Hells Canyon, Episode 2

Happy Memorial Day everyone.

I had originally planned to spend the long weekend down in the Alvord Desert of southeastern Oregon with friends and the family. We would have been camping, hiking, birding, herping, and soaking in hot springs. But circumstances had us backing out of the trip at the last minute to spend a lazy weekend at home. So while everyone was out adventuring, we were camping in the back yard. And I was preparing for a committee meeting.

I’d like to use this time to reflect on a short trip I did a month ago. I had been itching to get out, and when we finally had a nice weekend, I packed my backpack and headed down into Hells Canyon to repeat a trip that I made in 2011. On April 29-30, I hiked the 5.5 miles from Pittsburg Landing to Kirkwood Ranch, and hiked back the next day. I won’t describe the trail again, you can read it from the first account. But I will say that I was glad I repeated this trip. It’s not like I had much of a choice. This winter was wetter and colder than the last three, and there aren’t very many options for backpacking without snow this early in the season without a lengthy commute. But Hells Canyon is almost always a sure bet, and it’s a wonderful place to spend a weekend. In the six years since my last visit, I’ve forgotten just how large the canyon is and how small it can make me feel. The hike this time felt much easier than the first time. Perhaps it was that the temperatures weren’t nearly as hot, or perhaps I’m more in shape than I thought for not hiking much over the past year. Or perhaps it’s the effect of hiking with other people who are closer to my speed and fitness level. While some of the hills still had me huffing and puffing, it didn’t feel tedious and as a result, it was very enjoyable.

I also left my bulky DSLR camera back at the car and instead took only the GoPro. I’ll probably regret that decision when I look back and have few fine-art stills to print and display, but it was sure nice having a break from all that weight. The result is that I have video footage of the trip instead of countless stills. So enjoy my telling of an early season overnight in Hells Canyon.

 

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