the benches there, but aside from that I had no plan. On Google Earth I could still see parts of a trail, which is unusual in the canyon these days. I decided to wing it and hope for the best.

The drive was lovely:


And included some slightly creepy houses, in the middle of nowhere and definitely off the grid.

So there's a tower behind this one. Maybe not off the grid.

The first 3 miles cruised along the Hells Canyon reservoir, where the Snake River is disappointingly corralled into a sluggish flow. It was easy going and warm though, and I made good time to the mouth of McGraw Creek, where, my guidebook informed me, a waterspout had obliterated the trail that once ran up the creek. I pondered this. A waterspout? On land? But there was no denying something big had happened here.

I was encouraged to find a decent trail climbing the south side of the Spring Creek draw. It was easy to lose in the teasel, but I always picked it up again. Fortunately the thick rush of vegetation never materialized, and I was able to sidestep the short poison ivy.

In fall the ivy turns a lovely orange and red shade. Makes it easier to avoid...

The views on the bench, two hours in, were amazing.

Four? Four what? Miles? from where to where?

I was getting a little concerned,  but finally found some water.

Pretty, pretty pine grove.

I had planned to stop much earlier but found myself hiking all the way to McGraw Creek, where there is a private cabin and lots of bear poop. As I approached, a bobcat ran away.

Looking down into McGraw Creek.

I camped near the creek and was greatly tempted to bushwhack down it the next day, but decided not to tempt fate and retraced my steps.

My spirit was apparently bold enough.


  1. You're definitely bold enough. Heck, with some Tecnu, you're invincible! :)

    Water spouts can form if a lake is large enough. I've heard of them on Lake Michigan before.

    Beautiful trip once again. I'm jealous that just a two hour drive can get you somewhere so pretty, it is about double that from here.

  2. Don't know anyone with a bolder spirit than you! What a lovely adventure. Saw a water spout on Lake Superior one of our first evenings in the lake cabin. Carry on!

  3. The last photo is so beautiful - looks like a watercolor landscape. Carol

  4. Oh Carol...this would not be a far drive for you. Relatively speaking. A spring hike perhaps?

  5. The 9th photo and the last photo are breathtaking, Mary. Phenomenal.

  6. Keep on being 'bold enough'. We are enjoying the ride. The colours you captured are breath taking!

  7. Thanks for sharing your beautiful picstures with us. Your Bold Spirit is what makes you YOU! Glad the PI wasn't too bad and was very visible. My question is...How many more hikes will you get in by the end of the year?

  8. I love hiking vicariously through you!


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