I have managed to find my way to more than a few adventures in my life. Be they “little adventures”. I am not a brave man and while I searched out adventure through my teens and twenties, all since have occurred mainly due to my curiosity. That and my lack of direction. Many came while behind the wheel of a vehicle. Usually while driving a small car along the edge of some mountain. The kind that wasn’t made for small cars. Some happened while cruising America’s interstate highway system. No telling where adventure will occur. Many of my favorite adventures came while sitting atop a horse. Over 20 years of riding and horse camping across the U.S. and Canada provided a “happening” or two along the way. Never thought they would be adventures when I began, but just like when I was in a car, my curiosity about what was “over there” usually pushed me to push my horse into circumstances we both wished I had thought about a litta bit longa, before I pushed on. The rest of my little adventures happened when I was a foot. They say “he didn’t know whether he was a foot or horseback” and the results were always the same for me. I have been lost over night in The Boundary Waters Wilderness of Minnesota and The Sonoran Desert of Arizona. I climbed more than one mountain, including Long’s Peak (over 14,000 ft.) in Colorado when I just started out for a hike. I have written about most of this so often that those who know me are surely sick of those stories. I have spoken in front of more than one audience (remembering Neena/Menasha/2007) forcing them to remain captive to my stories as well. Many of my adventures came in the pursuit of nature images. There is one “little adventure” I have never recanted and for those who can take it, you will find it below.
In the late 1980s I was in the middle of a photo trip to Washington State, with a short side trip into British Columbia, Canada. I had already taken a road that I thought would lead me into Olympic N.P. only to find my road to be a dead-end gravel trail that stopped abruptly on the side of a mountain. I retreated with no major issue. Then while in the middle of a several mile hike to photograph a waterfall in an Olympic rainforest, I managed to fall to the bottom of a ravine. Fifty feet or so. The ground was so soft that I could not climb out but I finally found a usable exit about a half a mile down along the western edge of the ravine. One dark morning while loading my luggage and camera gear into my car I returned to said car from the lobby of the Mt. Ranier N.P. lodge to find a raccoon crawling out of the vehicle with a bag of potato chips. All in all, pretty much a typical trip for me.
The Northern Cascades
I was traveling east to west on the one and only road through The Northern Cascades N.P. looking for a possible mountain landscape. I was frustrated that no roads circled through or over the mountains and finally decided to stop and hike rather than visit the Cascades with no images at all. It was still pretty early but the weather was looking like rain. I packed my Pentax 6×7 and my Canon 35mm camera bodies along with film, lenses, filters and a tripod in and on my converted backpack. Twas made for camping but I had converted it for camera equipment. I checked out the roadside trail guide and figured I should have no problem with the one and only trail at this location. A few miles in and then right back out the same trail………right. After a few miles of hiking it began to rain lightly and I decided to accept my loses and head back. Who wants to go back the same way they just hiked. I changed plans and climbed a small hill and thought I might parallel the trail while still experiencing a new path. My own path. With the sun buried well behind the clouds and no compass (there was no GPS) as usual, I was shocked to find out that I had lost the “real trail” completely was only somewhat sure as to what direction I was going. It was getting colder and wetter by the minute. I took refuge in a small cave but decided that while the Cascades were spectacular I did no want to spend the night keeping them company. An hour or so later I was just ready to climb a nearby hill for a better view when I heard something that sounded wonderful. The same sounds that I hike into the wilderness to lose sounded pretty good now as not one but two cars whizzed by not far from me. I stepped to the right and sure enough I was back on the trail and almost by my own car. The clouds were breaking in the west and I quickly set up my tripod and Pentax and got two quick shots off before the sky once again closed for business. I made those pictures less than 50 feet from my car. Just where I began. Another memory and another story to add to my list. I did manage to photograph a few waterfalls on my way out of the park and sunset on Mt. Baker as I headed back to Seattle and a dry motel room.
There now. I feel much better for getting out that one Last Little Adventure that I had never confessed to. I thank you for lending me your ear. So to speak.