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!