Wednesday, June 30, 2010
I had an urge to see some mountains, different from the one behind my house, and a brand new fishing license burning a hole in my pocket; so yesterday I loaded Sis in the trailer and Bear and Chigger in the truck and drove over to the Russian Wilderness Area. It’s about an hour’s drive from my house to a trailhead, and another hour and a half on Sis up the trail to a lake.
The trailhead is unmarked, and the Forest Service abandon the trail years ago. Not to many people know where Sugar Lake is, just a few of us local yokels, which makes it a nice little hide-away. It’s rare to find anyone else there, and I could probably count on the fingers of one hand the times that I have encountered anyone. There are enough of us who visit the place to keep the trail maintained after a fashion; but you are pretty much on your own in there. This time when I pulled up to the wide spot in the road that serves as a trailhead I saw tire tracks where someone had parked a truck and trailer, and there was a pile of road apples, so I knew someone else had ridden up the trail. I saddled Sis and turned the dogs loose, and rode around a corner to where the actual trail leaves the road. There was a pickup truck parked there in a shady spot, so I knew that at least 1 or more backpackers or day hikers was somewhere ahead of me.
It was already getting hot by the time I left the trailhead, and I shed the sweat shirt I had been wearing. We were soon in the timber and gaining altitude, and I was quite comfortable in short sleeves. Dogwood was in bloom on the lower section of trail, but we soon climbed above the elevations it prefers.
When we reached the lake no one was immediately within sight or hearing, and I assumed whoever owned the truck back on the road must have gone somewhere else; but while I was putting my fishing rod together a big yellow dog came from around the side of the lake followed by a young couple with a papoose in a back pack. The young man was carrying a fishing rod, so while the dogs got acquainted I asked him how the fishing had been. He said he had caught a couple of small brook trout, but it was pretty slow. These folks were just day hiking, and they were soon on their way back down the trail.
Sugar Lake has always been hard to fish. The timber and brush grows right down to the water’s edge, and in the 3 years it has been since I was there last the couple of spots where I usually fish had become over grown. It was hard to find a place where I could get a line in the water. Chigger didn’t help any. This was his first trip to a lake, and there was more water in one place than he had ever seen. He couldn’t stay out of it, and was constantly getting tangled in my line. I managed to catch a single brookie before I gave up in frustration. I fried it along with my bacon and eggs for breakfast this morning.
While I was putting my fishing tackle back in my saddle bags, Chigger and Bear had their first serious disagreement. Chigger is still of an age where he believes the world rotates around him! I sat down with my back against a big boulder to take a little rest, and Bear laid down beside me. In a sudden fit of jealousy, and like the big dumb pup that he is, Chigger flew into the older dog. They really made the fur fly for a few seconds, and there wasn’t much I could do about it. It ended almost as fast as it started, and I’ll have to call it a draw. Neither dog would back down, and they stood glaring at each other. I could get them separated then without getting bitten myself in the process, and no serious damage was done to either dog. Once started back down the trail, Bear took up his usual position, ranging far out ahead of me, while Chigger stuck closer. By the time they got back together they had forgotten their differences.
I was feeling the effects of the ride long before we reached the truck and trailer. I don’t do long rides at all anymore, and this little trip had been enough. I’m 72 years old now, and the old bones are getting tired. I still had to drive home and do the normal evening chores. It’s much easier when I have a camp set up at or near a trailhead. When I ride into camp all I have to do is take care of the animals and fix something for myself to eat. The day’s work is basically done, and I can sit down and relax. I’m waiting for a hay delivery right now, and I know better than to be caught camping anywhere over the 4th of July weekend, but once the holiday is over the next time I pull out of here with the trailer I should be on my way to set up a camp somewhere and stay awhile.