Backyard Lakes: Trillium and Timothy

25 06 2018
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Trillium Lake just over an hour from my house!

Anyone who lives in Portland, Oregon like I do, has difficult decisions with free time. Go west 75 mins to the coast? Go north to Mt. St. Helens or the Gifford Pinchot National Forest? Head to the Columbia Gorge? South to Wine Country? Or due east to the playground that is the Mount Hood National Forest. Over the past couple of weeks the weather has been great, so I spent some time up by Mt. Hood.

I spent a day relaxing at the shore at Timothy Lake, and not long after, met my friend Laura up there and spent an evening under the stars. Each time, the weather was spectacular. And early season, before school gets out, these lakes shine and seem like Olde Tyme camping. That’s because they are super warm, nobody’s around, and it’s super off season. And added bonus: You will have spring flowers at your campsite! Rhododendron and Trillium are in full bloom. And the there is still snow on the peaks. The flowers, the blue lakes, the green forest and the snow on the mountains make for a feast for the eyes!

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On the day visit, I needed some “me time” and simply packed a lunch, some stuff to read, and most of my camp stoves to tune up for the camping season. I forgot the old Coleman Dual Fuel 533.

On the “day visit,” campgrounds were maybe 25% full. It was so quiet I only encountered one wife with kids on the shore. Oh. Well, wait a minute! I encountered a whole family! Just not human.

 

The geese have a plan of action. Adults have a guard who keeps up a vigil whilst the kids and other adults can clean and preen. There is a rear guard too. I found the longer I just sat, the trust built and they came up almost to my toes. No worries!

Okay, so then the following Monday I resolved to go up and spend the night. It would be my “birthday eve.” Laura, who was in Bend, Oregon, offered to meet me up there and celebrate. It was another perfect day!

The evening was pretty chilly but in my sleeping bag, with pillows, and a ski hat and the all-important eye shades for the Pacific NW 4:45 a.m. sunrise, I was set. No tent fly needed, the stars are far more important! The sky was absolutely bright with the Milky Way on full display.

Sunset Venus

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Venus was on hand for my birthday eve sunset. Not the sharpest focus but I hope you get the idea!

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Laura captures an image of the sunset.

For Timothy Lake, my suggestion is its best times are before school gets out in the early summer, or after Labor Day.  In high season summer, it’s best mid week. However, there are plenty of kayak-in or hike-in spots on the opposite side of the lake. There is opportunity for quiet camping over there!

 





Cabins at The Cove Palisades at Lake Billy Chinook 2012

13 11 2012

13 friends rented all three cabins at The Cove Palisades State Park on Lake Billy Chinook the weekend of November 10-11!

The Cove Palisades State Park closes in October but its cabins are available for rent all winter long. The cabins feature a living room with kitchenette and futon and a rear bedroom. Heated and with running water and with lovely views, they each sleep five. One can paddle the lovely canyons of Lake Billy Chinook from then until winter sets in.

Why go? For us human-powered recreation junkies, the thought of summer on the lake makes us cringe. Party boats, wave runners and speed boats ply the lake, their noisy exhausts reverberating off the canyon walls. There are over 100 boat slips at this marina alone! But once closed, the lake is very pretty in its quiet solitude. Further, if you reserve all the cabins, you can have the lake just for you and your friends!

I’m a happy camper with my morning cup of Joe!

This weekend, we drove over snowy Government Camp pass – in fact it was snowing on and off the entire way to the destination. Laura and I had made plans for Friday dinner – we’d grill steak on the cabin’s propane grill, and enjoy baked potatoes and salad as well as grilled veggies. These turned out delicious!

Later, Jessie, Mike and Joel, our cabin-mates for this weekend, showed up. Then we saw April and Jim. I drifted off to sleep – and yes Laura and I were up first in the morning.

Laura and Jessie by the fire.

The cabins share a five-foot diameter fire pit with a lake view. Saturday morning, we shared a fire to warm us up and had a breakfast. Jim and I each brought bins of wood.

As the sun rose and began to warm up the area a bit, Jessie, myself, Mike and Joel gazed upon the lake.

Although gray early on, it was to be a beauty of a day!

Soon it was time to paddle. Thirteen paddlers. Rod, Jim D., Jim H., Jessie, Joel, Laura, Becky, Bob, Andrea, Kristi, April, Mike and George. Getting a group of that size going doesn’t always happen in a snap.

Andrea and April almost ready…but some cars are still on roof racks!

Laura and I get our boats down to the dock early,
and she is ready to go. But as I look back toward the parking area, there are lots of kayaks remaining on roof racks! It’s going to be a while.

Last to go are Kristi and George – so Mike and I help things along by carrying their boats down to the docks.

Today is Becky’s first paddle! So we pay extra attention to her needs.

Jessie lends a hand at the dock, stabilizing Becky’s boat, which she rented from Portland State University’s Outdoor Program.

The forecast calls for temperatures in the mid 40’s and light winds, less than 10 mph. Once on the water the sun comes out and I began to believe I was over dressed! I didn’t bring a baseball hat, figuring it was too chilly. Lucky for me Kristi loaned me a sun hat she brought along.

