Lost in Lumber

We were lost, me and my two cousins Paul and Harvey, they with guns and me with a camera. We were hunting bear in a 99-year growth of lumber in Oregon.

Trails crisscrossed up hills and down slopes to streams. We should have picked up a map when we registered in a camp office not far from the Pacific Ocean.

We went inland and had been on the trails two days now, not sure of where we were.

It had rained. We crossed two streams that cascaded over sandbars and rocks, the water having risen to almost bridge level. The bridges were still there, although it looked as if at any moment they might be washed away.

Food became an issue. We had planned to stay in the region no more than a day, and all we had to eat was a loaf of bread and some baloney slices.

We topped the crest, drove over and looked down a curvy road that led to a stream at the bottom. The bridge was gone!

We thought we had to cross the stream in order to get to the top of a hill on the other side where we hoped there would be a main road.

Our SUV made it’s way down to the stream.

What now? Someone would have to walk across to see if old tracks were still there beneath where the bridge had been.

We drew straws. I came up with the short one. It was late afternoon. The sun was going down. It was chilly. Time to darkness was short.

I stripped to my briefs and touched the icy water with my toes.

It was now or never.

I waded in, careful to follow the old tracks I could feel with my feet. The water got deeper and I got colder. Thankfully the tracks began sloping upward from midstream on.

I got to the other side, turned around and waved an okay. The water was two feet deep at its worst. it was about 30 feet from this side of the stream to the other.

Harvey backed up the SUV enough to get a good run at it. He got the front of it to hit the water with a big splash, then pushed on to the middle of the stream and through to the other side. There was water all over the motor, but it was still running.

Paul had stayed out of the vehicle, so now he had to strip and walk through the icy stream, carrying his clothes. The sun’s last rays were filtering through the treetops.

We let the motor dry out before trying to restart it.


Up the hill we went to find that main road. It wasn’t there!

We were hungry, so we each had a baloney sandwich.

Tomorrow would be the third day without a map. A lumber mountain is vast when you are lost in the middle.

We wrapped ourselves in blankets Paul had insisted on packing. Next morning we drove along a ridge that looked a little more traveled and, surely we thought, would lead somewhere.

Sure enough, a main road appeared and it did not take long for us to hear the sound of an approaching jeep. We were mighty glad to meet and ask directions of the two hunters who asked what the hell we were doing so far from camp. They told us how to get to Eugene where we promptly went into a restaurant and ordered steak and eggs.

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