Sunday, October 29, 2006

Following the Master

I went on a lovely hike yesterday with my spazzy little dog, Scout, and 11 adventurous ladies. I say adventurous because whenever I am in charge of an outing or event, interesting things can (and often do) happen!
Greg and I had actually hiked to Ramona Falls a few weeks back, just so I would be familiar with the trail. It's a seven mile loop with the breath-taking pay-off of Ramona falls about mid-way into it. Even though the hike is fairly long, there isn't much elevation gain and the trail meanderes along rivers, basalt cliffs and mossy-banked streams. A perfect hike, I decided, for novices and seasoned trekkers alike.
So I was really excited when 11 gals--ranging from completely inexperienced to Pacific Crest Trail veterans--showed up with backpacks and great expectations at the church. It was a frosty but beautiful fall morning when we hit the trail, and small groups of women chatted happily as we traveled over the leaf-covered path. Since we were all walking at such different paces, I decided the faster hikers would stop and wait for our slower sisters at certain junctions on the trail. I announced that our first meeting place would be the foot bridge that crossed the Sandy River.
It was a great idea, except for the fact that the bridge had disappeared, apparently washed out by recent rains. Waiting for the slower hikers to catch up with us, I paced along the river banks, hoping to find another way across. I finally spotted a place where several small logs had fallen across the river.
The logs were only about four inches in diameter, but one was positioned a few feet above another one--sort of like the uneven parallel bars. Sue, the veteran hiker, discovered that it wasn't too tough to hang onto the top log while side-stepping across the bottom one to reach the other side. A few of the ladies had to be prayed, coaxed and bribed across the logs, but they all made it with nary a slip.
I went last, wondering how Scout would get across. She's not afraid of water, but didn't seem too keen about plunging into the rocky, ice-cold stream. The same energy that had swept the little bridge away just days earlier was still evident as the high water raced through the narrow channel. Nope, Scout was definitely going to stay high and dry and follow me.
I grabbed the top log and began inching across, aware that Scout has hopped onto the higher log and was right behind me. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see her trotting confidently along, poised and quite pleased with herself. By the time we were nearly across, the ladies began to praise and applaud Scout for her wonderful performance.
Not a good idea.
About the same instant I leapt to the safety of the bank, Scout took her eyes off me and looked around at her admirers. Then she glanced down, at the rushing water just mere feet below her paws. Startled, she tried to hop onto the lower log, but her paw slipped and she fell into the frigid waters.
Stunned, but unhurt, she sloshed her way out of the river. A very humbled and soggy little dog scampered up the trail . . .
It may have taken us six hours to do a seven mile hike, but we all did it, washed-out bridge and all.
And that's all I have to say about that!


Anonymous said...

Great Story Shawn and perfect example why I like long hiking sticks. When you've high on the log you can still brace yourself against the bottom of the creek.

I did a group hike of ladies once. I'll never forget it. The numbers of hikers were 20+ and ages ranged even more. We got strung out in a long line with ever increasing gaps. Then the slower hikers tried to catch up with the faster (me) hikers. Some of them hyperventilated; hearts raced and one lady passed out. I felt terribly. The top of that ridge is now named “Dorothy’s Crossing”. We got her down ok but I will never again underestimate the dramatic impact of health and fitness when organizing a group hike.

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