November 22, 2010
We are up and about early today. We plan to travel northwest of here to do some hiking in a nature area called Cossatot River State Park-Natural Area. From there depending on time we will head further northeast to visit Queen Wilhelmina State Park. This park was supposed to have first been established with a house built for the young Dutch Queen Wilhelmina in hopes of her visiting. She never did and the original building went into decay only after a couple of years. Now it has a large lodge situated on top of a mountain that has a few campsites. The road leading to the park however is meant to be the highlight as it offers some majestic views.
The weather is drizzly today but not heavy and so with some sandwiches and chips packed along with our bright yellow rain covers we are off.
We arrive at our destination shortly after 11am. The trail is located along the Cossatot River. The trail was pretty steep in parts. We walked, or should I say meandered, our way along the path for about an hour or two….not quite sure if we really went very far in distance as we stopped frequently to take shots. Shyla usually only strays a few feet ahead of us as we walk and will actually do a lot of backtracking as we don’t move as quickly as her. The entire trail is 6 miles one direction but with Shyla with us we probably hiked about a mile or so in before heading back, at least that is the excuse we have for not going the full 12 mile return trip. Most of our pictures today were of the terrain. The water droplets settled on the leaves, branches, and even spider webs led to some interesting shots.
We ate lunch and then headed our way towards Queen Wilhelmina.
As we near the mountain we notice that the top is blanketed in a fog of mist. The closer we near the mountain the thicker it seems to become. As we turn onto hwy 272 and head up the steep incline the visibility is greatly reduced. One minute we see the road…..and the next we only see a white blanket of fog blowing over the hood of the truck. By the time we make it to the top we can barely see past the edge of the truck. In fact we almost missed the park entrance. It is really hard to explain just how thick and eerie it was. We actually were turning around to go back down when we noticed within the fog there seemed to be some sort of large object but we could not discern exactly what we were seeing. As we neared about 5 or 6 ft from it we realized that it was an old steam engine. Andrew took some fab shots of it and while he was doing that I took the shot of him and of the tree. Decided that venturing into the park was probably not going to yield us with much in the way of views and so we decided to give it a miss today and head back down.
Our route this time was down by way of the scenic byway called the Talimena Scenic Drive. In normal daytime I guess it would offer some spectacular view from the half dozen or so pull off along the way but today each one was blanketed with the thick fog. We pulled over at one of them though and Andrew took some shots of the abyss using a filter that help cut through the glare of the mist. The whole scene reminded me of a Stephen King novel “Four Past Midnight” in which these individuals find themselves trapped in this airport all alone with this fog that slowly is creeping in. The novel ends with the fog representing a cleaner of sorts as time moved from one hour to the next. Looking at the mountain side steeply falling away into the fog it almost appears as if you are at the end of the world. You want to reach out and touch it but at the same time stay way clear in case something decided to reach back out at you!
Drove into Mena and stopped at the local Walmart (I don’t think we have been on a trip yet where we haven’t passed a Walmart….I do believe they are going to take over the world.) Andrew gave me a bit of a scare. I just ran in to get some milk and was in and out in less than 5 minutes. Usually I can spot the truck hiding in one of the back rows but today as much as I wandered I couldn’t see him. Figured he must of run to get some gas and so I hung around the doors waiting….and waiting…..and waiting. As time passed though my mind as usual began wandering to other possibilities…..car accident….car jacking…..Now thinking back the images I had were actually pretty comical….like anyone would try to hijack the truck with our big heifer of dog poking her head out of the window! After an hour (or maybe even more) and 4 individuals concerned that I might need a ride home offered their assistance as a taxi service (if they only knew where home was) I ventured again to see if I could find him only to find him walking around looking for me too. Turns out he was there all the while. He thought I might have gotten side tracked (which I do occasionally) and so wasn’t too worried at first. Then finally decided enough was enough and by god he was coming to get me. It would seem he was parked in the row directly in front of the doors but in the very back of the parking lot. He could see the front doors clearly but somehow we both missed each other.
Back together again safely we headed back to the campsite for an early night in.