Jordan River Valley - a Series of Unfortunate Events
Before I left for a few weeks to go up north, I had the idea to go on an impromptu long day hike with my partner, Karisma. We had been wanting to go to the Jordan River Valley, about eighteen miles. It's about a three hour drive each way from the house; Karisma wanted to spend the night near the trailhead, but I convinced her that it was better to do it all in one day, against her better judgement.
We made our plan using DBL (Don't Be Late!) To be home before midnight, we had to wake up around 5:00 AM, and I had to drive there. I glanced at a trail map and picked a good starting point, and set the GPS. Karisma wasn't fully awake. After much shenanigans, we managed to get some worse-than-usual fast food breakfast along the way, and got started just a little late around 9:30.
This hike is a loop, and we had the option to go one direction and do a longer part of marsh walk first, or do that longer stretch on the way back. I figured better to do it first, so we set out in that direction. The mosquitos were quite aggressive, the trail not quite present, and the water was abundant on the path. It was a damp few miles but eventually we made it to the main trail!
By the time we reached Dead Man's Hill overlook, seven miles in and up a steep climb, Karisma was fully awake. I asked her to take a look at the map to find our next turn while I used the restroom. When I came out she had some news... I had parked at the wrong spot, and we had added seven miles to our already long hike 🤣
Shocking. Well, we still had some energy and didn't want to turn back and make the walk too short... so we decided that we could be up for a twenty five mile hike, although it would be quite late.
The day had warmed up quite a bit, but we saw that the fish hatchery wouldn't be far out of the way, so we took the turn off, excited for a nice cool place to take a break and see some fish, refill our water, etc. But as we entered the parking lot we noticed that there weren't any cars there. Strange. We tried the doors. All locked. Hatchery? Closed.
The redeeming feature of the closed hatchery was the beautiful pollinator gardens, planted specifically to attract bees. Tons of flowers, and lots of bees. Taking a different path, we sweatily trudged on for a few miles, waiting for an easy access river to take a break at. Just when we started seeing some good options, Karisma got stung by a wasp, walking in the middle of the path minding her own business. We decided that was a fine time to take a break and filter some water, and perhaps get the Benadryl cream out of the first-aid kit 😯
I checked the map. "Don't worry," I told Karisma, "we're pretty close to a parking lot, then it's just another three miles to the halfway point." But we walked and walked, and no parking lot appeared. Eventually we abandoned the trail and started keeping to the forest roads when possible. Finally we made it to the fabled parking lot, where we promptly made a wrong turn, adding another half mile or so before getting back on track.
The halfway point wasn't bad. It was a bridge with a campground near it. Tempting to just sleep there. We stopped again for more food and to filter more water, and to contemplate all of our mistakes. We decided to stay on the trail for a while, me foolishly thinking it wouldn't make much of a difference. But the elevation changes of the trail meant our progress was slower than expected.
By this time we were doing some math and not really liking the end time we were coming up with. The sun was clearly getting lower... around that time we noticed that there was a dirt road across a river, if we could get to that perhaps we could get a ride from some friendly camper, failing that, at least it would be faster to walk on.
So we waited until we saw a likely looking spot with minimal bushwhacking and took off our shoes to wade across: it was surprisingly cold. But we did end up with a nice flat road to walk on. We walked for at least another hour, head lamps on. We still had six miles left and were expecting to be starting the three hour drive around eleven PM. As we trudged, a big black pick-up truck with off-road lights came down the road and stopped right next to us. These sweet angels offered us a ride in the bed of their truck all the way back to our car. Incredible people!
I can't say it was our best hike ever but it was certainly a memorable 22.5 mile experience. Below you can see more photos, some with captions, including the GPS recording with a big gap where we would have been walking a couple more hours.
If you'd like to be notified about upcoming group hikes (better planned than this one, I promise 😂) you can join the mailing list, at the bottom of the page.