When we left the city behind last Thursday, Don was concerned about finding a good camp site. We knew where we wanted to go, but whether or not the snow had melted was a big question. And whether or not the roads were open. I never worry about such things: I ask God to clear the way. No, I don’t think I have some magical hot line to God; I just have this child-like faith that He will clear the way.
We left here late. The sun was touching the peaks of the western mountains as we climbed into the mountains. We saw a lot of camps down along the Clackamas River: people were even pulling off onto the wide shoulders to camp (posted NO CAMPING, but everyone has to try). I cannot begin to understand why you’d want to camp right next to the highway. I can understand the need to camp in a developed camp ground: running water, pit toilets (and sometimes even flush toilets), and the proximity of other people. Folks feel safe when they camp in packs. Not me. I need neither the toilet amenities nor the proximity of other folks, and we carry our own water. This is what sets me apart from most women I know.
We had three rigs following us as we climbed into the Cascades. One by one, they dropped off: one at Indian Henry CG, another turned at the junction to Timothy Lake, and the last followed us all the way to the Bagby Hot Springs junction. But there we parted company with people as we took a logging spur up into the mountains. We met one rig coming down: men out gathering firewood headed back to the developed camp grounds along the Collowash or the Clackamas Rivers.
There was a lot of downfall across the road. Most of it had been picked at by men wielding just enough chainsaw to get the log out of the way (why can’t they just cut it all the way out of the road remains a mystery: they’re probably the same brutes who carry full cans of beer into the woods but leave the empties behind). Once in a while, we’d see logs that had been hacked with an axe or just rolled out of the way. Don was getting more concerned: we don’t carry a chainsaw (space prohibits one and we don’t have one). All he had for tools were the ones he uses when working on trails: a hand saw, loppers and a pulaski axe. (I hope that link works)
We turned off onto our hidden spur. No snow and no big logs blocking the road. Almost there! Down we went, the branches of ceanothus with their sweet-scented flowers rubbing the sides of the rig. Small cedars and pines crowded the road. And we rounded a corner. Not one log: two. One was about 16″ diameter and broken; the other was a good 24-26″ in diameter and solid. One end was twisted and shattered, but the log was not severed anywhere.
I should have taken pictures, but I didn’t think Don would appreciate them. We rolled the first log off to the side, but the second one firmly blocked our path. We were less than a quarter mile from our hoped-for destination and the sun was fading fast.
Don chopped with the pulaski and I lopped ceanothus out of the trail, but in the end – we just unloaded the rig and camped where we were stuck.
Somewhere down there is where we wanted to be.
Don kept at it for a couple hours. In the end, he used a lever made out of a long dead limb from the same tree to hoist the shattered part of the log out of the way.
We just squeezed around this.
We didn’t run into any of this until Sunday, when we drove up to Granite Peaks to see if the road was clear. It wasn’t. Murphy only looks dead: he was making like an otter and sliding upside down in the snow banks.
What an idiot!
I accidentally touched a button on my camera that washed out the photos. Murphy was so ecstatic, he barely touched the ground.
It’s sort of how I felt at finally being up in the mountains camping.
Even if God didn’t clear the way miraculously. Hey, at least He kept it clear most of the way, and we had the right tools to make it the rest of the way!