brief account of camping trip

The leaves are bursting out. A few of the trees outside of my window are explosions of green. Others are hinting at coming buds. The trees directly next to my window show no such sign of Spring. They are the last to enter into the jubilee, yet they are the last to leave as well.

My camping trip was fun. We left late Sunday afternoon and drove down towar Southern Oregon. I had a spot in mind on Loon Lake, though I’ve never been there. We took a wrong turn off the highway, then another wrong turn on the logging road, and had stopped in Cottage Grove for food and gas. All in all we wasted a bit of time and it was dark when we arrived to find the site closed and gates locked. Grrr.

No problem. I had a few other spots in mind. We went back up to the Siskiyou River and took a northerly logging road that cut through the Coastal Range. We were aiming for Smith River area. After a while of driving through many turns and curves and switch backs in the darkness of the mountains at night, we arrived at Smith River. One campground didn’t look promising, neither did Smith River Falls, and we went up a road along a creek and sought out a spot. Too overgrown. No luck.

A couple of miles up the river I saw a small road moving off the main road. I say main road, but they are dirt roads and the small road that I took now was bumpy and overgrown. Good thing we are in an Explorer. This road took us to a small creek and appears to be a spot where locals come to. There was the remains of a fire and some activity. We needed a place to sleep so we pitched a tent, built a fire, and soon went to bed.

Early the next morning we packed up, Eliza hunted for some mushrooms to fry, and we went out in search of a new campground. Along the way we stopped at Smith River Falls and took some pictures and I looked at the fish ladder. I’d never seen such a thing before. Lot of giggles and kisses and jokes.

We continued till we got to the fork in the river. It is a characteristic of these mountain rivers that they have forks in them. Some may have three or four forks. We took the north fork and went up country for a while until we reached the Smith River trailhead. We checked out several spots and eventually settled on a spot near the river; a primitive campground with absolutely nothing. It was great.

The turn out to the site was through some dense undergrowth and evergreens towered above us. Just below us was the north fork of the Smith River. I tried my hand at some fly fishing in it, but didn’t really know what flies to use or what was in the water. Later, I had met some fisherman and noted their tackle and what they were fishing for. When I got home I promptly started reading on such and such species of fish and soon I’ll get some tags/tackle to fish for them when their spring runs reach this far up river.

We set the tent up, put a tarp out near a tree, and I dug a firepit that Eliza lined with large rocks. We had a cooler with food, beer, bottle of wine, fishing gear, etc…. but I had neglected to bring my hatchet. Grrrr. This limited the wood that we could burn. There were plenty of trees in a mile radius already cut, but since I had not way of trimming off portion of them, we were screwed. We did manage to get a small fire burning that night and it burned on through the night as the wood atop the fire dried out and caught on fire.

The next morning we went to town, ate breakfast at a greasy spoon (wasn’t very good) in Reedsport. While eating there I was being perterbed by the fellows in the booth behind me and their disturbingly loud conversation. The waitress asked them if a guy at the counter could speak to them. I had heard her tell the counter-man that the booth-men were “fisherman”. I was perterbed by them, but my ears perked up and I listened. There wasn’t a lot said and so I returned to my breakfast.

We got an axe at a hardware store and left back toward the campsite in the mountains. There I immediately set out to gather some wood for a fire. I had a good stack of kindling, some medium and some large sized wood. After a while I wanted a cup of coffee and so I started to build the fire. It was pretty hard because all the wood was still damp and sappy. Yet after a while of cursing at it we got a half-way decent fire going that would stay burning long enough so that some bigger pieces might catch, as they were all damp.

During the growing fire, Eliza and I goofed off on the river, skipped stones, read from our books. I tried to fish, she took my waders and explored the river and played with salamanders. It was at this time that I was crazy about her, as I watched her interact with the world around her. Better than being cooped up in the middle of town with nothing to do but fall back on negative talk.

As night fell the fire became quite a good fire. Very hot. The coals at the base of the fire had went from deep red, to orange, to a bright yellow. It was hot! So hot that when I tossed a penny into the fire, two seconds later it was being assaulted by the heat and wicked blue-green flames were jetting up from the fire. The flames themselves were not the lazy sort of flames one usually sees on grills, but these were jets, streaking up from the fire with a dangrous fury.

Eliza cooked some eggs, bacon, I cooked some sausage, and later she fried her mushrooms. After a meal we sat near the fire for a while and then retired for bed.

Late at night it began to rain. Not a gentle, Eugene, Willamette Valley rain… but a coastal rain. Large, hard, rain drops crashed down on the tent. I hadn’t set the tent up for rain (the forecast said nothing till Wednesday) but for comfort. Now it was really raining. It rained all the rest of the night and the next morning. I had laid a tarp under the tent as well, but we still had wet spots in the tent, portions of the pillows and blankets were wet.

It was leaving day and packing was not as fun in the wet ground as unpacking had been. Yet we got everything packed okay and went north. We wanted to visit Kentucky Falls before we left. It is a short 2 mile hike to the lower falls after a 10 mile drive up the ridge to the trailhead.

The upper falls are quite nice and we enjoyed them immensely. Yet when we reached the lower falls, a part of where the water splits off into two branches and there are two seperate falls with a large portion of mountain between them, we were really inspired.

After enjoying the falls we then packed up and drove home, where we both showered in much appreciated hot water.

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