Wallowa Mountains Hells Canyon Trails Association

Snake River Trail #1726

October 8-11, 2021

Well, you missed it, folks. Despite a forecast that included rain and snow, six WMHCTA volunteers and a friendly USFS staffer rode a buckin' bronco – uh, jet boat – up the Snake River, pulled up short to peruse a band of bighorns bouncing along the cliffs, then pulled into a sweet spot where we set up the Big Top, situated the Groover under a Contemplation Tree, scattered our tents amongst the feral tomatillos, and loped off across the Snake River Savannah to chop away at a couple of blackberry monsters that had gobbled up a few hundred feet of trail.

That'll work up your appetite, so we loped on back to camp and rustled up some of Bob's Hearty Soup, suitable fare for our first night at "Bob's Camp," although not the same Bob, and then we had a little something unhealthy for dessert and even our ultra-marathoner had a bite or two of that, and we fired up a make-believe propane campfire and pulled out a real ukelele and a real little guitar and sang a few songs about trains and love and falling out of love and pickup trucks and all that good stuff before turning in at what seemed like midnight but was really just eight o'clock.

The next couple of days we hacked at hackberry trees. They were stiff and we were sore, but we uncovered a mine tunnel and a bat cave and every once in a while saw great blue herons flapping their prehistoric way up the river, and every hundred yards or so we'd stop to admire a big bear scat full of berries, and canyon wrens poked around to check on us, and the light and shadow on those canyon walls just about popped our eyes out. Then we'd lope on back to camp each evening admiring the work we'd done the day before, and we ate stir fry and tacos with home-grown whipple beans and someone produced a jar of pickled quail eggs and there was baklava and that make-believe campfire and stories about kids and grandkids and grandparents and who used to live where and what really did happen that time, anyway?

The last day we loped six miles all the way to Camp Creek to meet another boat to take us home. I had to crack the whip to keep folks from stopping for just one more whack at a hackberry, because once you get that in your muscle memory, well, you're good as gone. We got on board and loaded up our gear and managed to not tip over the Groover before realizing we hadn't screwed the seal on. It never did rain much, in fact the autumn sun was pretty splendid as we splashed our way back downriver. The pilot idled us down to take a good gander at a big cinnamon bear who was loping along the trail. Her trail, where she'd left those scats, the trail we'd cleared for her. The pilot, he was a cowboy, he gunned those engines and we rode on down the river in the sun and shadow and spray, and it was a pretty fine way to end the season.

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