Sunday, August 4, 2013

Part 157 - Swiss Army' s Back in Town

Twenty minutes after Tallywa and her parents left, my wife and daughter, Kathy, pulled into the parking lot.  Tallywa’s mother had been able to make contact with Jodie, so she knew where to find me.  We were so happy to see one another; it’s hard being away from family for weeks at a time.

We drove to Bend, where Jodie had a motel room waiting for us.  After taking the all-important shower and changing into fresh clothes that Jodie had brought for me, we left the motel and drove to REI, located in the Old Mill District along the Deschutes River, as I needed to purchase a couple of items.

The Old Mill District had once been home to two competing lumber mills, one on the west bank of the river and the other on the east bank.  Operations began in 1916 and lasted through 1983, when the doors of the last mill – Brooks-Scanlon Mill A, closed.  The property lay fallow for a decade until it was sold to land developers in 1993 that had the forethought and vision to convert the property to retail space rather than industrial space as the city of Bend originally wanted.  Iconic to the development of the property was the retention of the three smokestacks that today are a defining symbol of the uniqueness of the Old Mill District.

The following day, Saturday, we left Bend and drove to Sisters where Jodie had rented a home for the next two nights.  After getting settled in the spacious home on the outskirts of Sisters, we decided to tour the area around Sisters.  I suggested we take Highway 20 over Santiam Pass and search out the Big Lake Youth Camp that would be my next resupply point after leaving McKenzie Pass.  The turnoff to the camp wasn’t hard to find and within twenty minutes we pulled into the parking lot of the deserted youth camp.

The camp had just closed for the season, and there was only a skeleton crew on the campground property, but even they were nowhere to be found, meaning there was no one around to ask about hiker packages, however, as I wandered around the property, I met a hiker who indicated packages were stored downstairs in the laundry room of the Administrative Building.

Walking down the stairs, I entered the basement that had a roomful of washers and dryers, and off to one side of the building was shelving on which had been placed hiker’s resupply packages.  It didn’t take me long to find my package.  I noted its position on the shelves, as I would need to find it again in a few days when I returned to the camp.

Outside the Administrative Building, I found Jodie and Kathy talking with the hiker who had told me where to find the packages.  He said his trail name was Lt. Dan, as in Lt. Dan from the movie Forrest Gump.  Jodie, who was intent on providing trail magic for someone, asked me if it would be okay if we invited Lt. Dan to our rental home in Sisters to stay the night and use the laundry and shower facilities; we had an extra room.  Knowing how much such amenities meant to a hiker, I wholeheartedly agreed that we should invite Lt. Dan to stay the night with us. 

At our rental home in Sisters, we showed Lt. Dan to his room, and told him to make himself at home. We all felt good about passing forward some of the kindness and generosity I have received on the trail.  Once our guest was settled in, I sent a text message to Cookie to ascertain her situation.  She texted back that she was with her father having dinner at the Ski Inn in Sisters, and would be staying the night in the local campground.  I invited her to join Jodie, Kathy, and Lt. Dan at our place for pie and ice cream. She agreed and we went to pick her and her father up at the cafe.

We arrived just as Cookie and her father were coming out of the café; with them was Swiss Army. Swiss Army told me that he had been able to exchange my small pack cover for a larger one, but not knowing if he would see me in town, had hitchhiked to the trailhead at Santiam Pass and tacked the small package to a Forest Service bulletin board with my name on it, then hitchhiked back to Sisters. I thanked him for his conscientious efforts and told him he had certainly gone the extra mile in trying to get my backpack cover to me. 

We enjoyed a nice evening with Cookie and her seventy-three-year-old father who is touring the area on a concept bicycle that can be broken down into a package small enough to fit in the trunk of a car. Before taking them back to their campground, I offered to give Cookie a ride to the trailhead at McKenzie Pass in the morning; she accepted, and I told her we would be at the campground at six o'clock.

The next morning, before driving to the campground to pick up Cookie, we gave Lt. Dan a ride to the post office in Sisters.  He said he’d hitchhike to Santiam Pass where he would continue his journey north.  At six on the dot, we pulled into the campground and easily found the tents belonging to Cookie and her father.  Cookie declined to go with us this morning; she said she needed to forward a package to her next resupply pickup and needed to stay in town until the post office opened.  I told her I would see her up the trail in a few days.

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