Monday, July 09, 2018

Camp Stories: Sublimely Quiet Fourth on Mt. Hood

It was time for our annual pilgrimage to the Northwest's national forests over the Fourth of July, not to celebrate the birth of our nation or the gifts that we gave ourselves in setting aside these national treasures, but to get the heck out of Dodge (i.e. PDX) while it resembled the set of a blockbuster war movie starring Vin Diesel and The Rock striding through mortar fire and clouds of smoke. We leave our beloved city when it sheds its politically correct, tree-hugging, sustainably sourced coat and turns into an explosives-fueled version of the Amish "rumshpringa" where adolescents are allowed to run wild—the word apparently translates to "jumping or hopping around," which accurately describes the reactions of our panicked pets to the booms and pops.

Creek walkin' Corgis.

So rather than drugging them into a stupor for several days before and after the event, years ago we opted to head for the hills—literally—since fireworks are strictly banned in national parks, enforced by vigilant camp hosts, no doubt drilled with slide shows of last year's fireworks-ignited Eagle Creek fire, which burned for three months and destroyed more than 50,000 acres.

What was that about "roughing it"?

Our backpacking days long over, "car camping" has now morphed into "pickup camping" since dogs, gear, food, drink, people and several large pieces of cast iron cookware won't fit in the Mini Clubman-and-cartop-carrier, which had already been dubbed a clown car-like affair by friends who witnessed the amount of stuff that tumbled from it. So we pulled into our reserved site at Camp Creek campground just off the Mt. Hood highway past Zigzag, set for four nights of blissful, off-the-grid quiet.

Chillaxin' around the fire.

When we can, we like to choose a site along a stream, the better to provide hours of creekside reading, as well as white noise to drown out any sound from passing traffic. (In our experience, during the summer months even relatively isolated campgrounds can have a fair amount of this.) My "top sites" suggestion for this quiet campground is number 10 along the creek at the less-traveled end, or number 14 at the opposite end, with both sites large enough for two tents if, like us, you're camping with friends. Both also have good creek access, and if you have a three or four families camping together, I'd try to reserve sites 14 and 15, which can accomodate several tents and are open enough to each other to facilitate common activities.

Natural. Beauty.

We didn't do any crazy cooking experiments this trip, contenting ourselves with tried-and-true variations on my pork posole rojo, pasta with pea shoot pesto and some of Dave's campfire scones and griddled hash browns and eggs. He's jonesing to make a cobbler and brownies, though, so stay tuned for future posts containing those recipes.

Otherwise our time was taken up with walks in the woods, reading by the creek and long evenings with the only crackling and popping coming from the logs on the fire.

Read more Camp Stories featuring great Northwest campgrounds, recipes and hikes.

No comments: