Bonnie Boost

Spruce Run Creek Trailhead

Saturday I read a post from Bonnie Rae, who went up into the mountains and took some brilliant photos and it made me yearn to be in the mountains again. I commented that she had made me want to go for a hike. I got a Bonnie boost.

Yesterday the clouds and drizzle began to clear about 10am, and with that very late start, I began running around the house packing a bag for myself with whatever I had on hand. Since it was a last-minute idea, I picked a trail close to me. It was a fun drive through the mountains to the south, on desolate roads through country as rural as it gets. These are the kind of roads where you don’t see many cars, and when you do, they are pickup trucks and the old guy driving waves at you as you pass. I followed the lovely Nehalem River for much of my journey, and I watched the houses pass by, imagining what it would be like to live there.

Nehalem River
One of the prettiest houses I spotted.

It had been sunny when I left, but sure enough, as I drove the clouds gathered. By the end of the drive it was raining enough that I needed to turn on my wipers. Seriously, Oregon? Will you ever stop raining? Just an hour and a half drive through the mountains to the trailhead, and I arrived at the Spruce Run Creek Trail, which leaves from Henry Rierson Spruce Run Campground.

My first stop after the hour and a half drive.

Pedro is recovering from COVID. Yes, two and a half years in, and we’ve had all the shots, and he finally got it. I suspect it’s the BA.5 strain of Omicron, since that is what we have running rampant through Oregon right now. He was feeling bad Tuesday and tested himself but it was negative. He felt even worse Wednesday morning and tested again – this time positive.

Here in the States we can get free home test kits through a post office website. (FYI to anyone who doesn’t know – you can order three times from the same address. So if you already did it once, log on and you can order twice more if you like, and keep some kits handy in your house) After he tested positive, I tested myself and it was negative.

Anyhooo, when I typically get a couple days of free time, I spend them with my beloved. But he has been quarantining, and thus I went on a hike by myself today.

I lost cell signal right away, and realized I had not told Pedro I was leaving. Since I always try to use best practices, when I noticed my phone had one bar of signal near the town of Jewell, Oregon, I pulled over and texted him. I let him know I was on my way to the trail, the name of the trail, and said I would text him as soon as I was done and had signal again. He got the message.

Spruce Run Creek, at the beginning of the trail. So pretty.
Near the beginning of the trail, there was evidence of care.
I get better forest photos on cloudy days. You can baarrrely spot the creek down there at the bottom of the hill.
Soon I realized that in places it was hard to see the trail.

Within the first half a mile of trail, I began to lose sight of it. It’s clear that the trail has not been maintained for years. There was blowdown (trees over the trail) and I could clamber over the top of most of them, but had to crawl under several, which is hard with a pack on. Worst of all was the brush. Blackberries, salmon berries, thimble berries, and thistles grabbed at my legs and arms till I was bloodied. Nettles crowded the trail so I had to do acrobatics to avoid them in my t-shirt and shorts. I soon ended up with stinging knees. I put my head down and plowed through thick low growth of maples, and dragged my ankles through tall grass depositing seed barbs into my socks. Less than half of the time I could actually see dirt where the trail was supposed to be. Much of the time I only knew where to go because I could see the grass was bent over. This continued for the entire 2.65 miles (4 1/4 km) journey to the “lake” at the end. And then I had to turn around and do it all again to get back.

Healthy, happy, stinging nettles.

Why did I keep going? Two reasons. First, there were moments of beauty. Especially when I got to the top of the ridge. And those foxglove were to die for.

I think the real reason I kept going though, is that I am stubborn. I had decided to do this, and I am an experienced hiker, and I was going to see it through to the end. I would win the battle with the flora! What are a few blackberry scratches and burrs in my socks? The weather was great – no rain and not hot. There were no bugs, except some bumble bees and a few very half-hearted mosquitoes that were easily brushed away.

At one point I completely lost the trail, and after thinking about giving up for two minutes, I said, “NO!” I would not let the plants win. I used my AllTrails app to find my way once more. What had happened is that right at the very top of the ridge, the trail connects to a gravel road for about 100 yards. This blew my mind.

It’s so discouraging to spend two hours hiking up a steep and unforgiving trail only to find a road at the top.

Walking on that wide open road was blissful, because I did not have to battle the brush. But then I had to wander in circles using the app until I picked up the trail again. And once I found it, I pressed on once more, gol durn it.

I managed to capture this silent, tiny, quick bird, but I don’t know what it is.
I was lucky to capture this woodpecker, as I already had my camera up when he flew into view.

