Early Season Timothy Lake!

19 05 2010

Two weeks ago we had a group headed to camp at the magical Metolius River. Cars all packed up and ready to go. All week, the forecast had been sunny Saturday and Sunday. Friday morning? Wake up, check the forecast: Cloudy, temperature lowered to high of 50, with 15-20 mph winds gusting to 30! Collectively we said forget it! It was really disappointing.

This past weekend the opposite happened. Everything changed for the better. So good, in fact, that I took it upon myself to call the ranger station and inquire as to whether Road 42, the access road, was clear and if  Timothy Lake might be open.

Morning mist on Timothy Lake

The Zig Zag District Ranger said the road is definitely open, and there would be camping. Though opening day is May 21, they were going to try to open a week early if they could. Further, even if the campground is closed, camping would be allowed and free – you’d just have to walk in. With that, I was stoked, and scheduled a Meetup with PaddleNW, my paddling group.

I planned to head out Friday night but during packing disaster happened. a petroleum odor was coming from one of my gear boxes. Opening it, I saw to my horror that one of the tiki torch bottles for Metolius had leaked 1″ of kero all over! Some gear was ruined, and what wasn’t needed a thorough cleaning = heading out that night aborted!

With everything cleaned up, I took off Saturday morning. In Friday’s chaos, I canceled the meetup. But the weather was looking SWEEET. Arriving at Skyline Road, also known as Forest Road 42, there wasn’t much snow around. A few patches at best. All along the 9-mile road there was a bit of snow, but the road was 100% clear. Once at the Timothy Lake area, I passed closed Gone Creek and Oak Fork Campgrounds, and my heart sank a bit. But luck struck! Hoodview was open. And only 35% full. Lots of spots – I got one lakeside.

It was also an opportunity to use my REI Quarter Dome T3 tent for the first time.

New Tent – Big Space, Under 5-lb

It is very strange to set up. It has a system where, once you have them all connected and straight, all three poles are locked together by swivels – you cannot pull the poles out! There is only one right way to do it. Putting it up took twice as long as my other tent. But once done, it does have a lot of room inside, for a 3-person tent. It also weighs less than five pounds.

Fish on a string

Paddling was a treat. It was warm, over 70 degrees, and very slight wind.

A few fishermen tried their luck. One had a whole string of hatchery trout already!

I decided to paddle across the lake to Meditation Point. Meditation Point is a primitive camping area. Access is by backpack or boat only. What’s cool is that these primitive sites have fire rings.

Looking across from Meditation Point

Way nice. I plan on bringing the Meetup group here later in the summer.

The evening brought plenty of bright stars. Very quiet – with the campground not busy.

Next day, it quickly turned sunny. Sooo pretty. I could see the ski areas on Mount Hood, some 13 miles distant. It was closing day at Mount Hood Meadows.


I had to use one of summer’s dreaded haunts – the pit toilet. There was some new language in there, reminding me of what is to come. At this early stage, it was darn pleasent in there, though.

I undertook another paddle, to check out the closed campgrounds. I left in the sun, it was just gorgeous. But once arriving at Gone Creek, something weird happened. Rain! The one cloud in the area was arriving over the campground and I was right there. I could see it NOT raining back at Hoodview. So I sprinted as fast as I could to get out of that shower. And once there, I packed up my stuff as fast as I could – fearing another bomblet of rain would soak everything.

Well, all packed up, I bid farewell to the fishermen on shore and headed home. On the road there were places where it had rained a lot! I felt fortunate my spot stayed dry long enough to pack up. I’ll be back in a couple of weeks for Memorial Day!



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