Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Monday (Sept. 26) was a good day for our annual wilderness geocaching excursion. Saturday was the culmination of a few days of unseasonably high, even record-breaking, temperatures. It was 96 at Gilbert Saturday afternoon. Sunday was much cooler with rain overnight. Initially Monday appeared foggy and moist and I wondered if we should even go, but by the time we reached the valley, the sun was shining brightly.

“How long do you think we’ll be out?” I asked Mike. “Will we be back before nightfall?”

“It won’t take all day,” he said. But I remember that in the past it has taken all day, and I can’t think that it won’t.

To continue (see previous post – Indian Post Office), feeling quite contrite – having broken the camera, moved from my assigned spot, and caused Mike some worry – we then traveled to Horseshoe Lookout on these same terrible back roads. (The lookout is a natural one on the rocky top of a mountain and not a tower.) I couldn’t help but think how my dad would have enjoyed this trip. He loved to read about the wilderness, then see for himself.
Mike has been to all of these sites before. Last time at Horseshoe Lookout with grandson Jack, they had been unable to find a geocache. Armed with new clues from the cache owner, Mike was determined to find it on this visit, especially since we were in the vicinity.

The back country is spectacular. Nothing to see but the wonder of natural beauty – layers and layers of trees and mountains. No farms, no cows, no shopping, no gas – yet, we’re just a few miles from Highway 12. That’s why they call it the Wilderness Gateway. Even so, problems are to be avoided as help is not readily available. Don’t take your car there and certainly not your motor home.

As we approached Horseshoe Lookout, Mike pointed out a number of rock outcroppings and I took pictures with our crippled camera.

As we stopped at the lookout, I remembered that I hadn’t seen Nellie since she accompanied Mike to Indian Post Office Lake. I wondered if she had been worried, too. Once Mike let her out, she came right to me and made eye contact. “You broke the law of the pack, Kathy,” she seemed to say, then nuzzled my knee. “We’ll forgive you this time, but just remember, you aren’t the alpha dog.” Intuitively she had gleaned something of this upsetting event.

Mike readily found the cache, and while he did the bookwork (which seems to take some time), I took pictures. We might have stayed longer, but it was nearly 4:00 p.m. (late in the day at this time of year) and time for us to move on. It took half an hour or so for us to reach Highway 12. Once there, we headed west – toward home – but we stopped at Fish Creek. “Caution: frequent helicopter landings” read the sign. And that was right – the helicopters were flying in and out constantly. There must have been a fire someplace and they were carrying water from the river.

“Are you up for this?” Mike asked, as he prepared to hike the Fish Creek Trail. “No,” I screamed, but not a sound came out. “Sure,” I heard myself say. “By the way, how far is it?”

“A round trip of 1.8 miles,” was the answer.

“Then we’d better get moving,” I said. “It’s 4:50 now and it’s dark at 7:00.”

So off we went. The trail was narrow but well-maintained and initially the going was easy. However, it became steeper and a bit challenging. I told Mike to go ahead of me and find the cache. He and Nellie hurried off, but I was sure I would get there before he finished the bookwork, which proved to be the case. The trip back down the trail was easier.

It was 6:10 when we arrived at the Dakota. Mike thought to find one more cache as we traveled Highway 12, but by the time we arrived at that locale, it was dark. “You can’t,” I said; “it’s too dark.” He reluctantly agreed.

Between Kamiah and Orofino, we began to contemplate a supper of leftovers. “Or, we could stop at the Mexican restaurant in Orofino,” said Mike. So, that’s what we did – grubby clothes and all.

It was 8:40 when we drove into our farm home, and as we descended Plank’s Pitch we were greeted by a sight straight from a movie about aliens from outer space. We were at the house before we fully realized it was Farmer Kyle planting at night on the Miller place. He worked until 10:00.

That’s it – the close of the annual wilderness geocaching excursion. Once we put our stuff away it was time for bed. KW


Leah said...

Great reporting, Kathy. If the camera doesn't work, how does it work?

Chris said...

Oooo aliens! We used to have a farmer who worked at night (think he had a day job) when we lived in our other house up here. It *was* weird to see!

You are a sport to hike along! While I may have moved fast in my younger days, I'm definitely a stroller these days.

Kathy said...

It's amazing that it still takes good pictures, isn't it? The shutter button is hard to depress. "It just ain't right," as they say.

I don't walk as briskly as I should as an exercise walker. I walk the dog at least a couple of miles every day, and she tends to become distracted along the way, which slows us up.

Farmer Kyle is responsible for a lot of acres, so he doesn't have a day job, but most farmers need to augment income and find benefits through other work. Kyle's wife is a kindergarten teacher.