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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.

We went camping last week. We went to our favorite little campground on a lake in the Okanogan Highlands, almost exactly one hundred miles from here but still in the same county. It was lovely. We walked in the woods, paddled on the lake, played dog games and ate good food. We saw some friends, listened to loons, Ken went fishing, and we generally relaxed. I tried some night photography but the nights are so short and I needed some sleep so I did not succeed.

I highly recommend a good campout.

We got out for a couple of days and it was marvelous! Friends took their RV up the Chewuch on Thursday and I managed to find them in a large dispersed site later on Friday. All the campgrounds remain closed. It was a long ways up the river before they were able to find a site and I was beginning to have my doubts. I knew that I was near the end of the pavement and they would not go any farther than that. And then, I found their sign! Whoo hoo! The girls and I made it! Ken was recording and joined us at dinner time.

We enjoyed socially distanced visiting, dogs playing, campfires and campfire cooking, hikes, wildflowers, the sound of the Chewuch and Andrews Creek at high water levels, birds and just being out. It rained a little but that gave me time to read in the afternoon while Ken napped and our friends made jewelry. We were offline and that’s a good thing. Hopefully we will get to go camping again soon.

Last week the girls and I took the pop-up camper 300 miles away to the very scenic Takhlakh Lake in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The lake is at about 4300′ elevation on the NW side of Mount Adams. The nearest towns are Randle and Trout Lake and the roads to get there are not exactly what I would call good. I think it was 32 miles from Randle and that last bit, after driving 270 miles, seemed endless. Despite its remoteness, the campground stayed nearly full the five nights we were there.

For the first three days, the temperature was well into the 90’s in the afternoon and the black flies loved it. Our campsite was mostly sunny so there was no retreating to the camper in hopes of escaping the flies. It was like an oven in there. We walked often to the lake so we could cool off. Even our morning hikes were pretty warm and the insects were relentless – the worst I have seen in many years.

The area is known for lush meadows and numerous lakes and streams. This year, it’s been very dry and the meadows and trails were dusty. Our morning hikes were a struggle for Luna. At nearly 13, she doesn’t handle the heat very well and welcomes any bit of water she can find. So we had to spend our afternoons taking it easy. I was ready to leave Wednesday night but Thursday morning it was cool and misty so we stayed another day.

There is a shady one-mile trail around the lake and we walked it twice a day. It really was quite nice with lots of points to access the water. Most campers had some kind of people-powered watercraft from small fishing boats to every kind of inflatable imaginable to SUP’s to pool toys and I really wished I had one too. They said the bugs were not nearly so bad when they were on the water and I noticed a difference when I was wading in the water. I’ll know next time.

I saw a fair amount of birds in the area and a Barred Owl woke me up one night with its distinctive call. I wondered how many other campers heard it and wondered what it was.

Here is a list of birds I observed while I was there:¬†Mallard, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Hooded Merganser, Ruffed Grouse, Common Nighthawk, Black Swift, Rufous Hummingbird, Spotted Sandpiper, Osprey, Cooper’s Hawk, Bald Eagle, Barred Owl, Belted Kingfisher, American Three-toed Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Canada Jay, Steller’s Jay, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Red-breasted Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Pacific Wren, American Robin, Evening Grosbeak, Dark-eyed Junco

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