Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Cuervo Gold, the fine Colombian*

Did you read about the two separate bear attacks last Thursday in Idaho and Wyoming? It didn't happen to us, but Mr. Sparkle and I were hiking on Friday at a spot between where those attacks occurred. I'm glad I didn't see the news before our trek because I was already nervous about hiking in bear country. 

And what were we doing in a remote mountainous forest known to be home to grizzly bears? Looking for treasure, of course.

A man named Forrest Fenn hid a chest of gold and other treasures somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Then he published a poem with clues, hoping to lure people into discovering the great outdoors. Evidently, his clues were too cryptic and no one has found the treasure yet, so he's started giving out additional clues. Mr. Sparkle deduced that the treasure would be in a little corner of Montana wedged between Idaho and Wyoming, and he talked me into going to look for it with him.

thrifted shirt - appropriately by U.S. Expedition

But first, let me tell you about Steely Dan. 

We went to see them play at the amphitheater at Edgefield, which is a converted work farm just outside of Portland. 
I'm taking a picture of the painted walls in the loo, wearing my shirt from CalligramOrama.

It's a sprawling resort-type place with typical Oregon laidback style. There's a hotel in the main building, a microbrewery, and bars and other amenities sprinkled around the grounds. 

Tea Room Bar, which holds about six people
I'm not a huge Steely Dan fan, but they were excellent! How many Steely Dan songs can you think of? Well, they played them all – Reeling in the Years, Hey Nineteen, Kid Charlemagne, Bodhisattva, Josie, Peg, Aja, Babylon Sisters – I mean, ALL of them! The band was top quality, but it was the back-up singers that captured my attention, especially La Tanya Hall – she was so cool. What smooth moves and beautiful smile!


I'd love to be a back-up singer!

Now back to the treasure hunt…

After the concert we headed east across Idaho, which was very smoky from huge wildfires around Sun Valley and Ketchum. The smoke covered a large part of the state, and the fires are still burning, I believe.

We bought bear spray and a bear bell.

And we drove to the Coffin Lake trail head and started heading up.
The trail climbed about 1,700 feet in five miles to Coffin Lake, which is around elevation 8,500 feet.

But our destination was Upper Coffin Lake, still a little higher and further on. 

We found out there's no real trail to Upper Coffin Lake, so we bush-whacked our way uphill over uneven ground, and eventually we ended up about 300 feet above Upper Coffin Lake!

Coming down was no easier than going up, first to the upper lake and then to the lower lake, looking out for treasure and bears as we went. We had seen one other couple earlier at the lower lake, but they were gone by the time we headed down. We were truly on our own now, and we were beat. We also didn't have much water left. The walk back to the car was grueling – no treasure to console us (you didn't really think we'd find it, did you?), hot sun, little water, sore legs and feet, toe-jam, knowing we could meet bears at any time. 

But we did it! Old geezers, not in optimum condition, we hiked about 12 miles, half of it uphill, climbing over rocks and brush, taking in incredible views, singing all the way to scare off bears. I'm happy to say that we didn't see any bears – I mean, I'm REALLY happy to say that!

Once we got back – showers (ahhh!), drinking water and lemonade (lots), pizza (salt!), bed (motel, not camping. We're not THAT rugged!). The next day we just sat in the car and drove all the way home in 13 hours.

Whew, I'm tired just talking about it! I'm glad we did it, and I'm glad it's done. Would have been nice to find the treasure, though.

So, what have you been up to?


* Can't get that out of my head!


PinkCheetahVintage said...

This looks amazing! I am a little nervous about bears, too. Glad you didn't see any!!! Would def be cool to find that treasure <3

Connie said...

I grew up in Montana and we always used to wear bear bells when we hiked. It was the rattlesnakes that scared me the most, though. Betchya didn't think about those. And, oh yeah, the mountain lions...and the big moose...and the crazy mountain men. When are you going hiking again???

Sheila said...

