We went to Opal Creek, a beautiful area of old-growth forest, just east of Salem. It's about a 2-hour drive from the Portland area. There are creeks everywhere, feeding into the North Santiam River. Huge trees, 500+ years old, are common in the woods there. We hiked in 2 miles and made our camp, then had fun with a day hike, playing in the river, making fires in our campsite, and just generally playing in the woods.
Here are a few of the many photos from the last 3 days.
At the trailhead - Monday early afternoon
Kat, Sarah, me, Josh, Mark
Sarah, Kat, and Josh touch a 1,000-year-old tree
How tall can it be???
Sawmill Falls, near our campsite
The kids love "secret" campsites. We found a great one, tucked back into the trees and down a small slope so we didn't get noise from the main trail. Kat, me, Sarah, and Josh enjoy the campfire Josh built...with some help. By the end of our campout, he was pretty good at it, and the girls were right behind him.
Sarah sharpens yet another stick...
letterboxes along the trail. We found 2 of them. Here's Josh discovering the "Douglas Fir" letterbox tucked into the base of a stump near our campsite. We brought rubber stamps and a stamp pad, as well as our little hiking journals, so that we could add our stamps to the letterbox journal, and stamp the letterbox's unique stamp into our own journals. Fun treasure hunts!
Josh, Sarah, and Kat heading out on a day hike.
The kids wanted to play in the water, but they didn't go in too far...
Sarah and Kat
This morning, packed up and ready to head back to the car.
Me, Sarah, Kat, Josh, Mark
Backpacking with the grandchildren has become one of my favorite traditions. We started with Josh four years ago, when he was only 7, and we added the twins two years ago when they also turned 7. That's the youngest I want to take grandkids out into the woods for overnighters. It's fine to take younger children out backpacking when they are with their parents, of course, but to be away in a dark tent overnight when the trees make interesting noises...tough to do that if you're littler than 7. This year, the kids were talking about how fun it will be to include cousin Katie next summer, when she will be 7. They're looking forward to showing her the ropes.
Stay tuned for Camping Post #2, coming this weekend!