If I remember correctly, it was last year that Fran began to ask who would like to join her on a hike in the McDonald Forest near Corvallis. This happened not long after she went with Lise and Brian. That experience was a hike that was less a hike than a chance for Lise to take photos and realize how long it had been since she'd hiked up a steep hill. I know that feeling. It's very clear to my muscles even four days later. Of course, Fran knew that if Lise went with her that it would be for taking pictures, but reality is always different from what we imagine. Isn't it?
This summer she had asked if either N, I or both of us would join her. But the timing was never right and the memory of that last recounting was still fresh in my mind. Then the moment and desire happened to line up last week. Watching from above, I couldn't believe it was me agreeing (perhaps even suggesting) to go along. I nixed the idea of bringing the pups. Who knows why--a premonition?
We filled our water bottles and drove the scenic route to our destination. Once on the path, the warmth and the incline had me feeling my age. Who cares if you've been walking 50+ miles a week on hikes and treadmill? A woodland trail doesn't! But if you're going to walk uphill, there isn't a better way really--a soft path, the cover of a forest and a happy companion make it less work and more recreation.
A little voice inside my head suggested we might be headed down the opposite side of the ridge, but my sense of direction has rarely steered me right. Rarely. The road, with it's fresh loose gravel, had the same incline as the path we hiked up--minus the shade. Two white trucks, associated with the logging unit that had been the reason for the detour, passed us for the first of four times. Each time they slowed and gave us a big wave. Of course, we smiled and waved back.
Somewhere between Soap Creek Road and our current road, we began to seriously question where we were. When a phone signal was finally available, our gps informed us that we were on the wrong side of the forest and miles of paved road and highway were in our future.
I'll sum up the unplanned part of our hike by saying how a walk on either a shoulder-less paved road or a highway are less than pleasant. It was the kind of experience that had me asking Fran for stories. Anything to distract from the sun beating down on us and the cars whipping by (one honking for some unfathomable reason).
When the turn-off for the secondary access to the McDonald Forest came into focus, my step quickened and my mood lightened. Soon we were back on a forest trail, believing it was possible to be home by dinner time. We still had a few miles to go and only a gulp of water left, but we made it and I may have made a spectacle of myself (if there had been bystanders) expressing my joy at seeing our car. Our mileage for the day totaled 9.21. My weak back muscles waited until the following Monday to punish me for the excursion, but if she asks me to go on a hike again I'll probably say yes--as long as the moment and desire line up.