Note to self: do not sass mouth park rangers.
— Lauren Steinheimer (@irunintotrees79) July 16, 2016
Because they can issue citations.
Don’t worry! I worked my way out of this pickle with nothing more than a firm talking-to and a ripped dress.
After returning from my wonderful early-morning frolic along the Yakima Skyline, I decided to chillax along the river before heading back down to Oregon. If you haven’t already, you can read Part One and Part Two of this story before moving on here.
At that point, I had resolved to skip Phish and spend the remainder of my weekend exploring new trails in Oregon, instead. I couldn’t stomach the thought of driving all the way back to Dunsmuir from The Gorge in one go, and knew I would only be catching the very tail end of what should have been a solid weekend of phun.
But first, I had to get out of my camping spot.
Remember, I had a crew of surprise site-mates set up camp behind my truck the night before, and was too inebriated to reposition the behemoth beast at the time. When I came down from the ridge that morning, I found several tents and a kiddie pool full of babies set up behind me.
The only option that made any sense was to move the row of small boulders that formed a boundary around the campsite and pull forward toward freedom.
Lucky for me, one of the couples sharing my site were incredibly awesome and friendly folks who offered to move the rocks out of the way. They did an almost-perfect job of it, but when I tried to turn onto the road, I quickly realized the clearing was just a wee bit too narrow for Daisy to fit through.
I was stuck with a couple of large, heavy rocks beneath the front of my truck. Determined not to let this interrupt my plans, I quickly hopped down and got to work moving them without even bothering to turn my engine off first.
As I knelt in the hot dust, pulling rocks from below my quaking 3/4 ton diesel truck, one of the spaghetti straps holding my dress up ripped free. This is why I can’t have nice things.
It’s okay, though, I was wearing a bra, and therefore safe from any offense of indecent exposure when a BLM park ranger approached to ask what the hell I thought I was doing.
“I’m moving these rocks,” I said curtly.
I thought it was pretty obvious, and I did not have time for this shit. I’ve been butting heads with authority figures for over 20 years now, and found that I’m particularly rash-prone to white men in uniforms.
I quickly resumed my work.
Then another ranger arrived, only to ask the same question.
“These rocks are here for a reason,” he said.
“To make my life miserable?” I asked. I was about to let him know just how stupid I thought the rock barrier was. How the designated parking spot for that site was poorly located. In fact, I was about to unleash a barrage of criticisms on the entire layout of the whole damn campground…
But then I actually made eye contact with my oppressor, and the voice in my head screamed, “TONE DOWN THE JERSEY, LAUREN!”
The dude looked confused, and a little upset. As if the last thing he expected to encounter that day was some blue-eyed spitfire in a torn sundress throwing daggers of attitude while “redecorating” one of his campsites. He clearly had no idea what to do with me.
So he asked for my driver’s license.
Now that he had my attention, I felt compelled to do some explaining. I told him (almost) the whole story. Why I was there- who I paid- who these other people were.
The stress of my encounters the first night started to come out as I anxiously pled for mercy. “I don’t know who any of these people are, and I never wanted to cause anybody any problems! I’ll put the rocks back where they belong, I swear! All I wanted to do was run up that ridge, I really don’t want to make trouble!”
“So did you go up there?” he asked.
“How was it?”
Immediate change of tone. “It was amazing,” I gushed as a smile tore the scowl right off my face. “It’s so beautiful up there, you can see everything.”
With that one question, I went from wanting to throw rocks in a fit of rage to wanting to share a beer with this dude and talk about trails.
:::Any man who tries to date me should take note of this incredibly effective technique:::
And then, that was it. We made friends, and he only made me replace two or three of the rocks. They were freaking heavy, and I think watching me move them provided the rangers with some degree of entertainment.
And then I was off- back to Oregon to explore new trails.
Following the recommendation of a friend, I decided to camp out around the Cascade Lakes near Mt. Bachelor. Devils Lake sounded particularly inviting and appropriate.
When I finally got there, I was exhausted and very hungry, but instantly relieved by what I found. It was the exact opposite of the Yakima Canyon, but I loved it just the same. It was cold, wet, shaded and completely peaceful. I found a spot where I could camp all alone, and it was right next to a perfect trail for me to run on the next day.
I took the horse trail that went from Devils Lake to Elk Lake because dogs are allowed off-leash on that one. After the dry and steep run the day before, nothing felt more inviting than soft earth beneath my feet, tall trees for shade and a ton of little springs for Bruce to drink from.
We made it almost all the way to Elk Lake, but I decided to turn around due to the increasing number of fallen trees blocking the path. It was getting a little ridiculous.
And then I thought I lost my dog.
Shortly after we turned around to head back to my truck, I lost sight of Bruce. The last time I saw him, he was about 1/3 of a mile ahead of me, trotting down the trail at a much faster pace than I could maintain.
I started to get nervous as I passed some trail junctions, wondering if he might have made a wrong turn. I called his name and whistled repeatedly, with no response.
This happens to us all the time. Normally, we run in the hills outside of Dunsmuir, where I’m sure anyone who found him would return him to me. But in completely foreign territory, I panicked.
As I closed in on the last few miles of trail, I saw a couple of riders on horseback up ahead. My heart sank when I didn’t see my curious hound dog circling their feet, but rose again when the riders said they saw him heading down the trail in the same direction I was going.
“He’s probably waiting for you at the parking lot,” the lady said. “He looked like he knew where he was going.”
As it happens, that’s exactly where he was. If he had kept running along the trail during the 20ish minutes I spent looking for him, he had to be well over a mile ahead, and wondering what was keeping me.
When I got close to the parking lot, Bruce plowed into me at full speed, clearly happy to see his person.
I have an extremely smart dog, and need to stop worrying about him so much. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if he got tired of waiting for me to appear and just drove himself home.
Before leaving the area, I needed to take a bath. I was hoping for hot weather to encourage this, but no. Bend drew in a hail storm that morning.
Didn’t matter. My arms and legs were streaked with trail dust, and I needed to go into town for food.
Let me tell you- Devils Lake is ice_fucking_cold. It probably feels good to swim in if you’re currently on fire.
But whatever, I was dirty and felt like a badass.
After a quick stop in Sunriver for a burger and beer, Bruce and I headed home.
On our way back down 97- Mt. Shasta welcomed us back with this lovely, heart-shaped cloud!
I might get frustrated with the slow pace of life here at times, but returning to Mt. Shasta feels more like home than anything I’ve ever known.
Anyway, we made it back in time to catch the first set of Brothers Comatose at Shastice Park.
He looks nice and relaxed in this photo, but the crowd was a little overwhelming for Bruceski, and we had to go home early.
Or, Bruce went home, anyway. I ended up shutting down the local dive bar with a friend. Perfect ending to a perfect birthday weekend.
That was the only free concert in the park I made it out to this year. Now, summer is practically over, but I still have so many stories to tell.
[In the time between my birthday weekend and writing this post, I ripped the other strap of the same dress, also trying to get my truck out from a sticky situation. Both straps are now held on with safety pins.]
Punk rock, never stop.