I reached the end of the trail. And then some, to be honest, because the trail was so bad that it took me some time to realize I had passed the end of it, and I was just burrowing through brush for no reason! My AllTrails app suggested that it would take a total of 2.5 hours to go the length and back again, a total of 5.3 miles. It took me 3 hours just to get to the lake. The lake, by the way, was mostly a meadow with some small trees and cattails and more brush. Fallen trees had dammed up one end, above a small waterfall, and that created a marshy pond type area. there was a nice little bench overlooking the marsh, and I sat and ate my lunch there.

Standing in the lake.
It is possible to spot water, so not a total dud.
Another view of the water.
Some other humans had gone through the same amount of trouble I had, and thought the appropriate way to honor the moment was to leave their trash.

Joke is on you, littering jerks. I found one more can on the ground and popped them into my pack. So I was lulled with the comforting sounds of empty Coors Light cans banging all the way back down the trail and now I get to collect the 30 cents recycling refund and you don’t. Take that.

Rested and filled with food and water, I declared to myself that I was ready to be off that damned mountain. I made it back to the Jeep in an hour and 17 minutes. Granted, it was all downhill. By that time I didn’t even care about the thorns and nettles any more and just tore through it all. One great thing about going back on the same trail – no spiderwebs! Yay! I had collected all of them on my face on the way up.

On the way back down, the sky was brighter.

By the time I had unloaded, used the bathroom again, banged as many spikey seed pods out of my shoes as I could, swallowed more water and was ready to go, the sun finally came out. Figures. It made the drive home pretty though.

A tiny church set all by itself beside the road. Logging operations underway behind it. I wonder what the history of this place is.
I thought this was a pretty bridge.
It’s like a cathedral beneath.

I had earned a full meal for dinner! I’ve been dieting to get rid of the twenty or so pounds I packed on since I retired and then fell in love and went out to eat all the time or else we stayed home and cooked great feasts. Apparently I eat a lot when I’m in love. I hit my lifetime max of 167 pounds in February, and that was when I decided I had had enough. This morning I weighed 145 – but my ultimate goal is 135. I’ve already noticed a distinct increase in energy when I exercise. I am very pleased with the progress, but I am sad about not being able to eat or drink what I want since February. Except yesterday, after my hike, I ate till I was stuffed AND I had as much wine as I wanted. Sweet!!

Pedro is feeling almost back to normal today. His symptoms were fatigue, sore throat and coughing. The coughing kept him awake at night, but he said last night he slept well. I’m so glad he’s better. ❤

22 thoughts on “Bonnie Boost

  1. I am just tickled to have been the source of some inspiration for you. Solo hiking has it’s perks for sure. As one who struggles with navigation, I am especially impressed by your resolve! You are a trail beast, for sure! Thanks for sharing your story of the day on the path. I like to think that all of that fresh air and trudging through brush is just another way of saying that we are “living our best lives” 😍 Brava, friend.

    1. I am a trail beast!! Love it! Yes, thank you for the boost. I thought you would like being my inspiration, that’s why I let the post be a surprise to you. I love solo hiking – that’s what I have done the most of in my life. I realized yesterday how much I talk to myself when I’m hiking. It’s pretty hilarious that I narrate parts of my day, outloud to myself. I can’t tell you how many times I said, while picking thorns out of my shins and brushing cobwebs out of my eyes, “This trail is not pleasant!” The good thing about solo hiking in this case is that I got to discover that it’s a trail I will not be inviting anyone else on. We are living our best lives. 🙂

  2. I look forward to your posts as a fellow Oregonian. My husband, too, was recently hit by Covid after all this time. Sneaky little sucker. So now were back to wearing masks in certain places out of paranoia. Congrats on the weight loss. It really takes a lot of strength to be strict with yourself for a long enough time that it actually pays off. Kudos to you!

    1. Well, dang, it bites that your husband got Covid too. I hope that he recovered after a few days like Pedro seems to have. I still carry a mask in my purse because I never know when I’ll feel the need to put it on. I wonder if I’ll always carry a mask now. Thanks for the congratulations, Katie! It is not very fun to deny myself for so long. I allow days here and there where I eat as much as I want to. But most times I am careful, and yeah, it’s hard to do that for so long. I think it’s worth it emotionally because I don’t have to dread pulling on a pair of jeans anymore, wondering if I will even be able to fasten them. Most of my jeans are still tight, but I CAN get them on, which is exciting!

    1. Thank you so much, Yvette. I will let him know. Thanks on the photos, too. I thought they did a pretty good job of showing how pretty it was out there, and didn’t show how annoyed and frustrated I was. ha ha

  3. Great post! I got all excited about your hike location – new! I can do this! adventure! But grew as discouraged for me as amazed at you. I would have wimped out a lot earlier. Still, I’d like to explore some other better maintained trail in that area if I can find one – or the non-trail beast. And those foxglove! I recently walked around McIver State Park (very tame) and was thrilled with all the foxglove going wild, both on the drive out to Clackamas and in the park. Thanks for the Crystal boost.

