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Colby Patton, left, and Karl Patton, right, walk with Karen Patton during her 50-mile walk across the Wallowa Valley to celebrate her 50th birthday. (KATY NESBITT/The Observer)
It’s all about “bucket lists” these days — what one wants to see, hear or do while they are still able. Last weekend, Karen Patton walked 50 miles across the Wallowa Valley to celebrate her upcoming 50th birthday.
For Patton, going for a long walk is something she often does. In the summer, she and husband, Karl, regularly walk into the Wallowas with pack mules carrying the supplies. Last year, she headed out from the Moss Springs trailhead outside of Cove and walked into the Eagle Caps, where Karl met her with camping gear, beer and Cheetos.
Saturday turned into quite a party with a few of Karen Patton’s friends starting out with her from her home in rural Joseph at 4:30 a.m. A route was carefully mapped out from her front door that wound around the ranch roads northwest of Joseph, across Highway 82 at Russell Lane and onto Alder Slope outside of Enterprise.
At one point, they had to avoid a cattle drive, Karl Patton said.
Taking the back roads
Karl Patton said they avoided a short stretch from where Sunrise Road meets Highway 82 northwest of Enterprise and the walkers were ferried to Wade’s Gulch, where the route continued on back roads all the way to Wallowa.
Rex Taylor, a friend of the Pattons, traveled the entire distance. Ann Taylor did a majority of the route, and Marla Dotson and Colby Patton walked along much of the way as well.
Karl, Tristan and Danielle Patton and Dixie McCaddon drove behind the entourage providing food, drink and respite along the way.
Patton is a lifelong athlete and was a member of a Joseph High School girls basketball team that went to state, yet she said to do the 50 miles in one day she had to learn to jog.
The longest jog/walk she had done before Saturday was 33 miles she did to train for her birthday route.
With four miles to go, the light was drawing nigh, but at her pace, Karen Patton was set to arrive in Wallowa before dark.
Sucking down a package of Goo, she said she was ready for her victory beer, which would be quaffed in Wallowa.
Patton is the director of the Wallowa Education Service District, and she and Karl raise cattle where the Wallowa Valley meets the Zumwalt Prairie.