We did not set out to hike 12 miles.
Following directions from the guidebook, Bend, Overall, we drove out Century Drive, past Mt. Bachelor, past Sparks Lake, and took a right turn at the sign, ‘Green Lakes Trailhead.’ The only trailhead we saw from the parking lot had a wooden sign marked ‘Soda Creek Trail.’ No mention of Green Lakes. We headed up the path, confused but undeterred.
We scaled huge tree trunks collapsed across the trail, hopped from boulder to boulder, and tiptoed on fallen trees to cross creeks. When we got to the Green Lakes Trail sign, we had hiked nearly 5 miles. We couldn’t imagine leaving without at least a few steps on the trail we came for. So we continued for another mile and then turned back.
We didn’t see the Green Lakes.
At the end of the 8-mile Tumalo Falls hike last week, I still had a skip in my step. In the last few miles of this hike, around every turn and twist, I saw a glimmer, a glint of what I hoped was the parking lot, but twist after turn it was just more trail and more trees. My hips creaked; my knees ached; my feet throbbed.
When we finally stood at the hatch of our VW, we liberated our feet from the prison of socks and boots. With a downward glance, I saw that from our knees to our calves, we were capital F-ilthy. We looked like we’d spent the last month sunbathing in ankle socks.
As we pulled in to our garage, I ejected myself from the passenger seat into the shower.
When I was clean, in a seat across from my dearest love, a glass of wine in my hand, and in my ears, Billie Holiday’s silky voice singing “Stormy Weather” – only then – could I reflect on the beauty that propelled our feet along so many miles: the meadows crowned with mists of swaying reed grass, hundred-mile views of lakes, mountains, and valleys, the soft scent of Lupine, Blue Cornflowers, and Wallflowers in full bloom, the steady hum of a million busy bees, the snake, the frog, and the horses.