Sunday, August 12, 2007
I am taking the time now to recount an adventure from my solo road trip somewhere in Idaho. I pulled off the road to Craters of the Moon National Monument to view a lesser park that was equally volcanic in nature. The park, known as Hell’s Half Acre, was accessed by a short dirt road off the main highway. At the parking lot were a small picnic area, a toilet and a trail head. The trail offered two options, basically short, marked by blue painted poles and long, marked by red ones.
I opted for blue as I had a long way to go that day. I loaded my trusty camera in a pack and my water bottle. The hike was noted to be unimproved and I soon learned why. It was a scramble across hills and valleys of raw volcanic rock. Often there was no clear trail and no footprints visible to mark which way to go. At times I lost track of the blue poles and once I double checked that I hadn’t mixed up blue and red paths.
Hiking alone in the wilderness strange and morbid thoughts come to one. No one knew exactly where in the northwest corner of the country I actually was which put me at more risk than I cared to think about. However, then and now, I stand by the philosophy that reasonable risk is necessary to live a worthy life.
One, practical, fear was that I could turn an ankle or break a bone and have to drag myself back along the so called trail. I have a fondness for “lost in the wilderness” stories and one I read recently was about a man who was gravely injured while mountain climbing and barely managed to drag himself back after falling in a crevasse and being left for dead. While there were no crevasses of the ice kind near me, I did conjure up a vision of trying to crawl across the razor sharp lava around me. I might then have had cause to regret wearing shorts.
A more creepy thought a la a serial killer novel was that an evil someone had moved the blue poles to lead me farther and farther away from all chance of rescue and discovery. I wondered how many years it would take for someone to discover my dismembered bones out here. Either I was developing heat-stroke or I read too many novels.
Well, for better or for worse, there will be no documentaries written about my tragic loss in the wilds of Idaho. I made it back safely with no worse injury than a burr or two in my socks. As I returned to my car, I discovered the log I should have signed to document that I had taken this path. I also discovered that the most recent person to have signed the log did so a number of days previously. Good thing I didn’t break a leg!