Working women backpack the Wild Rogue Loop

Working women backpack the Wild Rogue Loop

Working women take on Wild Rogue Loop

Seth Swan, Linda St. James, Carole Eidsvoog, Anne Tracy, Tami Kelly

by Gabriel Howe
for the Siskiyou Hiker

22 SEPTEMBER 2016 | MARIAL, Ore. — Carole Eidsvoog works full time in Harry and David’s photo studio. She’s 64 and also takes intensive care of her husband, who is legally blind. Until last weekend, she hadn’t been out of the house since April. “October, actually,” she says. “Last October.”

And she’s never been backpacking, not once in her life. Instead of putting her feet up on the first days off she’s had in a while, Carole is taking on the Wild Rogue Loop. She’s not alone. Carole’s joined by three other working women. Anne Tracy works the back end of an anesthesiologist. Tami Kelly works as a nurse in a Grants Pass operating room, and Linda St. James is a hair stylist.

They spent four days hiking 28 or so miles through the Wild Rogue Loop. I joined them with a longtime friend, Seth.

Carole is ascending a hot, south-facing midslope on the Mule Creek Trail 1159. “I had a hard time with the heat,” she says. “I can do this,” she repeats to herself in her head.

We camp at the creek’s headwaters. “Tomorrow is going to be harder,” I tell them as we gather.

Carole’s been hiking a lot for the last couple of years, often with Linda, who styles her hair. “Linda convinced me to do the backpacking trip,” says Carole. “It was probably the best indoctrination to backpacking I can imagine,” she mentions afterward.

Day two we hike to Hanging Rock and along Panther Ridge. Tami and Anne make a dash for the Thomas Homestead, arriving there at 5:30pm. Carole and Linda make it by 6:30pm, and I’m not far behind. They’re asleep before dark.

The next day we hiked along the Rogue River, lounged at Half Moon Bar, and grabbed a cold beer at Paradise Lodge before camping at Blossom Bar. And day four was an easy hike back to Tucker Flat.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve done in my life,” says Carole. “Nature is my church. It made me grateful for about a million things in my own dysfunctional life.”

It was Tami Kelly’s first time backpacking, too. She grew up in Grants Pass exploring the Wild Rogue. She says she felt safe going with a group. “I learned so much,” Tami exclaims. “Being in nature is motivation for me to keep going. Seeing what’s around the next bend.”

Anne has hiked the Rogue River Trail a lot of times, but each time she’s camped lodge-to-lodge, without a heavy pack or the uncertainty of hiking off the corridor. “I may hike the PCT,” she says.

Tami says the trip went well. She claims the hike built her confidence and agrees it was a great introduction to backpacking. Her favorite part? “The cold beer,” she jokes.

At SMC we have seen a trend of working women who are getting into backpacking. Carole thinks it might be because “everyone is a lot more health conscience. Women are just ready to get out and experience more, have more adventures.”

“When the kids get out of the house, some women are going to have more time,” says Tami.

“I know I’m a strong woman,” Carole mentions. “I want to know how strong.”

That works for us. Everyone is welcome on Siskiyou Mountain Club hikes and volunteer trips. Check out our calendar and sign up.