Monday, August 27, 2012

Camping 1: Ramona Falls

August catch-up: Part 2

The second week in August we headed out for our annual backpacking trip with the grandchildren. This year we divided it into two different trips. Our first outing was with the girls. Three girls! Katie C. turned 7 this year, so she joined Sarah and Kat for the annual event. Katie loves reading the Ramona books by Oregon author Beverly Cleary, so when she heard there was a place called "Ramona Falls," she asked if we could make that our backpacking destination.

Here we are at the trailhead, ready to begin our hike.
Grandpa Mark, Sarah, Katie, Kat, Grandma Kathy
(Yes, you heard that right...we had three variations on "Kathleen" on the hike. More about that in a minute...)

Heading up the trail. The girls had so much fun pointing out the unusual rock formations, trees, stumps, moss, etc. As they chattered away, Sarah and Kat did an awesome job of encouraging their younger cousin. They remembered what it was like to be 7 years old, and carrying one of the red backpacks for the first time!

Crossing the Sandy River. Kat, then Sarah. The girls commented on how muddy the river looks. It always looks like that...hence the name "Sandy" River. It's full of glacial silt. (Even Lewis & Clark noticed it when they paddled down the Columbia in 1804, and they tagged it the "Quicksand" River.)

In the shade, enjoying a "Kathleen moment." Katie, Grandma Kathy, and Kat. The granddaughters seem tickled that we share a name...and Sarah seems pleased that she has her own name! You can see our packs in the background. At this point, we are about half-way to our "secret" campsite.

Grandpa and the girls enjoy the view from the new bridge over Ramona Creek.
(This is the spot where we met the PCT through-hikers the next day, on our way back to the car.)

Sarah and Kat were expert at identifying huckleberry bushes. I never had to point the bushes out, even once. The girls loved having an excuse to stop hiking for a minute and pick huckleberries.

At the secret campsite at last! Access is via a mossy log. It's broad and safe to cross, but such a great adventure for the kids. Kat and Sarah discovered this campsite when we camped here two years ago. They were excited to share it with Katie!

Using the Sweetwater pump to filter our water and make it safe to drink. After the first day, the pump pretty much stopped working, so we had to boil our water on the second day. Kind of a pain, but not the end of the world. After we got back in town, we stopped in to REI to see if we needed a newer technology. After all, we've had this pump for years. We were heartened to hear the REI staff guy encourage us to simply replace the filter.* He also told Mark about lubricating some of the seals. We've replaced filters in the past, but never knew about putting silicone on the gaskets. Mark tried it, and the pump works like (almost) new! We did buy a replacement filter, but it's still in the wrapper. For now.

*We've replaced the filter on this pump a couple of times already. We just wondered if the pump was breaking down since it was completely nonfunctional while we were at Ramona Falls. We're pretty sure it just needed the lubrication.

Two great things about this photo of Katie. Actually, three.
One: she's smiling. Love the gap-tooth grin. Usually she pulls a silly face when she knows the camera's aimed at her, so it's nice to see her lovely smile here.
Two: She's modeling one of our favorite cooking methods for backpacking: mix it up in a ziplock bag and throw away the "dirty dish." This is a bag of butterscotch pudding the girls enjoyed together. I just put the instant pudding mix with some powdered milk (not reconstituted yet) in the ziplock at home. Write directions right on the plastic bag (how much water to add in camp). In camp, add the water and mix with the "squishy-squishy" method. (Be sure to seal the top first so the pudding doesn't squish out all over.) Unzip the bag and share with a cousin or two! You take turns dipping a spoon in. Or you can cut off a corner and squeeze it into a bowl or an open mouth. Yum!
Three: She's wearing clip-on earrings. Such a fashionable backpacker! Kat and Sarah brought them to add to my "bag of beauty." The older cousins know that Grandma Kathy always brings a brush and hair elastics along to be used at the "Log of Beauty." Somehow it doesn't hurt so much to have your hair brushed in the morning when it's at the Log of Beauty. The girls had fun being beautiful in the woods.

More fun with cousins at the Log of Beauty: sharing the mini-fingernail polish bottles I added to the Beauty Bag this year.
(Kat, Sarah, Katie)

Iconic, amazing, Ramona Falls. Such a little creek, and then it spills over the rocks, and it takes your breath away. Every time. We were camped about two miles south of the falls, so after we had camp set up, we took a day hike to the falls and then back to camp.

