I’m off on a fall camping trip after too much thinking, analyzing, and twisting in circles about the pros and cons of going on a fall trip with covid19, wild fire smoke, leaving late in the year with shorter days and colder nights, and an old dog. My final approach was: “Just go,” if it doesn’t work out I can just drive home.Continue reading
Last fall when I stopped into the Wise River Ranger Station to ask about road conditions, the ranger started the answer to my question by indicating it was too bad that I wasn’t there earlier to see the wildflowers at Vipond Park. Her statement perked my interested, making me want to come back. This is the trip going back to see the wildflowers at Vipond Park and adding the Gravelly Range to the trip. The plans were hatched in fall. It would be a quick trip; renting forest service cabins seemed to fit the plan for a quick get away instead of taking my trailer. But I needed to rent the cabins when they came available – six months before the arrival date. In December I gambled when I picked the rental days, hoping the days would match the wildflower bloom.
Last week the weather forecast included a day with 3-5 inches of snow on the Gravelly Range. Hum. I am off – wildflowers or not.
I started thinking that I would like to have a go-to place that was simple to get to and that I could escape to many times and continue to enjoy. A place that didn’t require a lot of mental energy to plan an escape. So I started staring at my maps. Lots of staring, looking at google earth, and surfing; searching for any information on areas that looked promising. I learned that many of the Washington State fish access sites allow camping and I came across the idea of going to the Potholes south of Moses Lake. Long Lake and Sage Lake east of the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge (CNWR) seemed to be an ideal place to check out.
I left Seattle and headed out, finding a wonderful spot to camp at Long Lake.
I wanted to see the Palouse Falls in central Washington and the area around it. I was born and raised in western Washington and somehow I had never visited this area in eastern Washington. Planning my visit, I came across a reference to “camping” at the Little Goose Dam Road boat ramp parking lot. Not finding any other choices except for the Palouse Fall campground I drove to the parking lot. What I found exceeded all expectations. I had a spot next to the Snake River with a gorgeous view. I sat by a campfire that night visiting with the unofficial parking lot host. A truly enjoyable site for the night. I would return.
I had recently seen pictures of the canyon formed by the Grande Ronde River slicing through layers of Columbia River flood basalt. I was astonished. I was born and raised in Washington and had never heard of the canyon. I added seeing this wonder to my to-do list. So on this trip I was headed to the southeast corner of Washington to see the canyon. I wasn’t disappointed. Ribbons of basalt from the Columbia River flood basalt were shown in various color. To me the sight was breathtaking. Driving Washington Hwy 129 and Oregon Hwy 3 I drove twisting and turning to the bottom of the canyon pausing to look along the way, and then I drove up the other side. An elevation difference of about 3,000 feet.
I was raised in the Pacific Northwest. We went camping as a family when I was a kid and later on as a young adult I did lots of backpacking. It is what everyone does to some degree when you are young, living in the northwest. Being outdoors was impressed into my DNA. But now in my 50s I don’t have the same desire to backpack and sleep on the hard ground. I started researching trailers and bought a Casita. Something small that I could pull along exploring and camping on public land away from hordes of people.