Saturday, June 09, 2012

Into the mountains

We spent last night at AM Solar. About 8:30 we made our last Wal-Mart run then went to Kohl's to get Carol some more warm things. When we packed for this "summer" trip we brought mostly summer cloths. Only twice in the last two months has it been shorts weather.  The weather forecast for the weekend is pretty dismal.  A"freezing mix" is what the weather guy calls it. We're ready for it. The propane tank's filled up and the Wave 3 heater is on hot standby, so to speak.

We took the scenic route from Springfield, as recommended by Deb,  and are at the Black Canyon USFS campground Russ had suggested. Two excellent ideas.  Last nights rain has been alternating today between a  steady rain with the occasional improvement to a heavy mist.  That combined with the very heavy tree cover, moss covered limbs and dense understory, has us keeping on eye out for Big Foot.

A very old stump. Most likely from the virgin forest.
 Our campsite
 The river from our site.

This is a large campground; 70 sites.  The campground sits on the Middle Fork of the Willamette River. Our site has a nice river view but no direct river access because of the very steep bank. The FS website says max. trailer length of 38'.  That would be a very cozy fit in this campground.  Some of the turns between the trees were tight for us. I wouldn't want to be dragging a long trailer through here. Tonight it's us and two other campers as best I can tell.

I've been giving the new Russ/Donna plant book a workout.

This one's a mystery


We drove into Oakridge and saw a sign telling of a $5 dump station so we did. I spotted the local USFS office and stopped in for more great, local information. Then it was off to the Lion Mountain Bakery where I got a great loaf of whole wheat bread that was filled with all sorts of assorted seeds, nuts and such things. The loaf must weigh 2#. Plus they had some great looking cookies for Carol; Walnut Cranberry, P-Nut Butter and Trail Mix.  The Willamette Fish Hatchery is in Oakridge. I walked around there for a while but it was too cold for Carol. While I was there, they were loading a truck with juvenile spring Chinook salmon in the "smolt" stage.  These fish were to be released into the Willamette River.
Willamette Fish Hatchery

 Tanks filled with millions of very small fish. Mostly Chinook Salmon and trout.

There is a picnic area with sculptures carved from wood.

A bear in progress.

The Salt Creek Tunnel on HWY 58 is being rebuilt. It's been closed since last Monday and just reopened to one-way traffic this morning. They are digging down about three feet below the current grade and building a new road.

Our next stop was the Salt Creek Falls Observation Site.  Once again, it was too cold for Carol, and for most everyone else,  so Gopher and I set out to see the beautiful falls.   The Salt Creek Falls are the second highest in Oregon at 286'. The main trail to the falls is paved and fully accessible.
Salt Creek Falls

The snow started as we approached the Willamette Pass; 5,126'.  It didn't amount to anything, but it was pretty.  Jennifer told Carol it was 90* in the D.C. area. We'll take a little cold over hot and humid.

We continued to the Waldo Lake Recreation; our planned stop for the next few days. In spite of what the Forest Service folks, and web site said, none of the three campgrounds were open. We continued on to a FS campground called Odell Creek located on the east end of Odell Lake.  Turns out, Odell Creek is actually part of a large resort complex on land leased from the USFS.  We don't stay at "resorts" so we continued east to Crescent Lake.
The USFS has four campgrounds on Crescent Lake. We're at the one simply called Crescent Lake. $8/night for a great, waterfront site.  43.49857  -121.97458.  It's cold with a "winter mix". That means some sleet, snow and cold rain. The Wave 3 is running full tilt. The low tonight is forecast to be at, or below, freezing.
The weather is supposed to get nicer in a few days, so we're going to hang around here until it does.
Gopher and I took some nice walks along the shore. The water is crystal clear, and very, very cold. Even Gopher, who seems to be immune to cold water, didn't get herself all wet.

Identifying native Oregon trees. I bought yet another tree book at the Forest Service office today.  Now I'm ready for anything I see.
A quiz:
West of the Cascades, you could guess that any needle-leaved tree in the forest is this tree and be right 8 out of 10 times, plus these trees furnish more products for human use then any other tree in the world, and it's the nations most popular Christmas tree. In addition, it's Oregon's state tree.
I picked a few small branches and brought them inside. The camper smells like a Christmas tree.

Saw a bunch of Common Mergansers today.

Saturday, June 9, 2012.

We woke up to a beautiful, snowy, 32* morning.  Gopher and I were taking our morning walk by about 6am.   It wasn't a heavy snow, mostly a dusting, but for three Floridians, it was fun to see.  By 10am it was all gone.

Somewhere in the photo archives is a picture of us in Yellowstone on the Forth of July of some year that I can't recall,  standing in the snow.

Our site is heavily shaded by huge Douglas-fir trees. Very little sun is making its way to the solar panels so I turned on the generator for a while, to give the batteries a boost. Plus it was time for the generators monthly exercise anyway.

Crescent Lake is amazingly clear. From the end of the  dock, I could easily see details on the lake bottom. I'm guessing the water was about 15' deep/
In the distance is Royce Mountain at 6,080'

The last two days I've been working on learning my Oregon trees.  It's not as easy as I thought. I've learned that a Douglas-fir, the official state tree of Oregon, really isn't a fir and that a Western Redcedar isn't a cedar at all; in fact there  are no true cedars that are native to the New World. They are only native to the Mediterranean and Himalayan regions of the world. The "berries" on a Western Juniper? Not berries at all but non-woody cones with small, soft scales that seldom open.  I've got a ways to go before I'm ready to give guided tours of the forest.

There are three more campgrounds on Crescent Lake. Tomorrow we go exploring.


Karen and Tony said...

Thanks for the information about Salt Creek. I put a place mark on my Oregon map so that we can stop whenever we're in that area. You're giving me lots of great boondocking ideas too. I just have to remember to mark them on the maps!

Donna K said...

Great post. So glad you and Carol and enjoying some of the beauty that is Oregon. There are so many diverse topographies within the state that one would never be bored. I only hope the weather begins to warm soon. Remember, summer doesn't really arrive until June 20 and Oregon doesn't do anything ahead of schedule!!

Jimbo said...

I have never heard the term "Freezing Mix" before, but I am sure that is exactly what I am experiencing at Ochoco Divide Campground.

Russ Krecklow said...

Glad you're making such good use of the plant book. As for the mystery photo, I don't think it's poison ivy, but that's about all I can tell you.

That bear at the hatchery looks like the one they were working on when we were there, only now it's on it's side.

Glad you're enjoying the snow. Hope Carol stays warm. "Freezing mix" is no fun, no matter what it is. Enjoy the lake!

Jim and Gayle said...

You are certainly intrepid campers. We would have been out of there finding a place in the warm sun a long time ago!