Saturday, December 27, 2014

Near Disaster on the Salmon River

Salmon River in Mt. Hood National Forest
When hiking into unfamiliar terrain one should always have a compass, a GPS or other emergency equipment, such as a map, first aid kit and matches. Without these necessities lady luck may be your only means of avoiding disaster. Unfortunately, my friend Rob and I found this out the hard way. 

We arrived at the Salmon River in the Mt. Hood National Forest and prepared to hike up the Salmon River trail 4 1/2 miles to reach Final Falls. The lower river contained wild salmon and Steelhead which were protected, but there were good numbers of native Cutthroat trout that were catch and release only. The trail began at Green Canyon Campground. We left around noon and planned to return before dark which, in the fall, was usually around 6:00 or 6:30. 

As we headed up through the massive canopy of old growth Douglas Fir and Cedar, we stopped and fished at a variety of pocket water, intriguing riffles and inviting pools. The sun glistened brightly off the water as we caught and released numerous trout using various caddis patterns. Most of the fish caught were small, 6 to 9 inches long, but very feisty. A 10 to 12 incher was considered a trophy.

Finally, we reached the Falls and took a break for lunch. Then, we spent several more hours fishing, taking photos and reminiscing about past experiences. It had been a fun and productive day but as the time neared 5:00 we decided to head back before it got dark. However, we forgot to take one thing into consideration. The river was located in a forested canyon and the trees and dense foliage helped to blanket out the waning light. After only a mile of hiking, darkness slowly swallowed up the light and the evening quickly turned into pitch black. We were in trouble. 

We had matches and some paper but that only gave us a quarter mile of limited guidance. The trail was wide and smooth enough so our only hope was to use team work to hopefully make our way back. I grabbed the rods and held them out laterally in front and Rob grabbed my small back pack and held on tight. Then in unison, we took small footsteps as I moved the rods back and forth in front of us to keep us in contact with the trail. Luckily, after 2 1/2 grueling and harrowing hours we neared the trail’s end and saw our car in the faint light. 

We were elated but as we approached it an exasperating event occurred. Unbelievably, a full moon slowly loomed over the canyon walls, and you could clearly see the entire surroundings. From then on we agreed to learn more about Solunar Tables and to be prepared for any uncertainties.     

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please read our terms of use policy