Another month has gone by in a flash and what have we got to show for it?? Trying to travel around in the time of Covid does present its challenges but we are fine and having fun.
We spent several weeks in McCall, Idaho visiting Mark & Anne and staying at their place in our camper. We busied ourselves with our respective projects. They were finishing out their Sprinter van build and we always have things to work on as we continue to add equipmant and fix stuff that breaks. It was great to have that time together and do things in the area like hike, bike and fly, getting to places you can’t easily get to without a plane. Sometimes you go out for breakfast but how often do you fly out into the wilderness to a grass strip and go out to breakfast at an old lodge?
Among the camper projects that also served to remove a few boxes of parts from the cargo hold were that we now have a strut on the entry door that holds it open which I had been dying for, we have a properly fitting motorcycle ramp so that one person can put the bike up on the rear rack since now that the new rear leaf springs are on, we are taller and the old ramp had become too steep. We now have a fully functioning air compressor for airing our tires up or down or just filling our kayak or bike tires up, we have a new fin on the kayak, another vent installed for the fridge, the beginnings of a custom console for the middle of the truck cab and a few other things that I can’t remember now.
Jon & I did a few days in Stanley in the Sawtooth Mountains, a knockout scenery area of Idaho. Still plenty of snow around, it even snowed on our last day!
Then we were off to Boise to visit the dentist, then start working our way into Oregon to visit more folks we know. We saw Mary and did a long hike up into the Eagle Caps to an ice lake which wouldn’t be complete without a polar dunk out to an iceberg!
Then Mark & Anne rejoined us and we headed out to explore the Columbia River Gorge for a few days of camping together in our trucks. The most popular waterfall tourist trails were closed for Covid but we did get to visit the Aviation museum at Mt Hood where I forgot to take any pictures, and we did a couple of decent hikes including Dog Mountain. Then we all crashed in on Bob & Ann (another Ann) and enjoyed their company and deck, which looks out over Mt St Helens for a few days. Since we are all doing the mask and sanitizing routine, we felt comfortable being together. At Bob & Ann’s house I learned some about raising chickens for eggs and how most often when you hear a hen squawking it is generally because she’s laying yet another egg. It seems amazing to me in a way, nearly every day, to produce another egg and lay it!
Then Jon & I set off on our own and headed to the coast, ready to see the ocean. I have had this fascination with seeing the mouth of the Columbia River for years and so to Cape Dissappointment State Park we went and scored the last campsite. The Columbia River outlet was historically a dangerous river to enter from sea and many a ship sunk in the vicinity. So a jetty was added years ago which improved things somewhat and also created about 400 acres more beach area due to changes in the distribution of sand along the shore. So the area of our campsite was some of that new land and it afforded a great, flat beach to walk on. They had a seaside bike path, trails through old growth forest and it was good to meet the sea again. Often it was shrouded in fog and mist and we both remarked that we don’t miss sailing through it nor living with perpetual dampness.
In the beginning of all this Covid stuff back in March, when we returned from our 2 day stay in Mexico, we were in our RV and the public lands were either deserted or closed. Now we have slowly come to realize and have had numerous validations from park officials that the public lands are open and inundated with visitors like never before. So finding a campspot is competitive, especially if it’s a beautiful place. And while we don’t need a campground, we sometimes need to be in one to see something in particular because you’re not allowed to stop and park just anywhere. We enjoy dispersed camping in the national forests where we can get to trails and have more quiet but they have their own feel and not everyone practices a leave no trace ethic. We are anxious for the world to open up so we can get on with our plan but we’re not holding our breath either.
We finally got to Olympic National Park where we promptly set up a 4 day backpack trip beginning from the lake Quinault area on the south side of the park. Because you can no longer speak with a park ranger or plan your trip in the office, you have to do it all on Recreation.gov and space is of course, limited. So we hurriedly built out our hike itinerary, bought the permit and headed to the trailhead to pack up. We had chosen a somewhat ambitious hike with a lot of miles, many of them on a primitive class trail with some significant climbing. On the second day we thought we were going to expire before we got to the campsite which is unusual for us. Thankfully it was a lake- Lake Beauty and the water was not only a beautiful color, but refreshingly not freezing cold either. We found the park trails to be in need of pruning and tree removal but lovely just the same. I was thinking to myself on that second day why I love to backpack so much. It’s because you can carry yourself to such incredibly beautiful places where most don’t go and all the while you have what you need with you so you don’t have to leave a place once you get there. I find a lot of peace in that and it reminds me of sailboat cruising except in this case we’re doing all the work rather than the boat, which is a good thing. I couldn’t ask for a better hiking partner either. We saw a bear chowing down on huckleberries and we sampled several different types of berries ourselves as we covered the miles. At one point the trail was completely covered in a carpet of baby frogs which we’d never seen before. Add to that bright green alpine meadows with towering waterfalls, huge old growth trees and views of still snowy Mt Olympus, and it was no wonder we had a great time.
After that, we started making our way toward Seattle via Olympia, WA. This capitol city doesn’t have a great vibe and we haven’t seen a bigger tent city since Greece. Sad. On Monday, the truck goes in to the hospital for a good look to find the reason we are going through coolant. Everything that we have done has not solved the problem. So, time for some help from someone else.
After this is done we hope to head to the N. Cascades for some more backpacking.