Three’s the Charm

Negotiating a Ridgeline

Story and Photos by Alice Schenk

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.—Edward Abbey

In the spring of 2012, I joined a group of friends for a thirteen-mile hike across the top of the Jim Sage Mountains in southern Cassia County. We started early, climbing up through the brush and juniper to a ridgeline that we continued to hike along. Soon, however, clouds settled onto the surrounding mountains, bringing rain, sleet, and snow. Recognizing we were atop a ridge we hadn’t intended to ascend and facing difficult weather conditions that would not get any better, we returned to our vehicles. But I can’t recall ever having done something half-measure, and I’m getting good at do-overs, so I returned in September 2017 with my husband Wayne to finish the trek.

In ten days, we would be heading to the Grand Canyon, where Wayne planned to do a hike called “Rim2Rim” and I would hike “Rim2Rim2Rim,” so the Jim Sage excursion seemed like an excellent training opportunity. We parked our vehicle on the side of the road close to where we imagined we’d come off the mountain. Wallace Keck, superintendent of the City of Rocks National Reserve, was our taxi service to the starting point of our hike.

I had pored over maps of the mountains and had studied my training device’s records from our previous hike, convinced I would lead the charge. Like the character in a children’s book, I’m always sure, “I can do it myself,” but alas, I’m not a competent orienteer. In the very first mile, we would have veered off-course if not for a timely text from Wallace telling us to stay left just as I was convincing Wayne we needed to go right.

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