Backyard Lakes: Trillium and Timothy

25 06 2018

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!


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!


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!


Timothy Lake, Oregon – Leading A Horse to Water!

13 09 2013

IMG_0711  This is a quick blog post about a trip to Timothy Lake, Oregon, which I took before my Eastern Oregon byways trip (see last blog). Timothy Lake is 13 miles south of Mount Hood. It’s an easy 1:20 drive from my home. So, if I want to get outside but don’t have a big window of time, sometimes I head up there. If you read my last blog post, you know that I suffered a back injury a couple of weeks prior to this week. Well, it turned out that on this trip, sleeping on hard ground was great. I slept like a baby. I actually slept better than in my own bed. But a week later, at Anthony Lake, everything changed.


Trees in Oregon grow really tall…!

This post is about happier times. With only a couple of days in the middle of the week free, I hurriedly packed my car and headed up to Timothy Lake. With my back trouble, I left the kayak at home. I found a west facing camping spot – with nice trees above.

I set up camp and then hiked down the lake two campgrounds distant. It was such a pretty day, and my body enjoyed the easy exercise.

Along the way I encountered a family with horses. They did something completely unexpected. They started leading the horses into the water!


Mom, daughter and horses. All somehow cooperating!


Daughter learns you can lead a horse to water, but…you can’t…


It was so endearing. These big animals, who could cause harm, totally cooperated with the human tenders…even kids. The adults rode them into the lake, and the kids guided them out.

Horses are so gentle. It was something to see! I was sure the horses weren’t comfortable out there in the lake. Yet, they trusted their owners – enough so that they even went beyond standing – even swimming!

I thought that was pretty cool. Then I returned to my campsite. It was a quick walk down to the water, and I enjoyed the sunset with a magazine and a pint of beer.

Then it was time to make a fire, and I had a lot of wood.

IMG_0713I made a “log cabin” style fire, which went up big. Very nice. Following, it was time for dinner. I brought up some freshly made tortellinis, which were easy and delicious. Plus a nice green salad.

Then crawling into my tent, I managed to have a super restful sleep. I had no idea one week later camping would turn out to be so painful.

Till next time!

It is September. This month is usually the best month for enjoying the outdoors. No bugs. Good weather. Crowds – gone after Labor Day. But sadly, my ability to get outdoors is hindered by my back and hip injuries. I am confined to the city, and I am following docs orders and trying to get out before the weather turns!

Wish me luck.

Head to Timothy Lake when Website Says “Closed 4 Season”!!

30 09 2011

Yes, my friends! There is gold to be had at the end of September at one of Mt Hood’s most trodden camping spots – Timothy Lake. THE time to go is after Labor Day, when the campgrounds start to close, the weather remains summer like, and it’s nice. This lake is to be avoided in mid-summer as K-Mart campers and RVs with noisy generators are everywhere.

This week I had a couple days off mid-week, and the weather forecast called for 80-degrees and summer up there. I checked the websites and they all reported “closed for the season” for the campgrounds.

I knew one can still camp in the closed campgrounds, but you have to walk your gear in past the gate. Still, I remembered one year I went at precisely when they were supposed to be “closed,” yet one remained open. That turned out to be the case this time! One, only one, campground, called Oak Fork, remained opened. And it only had one other camper!

I foraged for wood left behind by other campers and the effort paid off big time. That, plus setting up my hammock, and the wonderful weather made for a nice time. This treasure trove of wood made for a blazing inferno!

I also tried out my newly purchased Kokatat drysuit. Way freaking cool! It was 100% dry. Soooo much better than the NRS drysuit it replaced. I was really dry when I took it off.

The weather was superb, the stars bright, and what a night it was.

The picnic table, hammock and all the kitchen gear made for a sumtuous chicken sandwich cooked on the grill, plus a nice side salad!

The camp set up. Everything needed!

Timothy Lake Primitive Kayak Camping: Day 2

1 07 2010

Morning broke bright and clear! The sunlight bathed the forest opposite in a warm glow – reflecting perfectly on the water in between. Another nice day on Timothy Lake had begun.

Slowly but surely, tents were unzipped and kayak campers emerged, rubbing eyes and hungry for breakfast. The fire was brought back to life and camp stoves revved up for cooking. Seemed everybody had the same idea – oatmeal with assorted accompaniments like nuts, yogurt and fruit. Coffee and tea were consumed heartily!

Nobody was in a hurry; we were content to experience the day’s warm-up and then take our time breaking camp.

Our mellow mood attracted a guest! For about 15 minutes a hungry Pileated Woodpecker pecked the douglas firs in and around our campsite foraging for breakfast. Up and down the trees it went, offering numerous photographic opportunities. This was the first time I’d seen one in Oregon, and I felt privileged in its presence!