Gosh, that just is beautiful country! There are bears in Powell River, where my husband is from - he has many stories of encounters. Me, I'm a city girl - no bears, no thank you! But I do love a good hike, and that just looks awesome.

I like Steely Dan - sounds like a great concert!

Marla Robinson said...

When we went hiking in Montana the thought of running into a bear scared the crap out of me. Most of the trails we were on were not very busy so I was a little fearful. Beautiful pics.

ann wood said...

Beautiful country and you guys are brave considering the bears! Looks like you had a memorable trip and accomplished a lot. Steely Dan would be fun to see, I've always likes their music.

blue hue wonderland

Amber of Butane Anvil said...

What an adventure! Glad you're safely home and that there was an excellent concert and spectacular views to compensate for the exertion and elusive treasure!

Ariane Lasalle said...

Wonderful adventure Val - The only climbing i did was a long time ago, i was reasonably fit, younger and still, i was beat and hungry, wanting a shower after the climb - I will stick to yoga i think - or if want to climb a mountain, i will go by helicopter!

Beautiful landscape! Oh My, i love mountains! too bad no treasure and good about the bears! Gee you took a risk but you didn't know about the attacks before going -



Sue @ A Colourful Canvas said...

Yeah, um...I'm kinda off the whole hiking thing. Always leery of the bear thing, and yes, we sing as we walk in the woods, but I love the pure quiet that is found in the back country, and singing totally defeats that. A friend's daughter was attacked by a cougar, so I'm on edge about that now too. Was just thinking of going up to Whistler for a that is bear country.

Sue @ A Colourful Canvas said...

Okay, I followed your link and I can see how the whole finding hidden treasure adventure thing can easily override a little bear bite. I'm already feeling the excitement of finding the loot.

Tamera Wolfe said...

Sounds and looks like an amazing (and thankfully bear-free) trip!!

I knew immediately from your blog title about Steely Dan--love them!!

Fellow i went to high School with is in a Steely Dan tribute band called Technicolor Motorhome that is AWESOME (he's the guitarist)

Madame Là-bas said...

Your outdoor adventure looks exciting and tiring. We used to camp and hang our packs outside the tent. It always made me nervous!

Suzanne Carillo Style Files said...

I'm so jealous of this hike. We used to hike like this all the time when we lived in BC.

Did the exact same thing as you...pushed it like crazy and then back to the comfort of our home or hotel.

People always assume that going up is the hardest, but I found going down the toughest. You're tired and your legs hurt. You're more likely to fall. They say you go up with your heart and lungs and down with your knees.

You must be so proud of yourselves. That is a long hike.


Hollie "Jet" Black-Ramsey said...

Whenever my husband would go out of town, he'd leave me with a can of Bear spray for protection. HEEHEE!! I hear tale it can kill a man. Awesome pics lady!

sabine said...

I'm glad you do not meet the bear!
But the landscape is absolutely fantastic and even when you did not find a treasure it obviously was worth hiking there. 12 miles - chapeau!

Pull Your Socks Up! said...

Heck what an adventure and a huge drive ... I'm glad you didn't get to meet any bears too and I like how after 12 miles of trekking you made the most of creature comforts like hot showers, pizza and beds. What a beautiful part of the world you live in! xox

Secret Squirrel said...

Well, it was lovely to 'go' on the trip with you! What a beautiful place you live near-(ish). I am sorry you didn't find the treasure. You look very nice in your walking outfit too, I like a cotton shirt to hike in, too.

pastcaring said...

Oh how did I miss this?
Anyway, better late than never - your trip looks amazing, Val, so much variety, so much to see. Glad to hear you enjoyed Steely Dan, the resort looks great, and oh wow, your hike looks wonderful, such beautiful country. Alas, not treasure - but hey, no bears either, so it's all good. xxxx

Dawn Elliott said...

I knew you were gone...what an incredible adventure...but I'm also afraid of bears! Gee, why do they call it Coffin Lake? Because people die climbing the sheer walls above it?
Anyway, I LOVE Steely Dan and am totally jealous (of the entire trip, really). Welcome you can relax!