Saturday, November 21, 2015

North Bank Deer Habitat 11/2015

It's always the wife. I know, because I'd been ill with the flu crud for a couple of weeks and had my fill of daytime true crime TV shows. The husband thinks he has a happy marriage and is blissfully unaware that his "loving" wife has been lacing his Jello with Lemon Pledge furniture wax, he just thinks he has the flu crud while his wife knits in the rocker, looking at him and smiling that unsettling smile. The poor guy has absolutely no idea what his scheming wife is up to.  And there I am, thinking I have just the flu crud, and Dollie is just sitting there in the rocking chair, knitting and intensely watching me with an odd little smile on her face. She offers me Jello and I run out of the house screaming. Better to get out on the trail, where it is safe.

Issiah sets sail
Because of that aforementioned flu crud making its way around Roseburg, it'd been several weeks since I'd exercised in any way shape or form so a short hike in the North Bank Deer Habitat with the hiking club fit the bill for my reintroduction to the rigors of the trail. Issiah, my 10 year old grandson, came along to tend to his wobbly grandfather. However, in the North Bank, it is less about the mileage and more about the steep trails so this would not be a hike for namby-pambies, despite the short 5 mile distance.

Trees reach for the sky
It has been raining virtually non-stop in the Pacific Northwest for months and months that feel like years and years. However, on this day between winter storms, the day dawned clear, crisp, and gorgeous as a bowl of unlaced Jello. At the start, the trail ambled gently up and down through a flat known as Soggy Bottoms. But hiking in the habitat will involve some serious uphill at some point and  a left turn onto the North Gate Road marked the start of our North Bank leg cramps.

Let the huffing and puffing begin!
As the trail increased in grade, so did the huffing and puffing from hikers young and old. Didn't take long to start working up a sweat and get overheated, we stopped several times to remove layers of clothing. I think Issiah figured out that removing clothing was a way to cheat and grab an unauthorized rest stop. It wasn't long before we were bringing up the rear of our group, but what else is new?

I hate hiking
Just past the intersection with the Wrong Way Trail, the grade ramped up and the uphill became as serious as untreated flu crud. It was about then that I decided I hate hiking. But at least the sun was out, the views of the valleys below were stunning; or so I've been told, it wasn't me looking at the view when bent over, hands on knees, panting for breath during numerous post-flu rest stops.

Hey, let's make fun of Richard!
Walk uphill enough, and eventually a point is reached where all the bad uphill ends and such was the case when the North Gate Road intersected the Middle Ridge Road. A picnic table was strategically placed there and Issiah and I sat down for lunch as I endured verbal slings and arrows of outrageous fortune from my snarky hiking friends.  Something to do with arriving last but hey, I had a camera AND a 10 year old.

On Middle Ridge
My grandchildren are all fussy eaters, don't like this and don't like that, but they all think sardines are pretty cool. I have strange grandchildren and they have a strange grandfather. So Issiah and I enjoyed a restorative lunch of crackers and sardines on Middle Ridge. I had encouraged Issiah on the big climb by telling him it would be all downhill once we hit Middle Ridge. And as he so often pointed out on the descent, literally that was not quite true.

Running downhill
Yes, we were going downhill but this is the North Bank and even as we lost elevation, there were some steep hills to climb as we descended. Issiah had pretty much given it his all on the climb to Middle Ridge and he trudged slowly with frequent stops every time the trail went uphill, Naturally, we lagged far behind our comrades again.

Exploring, as only children can
At the West Barn Road, the trail dropped (with no uphill portions, this time) down from Middle Ridge to the trailhead and there was much rejoicing from a certain 10 year old grandson. He kept telling me how tired he was, yet he had enough energy to walk on muddy berms and slither into hollowed trees. On the way down, he told me he loved going hiking because in the outdoors there are no sisters yelling all the time. Well, OK, that's not particularly why I go hiking, but any reason to get out onto the trail is good.  Like not eating laced Jello.

Fantastic view to the North Umpqua River
For more pictures of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.