Columbia Plateau Route- Day 5: 6.7 miles

My plan is working.

Clarno Bridge

By late morning I was back on “trail” and digging through the resupply box I had packed myself the week before. My wonderful ONDA coworker Beth had dropped it off at the Clarno Nursery last week, and will be back in a few days. That means I can leave things like the borrowed life jacket and the extra food I don’t need anymore after my stint in Condon. Beth even left a cooler with some cold drinks (Rootbeer!!!) and a water jug. Magic. Beth is a backpacker. She knows.

But I didn’t make a wish and suddenly appear on the flooding banks of the John Day River, 45 miles upstream from where I turned around a few days ago, I was dropped off by my new and very interesting acquaintance, Max.

K’Lynn from the chamber connected us. It has been a trail magic kind of morning, and I was able to christen two more trail angels.

First, K’Lynn. It was her birthday today! She paused a meeting to say hello, welcomed some other visitors, sold me some new locally made earrings, and arranged a ride for me to Clarno with Max. Thank you SO MUCH K’Lynn!

Then Max. Max drives up in an old Ford pickup the most beautiful color of blue. He retired to Condon a few years ago from bigger cities, and we had lots to talk about on the hour drive to Clarno. We talked books – he knew all the backpacking greats (A Walk in the Woods, Wild), and was a student of regional history, so he will going to email me with a list of suggestions about the area. We talked about the Rashnish (their compound bordered the banks of the river across the way from Spring Basin Wilderness where I will hike today. If you are not sure what I’m referring to, watch Wild Wild West on Netflix.), and other such topics like the Bob Marshall Wilderness, Alaska, and fossils.

I’m so glad I went into Condon. It was such an unexpected perk to the trip. The lesson of a thru-hike is that it sometimes happens to you. You can assert your will about how the trip will go, but ultimately you are not in charge. You have to go with the flow…there are always obstacles: fires, too much snow, injuries, weather…expect change!

After packing up at the nursery (five more days of food, ooofta), I tottled along a short pavement section for a few miles, passing the permit box for Pine Creek Conservation Area, and saying hello to a family from BC who had pulled over to stretch their legs and pick up cool rocks.

I filled up my water at a bridge over Pine Creek and kept thinking about the Ren and Stimpy cartoon I watched in high school. One memorable line goes: “Don’t drink that, you’ll get beaver fever! Beavers do their business in that water!” Beavers do, in fact, do their business in this water… another of my ONDA coworkers for over seven years is JJ, who has been planning and implementing years of restoration work on this very creek. Well, he has been developing projects that would restore the beaver habitat and encourage them to move back into the creek. It was the beavers who would restore the creek. Their dams hold back the water, that water spreads out in the drainage, and it becomes more surface area for trees and vegetation to grow. The pools of water as a result of the dams get deep and remain cool – the kind of coolness that fish need to live. Beaver are indicators of a more resilient landcape ….resilient to drought and fire, those kind of things.

So yes, there might be beaver fever in that water (I believe they mean gardia), but I’ll filter it out. 😉

Ok, my break was also across the way from the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument (This section of the route is GREAT!)

Shout out to Brittany Coleman at Tough Cutie….I love my socks!

From there, I was on an old road grade that climbed at a very chill level up into Spring Basin Wilderness. I took a break with an incredible view and soaked in this very welcome section of the trip. I’ve hiked and camped in Spring Basin about five times before and was excited for the terrain, views, and spring wildflowers. The air smelled sweet with all the blossoms about, and bird song was the soundtrack to the afternoon.

I made an early camp. I didn’t need to go far today, so did some more of that reading and relaxing that I love so much. I guess my style of hiking has mellowed over the years, and I’m here for it.

3 thoughts on “Columbia Plateau Route- Day 5: 6.7 miles

  1. We’re so glad you are back on a trail again. Love your adventures and the pleasure you get from them as well as your writing. Oh and the pictures. Happy trails from Hilary’s parents, Lennie and Jancie

    Liked by 1 person

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