June Camping/Hiking Trip, Part One

Note: portions of this post were written earlier. Those sections were pasted in as written (with the exception of editing for clarity or glaring typographical errors), and they appear as blue.

Several weeks ago, The Hubs decided that we should go camping on the weekend before Independence Day. This is one way in which The Hubs and I differ: he’s very spontaneous. I am the neurotic-overplanner type. While we find our different approaches compliment each other, trying to camp on any summer weekend, especially a four-day holiday weekend, is something one must plan in advance. Months in advance. You may reserve a state park campsite nine months in advance. For holiday weekends, eight months, 29 days is too late. Campsites on Forest Service lands are also reservable; I’m just not sure how far in advance they may be reserved. I do know that every reservable campsite in the Salmon la Sac area was already reserved for this weekend.Fortunately for the life of this hare-brained plan, I’d already requested vacation the last week of June. Thus, a plan was hatched: I’d take Monday, July 3rd, off as well. I’d head up to the Salmon la Sac area and find a nice non-reservable campsite, and claim said campsite for the holiday weekend.

I’ve been wanted to go hiking, as well. Hiking has dropped of the list of Things I Need to Do because it takes a fair amount of planning and coordination with the aforementioned spontaneous spouse. Also, we have a LOT of work that needs to be done around the house, and I’m supposed to be training for a triathlon that I’m racing in four weeks. One of my favorite sub-alpine lakes is a short hike from the campground at which I was hoping to secure a site for the weekend. Thus, another plan was hatched: I’d drive up on Tuesday, secure a campsite, hike in to the woods on Wednesday, come back out of said woods on Thursday, and return home for my appointment with the orthopedist Friday morning. Then I’d head right back up to the campsite to make sure no holiday weekend squatters had moved in.

I love planning hiking trips. It’s been a dozen years since I’ve done a solo overnight trip; I’ve not had to carry everything myself. (One side advantage of having a partner. And the advantage for my partner is that I plan meals, so we’re eating real food, not meal after meal of freeze-dried meals. I did an 8-day hiking with a group, and one of the hikers ate nothing but freeze-dried meals. The freeze-dried farts? They’re real, friends. It was like hiking behind a choo-choo train.)

On Tuesday, I headed up to my first choice for a campsite, the Owhi Campground on Cooper Lake. I realized I’d forgotten the ice ax when I got to Fred Meyer. I almost went back for it. Is it silly? I’ve hiked with that ice ax since I bought it. Both nights I camped in the Juniper Dunes, I had the ice ax with me. (It was quite useful, even when camped in sand dunes.) it’s also one hell of a weapon: finely balanced, with dangerous bits at all three points of contact. Alas, I didn’t go back and get it. Here’s hoping I’m not called upon to defend myself with a trekking pole.

Managed to get out of town by noon (because I didn’t retrieve my ice ax). That gave me plenty of time to get to Cle Elum early enough to stop at the ranger station, and lots of time to find our camping spot for the holiday weekend. I’d entertained the idea of doing a short hike this afternoon once I got settled in at the campsite. That didn’t happen.
I’m camped at Owhi campground on Cooper Lake. There were quite a few campsites available at Owhi. Because of the size of our tent, we need a fairly large, flat area in camp. All of the campsites are walk-in only. There was one that was easily accessible, but the person next to it had stuff everywhere, and it was in what appeared to be a very busy area of the campground. Some of our stuff is too heavy for me to carry it the 150 steps from the truck, especially given the condition of the trail (steep in spots, winding, with a few ankle-twisting tree roots and rocks). I brought the tent, our camp chairs, my pack, and my sleeping bag & ensolite pad: I’m unwilling to inflate the mattress at the truck and then try to walk down the trail with it, especially given that I won’t be sleeping on it again until Friday night. Thus, there was no need to bring the queen size bed to the campsite, either.

The chuck wagon box is the heaviest of the lot. I opted to bring down the stove and just what I’d be eating tonight. Unfortunately, that means I’ll have to make the trek to the truck before I can make breakfast. But since the truck is between me and the toilet, I’d be walking right by it first thing in morning, regardless. (The toilet is 300 steps away. Yes, it felt necessary to check how far it is.)

My plan for tomorrow is to hike to Pete Lake or Waptus Lake. The ranger didn’t have any recent information about the trail to Waptus, and she said she was curious about the river ford because the recent warm weather means more snow melt. I’m a scaredy cat when it comes to river fords, all the more so when I’m hiking alone. I plan to head to Waptus. If the ford is beyond my skill level, I will go check out Escondido Lake. If there’s no good camping there, I’ll head down to Pete Lake.

I walked up to the trailhead to see how far it is from this campsite. I’m glad I did, because it’s farther than I remembered – just over a mile. Not so far as to justify driving there, but something I need to consider when hiking back.

Once I got back from the walk to the trailhead, I set to preparing dinner. It was a little discouraging how weary I was getting walking to the truck, given that I’ll be hiking 8-10 miles tomorrow with a 35-pound pack. C’mon, body! You ran a petitmarathon with 4000′ of elevation gain and loss in March! You can hike! *fingers crossed*

Dinner was a test-run for tomorrow’s trail dinner: dehydrated potatoes with dehydrated ground beef. Tonight, I cooked them with a Knorr creamy pesto sauce packet. It was definitely trail food: hot & gooey. 🙂 Tomorrow night, it’ll be potatoes, ground beef, and cheese sauce. Let’s hope my gut forgives me.

It’s about 8 p.m. now. The sun has dipped below the mountains. It’s cooled off rapidly as the wind has freshened. The wind and the fire I have burning is helping to keep the mosquitos at bayAs I was walking around the campground ferrying stuff to and from the truck, I saw a pair of western tanagers, a red-breasted sapsucker, and a pacific tree frog. (I also saw a downy woodpecker, but I see those where I live.)  This is shaping up to be a lovely evening.

With all that walking, I logged over 18,000 steps on Tuesday. 

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