I've been traveling so much that I haven't been doing any scouting in my backyard. Which is bad. I have no idea what trails are snow free, what lakes are still frozen, where I can get to.
Grizzly Ridge is on off the Hat Point Road and is one of a set of parallel ridges that march out above Hells Canyon. I'd been on several of the others, but not this one. I was delighted to find an old cabin. I love finding these. I just wonder what the people who lived here thought and dreamed about, and what they saw. People were tougher then. They were okay with occasionally being uncomfortable.
|Cute old buildings. I want to live here!|
There were no grizzlies on the ridge. They were shot out years ago. If the ranchers had their way, wolves would be too. I remember the extra bite each adventure had in Alaska, knowing that big bears were out there. You had this heightened sense of awareness that you forget about in most parts of the lower 48. I can't say I long for that feeling again, even though I know that there are pieces missing--this isn't true wilderness.
There were, however, cows. I'm not a fan. Leave it at that. Also? I'm kind of scared of them. I know. I run solo where there are wolves and mountain lions. Toss a cow in my path and I freak out. I stopped in my tracks. The cows stared balefully back.
Last year on Windy Ridge we saw a cinnamon-colored bear and watched it for awhile, wondering if it was a grizzly (It wasn't). I have friends who swear a grizzly stumbled through their yard a few falls ago. I guess it is possible. Wolverines have been seen, creeping back into their historic range. As the trails disappear, as people stay inside, this landscape may become wilder yet.
|Looking back to the Wallowas|
J swooped back on his bike--this is a perfect mountain bike route, long and flattish with a few rollercoasters to keep it interesting. He had herded the cows a few miles up the trail. We were the only two people in the world, it seemed like. Where was everybody else? At home with their phones? At the gym? I hoped at least a few people were out.
On a long hike, your mind goes in random loops. You'd think you would come up with wonderful insights, but usually I end up pondering things like, do cows get cold? What are some good names for nail polish? I happen to think it's good for the mind to unspool. That's why I never listen to music when I run or hike. Your mind needs to breathe!
We didn't see any bears, only a herd of elk. In its own way, Hells Canyon is just as spectacular as the Grand, but the experience is completely different. The Forest Service doesn't have the money or support to draw the tourists or maintain the trails. Hardly anyone wants to drop in; they don't want to route find or carry water or deal with snakes and ivy. This is a big, empty place.
It's a national recreation area and yet hardly anyone recreates here, except on the river. Hunters, mostly. Years ago the first brave wolf swam over from the Idaho side. Maybe the grizzlies will be next.
|A fence to somewhere|