Eric grabbed his “Oh, God” handle as we whipped around the corner screeching and the car fought gravity to stick to the road and not be flung off the cliff into the beautiful, but deadly gorge below.
“Sorry, I forgot I was driving”, I replied.
He didn’t laugh like I did, most likely he was worried for his life.
It was a rough night sleeping smashed in the back of the car and I was still contemplating whether that large animal we just passed was a deer or indeed an elk as Eric was submitting as truth. It was a deer I was pretty sure, but maybe there are light brown elk around Mount Saint Helens.
I don’t know what exactly I was thinking about, besides sleep, when two nights before a simple reverse motion lodged my 2001 Ford Taurus snuggly into a ditch. And not just any ditch but a gritty, river’s edge ditch on a dirt road 10 miles from even a hint of cell service, 8 miles from the nearest camper and on a road we weren’t sure was ever used; judging by the grass in the road, the curves and the remoteness. I had thought just a little extra gas pedal action after the “bump” would rescue us. But upon assessing the situation, trying to push, unloading the car and shifting weight, we were spending the night.
Eric hadn’t said anything about it but my driving was apparently worrying him most of the trip. I was having fun but also being cautious, I felt. I view Brutus- my car- as a tool, one I know well enough to take a couple risks with. I probably should have been more aware and wiser after all the hours on these roads in just one weekend, but I was tired. And besides that one problem with the ditch I made it safely everywhere in Brutus including the campground the previous night. Even with my night blindness, exhaustion and hurting muscles from the 18 miles hiked that day.
It wasn’t my fault that I had to sleep in the car the previous night. It was that power- tripping, rural- campground, security lady who refused to give two exhausted dudes the benefit of the doubt and let them sleep in the tent they pitched hours before. Forget why a campground has a guard instead of a camp host that would take your money, the entire situation was unfortunate. Irony of all ironies we put the tent up to be a safe and guaranteed place to sleep. I put my sleeping bag and pad into it before we left for our mid afternoon hike even. And while I would love to blame Eric for getting us lost in the boulder field and then having to take another period of time to go find his sunglasses then making me drive till I found cell coverage so he could hear his wife’s voice thereby making us arrive an hour after the campground closed…he wasn’t ticked at me for sticking the car in the ditch or for complaining as the lava boulder field continued for-e-v-e-r (and me being a slow hiker).
Also, Eric was the first one out of the tent that first night (I wasn’t wearing any pants) when at 615 am a big ole F-350 Diesel real-man-mobile came rumbling up the road. He mumbled how they should drive us up the road to call triple A when the camo hat man said “I cou’d just pull ya out”.
I thought that seemed logical, so we literally picked up the tent and threw it to the side. I got in to hit the brakes when we were yanked out. We were out just as fast as we slipped in, and our planned hiking weekend was back on, without the morning wasted “hiking” up the road for help.
We figure we hiked 24 or so miles in 10 or so hours while sleeping 5 or so hours all weekend.
We saw a grand total of 0 cougars, which was a major concern for Eric.
As we set up the tent next to the car that first night, Eric brings up walking up the road for help, right then, in the dark, unknown, sure to get colder area. I am not down, and was trying to figure out how to nicely say it; after all I was the driver that got us into this situation. Then he says,
“You know, this area is kind of known for cougars, and we are pretty far out here.”
I agreed, since the nearest town is actually named Cougar, but I would still have rather risked it in a tent than tiredly walk up a dark road while it got cold and with only one head lamp. We discussed it and he saw my point as multiple survival stories, shows and movies scrolled through my head.
But let me tell you, there is nothing quite like that conversation to enter your head as you are relieving yourself at 4 am in the middle of a deserted road to make you realize being taken down at that instant by a cougar would be a horrible way to die.
So that was my weekend. How was yours?