Memorial Day 2010: Timothy Lake, Oregon

2 06 2010

My friend Jessie reserved two sites at Gone Creek, a campground at the  popular Timothy Lake recreation area less than two hours from Portland, Oregon. Reserving a site means putting your bucks on the line – especially in our region, especially this year. Fact is, you never know if people will show up or if you will get stuck with all the fees. So I committed to show support! When all was said and done, 2010 was the rainiest May in history! But this weekend we braved the weather and scored. Four of us headed up Friday night and set up regardless of the forecast. Francis and I arrived first and set up these easy up shelters over the picnic tables, and got our tents set up during a lull in the rain. In all, ten campers/kayakers enjoyed the weekend!

I felt TOTALLY stoked borrowing my neighbor’s 12×12 Easy Up shelter. That thing ROCKS! It makes fixing and eating dinner a snap and rain not a problem. Later Jessie arrived with her new Kelty 16ft long tarp. When all set up we had the square shelter over the table and the ‘entry way.’ It was awesome – and we added battery operated, color changing Christmas lights.

Our awesome executive campsite!

Fire lit, dinner done and a glass in wine in hand, we hung out around the fire and enjoyed as the rain showers diminished. All night the rain pitter pattered on the roof of my tent. It was my new REI Quarter Dome T3. It was nice to have all that space. It didn’t leak, but putting up the fly-a piece ripped and I’m gonna have to take it back.

One issue Friday night was our Saturday morning breakfast person – Rebecca. Was she going to show up? Did we have stuff to eat if she didn’t show? Rebecca was supposed to make vegan burritos Saturday. But no show. So we sat around the fire and figured out what we were going to make for Saturday breakfast….some of this…some of that. A little oats, some hard boiled eggs, fruit, some bacon…

It didn’t rain. But some of this was Monday’s breakfast! So we asked Kent, on his way up, to grab some more stuff to replace Monday’s supplies!

I had scheduled a paddle for 11:00. Our group wasn’t motivating very quickly and it was already 10:20. I tried to hint hey wegotta get moving!

Ready to head out!

So I got my dry suit going, and by 10:45, Brian, the day paddler from our meetup showed up. And then Laura! That got the rest of them moving. I greeted Brian and tried to kind of stall, hoping everyone else would get moving. He was patient and they got it together. By 11:30 we were off.

We headed west to Hoodview Campground, then turned north to cross the lake. My plan was to show the group the primitive camping sites on the north and northeast side. It’s a simple way to get away from crowds and enjoy peace without having to go really far afield. We put ashore and everyone thought the sites were lovely.

We lunched at a picnic table, and checked out the neighboring site. These sites are nice as they even have fire rings!

Once done, we headed east past Meditation Point and up the east arm of the lake. Little Crater Lake Creek enters the lake at the top of the arm. The character of the lake changes completely here. It becomes more marsh like, with islands of reeds and peaceful areas on either side. Further on, it narrows and the current quickens.

Laura checks out the beaver lodge

We pass a beautiful beaver lodge. You can paddle right up and check it out. The water is so clear, you can see the underwater entrances the beavers use to enter their home.

Further on, and faster current.

Rod attains up the creek

The stream meanders a bit and then we run right up into a walking bridge – no further paddling possible! A few of us disembark to check out the site.

After paddling back across the lake, we take time to start the fire and relax, sharing stories. Soon, Kent arrives, and then it’s time to begin preparation for the highlight of the evening – Wok night at the campsite! We chopped onion, carrot, green pepper, garlic, brocolli, ginger, bok choy, water chestnut, baby corn, shrimp, chicken, etc. All kinds of sauces are available. Brown rice as a bed. Yum! Then, Laura breaks out the lemon squares for dessert! And of course the wine flowed.

But before dark Mount Hood emerged for us!

Then, time for more fun by the fire….lots of stories. I brought the blow-poke. This brass barbed tube is good for stoking the fire and moving the logs around.

Sunday Katie and Christian prepared a breakfast feast of oatmeal with fresh fruit and it was just what we needed. All fed and fueled up, some headed back out on the lake, whilst others decided to do a big hike. Jessie and Joel hiked all the way around! Francis and I packed up and made a cover for Jessie’s stuff and headed out. A nice Memorial Day weekend! Let the summer begin!

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!