It was one of those mornings where nothing went as planned. I’m careful not to say ” nothing went right” because, really, who am I to say ? Using WTA directions along with Google maps I imagined I’d be fine. After all, I’ve been here before, right ? Several times. But I’ve never driven … strike one.
Past Greenwater and off of FR-70 it seems pretty straightforward. Lupine and cow parsnip line the road. It is gorgeous with a little morning sun and predictable with a few signature forest road potholes … then the turn at FR-72. Easy enough. Wrong. Strike two.
Directions say to follow FR-72 for 7.3 miles. But FR-72 doesn’t go that far. It becomes a maze of forest roads. I drove by one active shooting range and several make-shift ones. I hit three different dead-ends after snaking up narrow pot-holed roads. To turn around, took about a hundred turns. Good grief. I got hopelessly lost, looking for a familiar view or road or turn. Nothing. Strike three.
I drove back down after two hours and headed to Wapiti Willie’s. I got on wi-fi there and got a different route from a trip report. No way was I leaving without my walk. I headed back up only to arrive at a spot I had passed previously. Pink ribbon on a cluster of stumps. Further up the road is snow over the road and a very narrow crossing over what looks like an avalanche chute. I don’t dare take Pearl across.
I pull off and decide to walk the forest. The trail is through a portion of the burn zone and is steep. I’ve never been here. The charred and barren stalks are haunting. I was looking for avalanche lilies but I know I’m in the wrong place. I hear the wind and sounds that aren’t familiar. I turn around.
I’ll do a version of this four times before I leave for the day. Four different paths through the woods. I had hoped to be home early enough to walk Yoda. Again, nope.
The 2017 wildfires in this Norse Peak Wilderness raged that summer. I returned last year for the first time and I expect to be back here soon for the blazing yellow avalanche lilies. It’s one of my my favorite hikes.
There’s something so hopeful about this place. Walking in these haunted woods you see signs of life everywhere. A hopeful cycle of renewal and rebirth. I’ll be back soon, but here’s a taste of what a lost day in the wilderness looks like.