5 July 2010 Camping, Kayaking

A weekend in the woods

I love camping, but since the weather this year has been less than enticing, we haven’t made it out yet – other than last weekend’s bachelor party adventure in the woods.

We’d been planning for quite a few weeks to go out to one of our favorite spots for the 4th of July weekend – Forlorn Lakes. It’s a cluster of 12 lakes in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest (closest to Mt. Adams). About seven of the lakes have rustic campsites around them, all located about 10 miles down a gravel road in the middle of the forest.

Helen and I first found Forlorn Lakes about 3 years ago when we went to Seattle for a wedding. We wanted to camp before we headed home, so we drove out into the forest and stumbled upon them – and the delicious huckleberry fields that surround them.

Determined to get a good site this year, we packed up the car on Wednesday night…

Helen picked up a few groceries and packed the coolers on Thursday morning while I was at work…

And when we arrived at the campground early Thursday afternoon, we ended up getting the absolute best site (they’re first-come, first-served). It’s a huge site, protected by trees from the others nearby, and it’s right on one of the lakes.

Unfortunately, as soon as we pulled up, it started drizzling. But being the pacific northwesterners that we are, we were prepared – TARP CITY!

The first day there was pretty cold, windy and wet. We built a fire, had some dinner and drinks and went to bed while it was still light out because it was so frigid.

We heard rain hitting the tent all night, and I dreaded waking up to a sight similar to last year’s experience at Forlorn…

But the ground was just damp. Cold and damp. I made a fire and brewed some coffee using our camp press (GSI Outdoors, so cool).

After about 2 hours by the fire, the rain had stopped, so we decided to get in the kayak. As soon as I got in, the rain started to come down again. We did a 10 foot loop, got soaked, and headed back to camp.

When we arrived on Thursday, we’d left signs for the Blackwells to find us, but since it had been raining so much, I was worried they’d been destroyed, so we jumped in the car, heater and seat warmers on full blast, and went on a sign-recovery mission. Just as we’d exited the campground, we saw their car coming toward us – HOORAY!!

With Heather and Tyler came the sun (and a lot of wind), so after a quick lunch of Tuna sandwiches and cabbage salad…

We headed to a few short trails – the Natural Bridges and Ice Caves

Bambi greeted us, so we knew good things were ahead…

“Take a picture of me on it!”

Family photo session in the ice cave (note the huge mosquito bite on Helen’s forehead)…

We headed back to camp and started on dinner – hamburgers and pasta salad! Cooking while camping is one of my favorite activities.

After dinner, it started getting chilly again, so we bundled up and sat around the fire before dozing off.

Saturday morning was a bit cloudy again, and cold! 44 degrees – EEK!

But the clouds quickly blew away…

We prepared breakfast (egg, sausage and potato hash, complete with fire-toasted bagels)

And headed to the East Crater Trail in Indian Heaven (about 2 miles from Forlorn Lakes).  Last year, Helen and I went on a great hike here – about 3 miles to the top of the hill, had a picnic by Junction Lake and climbed back down.

This year, about 10 steps into the trail, this is what we saw…

Seriously? SNOW in July? We kept hiking for a while, but the snow just kept getting deeper as we climbed elevation. We ran into a few guys that had made it to Junction Lake (with poles, snow boots, etc.) and they said the lake was completely covered by snow, and there was about 8 ft. at the summit.

And Helen was wearing socks and sandals…. Sooo we turned around….

We decided we’d have a picnic by a creek we’d seen the day before instead. After lunch, we went back to camp, tried out kayaking in the sun (much more enjoyable) and I threw a line in the lake. No fish… not even nibbles…

Hunger hit, and we made dinner – potatoes roasted on the fire with spaghetti-style sauce to go on top of them, with a nice green salad, bread and cheese and WINE to accompany.

Since it was the last night there, and we had plenty of beer, things may have gotten a little out of control…

Drinking Dinner was followed by plenty of s’more making. It was determined that I’m the master mallow maker… check out that fatty mallow!

After too many s’mores to count, morning came and it was time to pack up camp and head back to Portland… Until next year, Forlorn Lakes (once again, please note the huge bite on Helen’s head)…

After we got home, we went down the street to the Oaks Park neighborhood, where they put on a pretty spectacular fireworks show… Bella is still shaking, but we had a good time. Happy 4th of July!

I took this week off of work, so I’m going to be working on staining the front door, and hopefully getting the vanity put in the bathroom… we’ll see how that goes.

First step, off to Rockler Woodworking

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