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Category Archives: camping

Last week, the girls and I took the camper over the mountains to camp in the shadow of one of the iconic northwest volcanoes. After the massive heat dome that brought us record-breaking high temperatures recently, it was good to be someplace cooler and greener. We even had a couple of overcast days and Luna was able to do two six-mile hikes! At her age, she cannot tolerate the sun and temperatures much over 70°. She (and Sky too) had great fun in a new place smelling all the smells and exploring everything. And wouldn’t you know it, Sky discovered a much-abused tennis ball three miles up the flank of the volcano. It was just one of four balls that she found on this trip.

I noticed that this trail started off as an old road. Farther up the trail, I began to notice large old stumps, reminders of the old growth that once blanketed much of western Washington. Later I read that the area had been logged all the way to the tree line, back in the day. When I was out on my kayak, I could see the outlines of the old clear-cuts.

Since it was an overcast day, we did not get to see views of the big mountain. We did enjoy the cool temperatures and even some fog. Back at home temperatures remained in the 90’s and a lightning storm ignited several forest fires. I am glad we got away for bit.

What do you do when you go camping? Sometimes I get asked that. On this last trip, there was a lot of sitting and watching the world go by. I saw a beaver and an otter, a couple marmots, lots of birds and turtles too and a few fish. The fish were trying to climb a long steep spillway into one of the lakes, just as if they were salmon returning from the sea, conquering waterfalls to return to the place of their birth. This little fish had no chance of conquering the spillway.

Dippers had a nest under a bridge. They went to and fro with nesting material and dipped for bugs.

And turtles. So many turtles. What do turtles do besides lay on logs in the afternoon sun?

The girls and I got away for three days last week and enjoyed a relaxing time bird watching, walking in the hills and playing in the water (for them, not me). It was pleasantly warm during the day and chilly at night with terrific dark skies and the milky way in all its glory (there will be a later post about that). We camped above a little lake, the one with the pine tree reflections and spent our afternoons watching Wood Ducks and Ring-necked Ducks and turtles lolling about in the sunshine.

WordPress continues to frustrate me. Now it is not showing captions on my images. The image above is the lake where we were camped. Our site is on the left on top of the hill, in the pines.

We took the new camper to Blackpine Lake last weekend to try it out and look for any issues it might have. It was a good time to do it as we had rain and chilly weather. We found a leak but it was probably because the fan vent was not closed up tight. And we also discovered a power issue. Even though the thing is pretty new, it turns out the battery is bad. That’s easy enough to fix. Other than that, it all worked and was super comfy. I thought we could share the couch area with the dogs but they just took up more room than they did in the old camper!

Blackpine Lake is a new place for us even though it’s less than an hour from home. It is a Forest Service campground. We’ve been up there on day outings but this was the first time we camped there. No doubt, we will return. After Friday afternoon’s rain, the light on the mountains was unbelievable. The next morning was nearly as lovely. There is a nice trail along the lake and a couple of docks for fishing and swimming seems popular in the summer. I imagine it’s pretty busy during the warmer months but we had the place nearly all to ourselves. The forest around the campground is full of lovely large ponderosa pines, doug firs and aspens too. Really beautiful trees.

We enjoyed lots of walks in the woods last week. The forest is dominated by Western Larch trees with a good mixture of other species as well. There has been a lot of rain this month and everything is green, green, green! There were fewer flowers than I remember seeing in past years – maybe because we were a little later – but it seems like there should have been more. A pond below the campground was just a big puddle when we arrived and overnight it grew into a good-sized pond where Sky could swim. As the week went by, it shrank. Its water is overflow from the lake. We walked to see the Big Trees – two 900-year-old western larches that were spared when the area was logged back in the 1960’s.

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