Finding Lost River to Eureka!

20 05 2012

Ok, so maybe I didn’t really find Lost River as in “discover” it, nor was it “lost” and needed someone to locate it, take it by the hand, and bring it back to its mommy. However, I’ve know Lost River existed (mostly because of the Lost River Winery!) and I’ve never come across it before. So when we drove up and I saw the sign marking “Lost River” I yelled a nice “AHA! I have FOUND you!” and in my convoluted way of thinking, I found Lost River.

This story, though, is not about my discovery of yet another beautiful river. We drove down the road and there it was. Boring. No, no, this story is about my little hike along side Lost River and the inevitable mishaps along the way. And what was at the end? Eureka!!

Let’s set the story up first. It’s a normal Tuesday night after volleyball and J asks if I’d be up for a hike the next evening. Could I work early so I could get off a little early in hopes of avoiding hiking after dark? Of course I could! What fun! So Wednesday at 4, I whipped up a quick dinner to go, grabbed my pack and met J at the Forest Service office in Winthrop. He, of course, had a hike all planned out and there was not a second to lose! (Cue dramatic music)

About 45 minutes up to the trialhead and we’re ready to go. We already crossed the bridge where I “found” Lost River and I am so pumped to be out in the woods on a random Wednesday after a long day at my desk. Keep in mind that we never do a “normal” hike, there’s always some element of challenge to it. We’re climbing straight up a mountain, we might have to traverse a massive snowfield, there’s the possibility of needing to ford a river where we might die of dysentery…you get it. So I waited for today’s challenge.

“Alright, so it’s about 6 or 7 miles round trip, nice and short, but we only have about two – maybe two and half – hours of daylight. So we’re going to have to book it.” J is looking at me expectantly and I now know why we’ve been in such a hurry. Well, what are we waiting for?! I put on my best game face and reply, “Let’s DO THIS.”

game face

This kid knows what I’m talking about!

By now, I’ve seen my fair share of forest. We hike a lot. Like a LOT. And being that we mostly hike in our own ridiculously beautiful backyard, you would think I’d be over it by now. Big trees, check, pretty undergrowth, check, usually running water of some sort, check, it’s all the same over and over, right?

Not to me. And this patch of forest we are now hauling ass through is my favorite yet.  There is just something more wild and untamed about it. Yes, I know we’re always out in the wild woods, sometimes even in government-designated wilderness, but here, here something is different. We’re cruising down a valley bottom, for one thing. Usually we’re climbing, climbing, reaching for peaks and summits. Today, we are snaking through the valley with the river, through heavy underbrush, over fallen logs, encased in tall trees and immense rock outcroppings. We can hear the engorged river off to our right, startled deer up ahead, and pissed off squirrels in the trees all around. Despite our full-steam-ahead pace, I gape at the uninhibited beauty of the natural world around us. This is why I don’t want to move back to Texas, Mom.

Monument Trail Lost River Mazama WA

J looks so tiny out here in my new favorite bit of forest!

We hike along for two miles or so, me yammering on like a monkey in a tree whether J was listening or not, probably exclaiming over every detail I found so astounding. Suddenly, the roar of water was much more than the river below us. Surely that must be a waterfall! I figured this was what J was excited to show me, knowing how much I love them. I was gloating over the knowledge of what great time we had made – man I’m an awesome hiker!! – not realizing that we were not at the end of the trail, but only about 2/3 of the way done. My gloating came to an abrupt halt as I came into full view of the lovely falls…and J rolling up his pant legs.

waterfall crossing Lost River Mazama WA

This angle makes me look like I have cankles. I’m sexy and I know it! (wigglewigglewigglewigglewigglewiggleYEAH)

That’s right, this was just a seasonal gush of water from the spring snow melt. And we had to cross it to continue down the trail. Hm. Ok, yeah, no big deal, it didn’t look that bad. J went first, hopping on some rocks. Then came the tricky part – no rocks showing above the water, just some slippery logs and powerful water. J picked up a long stick and start jabbing into the torrent looking for rocks and checking the depth. (He’s so smart!) He plunged ahead, jumping through the water and up the opposite bank. He made it look so easy, and barely got wet! My turn!