    1. Ha! Yes, I think Bonnie hopes I will find new good trails for her too. As you can guess, I do not recommend this one. This particular spot where I live is not a good one for trails. Pedro and I hiked Gnat Creek, which is just off Highway 30. It’s maintained and the woods are pretty, and it’s not too long. But…it’s just not that interesting. When I lived in Portland I guess I got spoiled with the spectacular Gorge hikes and the Mt. Hood hikes I went on all the time. Oh, one place close to me that I do love is Mt. St. Helens. The Hummocks Trail is awesome and open year round, and of course hiking below the crater is fun. One of these days I’ll register and hike to the top of the crater. Wouldn’t that be neat?

      1. It would indeed. The Gorge this summer is by permit only (driving/parking) so that’s discouraging. I’ll go after Labor Day again. I haven’t found many hikes in the Coast Range near Portland, to the west of the city. I’ll keep looking. I’ll check out Gnat Creek. I only need 5 miles.

      2. We’ve also hiked Elk Mountain and Kings Mountain off Highway 6. Those are both very rewarding at the top but steep steep. You can do Elk Mountain in a loop, which is nice, and I recommend starting with the uphill part, ha ha!

  4. Wonderful photographic snd prose record of your trip. Who cares why you persevered? – of course you did, my intrepid friend. I am pleased Pedro’s dose wasn’t too bad

  5. As a mom, I have a tendency to be horrified at the idea you were hiking alone so far from help but I know you know what you are doing. Sorry to hear Pedro got hit with Covid. I think I’ll see where I can order some tests. The snowbirds are all up here and bringing the creeping crude with them. E & E both got it in the last weeks. She first, him finally starting to recover. The fatigue, cough and fever are the hardest parts as I understand it. I never want to find out. Keep safe and well. Thinking of you everyday.

    1. Marlene, I should have thought to put that URL right into the post. But anyway, use that link and it’s pretty easy to fill it out and you’ll get some kits in the mail in about two weeks. I am saddened to hear that your kids got it too, and glad they are recovering. For as menacing as the earlier strains were, the current strains are much easier to manage it seems like. Not that anyone wants to get it, but fewer people going to the hospital. Oh my gosh I hope you don’t experience any of that. Your body is doing everything it can to take care of you already.

      I don’t want to worry you, Mom. ❤ I am strong and safe and confident. I have been hiking alone for over twenty years and I have some good trail sense. This was a short, easy one too. Sometimes I've been alone up in the mountains for days. But probably not much of that anymore, now that I have an eager hiking partner.

      1. Hugs to you and thanks for the link. I know you are very capable without question. It’s the crazy that seems to be prolific on the planet these days that is my cause for concern. Yes, I agree. The newer strains are not so awful. H hasn’t gotten it so far I think because we are not as exposed to others as many are. DIL brings it from shopping for the school and her mom and exposure to all the parents dropping off and picking up kids. No one here wears a mask anymore nor did they before. Hope P is doing better too.

  6. You are brave to go hiking alone in an area with limited cell reception, but well done for persisting on the trail. It is beautiful country.

    1. Thanks Amanda! I am proud of myself for persisting. I don’t think of it as brave anymore though. I’ve been doing this for a lot of years, and hiking into the mountains alone is my comfort zone. There is almost always no cell reception when I hike, so you are right to point that out. I need to always be sure to alert someone to my plans before I go.

  7. You rock, Crystal! Gol durn it. Had me laughing the whole time.
    Tell Pedro I have great empathy since I am hanging out at our basecamp in Virginia (the apartment Tasha and Clay have made available to us) experiencing the joys of Covid as well. Peggy had it first. It’s been a mild case, so far…. –Curt

    1. Oh this hike was ridiculous, but I am glad I hiked it. I can easily not recommend it to others, and I will not likely take it again. Having information is always a bonus. But I did find the campground absolutely darling, with nice private spaces, lots of trees and some hike-in tent spots right on the creek. I’ll probably go back there one day to camp. I’m glad that I helped you to have a laugh while you are recovering from the COVID. Pedro quarantined for a good long while, about 10 days I think, then we had a scheduled event together. He is not feeling 100% still, but much much better. I spent 2 1/2 days with him and today I still feel fine. So, that’s good. I am sorry that BOTH of you got it, and glad that the symptoms were mild. Pedro said he lost his sense of taste for a day. Did that happen to either of you?

      1. Laughing. That trail sounded like one I would cross off my list as well. As for the covid, we were lucky. I got hit harder than Peggy, but only marginally. We both kept all of our senses. 🙂 I still find I tire out more easily. –Curt

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