During the 1830’s the famed Methodist circuit rider, Jason Lee, is said to have established a road across the Tualatin Hills that connected Scappoose and St. Helens with the communities in northern Washington County. It is very possible that today’s gradeline road that twists across this hillside may once have been the route that carried this fiery circuit rider down into the Lower Columbia River. But even today the hike from Dutch Canyon to Rocky Point Road is not for the faint-of-heart.
But a more tragic story is told of Albert Lange who walked this same route in the early years of the twentieth century, but like so many others that under estimate the dangers of hypothermia, he did not live to tell his tale…
Hunting with his two dogs he had traversed this mountainous terrain encountering snow, thick vegetation, ridges and canyons, thickets and fallen trees. Most likely he would have passed close to Raymond Creek and may have ascended into the property that is now owned by the Vedanta Society. Near the end of the day he emerged from this trek on to Rocky Point Road, where he met Abe Cornelius, another of the original settlers on Dixie Mountain. Abe recommended that Albert take nourishment at his home before trying to return to Dutch Canyon, but Albert demurred. It appears that his dogs now treed a coon, which Albert shot and skinned. Later he was also able to kill a deer and dress it near the Mozee homestead before starting for home. The search party was later able to piece together his movements, which now clearly showed signs of fatigue and possibly hypothermia. Falling off a log he rolled down the hill in the snow, but he continued down the ridge. Eventually he fell in the snow and failed to rise. It is reported that when the search party finally located him a couple of days later the dogs were found with their noses in his arm pits as if trying to raise him out of the snow. Their loyalty in protecting their master complicated matters for the rescuers, but eventually they were able to separate the dogs from their dead master.
Though there are few among us that would be able to traverse such a wilderness for 6-7 miles, the lessons of exercising prudence in the face of the elements and exhaustion is as real today as ever. Even with a well maintained road this route is one of the more strenuous routes – with its many climbs and descents and the long distance covered.