After working all day, I felt restless and had to get out on the trail, even if it meant night hiking. I grabbed a few things – camera, journal, headlamp – threw them into a daypack, and headed for Shevlin Park. 644 unspoiled acres in size, Shevlin Park is Bend’s largest park and is located just a few minutes west of town. It has three main trails, its longest is the Loop Trail. According to the official maps of the park, it’s 6 miles in length, but in reality, it’s more like 4.5.
I hit the trail at 7pm, giving me just an hour or so of sunlight. Hiking in twilight is a bit magical, when diurnal animals have turned down for the night and nocturnal creatures start to stir. I said hello to 3-4 trail runners, but by 8pm I was the only one on the trail… and for good reason. The park officially closes at sunset. I suppose that makes this hike a bit illegal, but what could possibly go wrong?
The first thing that went wrong is that I left my backpack on the trail. I carried a REI Flash 18 day pack with only a handful of essentials. Just a mile or so before ending the nighthike, it struck me that I was no longer wearing my pack! I took off the lightweight bag a mile back to create and photograph the number for the hike (see below) and forgot about it! I’ve dropped a lot of things on the trail, but this is a first. A whole backpack! Jeesh.
I jogged back up the trail to retrieve my property, finding it just where I left it, and jogged back down the trail. That’s when the second problem occurred. I’m a competent hiker and comfortable saying it, but that doesn’t matter when it comes with dealing with Mother Nature. One false move and you could be in a world of trouble. I’ve hiked over 3,000 miles in the last three years, which equates to about 7 million steps over all terrains imaginable. So how surprised was I when, at 9:30pm in the dark, as I’m jogging down the trail, I trip over a rock jutting out of the trail. The next second felt like a minute. I’m feeling the effects of gravity and my face is getting closer to the ground. I have my cell phone in my hand to keep it from shifting around in my pant pocket while I was running, so instead of falling on my hands, possibly breaking my wrist (and my phone), my elbow gets the full force of my fall.
When the dust clears, I’m laying on the trail. I laugh at how this hike is turning out. I stand up and check the bones. They’re all intact. I’ve got a bit of a scrape on my arm, but I’ll live. I make it back to the trailhead and to my car without any more issues.
A week after this hike, I’m still haunted by the bad luck: most of the photos I took on the hike had been accidentally deleted from the camera prior to downloading them to my computer! Not a huge loss – I only took about 25 photos – but a loss nonetheless.
- Date of hike: August 23, 2012
- Location: Shevlin Park, Bend, Oregon
- Duration: 3 hours
- Length: 6.5 miles