Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Day 4: Bruneau, ID to Hells Canyon, OR

Day 4

We woke up from our dune hike early in the morning (we placed our sleeping bags facing east for an alarm clock), and got our gear packed up quickly. We hiked the mile back to the car quickly, although hiking over dune after dune somewhat impeded our progress, so as to avoid the park rangers who would hopefully be awaking later than us. After packing up the car hurriedly, I led the Juggernaut out of the park and into the nearest town. We ate breakfast in Oregon Trail Café, the local breakfast place. As we walked in, there were 6 big men dressed in dirtied jeans and rubber boots with suspenders. They talked loudly and excitedly over their coffee about potatoes, cattle, and John Deere. I was wearing a red Ché Guevera shirt, fast drying camping shorts, Chaco sandals, and a hemp anklet. Matt had on a lacrosse shirt and new balance shoes. We were obviously not from around there.
After our delicious breakfast (eggs, toast, bacon, sausage, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, and coffee), we were on the road again. We were heading for Hell’s Canyon just over the border in Oregon. It was a shorter drive than most of our other days, so we took our time and meandered around on small highways, stopping in towns like Baker city (whose coffee shop had one of the only automated roasters I’ve ever seen. I don’t recommend their beans though…). Once we got to the road leading into Hell’s Canyon, we knew we chose the right place to go. The road leading in was absolutely gorgeous, and increasingly so as we neared the actual Canyon. The foothills that had led us into the canyon suddenly transformed into huge rock bluffs, with a fast moving river cleaving them in two. We drove along a tiny swerving road on the east bluff. Matt was driving, so I had my head outside the car for most of the drive, shooting as many photos as I could. The bluffs looked like something out of Lord of the Rings. The river eventually reached a hydroelectric dam (which absolutely blew my mind as we crossed the bridge which was the top of the dam-there was water almost even with the car on our left, and then water about 100 feet down from us on our right. After many miles on this amazing road, we decided it was about time to find a campsite before the sun went down. We had become accustomed to not paying for campsites, but rather roughing it in the backcountry, so we decided to park the car near a trail which looked as if it had not been used in years. We spent time picking out everything we would need for our campsite, packed our backpacks, and started out on the trail into the mountains.
The trail led us straight through the middle of two mountains, and then began to snake up one of the mountains. It became clear as we went on that the people who created this trial were obviously insane. The “trail” was simply about a 10 inch wide section of rocks that were relatively flat as we climbed switchback after switchback, going hundreds of feet up the mountain. The sides of the trail fell at about a 75 degree angle, and while carrying about 60 pounds of gear each, this was a legitimate worry. But lets be honest, we’re not talking about the Hardy Boys here, these are the TBA boys. Therefore, not a problem. We set up camp in a tiny little clearing with an ideal spot for a firepit. I strung up my travelers hammock between two trees near the fire, and we got the party started. I created possibly the most tasty snack of the trip so far by slathering up a hot dog bun with peanut butter, adding M&M’s, and melting it all above the embers on a marshmellow poker. We had some Ramen, too, of course. I laid down, suspended around the pine trees and under the stars in Oregon, and thought of how happy I was to be 2200 miles from home. And then I slept like you would expect after a 4 mile hike straight up a mountain.


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