The dominant features of Lake Billy Chinook are sky and canyon walls. The sun’s arc across the sky changes the glow and colors along the walls.

Jim D. about to head into Crooked River Canyon.

I’m not a geologist, though I took Geology 101 in college. What I can say is that examining these canyon walls tells a story. It is a story of violent volcanic activity taking place over millions of years. Layer upon layer of rocks and ash reveal the episodes. Basalt columns formed as the rocks cooled – some dozens of feet thick. Other layers are softer – ash from distant eruptions. Rain and thermal warming/cooling cracked the structures, sending rocks, sand and boulders down the sides.

We search for a lunch spot. One drawback of this lake is the few sandy takeouts. Mostly the drop off from lake shore goes straight down. We find a narrow area to disembark, but most of us just take lunch in our boats.

During lunch we see a potential change in weather dark clouds back toward the cabins, so most of us head back. But Bob, Jim D., George and April continue upstream.

Once back on shore, we retreat to our cabins for snacks, naps and getting ready for dinner.

It’s not long before dark! Tonight we have a great party by the fire pit. No shortage of firewood! The stars are out! It’s dark enough to easily spot the Little Dipper and the North Star. The Milky Way glides overhead.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings!





2011 Clackamas River Cleanup presented by We Love Clean Rivers!

20 09 2011

All photos by Mark Gamba.

On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the 9th annual Down the River Cleanup on the Clackamas River took place. Organized by We Love Clean Rivers, the event mobilizes an array of groups in a collaborative effort to clean 15 miles of the Clackamas River. I’m on the board of directors.

With a Staj Pace as our new event coordinator, new branding initiative completed including logo, new website, stationery, etc., we hit the ball out of the park this year! Participation was up over 60% with a record 421 registered volunteers. We also removed record amounts of trash from the river – 3.4 tons!

We had LOTS of FUN! Folks met up at Barton Park before 9:00 a.m. for coffee and bagels, registered, then organized into 15 pods (each cleaning one river mile), and after safety briefings, set off to clean the river.

Pod pre-launch briefing

Pods are made up of kayaks, drift boats, rafts, and some divers. It was a HOT day, over 90 degrees. I saw more red neck flotillas of inflatable mattresses and beer coolers going on the river than ever.

Cleaning in the river means collaboration amongst different recreational groups. Divers go below. Snorkelers are utilized. And bank-based cleaning is performed, too!

The emphasis is all about fun. Participants set off in a festive mood. Kids are definitely part of the collective cleanup muscle!

Youngsters taking ownership

Each pod rides the river to its assigned section and begins to clean.

Some rafts or drift boats are designated “garbage scows,” and folks bring trash to them. Some become quite laden with tires or metal objects.

By far the most numerous items are beverage cans. There is no question that cans are being dumped by river runners into the river.

Just look at this dumpster!

Holy Garbage!

The garbage is sorted by kids and recyclers. Further, it is picked over by artists, who will convert some into art or jewelry. This stuff will be sold at the RiPPLe PDX event on October 6th!

The day is book ended at the conclusion by a party/picnic celebration! Participants enjoyed music, a catered, organic picnic, three bands, Sierra Nevada beer, and the chance to win outdoor gear at the silent auction!

Nice job everyone! THANK YOU!

We enjoyed some really upbeat music!!!

60 feet of deliecious catered food!





Yale Lake July

23 07 2011

Well, there is a chain of reservoirs north of Portland, Oregon, in the Lewis River system. They are about an hour’s drive north depending on the route one takes. They all lie in Mt. St. Helens’ shadow…and one, Yale Lake, has a grand view of this notorious peak.

I’ve been there twice this month. First time with my meetup group. We arrived on a Thursday and checked out the Siouxon Creek arm of the lake.

It’s clear and beautiful, and we paddled all the way up to the river’s confluence.

Arnold had lunch…whoa…a whole apple pie! Arnold is always good to have along.

Amanda is one of my favorite meetup members! She’s very outgoing, athletic, and fun! She was our tour guide. We had some beer at the Laurelwood in Battleground, after the paddle.

My first time up there I couldn’t see the visual treat Yale Lake is famed for. But I returned on July 22nd late in the day and was rewarded with a spec-tacular sight!

WOW.

I also managed a video…on this day there were 2-3 motorboats on the lake plus a canoe. I understand it’s jammed with water skiers on the weekends!





What’s that in the Tub?

20 04 2011

I got to hold him down!

A dry suit is an important component of any cold water paddler’s portfolio. A dry suit makes a cold water day downright pleasant.

Further, when it comes to safety, a dry suit can save your life! As wonderful as they are, many paddlers balk at stepping up to a drysuit because of the cost. How much? A top Gore-Tex dry suit from Kokatat starts at $900.

Less expensive suits will still set you back several hundred dollars. But the materials won’t stand up like Gore-tex. I took my chances and bought a lightly used NRS Extreme Relief dry suit three years ago for $400.

