Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Ein Hemingway Bummel durch den Adams Gulch

Commentary by Jim Banholzer


Jim Banholzer

Sometimes all it takes is a simple hike out Adams Gulch to remind me why men like Ernest Hemingway loved Idaho. While walking along the trails, a German expression sometimes winds through my mind as much as it did in Herr Booz'es Language class thirty years ago.

Mr. Booz—I kid you not, his real name—taught us there was no exact translation into English for the word "Bumme.l" "Bummeln durch Den Park," he said, kind of means "bumming around or strolling through the park." For a more in depth explanation, try searching the word Bummel on Wikipedia.

Adams Gulch is a perfect place for bummeln. It's close enough to town that you don't need a car to get there. There is a shady side for hot days and a sunny side for chilly ones. Children from seven to 107 can enjoy soft scrambles on these trails, while enough water usually flows to keep the area "Fido Friendly".

And don't be fooled by the parking lot if it looks crowded. Those at play are generally widespread, frolicking on the numerous paths threading the popular valley.

It's pleasing to Bummel by Lane's picnic bench for a minute. Sometimes first time visitors from big cities are encountered here, genuflecting in awe, while swallowing views of spectacular cliff formations. The area is enchanting and "In Our Time" worth exploring every corner.

Three miles straight past the 142-loopoff on trail 177 is an area where hikers seldom Bummel. More commonly the territory of bikers, you might cross paths with riders coming from the East Fork of Baker Creek. "During the Torrents of Spring," wet evidence drips from their equipment revealing snowfield negotiations.

One crack of dawn while map gazing, I imagined the trails branching off 177 must have been where Hemingway galloped on horses to shoot at grouse and whatnot—days when I was just a baby. So I was bound to see this area.

Parking the Ford at Rooks Creek fjord, I hiked up to the remnants of an old cabin. The Forest Service burned the place down 10 years ago in a preemptive strike to keep squatters from bumming around. As a reward for my eventual return, I cached a Samichclaus Bier within the frame confines. I hoped to hitch a Wagon Train ride to town, but had to bike-bummel back through Board Ranch to Heidelberg Hill. But I was then ready for some real Bummeln.

I mixed a copy of Papa's "Across the River and into the Trees" along with "A Moveable Feast" of soft granola into the bummel sack. Then, attaching it to a hiking staff, pitched it over my shoulder. Heading straight out trail 177, it only gets semi-steep for a short span of about four miles. Then there is a tremendous double tree trunk, a picturesque scene with the uniquely Idaho backdrop of the towering Pioneer Mountains. Continuing along, a pond springs up in the area just before 177 turns left. I plunked down next to a hobo spider, pulled out a musing pad from the sack and scribbled: "This must be a watering hole where Hemingway sat with his horse for a snort."

If you promenade across the ridge trail to the right, it leads back on 142C, returning to the Adams Gulch trailhead for a 14-miler. You need not have the piercing vision of "The Old Man and the Sea" to spot a round teahouse across the way. This lively spot on top of the world is a special place from which gallant warriors and stouthearted sheepherders have, on occasion, filled the valley with tall Hemingway tales.

On that day, though, I continued on 177. Towering piney trees stretched into high wildflower meadows, where abundant wildlife includes predators nearly as ferocious as those in the "Green Hills of Africa." Way up yonder, Baldy reappears as "The Sun also Rises." Then the trail intersected an auspicious loop from the yurt above. There I heard some good spirited voices, belonging to three Fraulein Princesses who overnighted at the hut. We chattered about my Hemingway quest until they thought I was "running with the bulls." Then I trailed back down the tumbling Rooks Creek.

The trail there is coarse with plenty of large loose rocks. I recommend high quality gripping boots --not the bum shoes I wore. About Halfway down, some motorcyclists rode up gingerly and we asked about what lay ahead for each other. After dozens of stream crossings joined with flowery butterflies, I finally reached the cabin remnants. Curbing the musing pad with the hiking scepter, I prepared to breathe deep an "Earnest" draught of ale strong enough to make Papa Claus jolly. But, what a bummer, it had evaporated—bottle and all! I guess this bum needs to be on his toes for wood sprites when he conceals good spirits.

Though I was derelict in my studies in Herr Booz'es class, at least I retained three key words of Deutsche: "Bummeln, Samichclaus (strongest of ales in the world) and Fraulein." Therefore, the best German advice I can muster up today is, if you ever need to Geocache a Samichclaus during a Hemingway-Bummel, holen Sie einen Fraulein fur einer Ausblick. (Bring a young miss for a lookout).

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