party of six was split into two groups of three. I was in the second
group, and Ken was in the first. Sarah was hiking clockwise, and
we were bailing out of our trip, hiking counterclockwise to return
to Timberline. Although we started only 20 or 30 minutes behind
Ken's group of three, we were moving slower. I suspect we were about
an hour behind Ken by the time we reached Zig Zag Canyon.
In our group of three, the crossing of Zig Zag Creek wasn't as easy
as for Ken's group. One of our hikers spent about 5 minutes deciding
where to cross, even after we shuttled her pack across. Maybe the
water had risen since Ken came through. I don't know. The crossing
was not as simple as it had been the day before, but it was still
far from difficult. The water was probably no more than a foot deep,
and we found rocks enabled us to jump across without wading.
We met Sarah as we were hiking uphill out of Zig Zag Canyon, probably
between 11:30 am and 12:30 pm Tuesday. She was two switchbacks below
the lip of the canyon.
In the tradition of experienced hikers, Sarah stepped out of the
way to let the folks headed uphill have the right of way. As I passed
I cracked a joke about the weather and trudged on.
If one backpacks a lot, one develops the ability to discriminate
between hikers who are comfortable and those who are miserable.
Sarah looked comfortable. As she stepped out of our way, she stepped
to the outside of the trail, near the edge. She appeared to have
good balance and confidence near the edge even though the slope
would not have been a good one to slide down. Her clothing was right
for the weather, and she carried her pack well. Given that she had
run into our first three hikers earlier, I'm not surprised that
she didn't ask about conditions ahead.
If I could play that moment over again, I'd talk with her about
the Sandy River. Unless one finds a log spanning the creek, it's
a wading exercise in cold, fast water. I've hiked around Mt Hood
twice, and both times, I've found the Sandy the most disturbing
crossing even though both of my trips were in sunny weather. This
trip, we turned around at Paradise Park, before even seeing the
Until this trip, I'd not met Sarah. Even so, news coverage and the
obituary left me feeling that the community of Portland lost a strong
contributor that day. How I wish I'd discussed the Sandy River with
her rather than just continuing up the hill.