Love this photo of Kat, Sarah, and Katie. Such beautiful girls. They're growing up so fast. I'm truly grateful to be able to spend a little time in the woods with them each summer.

Something very tender and dear about their feet, I think. Not sure why, but I love this photo.

Back at the secret campsite. A berm of fallen logs to the right of the photo makes it so that we are hidden from hikers on the trail. Kat and Sarah shared the near tent, Katie used the one in the middle, and Mark and I were in the far tent. Our kitchen / fire ring is between Katie's tent and our tent.

Still a little girl. Her special blanket, "Pink," accompanied Katie. She carried it without complaint in her own pack. She's going into second grade this week. Growing up so fast!

Our campout was right at the end of the Perseid meteor shower, so after dinner and a campfire with marshmallows, we used our flashlights to hike up to a nearby open space to look at the stars. The Ramona Falls area has these amazing open spaces. They're not grassy -- they're covered in moss. They are wet and springy earlier in the year, but by August they are dry (and still a little springy). We had such a sweet experience with the girls, under the stars. It was getting a little chilly, so they gladly cuddled close as we lay there under the starlight. We told them stories of when we first met them after they were born, and when they were just little. We watched for meteors (saw 3 big ones!) and satellites (lost count) and planes. Found the Milky Way. Talked about our gratitude for creation. And then the girls were cold and tired, and it was time to turn our flashlights back on and make our way back to our tents.

After breakfast on the second day, time to head back across the log-bridge. In this photo, Sarah waits for Katie to finish crossing before she heads across the creek.

We enjoyed beautiful weather for the entire hike. (You may have noticed in the campsite photo that none of us used our rain flies.) It was sunny and warm -- not too hot -- both days.
Shadow images of Kat, Katie, Grandpa Mark, Sarah, Grandma Kathy, heading down the trail toward the car and home.

As we hiked along, the girls always greeted other hikers politely. Most of the hikers were adults, and almost all of them were visibly impressed to see the girls hiking along with their packs. True, we didn't hike a huge distance, but what really matters is getting the kids outdoors and into the woods. It is very affirming for children to know that they can be away from civilization, away from electronics, and that they are part of a group, carrying their share of the load.*

*Speaking of loads, our rule of thumb is to keep the kids' pack weights within 25% of their weight, or less. The last thing we want is to make them carry a load that's too heavy, and have them end up hating their outdoor experiences.

We were getting near the end of the trail. One of the last hikers that greeted us commented on how well the girls were doing. Mark and I just grinned and basked in the implied praise. As the man headed off toward Ramona Falls on his day hike, he said over his shoulder, "I just hope you aren't in the red Subaru."

What??!! Of course we were in the red Subaru.

"Oh, I'm so sorry," he said. "Somebody broke your window."

Oh, the thoughts that go through your head at a time like that. Worry about the car. Wondering if someone stole the gas credit card we had secreted away. Hoping maybe there were two red Subarus and ours would be ok. Knowing that it wasn't going to be a happy ending. Wondering how bad it would be.

Ten more minutes of hiking and wondering brought us to this:

A bashed-in passenger window. Glass all over the inside of the car.

Luckily, I had a pair of gloves in my pack, so I pulled on a glove and picked glass into a trash bag. Mark and the girls inventoried the car's contents. Nothing missing from the glove compartment (we know they looked because they left it open). Expensive emergency flasher/flashlight still in the car. Gas credit card still in its secret spot. 47¢ in coins still in the console. CDs still in their slot. Stereo untouched. Just our lunch...gone.

That's all. They vandalized our car to steal the lunch we had planned on eating when we returned to the trailhead.

When all is said and done, it's only things. Just a window and a lunch. No one was injured. We drove home with lots of "air conditioning." Picked up lunch at McDonald's. Called the insurance company and a glass company and had the window replaced at 8:00 am the next day. And a good thing, too! Because the next day we were heading out of town again...for August's camping adventure #2. Stay tuned!

1 comment:

Dorothy said...

You guys are awesome. I'm so impressed! (And amazed that someone would clout a car just for lunch.)