Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Camping 4: Twin Lakes

August catch-up: Part 5

This is the final camping post. Yes, it's true, we really did go on four campouts in a row, with only one or two nights at home between each one. It was crazy. Go home, wash laundry, pick up a few groceries, re-pack the camping gear, double-check our check-lists, and head out the door again.

One of my daughters asked me, "Why do you do this?" Not in a snarky way, but she was really kind of puzzled. She knows that I love to go camping and hiking, but wasn't this just a bit extreme?

Well, yes, it was. We were tired. The bed looked better and better every time we came home. And yet...what would we have left out? We loved every single outing, and even more importantly, we loved the people on every single outing.

In case you've lost track...

In the summer of 2012, Mark and I together...

  • spent 21 nights in a tent
  • backpacked 50+ miles
  • participated in 4 different week-long youth camping outings
  • organized 3 different family campouts
  • introduced 20 people to backpacking for the first time
  • and we hosted family in our home three different times, for a week at a time.

It's been an amazing summer. We have played really, really hard. Today I started back to work, and you know what? I don't even really mind too much. Because I really and truly got filled up with nature and the outdoors and family this summer. Watching kids head out down the trail, crossing into the wilderness boundaries, waking up next to a lake (or a stream) on a summer morning, watching the stars at night, picking blueberries with the fills something in me that I don't know how to do in any other way.

And so, speaking of introducing people to backpacking, allow me to introduce the Klines and the fun backpacking trip we took with them last week!

Ed Kline and I started teaching at Oregon City High School the same year (1995). Ed has heard so many things about our adventures over the years, and about a year ago he began saying, "We ought to go backpacking with you sometime..."

Well, "sometime" didn't get organized last summer, but this year, we made it a date.
Here's Ed with his wife, Christie, their daughter, Wrigley (white shirt), and Wrigley's friend, Ella (purple shirt).
We suggested several different "beginner" backpacking hikes, and they decided that Twin Lakes sounded perfect. It's about 2 miles from the trailhead to Lower Twin Lake.

Wrigley and Ella were great hikers. We didn't break out "The Whiny Hiker" song even once! When we arrived at the lake, they quickly chose our camp site and set up their tent. They had been practicing at home, and didn't need any help at all.

The view of Lower Twin Lake from our camp site. That's Bird Butte on the other side of the lake.

Mark showed Ed how to hang a "bear bag." Really, they ought to be called "chipmunk bags." It's the little critters that are a problem in these parts. They'll gnaw right through a pack to get at your trail mix. Mark showed Ed how to find a fist-sized rock, tie the end of a line to the rock, and then throw the rock over a tree branch. Once you have the line over the tree branch, then you discard the rock, attach the line to the bag, and haul it up over the branch. Easy peasy. Except, for a novice, there's just one little problem...  Ed told us that he's often heard that you should hang your food in a tree, but he never knew how you got the line over the branch.'s all in the rock you tie to your line. That's why it's so nice to go out with someone experienced your first time or two!

After we had our tents set up and the food dangling from nearby trees, we left our gear behind and took a day hike to Upper Twin Lake, about 2 miles away. It was a lovely afternoon and we all enjoyed ourselves. Here's a shot of the group chatting next to Upper Twin. Yes, that's Mt. Hood in the background, peeking over the trees.

From Upper Twin Lake, we hiked a little farther to the viewpoint on the Palmateer Trail. When we were here 3 years ago with Kat and Sarah, we followed the clues to a "Letterbox." Before this hike, I looked up the clues again online, and sure enough, it was still there! Emma discovered it hiding under a log, right where it should be.

In fact, the letterbox was right where we had left it 3 years ago! We looked through the little booklet inside the letterbox and found our signatures from our earlier visit. Two other hikers had signed it after us, on the very same day, and then no one else had visited the letterbox after that for three years!

It had a little moisture inside it, so we wiped it out and tidied it up with some fresh ziplock baggies for the booklet and the rubber stamp, and then the girls secreted it away again. I hope someone finds it soon!

Here's the group enjoying the letterbox booklet at the view point. That's Mt. Hood in the background again.
Did I mention that the viewpoint has a rather steep drop-off behind it? We made the girls sit down.

Back at our camp site, Ed and I are laughing about something. We've been close colleagues for 17 years! Numerous times during those years, we have shared classrooms. I just found out that I'll be sharing his room with him again this year, and when I emailed to let him know, his response was, "Woo hoo!" That's how I feel about it, too. What a treasure to have a job where your colleagues are your friends.

Mark made sure the fish knew that he was in town. They made sure to stay away from his hook. Like he says, "I'm fishing, not catching." Ain't it the truth. Although really, I think it's a way for him to just enjoy the scenery and the lake and have some quiet time to think, and all the time it looks like he's doing something. Smart fella.

Of course we had a campfire. Of course we roasted marshmallows. Need I say more?
(Ella, Wrigley, Ed)

Early morning view of the lake.

I discovered a funny thing about this lake on our hike. I've been here many times--day hikes, backpacking trips, even snowshoeing. But for some reason, I have never hiked the trail around the lake. I don't know why I've never done that before. It's not a huge lake or anything. While we were camped at the lake this time, I hiked the trail around the lake three times. Just to make up for lost opportunities, I guess. The best thing about those little circumnavigations? I discovered a whole bunch of secluded campsites tucked all around the lake. Who knew? Can't wait to come camping here again and try one out.

Another funny thing--on one of those hikes around the lake, we met a party coming in after us. It was getting close to dark, and they were a good-sized group. They hiked right on past our camp site (the first one you come to when you arrive at the lake), and marched off towards one of the more secluded sites. Best of all, they had two pack goats with them! I've heard of pack goats, but had not seen one before. The first goat was so well-trained that she didn't even need a lead. She just followed right along, carrying her load. The second goat was a pack-goat-in-training. Not only did she have a lead, but her guy was dragging her along with it. Guess she needed to sing along with "The Whiny Hiker Song." She wasn't carrying much, either. Her guy told us it was her first backpacking outing. I guess it's a little like taking the young grandchildren out  the first time...

Wrigley and Ella loved this log. They walked out on it several times a day. Sometimes they ran along it. Sometimes they laid there like turtles sunning themselves. Basically, this was a really good log.

Day 2, our packs loaded again, ready to hike out! This time we decided to take a different trail. It was a slightly longer route, and it definitely had more hills to it, but it went by the trail to Frog Lake Butte, which we wanted to see. The Kline clan was up for it, so off we went.
(Back row: me, Mark, Ed, Christie / Front Row: Wrigley, Ella)

At one point during our campout, Ed commented, "This wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be." I asked him what he had been worried about, and he said he hadn't know how it would feel to carry the pack. Well, he did great, and so did Christie. And the girls? We nicknamed them The Antelopes. They were always out front - we never could keep up with them.

After a steep hike to the top of Frog Lake Butte, what did we find? A cell tower. No view. Bah.

We did, however, find some delicious huckleberries. As Wrigley and Ella can attest. The huckleberries may have slowed us down a little.

Headed back to the parking lot. Do you know what that mark on the tree is? It's a blaze mark, used to mark the trail route. As in "blaze the trail." When somebody first figures out where a trail is going to go, he blazes it--i.e., make cut marks on trees every so often--then the trail crew comes along and clears the actual path.

Farewell, summer 2012! You were a good one! Thanks for so many wonderful memories of dear family, friends, the beautiful outdoors, good health and a strong body.

1 comment:

Anna said...

This is Chris,not Anna.
I am going camping with Soapy and Jojo tonight on our ward campout, but your pictures make me wish we were going to be hiking out. That lake looks like a lot of fun.