Northport (390.1) to Pierre Lake Camp (412.4)
22.3 miles + 1.4 miles off-trail
I started quite late into todays hike. After saying thank you and goodbye to my trail angels Jami and Josh I went to the Mustang Grill for breakfast. I had eggs Benedict and some crunchy hash browns. Yummy!
Out of town I had to cross the Columbia River on a steel bridge from 1947. It reminded me a lot of the Bridge of the Gods in Cascade Locks! But this bridge here had a small sidewalk I could use and so I didn’t feel too bad when a big truck shooted past. On the other side of the river I turned westwards and started today’s hike on different forest roads. The sun was shining and it was getting hot quickly. I passed by Northport’s international race track (a sign said that!!) and started into a first small climb.
Although the forest road went uphill at a gentle grade my backpack was pulling me down. I didn’t feel very well. What was wrong? I tried to recover on a flat stretch but without success. I hiked like a zombie putting one foot in front of the other. After five endless miles I reached Sheep Creek Campground, a very nice well-maintained Forest Service campground that was surprisingly for free. My point of interest was mainly the bathroom where I sat down to be off my legs for a while and do my business. I felt much better afterwards. Lately I had made bad experiences with town food…
I left the nice campground hoping that I would find such a nice spot for the night. My hopes would not be heard. As the whole hike today was on easy to hike forest roads I was deep in thoughts when I smelled a fire and barbecue. Maybe there was someone around? Through the trees I could see a trailer and I thought that explained the fire when a couple of dogs raced towards me. They were quite fast but wagging their tails. I stopped as usual and waited to be welcomed by the dogs. Then I felt something snapping at my right leg, then the left one. It hurt. I instantly started yelling at the dogs and tried to get my poles between me and them in a position of self defense. I was ready to fight! That was when the owner of the dogs appeared way too slow and took his dogs back. I told him that one was biting me. In the background I could see an overweight woman moving slowly around the trailer.
As no one seemed to be interested in my well-being I hiked on. I needed to put some distance between myself and what just happened. As my adrenaline level was back to normal I stopped and assessed my legs. A little bloody scratch on the right calf, some scratches on the left. My solid trousers had protected my legs from the worst.
After hiking another half a mile I stopped again to put on some hand sanitizer on the scratches. I was vaccinated against all kind of stuff including rabies and so I wasn’t too concerned. Anyways, I have never been attacked by a dog like this in my life and it was a little shock. But thinking about the situation I was most angry about the people. They didn’t care at all. A short “Are you okay?” would have been the least. But no. I also thought about myself and if I could have done anything different. But it had all happened so fast! In the morning I had played with Sweet D and Sam the dogs of the trail angels. Their hair was all over my trousers when I left. Maybe the snapping dog had smelled the other dogs?
Whatever… I hiked on and after a while the incident was halfway forgotten. As I had started late I had to hike a long time until I reached the place where I wanted to camp. When I arrived in the area a bunch of cows was strolling around freely and unfortunately too close to a nice potential campsite.
I hiked on to the next road crossing but was disappointed by what I saw. The next road would be paved and there were fences all around.
It was already late and with a big sigh I decided to go 1.4 miles off-trail to Pierre Lake. There was supposed to be a forest service campground. Maybe it was as nice as Sheep Creek and maybe it was for free as well? It wasn’t for free and it wasn’t as nice. Not at all.
But once there I had no other options and so I paid 6 Bucks to camp between a road and a mosquito paradise together with a bunch of noisy permanent campers with lots of noisy kids.
What a day! I hope tomorrow is a little bit less dramatic!