Monthly Archives: December 2012

before departure

Bickleton has a rich history and the people seem to be proud of it and use it as a way to promote their businesses and being with out cell phone service, it is still a step back in time and I looked at a lot of pictures and maps from the past. In the old days there were little Bergs scattered all across that part of the county, all about 20 miles apart. Just about as far as anyone would want to go with a team of horses or oxen.
I have to say I really enjoyed my time in Bickleton!
Meanwhile back at the Ranch; I borrowed a work horse collar and set of hames from the Ranch and tried that out on Taboona and that was a major break through in the use of horse power. The breast strap just did not “cut it” when it came to pulling heavy loads. Of course this was a” no brainier” for any serious horse driver! But for my personal learning curve; this was a major break through!! After testing the new equipment i.e. taking two, two hundred pound men plus myself down into Rainbow Springs and back out again, and seeing Taboona pull this weight with relative ease, we were ready for some long distance travel!
After my protocol of volunteer hours “I left no stone unturned” in my quest for comfort and function for Taboona’s harness, and the cart in general. I improvised where ever I needed to without compromise to our safety. I caught a ride into Goldendale for supplies, and by the 8th of July I was ready to roll.
A friend of mine from Portland came to visit me but unfortunately the timing was not good. We were “on different pages”. She did not want me to go during the heat wave that descended on the NW just then and I was in no mood to be delayed!
Also I was; out of necessity, it seemed to me, swept into complete absorb shun, (the day before a long and potentially dangerous venture), as if my mind was trying to recall a thousand details of an ancient song line! This created some strain between us; she renamed me Captain Ahab, which I will give it to her; was reasonably appropriate. The last thing I wanted to do was lose my momentum and I was hoping forgiveness would eventually trump any ill feelings!

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unfounded fears

June 23, 2012. While I was waiting for Jeff and Denise to come and give me a ride back to the Ranch, I got to visit with some of the local “color” coming in and out of the store. One man; David Lusby told me the story how he had rode with Ray from Cleveland to Box Canyon Road which he said was the old Stage Coach Road. Wow, now that really made sense because there had to be places to water horses in those days! I thought how much fun it would be to take Taboona and the cart on the Old Stage Road! David also told me about the Ell Trail that went from Canada to Mexico and locally went from Celilo Falls to White Swan. And how the military had made the trail into a road that went from Fort the Dalles to Fort Simcoe. I asked Dave about the horse tracks I saw up on the Simcoe Ridge and he informed me there were 5000 wild horses north of the Simcoes and east of hiway 97 and 15,000 wild horses west of hiway 97 and north of the Simcoes.
I told Dave how Ray Mitchell and I had a mutual desire to create a cross county trail and I told him about our horse rides from Rock Creek to Indian heaven along the crest of the Simcoe Mountain. And how Ray was even paid by the county back in the ‘80’s to scout part of this proposed trail. During a time when the county actually had a trails department! And even though Ray was dead now I still wanted to follow through with the idea! David said that it would be impossible because there was too much private property along the way. And that was sad for me to hear.
I also met Jim Chapel ,who was interested in my adventures and he told me about a trail in Europe, called Camino de Santiago, that he and his daughter hiked ,a famous pilgrimage trail that goes across the Pyrenees mountains through Spain and France . He said he liked to hike this trail every year if he could and you did not have to carry a lot of gear because there were Huts about every five or ten miles where you could get a meal and spend the night, for a very reasonable price. And there were people from all over the world that hiked this trail. He said if you didn’t like hiking with one group all you had to do was wait a day at a Hut and there would be a whole new group to get to know the next day! Now I thought to my self well maybe there is hope for a cross county trail!
I know there has been much resistance to the rails to trial attempt from Lyle to Goldendale and the trail is only open half way because of the resistance from local land owners. But I personally think their fears are unfounded.

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out of the woods

June 22 2012. It was getting time to quit and now I had a big view to the east.. I noticed a black PVC pipe crossing under the road in a culvert so I followed it up and came to a spring and a place to camp. The wind was strong out of the west and it looked like a storm so I set up my tarp against the storm and explored up the draw, realized it was the same rock draw I had seen from a distance. I did not have a lot of “juice” left in me but I did try and gain some elevation to see if I could gain cell phone reception but no luck. I went back to camp and went to bed early, no fire. I saw one pick up truck on the road and they stopped for a long time on the road below me and I thought they were going to follow my tracks and come visit but they eventually drove on. I had a good nights sleep even though it blew hard and rained some.
Later when I had got back to Ekone Ranch I was looking over some of Ray’s maps and he had camped in the same place on one of his adventures and he called this place; “good spirit camp.” I would have to agree; it was a very beautiful property, Good water, rich dry land pasture and that intriguing rock canyon that I did not have the energy to explore! I felt extremely blessed to be able to camp there and silently thanked who ever owned the place for not shutting me out with locks or the no, no, no, everything signs! My one and only night in the Horse Heaven Hills was worth every ounce of effort I had spent getting there!
As I walked on toward Bickleton the sky was spitting some rain and it was the first time I needed Reed’s rain coat. When I got into town I asked an old timer on the street, where was the best place to eat? He pointed to the store, so that’s where I went. I ordered lunch and called Jeff and Denise. I did carry with me a clean pair of pants and a clean shirt but I thought maybe no one would believe that I had walked 20 plus miles cross country if I looked super clean so I left my camp clothes on to help confirm my story, and they had the look alright!
The folks at the Bickleton Store and Café were friendly, there telephone had unlimited long distance and was a kind of service to their customers, in part because there was no cell phone service in the area. Everyone knows everyone in Bickleton and I was informed that they knew I was coming before I got there. They said someone had called in from Pine Creek Road and said there was a man walking down the road with a knap sack on his back and “he had to have been, coming out of the woods”. That was me alright fresh out of the woods!

