Thursday, March 13, 2014


Oil on stretched canvas, 8" x 10"
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Winslow and I went "off road" on our walk the other day, and I quickly discovered I'm still on a learning curve about living west of the Cascade range. I grew up in Oregon, but it was eastern Oregon, where the weather is much drier and the vegetation much less dense than the west side.

Our walk here was through a lightly wooded meadow of lovely, dry winter grasses. Sounds simple enough, right? A tempting little game path lured us from the well-trodden trail. For a while it was a piece of cake, but soon the path faded and we found ourselves clambering over deadfall trunks and limbs, hidden under those lovely grasses I mentioned. Did I mention that those grasses were dense, tangled mats about three to four feet deep? I would take a couple of springy steps on top, then plunge through to the waist. Poor little Winslow would lunge forward in desperate leaps, then disappear entirely. Also unseen under the grass was--you guessed it--water. We were crossing a bog! My shoes grew heavy with muck. Winslow's belly turned black. We picked our way back and forth as if traversing a mine field.

After forty minutes of floundering we fought our way back to the main trail. Just one more minor obstacle: tall, thick tangles of blackberry bushes lining the pathway. In eastern Oregon people have been known to plant blackberries. If they tried that here they'd probably be shot. In this country the berries grow naturally and profusely, spreading rapidly across the land. They will grow right over your house if you don't keep them cut back.

I finally located a low spot in the brush and, carryng the dog, gingerly started through. The long vines seemed to have a mind of their own. Wicked barbs caught and grabbed at my pants and coat, scratching my hands when I reached to pull them off. Finally, we broke through and stumbled onto the path, covered in mud and trailing weeds. I looked furtively up and down the trail to see if anyone had been watching. To my relief, there didn't seem to be anyone around. We limped back to the car and I made my getaway as quickly as possible, staying on the main road all the way home.


Gary L. Everest said...

Hi Don,
What a wonderfully painful tale. We seldom hike, even here in Hawaii, to avoid the pitfalls unique to this island. Slippery trails, mosquitoes and falling keep us exclusively to the well-traveled and usually paved paths. Of course, every time the news carries a story of an injured hiker, I'd by lying if I said it didn't contribute to our (perhaps) overly-cautious attitude.
I'm happy you both were successful in escaping the clutches of the bog from hell! :)
Be careful out there!!

Don Gray said...

Hi Gary--there's some rugged country on those islands, for sure. I wandered around enough in Maui a few years ago to see how one could easily get themselves in trouble. You be careful too!