Remember Sarah Bishop
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Steve Sall

Our party of six was split into two groups of three. I was in the second group, and Ken was in the first. Sarah was hiking clockwise, and we were bailing out of our trip, hiking counterclockwise to return to Timberline. Although we started only 20 or 30 minutes behind Ken's group of three, we were moving slower. I suspect we were about an hour behind Ken by the time we reached Zig Zag Canyon.

In our group of three, the crossing of Zig Zag Creek wasn't as easy as for Ken's group. One of our hikers spent about 5 minutes deciding where to cross, even after we shuttled her pack across. Maybe the water had risen since Ken came through. I don't know. The crossing was not as simple as it had been the day before, but it was still far from difficult. The water was probably no more than a foot deep, and we found rocks enabled us to jump across without wading.

We met Sarah as we were hiking uphill out of Zig Zag Canyon, probably between 11:30 am and 12:30 pm Tuesday. She was two switchbacks below the lip of the canyon.

In the tradition of experienced hikers, Sarah stepped out of the way to let the folks headed uphill have the right of way. As I passed I cracked a joke about the weather and trudged on.

If one backpacks a lot, one develops the ability to discriminate between hikers who are comfortable and those who are miserable. Sarah looked comfortable. As she stepped out of our way, she stepped to the outside of the trail, near the edge. She appeared to have good balance and confidence near the edge even though the slope would not have been a good one to slide down. Her clothing was right for the weather, and she carried her pack well. Given that she had run into our first three hikers earlier, I'm not surprised that she didn't ask about conditions ahead.

If I could play that moment over again, I'd talk with her about the Sandy River. Unless one finds a log spanning the creek, it's a wading exercise in cold, fast water. I've hiked around Mt Hood twice, and both times, I've found the Sandy the most disturbing crossing even though both of my trips were in sunny weather. This trip, we turned around at Paradise Park, before even seeing the Sandy River.

Until this trip, I'd not met Sarah. Even so, news coverage and the obituary left me feeling that the community of Portland lost a strong contributor that day. How I wish I'd discussed the Sandy River with her rather than just continuing up the hill.

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