Ahhhhh...I feel like I imagine a cat must feel when all it's fur is rubbed the right way, and it is purring contentedly. Three nights of camping in solitude do that for me.
How I love canoe-camping at Sparks Lake! It's a little volcanic gem tucked into the central Cascade Mountains of Oregon, just around the corner from Mt. Bachelor. Here's what we do: we load up the canoe with all the gear we'd normally take when we go car camping, then we paddle a mile or so up the lake to our secret hideaway campsite and offload our gear, and then we enjoy all the comforts of car camping, in a setting that feels like we are backpacking! During the day we paddle the lake, swim, and play to our hearts' content, and then at night we sleep like logs...and wake up the next morning to start all over again.
But before we get to the solitude part, first we played for the afternoon with our dear friends, Ken and Dorothy. They are the ones who introduced us to canoe camping and Sparks Lake, and every year before 2011 we have camped at the lake with them and other good friends. This year, the camping schedule didn't work out for all the others, so we camped most of the time by ourselves. But Ken and Dorothy were staying at their own special hideaway about 30 minutes away, so when they knew we were coming, they drove up to the lake with their canoe and helped us haul all that comfy-cozy gear to our campsite.
Would someone else be camped in "our" spot? We paddled around the point and into the familiar cove...and yippee! The site was available! Here is the cove, with the dramatic view out our "front door" of Mt. Bachelor.
These two canoes have seen a lot of good camping together over the years...
Before they left, Ken was determined to help us lay in a good store of firewood. He and Mark went "lake lumbering"...whacking on a poor defenseless dead tree, lying out in the water near our campsite. They sawed off all the branches that were high and dry above the waterline.
One last group shot...just like old times!...and then Ken and Dorothy paddled away, leaving Mark and me to enjoy our very first solitude experience at Sparks Lake.
That evening we went for a paddle out into the lake. The light was silvery, and South Sister commanded the view. The lake was like a mirror.
The next morning...out for another paddle! This time we headed up to the north end of the lake for a little exploring. Along the way we spotted a bald eagle. Can you see him? Try clicking on the photo to enlarge...he's sitting on a branch, dead-center in the photograph.
Here he is again, flying off ahead of us.
We explored one of the inlet streams. It was filled with thousands of little pollywogs, as fat as my thumb, all swimming in the same direction. How do they know? When we reached this log, we decided to stop rather than portage through the grass, which was humming with mosquitoes.
Mark enjoyed a snack...
...I played on the log...and then we headed back into the main lake.
Back "home" in our cove, I went for an exhausting swim...not! It is so relaxing to just float on the noodles and enjoy the sunshine.
Later that afternoon, dramatic clouds blew up behind Mt. Bachelor. We thought we were in for a storm, and we did have a few big, fat drops of rain splatter into the dust in the campsite. The clouds grew bigger, the wind blew...and that was it! The clouds blew past.
And the light began to grow silvery again as the earth turned toward dusk.
Ahhh...good bye Sparks Lake, until 2012!
PS: Dorothy has more good photos of Sparks Lake here and here.