November 13, 2006

Hard Scrabble Ridge (a name that really means it)

Once upon a time a friend and I explored Oregon together. We found many beautiful places. It was a time of mixed tapes and coffee. We drove my Geo Metro 4 door to far off places in the wilds of Oregon, places a Geo Metro should not go. The fact that we could get this car to go into these places always pleased us. We were alone in the Hills.

It was late March. The valleys were lush in bloom and it was warm. The farther we went into the Hills though the cooler it got. The snowier it got. We turned up one gravel road then another. The signs turned from Heppner-Spray HWY to Stump Spring to Hardscrabble Ridge. Really if we were rational people we would have turned around. However, we were explorers just a little step apart from tourist. As I drove up the road labeled Hardscrabble Ridge, Ma Seri (my little purple car) started to quake in fear. She really wanted to go the other way, especially when the snow started touching her tires, then her rims, then her underbelly. It was too late to turn around, and the old tire ruts didn't want to release us from our ill-chosen path.

We didn't know if we should just back up the mile we had come or if Hardscrabble Ridge would get better and our path would clear up. The car chose for us when the snow reached the belly and we ground to a halt.

We were miles from anyone.

My companion found a channel lock that I had tossed in the back seat. I dug out the chains from under the spare tire. We set about shoveling snow out from under the car. I walked a little ways ahead trying to remember my Montana Ranch up bringing. I saw cougar tracks, my heart beat faster, but they were iced over so I hoped that meant that they were out of the area. I saw deer tracks and I saw the other side of the mountain. It seems that Hardscrabble Ridge didn't ever let up. I went back.

We got the chains on the front wheel and Martin got bloody hands. I backed up through icy snow ruts for about a mile. A magpie of happiness greeted us and lead our way. The bees and fresh spring flower fragrance greeted us and sweetened out relief of living.

As soon as we got to the bottom a truck drove by us up Hardscrabble Ridge.


Anonymous said...

And don't forget the gangs of roving teenagers in the Burns Safeway parking lot that steal your beer...

bellemanda said...

I remember those gangs. They skulked about waiting for someone to walk out with beer and mugged them! Very nice of the Check out girl to remind you!

Anonymous said...

As recent events in Oregon have taught us, ALWAYS go with the dig-your-car-out option over the try-to-walk-home-through-the-woods option.