All dry suits have latex gaskets, which need replacement from time to time. I just replaced my latex neck gasket and latex booties. But this past weekend I was teaching a rescues class, and was disappointed to find my butt wet by the end of class!

When I took the dry suit off, my chest was dry. My fleece pants were dry. But my right foot had a little moisture. Underwear was definitely wet. Where did that water come from?

Thus begins the “find the leak” project. One way to detect dry suit leaks is to plug up the head and wrist gaskets and inflate! Then dunk and check for air bubbles.

But I wasn’t quite prepared for the amusement! Almost right away I felt sinister like I was trying to drown someone in my bathtub! I was pushing that suit around like I was trying to strangle somebody! Positively evil!

So, did I find the leak? No, not really. I pushed air into the legs and submerged. No bubbles. Butt/torso – well, there was one little tiny hiss, which then went away. I never saw any bubbles. I think it came from the end of the relief zipper? I do know I can use petroleum jelly on that end…and stop any water there…I learned how to do that.

But truly I think there is a leak somewhere else, and I just didn’t find it! Grrrrrr. Maybe I need to drown my suit in a pool, which is bigger!





River Stewardship Presentation at KEEN Footwear Tonight

9 03 2011

Today (Wednesday March 8th) at 7:00 p.m. at KEEN Footwear, 926 NW 13th, Portoand, OR – A presentation by super kayaker Sam Drevo of boating on Mount Rainier’s Carbon River! It’s a benefit for the Oregon Whitewater Association! It illustrates the first descent of rafts on this narrow, walled in creek barely wide enough to accommodate a raft!

Once in, there’s no way out on the Carbon!

There will also be a presentation of his 2010 film, “Trout on the Wind,” a film about dam removal and restoration of salmon runs!





The Cabin at Lake Billy Chinook – Cove Palisades State Park

18 11 2010

Since I’ve lived in Oregon, I’ve heard about Lake Billy Chinook. I only knew it was some kind of big lake in the canyon of the Deschutes River or something. I also heard lots of motorboats and houseboats plied its waters.

So, it wasn’t all that high on my list of places to visit. If it was full of jet skis I didn’t want to be there. However, I got an invitation to share a cabin post season – and that piqued my interest.

Seems sometime in October the marina and campgrounds close, and therefore the power boats dwindle. Yet, being in Central Oregon, this lake is bound to have some decent weather – it might be a spot to escape the rain on the west side of the Cascades.

Everyone was really stressed out at work the week before we went. Office network upgrades, e-mail server blowups and mid term grading dominated agendas. So it was GOOD to get away to such a quiet spot.

We reserved a cabin at Cove Palisades State Park managed by Oregon State Parks for two nights in early November. The cabins turn out to be very nice! And they have a nice view, and though a bit close quarters, they are suitable nonetheless. Each has a kitchen (no stove) and outside propane grill with burner.

Who's gonna do the dishes tonght?

April, Warren, Jessie and myself quickly settled in and enjoyed the first night’s meal. Mine was soul stuffed with crab (Trader Joe’s) accompanied by green beans/hollandaise, with a baked potato. Then we rallied for a game of “Therapy!” That’s a fun way to learn about each other!

We also went outside to see the 100% clear sky and fabulous stars. We were able to get decent reception on our iPhones, and made use of the star chart software. Plus I brought two powerful binoculars. So we could check out Jupiter and the crab nebula! Way cool.

Suiting up!

Saturday we had omelets and then took off in the kayaks. I didn’t know that Lake Billy Chinook is formed by three rivers – the Metolius, Deschutes, and Crooked Rivers. Each can be followed to its confluence with the lake. Today we paddled out to the Metolius arm, because we knew there was an island where we could have lunch.

The lake is indeed inside deep canyons.

The walls are vertical in places. All along you can see the colonnades formed by cooling basalt during the epic Oregon basalt floods. We were the ONLY boats on the lake pretty much all day. We only saw two other boats.

Skullduggery kayak detailing

Fauna consisted of seagulls, cormorants, king fishers, terns, feral goats, ospreys, bald eagles, falcons, deer and pigeons. We knew other wildlife abounded, though.

We returned to the cabin about 4:00. I showered and then set about preparing the evening’s dinner – a burrito bar. Tortillas, onion, beans, sour cream, guacamole, tomato, salsa, olives, bell peppers and more graced the table. But during dinner prep and following, everyone seemed to collapse. It couldn’t be today’s paddle – we didn’t paddle very hard, or far. The likely culprit was work. Work had exhausted everyone – and their bodies were letting them know it was time to recharge!

Glassy reflections everywhere on Sunday

Only Jessie and April were cognizant enough to play the night’s game, Scattegories. Warren fell asleep on the couch and I tried and failed to follow the game!

Sunday we awoke refreshed and whipped up a feast of pancakes topped with nuts and raspberries, with bacon on the side.

Chefs at work!

Then off to explore the Crooked River arm of the lake. Along the way we were privileged to witness two very healthy coyotes padding along the rocks on one side of the canyon!

I’d definitely recommend the cabins – especially in the off season!