Monday, April 28, 2008

The hike report, now with pictures!

So I promised a recap of the epic struggle of man and boy against gravity and sand, and I aim to deliver. With photos, even!

The excitement started Saturday morning with a relatively peaceful 2 - 3 hour drive east on I-90. The pass was clear, the sun was out, the kids were quiet, all was well in the world. We met up with the other drivers (Scoutmaster Mark and friend Paul) at a rest area east of George, then caravaned off the freeway and in to the wilds of the Columbia Basin Reclamation Project.

After a few turns and a mile or two on a "primitive road" (which means "dust and washboard", in case you've never driven on one) we made it to the parking lot and loaded up. Here's the boy, loaded up. And yes, he did take off the coat about 5 minutes in to the hike.

Half way across the parking lot and what did we find? Dinner, that's what!

OK, it wasn't really dinner, but it was a sweet looking coyote leg...Anyhow, from there we were off down the trail. The dirty and dusty trail. And by dirt I mean sand, and by dust I mean Mt. St. Helens ash. Which, if my math is correct, erupted 27 years ago. You'd think they would have cleaned that ash up by now...

Well, eventually (I didn't bring the Garmin so I have no idea how far we hiked...I'm going to guess it was about 3 miles) we made it to the lake and set up camp. Logan behaved exactly as predicted: moaned and groaned while wearing the pack (although for the first mile or so that was understandable, since he was saddled with a 6 pound tent...eventually he twisted his ankle a bit and the bigger guys took pity on him and took the tent and his Thermarest and he perked up a bit), then had plenty of energy once it was off. Once the camp was set up the boys went off to play a fun little game called, I believe, "chuck the little guys off a dune". After taking a nap Paul and I wandered over to observe this game, only to scare them back to camp.

Well, almost all of them. Logan stayed around long enough to pose for a picture with the old man.

Once everyone was back in camp the boys did a (very short) orienteering course. Logan and his tent-mate did the course together, with tent-mate manning the compass while Logan wandered around looking for the waypoints:

Which was an interesting choice, since some of the sage brush was as tall as he was. Or taller.

Eventually night began to fall, dinner was eaten (or, in Mr. Finicky Logan's case not eaten...I swear to God he's the only kid I've met who prefers his Top Ramen without the flavor packet. But then, my Top Ramen sample is pretty small...) and it was time for dessert. One big advantage to backpacking now as an adult is that I get to go with guys who know what the hell they're doing, and can produce a chocolate cake using a camping stove and a plastic bag. It was a cake-mix cake with canned frosting, but hey, that's what I have for my birthday so I wasn't complaining. Neither was Jeff, whose birthday we were celebrating.

The boys made a fire (which didn't turn out in the photos), then went off in to the dark to play "German Spotlight." Why "German Spotlight" 60 years after WW II? Well, because apparently it's OK to make fun of Germans, where "Vietnamese Spotlight" or "Gitmo Spotlight" didn't have the same ring. Anyhow, the game involves a guy (the German) with a flashlight, and the other guys hide in the dark and try to sneak up on him. It's great training for when they're inducted into the special forces and have to take out guards in terrorist training camps. Or sneak back in to the house after hours. One of those.

The next morning, after a gourmet breakfast of French toast and sausages we encountered our second predator, this time much smaller. Don't know if scorpions like syrup, because this one didn't hang around long enough to ask and by the time we found the second one we'd cleaned up the dishes. Oh, and I don't speak scorpion (although I do know most of the lyrics to "Blackout")

Then it was time to pack up and hike back to the cars, drink some good ol' city water, eat some crackers and fruit leather, shake off some of the dust, and drive home. With the requisite fast food stop, naturally (at the Ellensburg Arbys where they were 0 for 3 on the order, screwing up all 3 sandwiches).

All in all a good trip, but I definitely appreciated my bed last night!

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