So when we left off we were looking at a map and on one side of the river is a road and on the other a red dotted line indicating a hiking trail. The impression was that the red line was far enough from the road line that the group would have it both ways, easy access to the river for fishing and hiking and yet far enough from civilization (the highway to Crater Lake) to feel we were in the wilderness.
Picture this, seven men from a small northeast Georgia town thousands of miles from home all standing next to a rented van and seven back packs all loaded down with 60 lbs or so of fishing gear and enough food and booze to last for about six days all pondering the situation. Everyone has their turn at the map and “deciphering” it. We take pictures for fun of each of us looking puzzled with the map and pointing fingers at our planner. We all drink the last of the “cold beers.” We decide to start hiking.
All the packs adjusted and all the stuff arranged in them, the group begins its journey and the trail takes an immediate upward accent and away from the river and the road. We all felt good, ” Okay we will be away from the road, this trip is going to work out okay after all,” we collectively thought. Our planner was beginning to think that he’d been vindicated and position as planner secured for the next trip. So we go up and away and after about 30 minutes we go down and toward the river and again the road and the sound of cars. We stop, we listen but no one says anything. We start again, up a steep trail for about 15 minutes and then back down and end up yet closer to the river and the incessant sound of incessant cars on the other side of the river. The cars winning the battle if the decibels with the water in the river. To add insult to injury we now see fishermen in the river with their cars serving as a backdrop to the tourists going to Crater Lake. In other words we have just hiked about an hour to be right where they were….what was the point. I felt the fishermen were looking at us like we were dumb asses from Georgia, hicks with fishing poles not knowing what the sh… we were doing. It was embarrassing and deflating. My pack at that point felt immediately more heavy and uncomfortable. We all just stood for a moment at the clearing near the water on the trail and took it all in. One member of the group took off his pack and sat on it as he wiped his brow.
“What do y’all think?”
I know what I was thinking. This was not what I had come so far to do. The fisherman in front of us was in shorts and sandals and had a bunch of fishing water in front of him and when he was done he’d simply go up the bank and then into his car and on his way home. Laughing at us all the way. I felt it.
Let me say this. As many times that I hiked and fished out west I was never really a fan of it. It is hard work and just setting up camp and taking down camp was hard work. And if you throw on top of that the different personalities of the hikers and how fast different people want to get on the trail or where one might want to stop or where one would want to camp, it is a complex undertaking. Now this.
“I say we go back to the car.” I don’t remember who said it. It may have been me. Whether it was me or not it was what I was thinking. Silence and then watching the picturesque casting of the guy in the river, his car in the turnout and the cars crisscrossing just beyond.
The whole trip deteriorated from this point on. Our group like so many factions of society will gravitate to the lowest existence in society if left to their own devices. The car meant civilization and mobility and getting what you want when you want it. But that is what we did, we went back to the car and camped where the car was. Off the main road, to the left over a little bridge, and beside the river across from turnouts for fishermen and cars going to Crater Lake.
To be continued...