We decided that we would do a flat-ish run called the Mad River Trail today. The trail didn’t climb anything, it just followed the Mad Riverbank through what Mom called a “George.” A George is when there is a river on one side and a steep rock wall on the other. I knew that a river could be angry, but I didn’t know that it could attack! I could see that the river was frothing, roaring mad, but it looked like it couldn’t get to us, so I ignored its tantrum the same as the person answering the Comcast phone ignores your tantrums. The idea of running 12 miles next to a river felt like nothing compared to some of the steep and tall mountains that we have been climbing lately, so both Mom and I let down our guard and relaxed into an easy run.
The Mad river first attacked us early in the run. It ran up and over its banks and made a deep puddle all the way up to the George wall. Mom avoided getting her socks wet by climbing up on the George like a rock climber, and just like a rock climber she stayed stuck up there with one leg in the way of the other leg, and had to think about her next move for a few moments. Since I don’t wear socks, I was already on the other side cheering her on. When I saw that she might need help, I jumped up on the George with her, but it was steep and slippery and I fell off again. The second time I managed to stick up there by crowding in real close to Mom’s feet. “Shove over, you’re in my way,” I said. And then, “Okay. Now what?”
“Aaah! Get out of here! I’m going to slip and squash you… and get my socks wet!” Mom screamed. She wasn’t more than 2 feet off the ground and she was still afraid of falling? How ridiculous! So I jumped off, and then Mom jumped off, and the Mad River lost the challenge.
A little while later the Mad River waited until Mom and I were separated and ambushed me. I had run ahead because of Excitement, and Mom was still around a bend behind me when the river said, “Aren’t you thirsty, Oscar? I’m so cool and I taste so good! Come stand on this bed of soft pine needles and drink from me while you wait for Mom…”
That sounded like a great idea, so I walked out onto the bed of pine needles that was sitting at the edge of the river… and fell right in! I didn’t see that one coming… It turned out that the pine needles were floating on top of the river! Thank goodness it was in a calm spot, because I had time to drag myself up onto the trail and was shaking off the water and pine needles by the time Mom came around the corner and saw me. If it had been in another part of the river, all Mom would have seen was a handsome blur float by, and then she might not see me again until I popped out somewhere in Seattle.
The Mad River attacked us for the last time with an all-out blitz. We were less than half way to the turn-around spot when the river jumped furiously over its banks and ran over the trail with a white, frothy war whoop of a rapid over where we were supposed to be running. We looked for a place to climb around, but the river was right up against the George, so we had no choice but to turn around.
Since we were finished early, Mom decided that we could take the scenic route rather than just pushing straight to our next stop in Idaho. This was a great idea, except that it meant a lot of extra time in The Covered Wagon, which, just like a handsome black dog, gets really hot in the sun. We stopped for a little while at a lake so that I could take a swim, but after another couple of hours even Mom was drowsing in the heat.
Since we’re explorers, we thought about how we could use our environment to help us. In the distance we could see a mountain with white dirt on it that the signs called Mt. Sherman. That would be a perfect place to hide out during the hottest part of the day. Mom checked Alltrails and saw that there was a trail called “Mt. Sherman Peak” (… on second thought, it might have been “Mt. Sherman Creek…” But anyway…) It was less than a mile from the highway and looked shady, so we stopped there to hike through the heat.
There was something very un-trail-like about this trail. “This is just a dirt service road,” Mom said.
“Why are all the trees wearing ties?” I asked.
“This isn’t a trail. This is a logging road!” Mom said.
But it was cooler up here, and somewhere off in the distance we could hear running water, so we decided to follow it and see where it went. We could see white dirt on top of the mountain, so at least we would be cooler when we reached it.
Mom was not impressed with the logging trail, but I thought it was just fantastic. It was covered in sticks and there were many disoriented squirrels and other unfamiliar critters for me to chase. One squirrel ran up a tree that didn’t have any branches for at least the bottom 25 feet. I danced around the tree and squealed, “I’m going to get you! Come back here! My next jump is going to be so high that I’m going to be up there in the branches with you, and then you’ll really be surprised! … Okay, maybe I’ll just climb the… Okay, maybe not… Hey? Did you maybe hide in this bush behind the tree and just confuse me?” I didn’t find him, but Mom got it on video and will share it when we get home.
We had walked further on the logging trail than we had run next to the Mad River when Mom checked the map. “Hey!” she said. “The mountain is on the other side of the highway. This trail doesn’t even go there! We’re almost done and we haven’t even reached the snow line. Let’s go.”
Oscar the Pooch