Richland Creek Wilderness
October 17, 2010
I got my first taste of fall foliage for the year with a trip to the Richland Creek Wilderness area. I drove up late Saturday night and pulled in to a primitive camping spot around midnight. I still haven't had a decent night's sleep in the back of the Tahoe.  It felt like 20 degrees outside when I got up the next morning, but once I walked 10 minutes down the trail I was warm.
I was wearing a new pair of Cabela's felt-soled boots... this time I bought a pair without metal studs. Even when I waded into the stream and water flooded by boots, the cold didn't bother me.
I had picked a specific spot on the creek for the morning's photos, and arrived there when it was barely light enough to see. While I was waiting for the sun to rise, I took a few pictures of the surrounding scenery. The area I was in has perhaps the best collection of big boulders on any stream bed in the state. It was the same place the boys and I visited back in May 2006.
I should have taken more of a variety of photos, but this was one of those times when I wasn't at all ambitious, which I'm sad to say happens too often. I did get a picture of some interesting fossils in a sandstone boulder.
I left once the sun got too high in the sky and filled the entire creek with bright, contrasty light.
This trip was also a test to see how my back would hold up to hiking with a backpack. In one week I was supposed to embark on a 3-night solo backpacking trip, but last weekend I threw my back out. I hadn't been bowling in 20 years, until the boys begged me to take them. The second time I swung the ball, my lower back tensed up, and I'd had a constant dull back ache ever since. By the time I got back to the Tahoe I felt confident I was up for next week's trip. And the new boots were working well too.
I went on one heck of a little road trip after that. I drove down into Richland Creek valley... something I'd wanted to do for several years (This had been our goal when Cliff and I made two trips to the area in July and August 2009). I took County Road 1201 past Stack Rock to the Eula community. The ford of Richland Creek there was completely dry. So much for the idea of taking Cliff fishing there!
I took County Road 12 to "Highway" 12, another dirt road. Another ford had about 2 inches of water. I drove past the location of the old Point Peter community, but there were no remains at all visible. I passed by the famous Nars and noticed a trail leading up to the ridge. Then I drove to the Buffalo River ford at Woolum... I was even able to cross that in the Tahoe.
At St Joe I was so glad to find a big convenience store selling pizza and Mountain Dew. I had one of those "the world gets a little smaller" moments when I drove North on Highway 65 until I hit Highway 123, which I drove back to the familiar territory around Vendor and Jasper. I just hadn't known there was a highway going east from Jasper to Highway 65. I'm sure Johnny and I took that route once, 20 years ago, but the world was so much bigger then.