Sunday, June 3, 2018

Proceed to the route

"Turn on the bridge," the Iphone voice insisted. Apparently the new roundabout confused it, and when I stubbornly headed toward Lewiston instead of the convoluted route that the GPS was trying to send me on, it fell silent, seemingly disappointed. Then it perked up. "Turn on Snake River Avenue!" it insisted. Why would I turn there? I wondered, I passed the turnoff. "Proceed to the route," the automated voice said meekly. 

I've driven 1300 miles in a week, driving through four states. While the scenery was lovely, the company good, I was ready to be myself. With only one day off, I decided to carpe the diem and head to Bonny Lakes, typically a fairly easy stroll that can be done in a few hours.

Almost to the trailhead, I was stopped abruptly by a large tree across the road. Darn! But no worries, I would just park here and walk. I really need to start carrying a saw, though.

This trail has several significant river crossings, but all were doable. The real challenge came from finding the trail. I had been following a lone set of melted out tracks, but that person had missed the junction at 2 miles, so I was the first person to make it in here. Solid snow stretched as far as I could see. Even though I'm pretty good at route finding, there's always a sense of urgency when no trail can be seen. 

One of the river crossings

But if you've done any trail work, you can look at a snowy forest and start to see the pattern. You can hunt for the ends of cut trees sticking out from the snow. You can instinctively see where a trail leads, through the open corridors, not through the brushy thickets. Very rarely is a trail unpredictable. It makes use of the landscape it traverses through.  I know a lot of people rely on a GPS app, and I can see where it would be valuable, but I like learning the land on my own instead of looking at a screen. (Driving is an exception. I drove across county multiple times with a road atlas. Even when GPS is wrong, it is still easier than trying to read that atlas at 70 mph).

Ruby doesn't care about route finding. She just wants to roll in the snow.

There were a few points where I almost admitted defeat, as I began to posthole through soft snow. But I'm stubborn, and my bar for feeling uncomfortable on the trail as far as safety had not been reached (we all have our own bars. One of the reasons I didn't take anyone with me was because I thought others might want to turn around. That's not saying I'm better than anyone, I'm just more stubborn). 

This is a look of, I can't believe I did that, but I'm glad I did.

My patience was rewarded as Bonny Lakes, still partially frozen, came into view (and my hopes for backpacking there next weekend were dashed, as there was no snow free place to camp). There were no other souls all day, just my puppy and me. It was the perfect way to recalculate. I'm okay with proceeding to the route, for now. I'll go off the map again as soon as I can.




13 comments:

  1. Beautiful Mary. My sister and I hiked up Bear Creek out of Wallowa this weekend, we only went about 7 miles in and spent a couple nights. No snow for us but we were at a lot lower elevation then Bonnie Lakes. If you have never been up Bear Creek you should try it, it’s a pretty hike that is usually snow free early, good early season hike.

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    1. Bear Creek; I can't seem to feel the love for it. It's a good day hike but for some reason I feel creeped out staying overnight. The exception is Bear Lake a little off trail. But interesting to know you can get that far.

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  2. My stomach turns when I lose the trail. I just don’t have that natural intuition or acquired skills. So good for you!!! It’s neat what you said about learning where the trail should go ... maybe someday I’ll get it!

    I do agree with you. I have (but love) modern day GPS ... we travel with maps everywhere & they truly are the best. Takes more time to figure out, but nothing is more reliable!

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    1. I have a lot of fear about losing the trail, but I figure I should at least learn. One of my first jobs was trying to find obscure trails in Carlsbad Caverns NP...outside of the cave. Finding water was important. I got pretty good.

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  3. Although my gps is handy, I do still have a love for paper maps.

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    1. I probably should enter the modern age. I got turned off when some dear friends kept staring at their Gaia on a well marked trail, no need to even have it.

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  4. Bonny Lakes...good memories (but in summer) Good route finding, both on the road and in the mts. I see the shirt! Love Ruby's joy.

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    1. Yes we all have the same shirt! Ruby is so fun to take in the snow.

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  5. I'm a terrible navigator. I forced myself to learn and practice map and compass navigation in 2014, and this experience made me value my GPS even more. I bought my first Garmin handheld in 2006, and it's difficult for me to remember what my outdoor life was like before GPS. Mostly I remember following my friends. Driving navigation I've only used since 2011 or so, so I have better memories of printed-out Google directions and road atlases. I do not miss those days, either.

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    1. I used a Garmin when I was inspecting trail contracts, when I needed to be exactly precise about where the trail went. Guess I'm old school, I leave it at home now. But good for you for learning map and compass. It's a dying art.

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  6. I've spent a good amount of time over the past five years becoming a better land navigator and trying to guess how a trail builder would think. Those cut logs are my friend. I'd still like to improve my compass/map skills considerably but I keep working at it. I rely on electronic help but not as much as I use to. I definitely don't have a natural internal compass so can use all the help I can get.

    Traveling I'm with you. Google voice assistance is my friend but so frustrating at times when it either delays instructions or gets confused. I get the rerouting message.

    I still love maps!

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    1. I recall floundering through the snow in Lassen! I think it's kind of fun to locate the trail on one's own.

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  7. Hello! I found your blog through Jill's blog. Please keep writing! The first paragraph of this post had me dying laughing... I have read a few other posts but had to comment here... peace

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