The day’s plan called for a relaxed return to our start at Gone Creek Campground, with a lunch along the way.

Towing a threesome!

Wow, the color of the lake was truly spectacular! I could not figure why it was such a bright blue this time around. We nuzzled into a sunny, south facing campsite for lunch.

Next we hugged the rocky east side of the lake on our return. I tested out my new LevelSix tow belt. Very nice gear – and my fellow paddlers provided plenty of resistance!

Primitive Kayak Camping at Timothy Lake: Day 1

29 06 2010

I took the Paddle NW Meetup group up to Timothy Lake for a simple kayak camping overnight. We had the best weather of the year!

Monty and Jerry at the launch

The idea was to leave the cars in a campground and paddle across to one of the primitive campsites on the north side of the lake. Timothy Lake has five developed campgrounds, but there are countless primitive campsites dotting the north side of the lake. Many are accessed only by boat or on foot. To park in the campsite boat launch, you can use a Northwest Forest Pass, or pay the day use fee at the campground.

It was only a one-night event. Five paddlers signed up, including my neighbor Stacy. She got a treat! Perfect, just glorious weather. We loaded up my VW Jetta wagon and met the other kayak campers, Monte, Francis and Jerry up at the Gone Creek Campground boat launch.

Wow! What wonderful water color!

And what a day it was! We were greeted with blue skies, snow capped Mount Hood, and the lake a light blue-green I’ve never witnessed before. We exchanged greetings, and filled out the liability waivers now required as part of the Paddle NW Meetup.

This paddle the kayak population decidedly favored Pygmys! Never seen a lineup like this. We had a majority of wooden kayaks and no fiberglass boats! Three Pygmy kayak models were represented – the 14′ Arctic Tern, a 17′ Arctic Tern, and 17’6″ Coho. Compliments flowed freely wherever we went.

Where to go, they asked? Although I always coveted two perfect spots to the west of Meditation Point, I wanted one with a good sunset view. I remembered a spot tucked behind a peninsula at the entrance to the upper arm of the lake. We paddled over there, and there were campers who said the site would be available for the night.

Unfortunately, they were not going to be vacating the spot until late in the day. We were anxious to get started setting up camp. So, we set out searching for another spot along the shore – a task revealing just how popular Timothy Lake can be on a gorgeous summer weekend. While there are numerous campsites dotting the north side, not all are kayak-accessible. Kayaks need a gently sloping landing area to land and unpack. “No vacancy” signs were everywhere. We checked out all the spots along that side, to just beyond Meditation Point, and all were already taken! OK lesson learned.

At Francis’ suggestion we explored further up the arm of the lake. Rounding a bend we came across the quiet area forming the upper region of the lake. Here, you’d think you weren’t even at Timothy. It’s much more closed in, there are little grassy islands, it’s cozy, and as you explore even further, there’s a beaver lodge sitting in the center of the river.

We saw a very nice site which seemed to be available on the east side. I’ve never seen this site vacant. We landed and determined that it could be ours! Fate had shined kindly on us!

Jerry and Monte in the Pygmys at launch

This site offered plenty of area to set up all our tents, a beach, a central fire pit, and there was even a kitchen counter set up. Much relieved, we set up camp!

Ho ho! Someone left some reading materials for us! A current issue of Playboy Magazine was there for the taking!

Wow! Light reading!

This site faced west, and we took full advantage of the warm sun!

Stacy made herself home in the hammock. I found the lake pleasantly warm and took time to practice kayak rolling.

Jerry, Francis, Monte and took an hour to explore the upper arm of the lake.

Francis emerges…

One glides past interesting grassy islands. Tight paths crisscross the grasses and are worth exploring.

The beaver lodge is pretty impressive, worthy of a portrait!

Up there, the water is crystal clear, because it comes straight from the spring at Little Crater Lake. The water makes hypnotizing patterns as the sun shines on the bottom.

My kayak = not a problem rolling. I even rolled it on my offside using a paddle float. Nice to know my recovering shoulder took that in stride! YAY! But in trying to roll the 14′ Arctic Tern, I just fell out! It had no thigh braces nor hip pads.

Next, the highlight was to prepare a feast! Since this was only a one night affair, I brought a Trader Joes frozen flounder stuffed crab meal and accompanied it with fresh salad and garlic mashed potatoes! I brought the grill top from my Weber tabletop grill, and cooked it inside aluminum foil. Perfect!

This evening the sleeping was pleasantly quiet. It was a full moon, which rose just after sunset, bathing the forest in a shimmery silver. The only sounds came from hooting owls and snoring campers.

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!