waterfall crossing Lost River Mazama WA

This is actually on the way back. He’s in the tricky part in this shot. I’m pretty sure I didn’t look quite this graceful…

I’m sure you’ve already guessed that of course my crossing didn’t go quite like J’s. I did fine on the rock-hopping part, then J passed me his jabbing stick. I poked around, found a rock that seemed like a good launch pad to the other side, and went for it. Let me just say, that water pouring into my boot was COLD. But I did make it up the bank without slipping, falling, tumbling or ending up at the bottom of the falls. Therefore, we’re calling it a success.

We didn’t exactly end up on the trail and had to crash through some wicked brush, only to find the trail now a stream of its own. My steps were already a bit squishy so I didn’t even notice if any new water made it in. And soon we were past the water and crossing huge rock slides. I don’t do well on these rocky slides. My klutziness might have a part in this. But J is a peach and slowed down for me on this part so I didn’t roll an ankle or trip and cause a massive rock slide.

The valley quickly started narrowing and cliffs towered on one side of us. Me being the rock-nerd that I am, I had to stop and examine the stone, the vertical walls. So cool! We saw a spring bubbling water straight out of the ground. I was close to my limit of how much awesomely amazing stuff I could handle in one day when the trail abruptly stopped. I was vastly confused – the river curved and the cliff went right up to the water. The trail just ended? Then I went to the edge to investigate and found my answer on the other side of the trees – the trail continued on the other side. Then I looked downstream and realized we were no longer on Lost River. We had just passed the place where this new stream joined Lost River – Eureka!

Eureka Creek at Lost River Pasayten Wilderness WA

Wild waters!

No, really, that’s the name of the new stream – Eureka Creek. And there would be no crossing it today. The bridge here washed out quite a few years ago, and even if you crossed in low water, the trail on the other side is brutal. (My trail guide, J, fills me in on these cool details.) I was happy to rest a minute on the remaining concrete slab before booking it back down trail.

Eureka Creek Pasayten Wilderness WA

See the trail on the other side? I won’t be crossing this creek today.

Maybe it was the liter of water I drank on the hike in or maybe it was the constant rushing water, but I had to pee. I told J not to look as I headed for the one tree at the very end of the trail, but instead of turning around he started shaking his head at me. No, no, that was too close to the water. Come on, now, didn’t I know the rules? (He won’t let me get away with nothing!) So I had a very exciting little scramble up the rock wall to a little patch of pine needles and brush to finally be far enough to relieve my bladder – 200 feet, in case you’re wondering. The way down was even more…exciting. Sheesh.

The way back was just as wonderful for me, with a new perspective and new things to notice. I love the woods. 🙂 The waterfall crossing was quite entertaining again. This time, I pretty much fell in and filled my boots right off the bat. I tried hopping up to the rocks, which didn’t work, and finally made it out dripping, with soggy socks and dripping pant legs where they were rolled up and pushed to my knees. What a sight.

Because we are super awesome, we did in fact make it to the car with a teeny bit of day light left. Even with my stops for photos, a pee break, and examination of new flowers, we made excellent time. And the best news? I kept up!! J didn’t have to stop and wait on me, and I wasn’t exhausted and ready to die. Ok, so it was maybe 7 miles, but let me have my small victories.





4 responses

22 05 2012
Stacie Chadwick

Small victories are often the best kind. Well done!

24 05 2012

Thank you! I’m never one to pass up the opportunity to celebrate…! 😀

23 07 2012
Lucille Glasgow

Sounds like great fun but a lot for Grandma to worry about your safety.

24 07 2012

It was great fun! And I’ve got Justin to make sure I don’t get myself into too much trouble. 🙂

Give it to me straight -

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