2011-09-19 44 -120
Deep in the Ochoco National Forest.
In a U.S. National Forest, you never really know how difficult a hashpoint is going to be. Maps and even aerial images don't really give you much of a feel for how good a road is, and even if you know the general system of numbering there's still a lot of guesswork involved.
In this case, a good two-lane gravel road brought me to about five miles from the hashpoint, and a clearly marked and signposted link road led from there to near the place I intended to park. This second road was very driveable until suddenly it wasn't, and I found myself crawling across stonefields, deep ruts, and holes of a kind that would give most people with 4-wheel drive (which my truck does not have) serious pause. It had snuck up on me so abruptly that I was in the thick of it, with no way of turning around, before I knew what had happened, and so extreme that I wondered if I had wandered onto a dead-end spur. I began to sweat profusely from worry, wondering how much time, money, and humiliation it would take to have a stranded vehicle retrieved from this deep in the forest.
As I considered stopping in order to hike both forwards and backwards to see which direction would be more likely to be survivable for the truck, I rounded a corner to see... a woman walking two dogs. I stopped and looked again. She was still there. She told me that the road I was on really did get to a properly surfaced road a little further down. So, enjoying my visit to the land of the surreal, I drove through the rockfields and ruts with more confidence. It's a Toyota, after all.
I could have actually driven to as close as half a mile from the hashpoint, but it was on a marginal road and I was still scarred by my experience of a few minutes before. So, I began a hike in from 1 1/4 miles. After a stiff climb of 1/2 mile, the road reached a T intersection about 3/4 of a mile from the hashpoint, each of the branches of the T heading off laterally from the direction I was heading in. Sighing, I began hiking in cross-country. It was tough going, with steep uphills and downhills through woods and meadows. Three times I crossed roads heading perfectly perpendicular to the direction I was heading, and at one point I had to duck through a barbed-wire stock fence. I was occasionally rewarded, though, by glimpses of (what must be, according to the map) Big Summit Prairie off in the distance, through the trees.
Reaching a hashpoint usually happens without much accompanying drama, but in this case when I arrived on the scene a deer bounded off into the deeper woods and an owl swept grandly down from some high perch and away into the forest. It was quite something. And then I did the usual photograph-and-retreat.
On my way out, I confirmed a suspicion that had been nagging at me: those perpendicular roads I had kept crossing were in fact the original road I had started up, winding back and forth across my direct-line path like some great dollar sign. I followed it back down to the truck and had a much easier time of it.
| Michael5000 earned the Multihash Achievement
- Six attempts and four successes in one long day.