Sharaun’s hip was hurting her, probably agitated from our cornhole game with Randy and Kevin, so she wasn’t up for a hike. I asked both kids, but neither were much interested in a hike either. So I put in my earbuds and threw my sweatshirt, some water and food, and a portable battery into the backpack and struck-out solo.

I really wanted to get down to the bottom of the gorge and next to the river. From the map it looked to be about a thousand feet of elevation drop, which of course means another thousand feet climb to get back up. The lady at the check-in warned me that, although the trail map said the river loop was an hour one-way, I should really account three hours due to the steep and rugged terrain.

I couldn’t quite believe the trail guide was 300% underrated, and I know most places will over-estimate trail time to account for the slowest possible hikers. I decided I’d make for the trailhead and decide what to do once I’d arrived, taking into consideration how long it took me to get there and how daunting the descent looked from the top.

I think I really hit the gas on the walk to the trailhead, I was close in under half an hour. Looking back I know this is because I had already decided I was going down to the river, and was wanting to give myself enough time in case it really did take me three hours.

I ended up unable to locate a trail junction which the map seemed to say should be there, and instead took another loop across a ridge in hopes of hitting a second junction. The extra bit added another half hour to my eventual arrival at the steep trail down into the canyon to the river, but like I said I’d already made up my mind I was going. I walked past the warning signs, “steep uneven switchbacks ahead | experienced hikers only,” and started the descent.

About halfway down, I reconsidered, looking back up the way I’d come and pausing to take stock of my energy. I was planning on exiting via another route, making a big loop of the gorge while walking alongside the river at the bottom, but I wanted to be sure I was OK to come back up if need be. The descent was indeed brutal, the trail still in winter disrepair, littered with down trees and in most spots completely covered in a carpet of leaves. Steps were carefully considered.

I decided I felt fine, and I really wanted to get to the water, so I kept on. It was just me, and the solitude was enjoyable. I don’t usually listen to music while hiking, since I’m usually hiking with others, but I found I really enjoyed it, even if I did worry I couldn’t hear a bear should I stumble upon one.

I reached the bottom, walked alongside the river, and ascended the other side of the loop, which was indeed less steep than the switchbacks in but still taxing. I was tired by that point and concluded I’d bitten off more than I probably should have for a “quick” solo jaunt, but I wasn’t concerned I’d not make it back. Forty minutes later, winded and worn down, I walked back into the RV.

I don’t really like this entry, too stark. Should take more time and fill out detail, but it’s done now and everyone’s up so the day is beginning.


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