Hog’s not for the dogs

I thought I did my research well enough.

I thought I’d read everything there was to read about Hog Lake and Hog Canyon Falls on the old Google tubes.

It turned out a more difficult hike than I expected.

It turned out the falls weren’t quite as big as I expected.

It turned out there wasn’t as much access to clean water as I expected.

None of that means it wasn’t a fantastic day.

I have a passion for waterfalls. There’s something so majestic about them. Once I whet my appetite (get it? whet? wet? ha!) with Palouse Falls, I became insatiable.

I looked for more in the area and found Hog Canyon Falls.

The sun was blistering and we brought a jug of water for Shep and a couple of Gatorades for us. I figured we’d be lakeside for much of our trek and we’d relax by the falls while Shep laid in the water.

I was wrong.

The hike, about five miles (see that? I’m becoming American already) round trip, took us to the top of rocky scablands where I found carpets and carpets of wildflowers. We trekked through clarkia, blanket flowers, Indian hyacinth, rusty lupine and more.

The colours were as striking as the uphills were steep and quad-numbing.

With Shep at the ripe old age of nine (80-some in his dog years), neither one of us is in prime hiking shape any longer. Was it only two summers ago we climbed to the top of Barrier Lookout?

The falls, water cascading down a staircase of stones, were gorgeous, albeit a little smaller than I thought.

We took several breaks and were looking forward to cooling off in the water at the base of the falls. But the water pooling around the edges of the large rocks was murky and rife with algae.

Navigating the area is equally as difficult. One site described it as ‘scree’ but that’s different than any Rocky Mountain scree we’ve previously encountered.

And then there are the snakes. My American saw one slither past and yelled ‘snake!’ and, yes, I screamed. Was it a little garter or was it one of the rattlers that are supposed to populate the area?

Never mind, I don’t really want to know.

We ascended the hill to the top of the falls and found more murky water. We had no choice but to let Shep dip into the muddy pools, while we snacked on berries, almonds and sunflower seeds.

The trek back was no less rough at times, my spirits lifting when I could spot the wee truck in the distance. Then it was back to the city to get Shep a bath and learn about ticks (yep, we pulled five or six of the little buggers off him).

Lessons learned?

  • Bring more water than you think you’ll need
  • Take someone else’s degree-of-difficulty rating with a grain of salt
  • Forgo the big camera backpack with three cameras for the sake of water
  • Cotton socks suck for hiking, go for wool
  • Get better hiking boots
  • Water, water, water, water, water
Oh … and bring more water.


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