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Pine Creek

June 21, 2012 In the morning I packed up and took the road to the east. After a mile of so there was a road that went to the south that probably went towards Cleveland but my goal was to see the horse heaven hills. I felt hungry for a real meal but the nut gruel was sustaining me! After a while of hiking I came to my first functional fence and a locked gate. I had come at least 10 miles and I had crossed no fences, that in it’s self was pretty darn amazing, just the kind of country I like! It is demoralizing and an affront to the spirit of the western frontier that locked gates have to exist. But I understand that there have been a few people; that start forest fires, poach game and destroy cabins and logging equipment that have ruined it for the rest of us. I would sure like to see that change!
With this kind of a greeting I left the road and took off cross country diagonal to the NE, hoping to intersect Pine Creek. I did bring a portion of the latest county road map, just in case I had to text in my location and to give me a rough idea of where I was.
I crossed a partially downed fence and eventually came out in a clear cut, then walked down an old logging road that led to Pine Creek. I was never so glad to see running water again! I hadn’t seen this much water since I left Rock Creek! This water ran over clay it seemed not rock because it was not crystal clear in fact slightly cloudy but excellent drinking water and I had my share! And there were big pines all along the creek, at least where I found the creek. Some of the pines were 3 and 4 foot in diameter! The sun was shining so I rested there and looked around and found where a bear had scraped up a number of queen boletes, I found a couple of small ones and watched a pine squirrel eat some scraps of mushrooms the bear missed.
Feeling very satisfied that I had got some where significant on the map and near water; I filled up my water jug and trudged on. I hiked down stream until the road split and I took the north fork which was the main road. Before I left the creek I took a bath while the sun was still warm. This was now the 21st of June and I heard a rumor while I was at the Ranch that there was a solstice party somewhere in this area called the “slowstice gathering” I did not see any signs of its existence so I walked on. When the road became gravel I started seeing signs of smaller parcels of private property, with their accouterments of no trespassing signs, it does seem the new property owners are most prone to posting their property even if they are not living on it. The underline message I get from this is; “ I’ve got mine now, so you get lost”,
I had up to this point only seen the Horse Heaven Hills on a map and now I was here, and they did not disappoint me, somewhere in the distance I could see a distinct rock syncline that distinguished itself from the other many draws running north and south through the hills. My view of the hills appeared and disappeared as I walked along pine creek road. I was feeling a little weak and weary. I found a strap along side the road and rigged up a tumpline to take some of the weight off my shoulders and hips and that helped. Now I had a three point system; where the weight of my pack was evenly distributed on my head, shoulders and hips

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ancient boundries

June 20, 2012
I felt better in the morning so I hefted on my pack and walked on. I was heading east now along the top of the Simcoe ridge. I angled into a road that runs along the edge of the Yakima Nation. (This is exactly the kind of road in exactly the kind of land where I would love to take my horse and cart!) After about a mile it occurred to me; I would not have enough water to make it to Pine Creek so I stashed my pack and started exploring a timbered draw to the north. Nothing, even with the usual willows, that had been an indicator species. I looked in some other likely places but no surface water. I took a long rest then decided to follow a timbered draw to the south. It was too easy going down and I went as far as I thought was practical considering my energy reserves and still no water, so the only logical solution to my predicament was to go back to the headwaters of Dairy creek where I knew there was water. So that is what I did, it was still a long hike of necessity.
While I was resting there at the spring I realized I needed to pack more water some how. So I rummaged through my possible bag and found a gallon zip lock bag, it had a hole in it but I had a thin grocery store plastic bag about the same size. So I doubled them, filled it with water and now I had two gallons.
Once again I felt very fortunate to be saved by something as flimsy as a plastic bag. Eventually when I returned to my pack, I reinforced the extra water with yet another plastic bag as I had lost some to leakage, and continued hiking east headed slightly down hill now. I was pretty tired by having used up a lot of energy getting water.
As I was walking along near the boundary of the Reservation I noticed some bare foot horse tracks it looked like three horses, free of riders and their tracks seemed to be with out any man made direction?
I saw a rock out cropping off to my right so I walked out there and realized it looked man made but very old. It was not very high and about 10 feet across. From this flat rock circle, for the first time anywhere so far, on my hike, I could see what looked like a hundred miles, in four directions, to the SW the SE the NE the NW. I had the distinct feeling that I was standing on an ancient boundary marker or a place where the native people had used to send smoke signals. Stumbling onto a place like this gave meaning to all my efforts.
Not far from this place I made my camp near a “Y” in the road. No fire, it was entirely too tinder dry. I could hear a truck with a V8 engine in the distance rumbling around the back roads to the north and sometimes it seemed to get closer but I was spared any encounters with unknown humans. There was a bird sounding in the night, it seemed like it was in flight and it kept up its sounding far into the night? Also for the first time the mosquitoes were starting to annoy me. Oddly enough out here where there is very little water?

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