Monday, August 19, 2013

Camping with Karma

I went camping.

I had fun!

Happy Camper Me!
I headed out Friday, down to Springfield then up the McKenzie River.  My friends had reservations at Delta Campground, just off the highway and 3/4 mile down a road off the road that heads out to Cougar Reservoir....and beyond.

Once there, long before the arrival of my friends, I checked out their campsite, and was not overly impressed.  They had to get a pull through site, for their long trailer.  Beyond the pull through was a picnic table, a fire pit and above that, a grassy mole hill area, that extended east and west.  It was about 8 feet wide, then descended through brush steeply to the creek and beyond to the north fork of the McKenzie River.

All along that narrow "promenade" of 8 foot wide grass were tents.  No privacy at all was to be had there. It was like concert camping, in a way.  So, off I went to find a site for myself and my tent.

I drove on up to Cougar Reservoir.  I'd never been there before.  I hoped it was beautiful.  It might have been, but the water level was very low.  After you get to the dam, which is about four miles from the turn off for Delta campground, it's another 8 miles to go along the west side of the reservoir, turn the corner, at the far end to cross a bridge and the south fork of the McKenzie River that feeds Cougar Reservoir.
Road along Cougar Reservoir.

Rocks near the hot springs


A little more than halfway along that south side, you come to the very popular clothing optional Terwilliger Hot Springs.  I didn't go up to the hot springs.  They post a ranger at the entrance now and ask a $6 day use fee.  I guess that's because of trouble that's gone on up there, and trashing of the area by freeloader litter bugs and campers.  There are five hot spring tubs up there, the hottest being 110 degrees and they go down in temp from that.

Cars crammed the parking lot on the other side of an overpass from the hot springs trail head.  Many had out of state license plates.

Down from the bridge, that spans an outcropping arm of the reservoir, was a water fall, and a few high and dry swimmers, laid out on the steep barren bank above what remained of the water in that arm.  The reservoir is very low right now, drawn down by water usage downstream and no rain.


The reservoir, not far from Slide Creek campground.

Looking south at Cougar from the hot springs pull out.
I continued on from the hot springs south to the end of the Reservoir, crossed the river and took a look at the first of three campgrounds on the south and southeast side of the Reservoir.  Cougar Crossing is the first, on the right just beyond the bridge.  It lays out flat with spacious campsites, along the east bank of the river.  There are only a dozen or so sites and at this time of year, no camp hosts.  I liked this campground.  It is the cheapest of the three, at $12 per night.

Across the road from the campground, is the campground sign, and in that pullout, a trail starts, along the river, and runs all the way to Slide Creek Campground.

I drove on to Sunnyside Campground, by taking the left fork between the Cougar campground sign and the campground.  If you go right, you can connect with highway 58, but it's a long way.

It's gravel road from Cougar Crossing on to the other two campgrounds.  You climb up above the river, and Sunnyside isn't far.  Once you turn off, when you see the sign, you drop down into the campground, which is also small and shares a camp host with Slide Creek, but he stays at Slide Creek.  Remember that.

Road into Sunnyside campground.

Sunnyside Campsite Four!  My Site!

I loved this campground.  The trail from Cougar Crossing was just below the campsite I chose, then paid for--Site Number Four.  I set up my tent, facing the river, then headed out to explore the trail that ran all the way to Slide Creek campground.

This is part of the trail.
That's the bridge way down there, just across which is Cougar Crossing campground.
There's the road way above the river, that I drove in on.


You can scramble down to this river pool and beach, from the trail.


Slide creek campground is the largest of the three and includes a boat ramp.  However, the reservoir is so low right now, most boats could not launch.


I finally went back to Delta Campground about 6:00 p.m. to wait on my friends' arrival and let them know where I was camping.  I spotted two hitchhikers just off highway 126 and rolled down my window to ask where they were going.  "The hot springs," the girl said, but nobody will give us a ride.  How far up there is it?"

"Um, close to 8 miles from here," I said.  "Good luck."

My car was still crammed in the back with stuff, like my raft, and I wasn't driving them back up to the hot springs.  I told them I would be going back to my camp later, after my friends arrived, and if I saw them on the road, I'd give them a lift, but hopefully they would be long gone by then, since I didn't plan on returning that way for over two hours.

My friends pulled in about 8:00 p.m.  I was happy to see them, but I had to get back to my camp.  They've restricted the area, from a couple miles in front of the hot springs, officially closing it to traffic, although there is no gate I saw, at 9:30 p.m., trying to prevent trouble at the hot springs I think.  Off I went.

Whom should I run into about four miles up the hill?  You guessed it, the hitchhikers. By now, they were worn out and crabby and he was being bitchy to her.  I pulled over, moved some stuff, and they crammed inside.  I told him it's day use only, but they were intent on breaking the rules.  He's just hitchhiked around for 8 years he says, and she for four or six, can't remember which.  They'd come up from Eugene and were going back to Eugene the next day.  They live mainly at homeless shelters, when not hitching, and have a son that was taken from them by the state.

I dropped them off at the hot springs and once again, wished them luck.

On I went to my campsite.  But I get there, and.....someone has stolen my site.

Stolen it!!!  My tent is still set up in there, but there is a black car in my site parking space and three tents.  I am MAD!!!

I get out, blocking the black car, and start yelling "Who stole my site?"

I go ask the twenty somethings in the campsite next to my site, because I'd talked to them at length before, when they were setting up.  They said they were from Portland.  They said "We didn't do it."  But this time, were otherwise unfriendly and very obviously had been drinking.  Three guys run up all upset.  "We paid for it," they claimed.  "We didn't think anyone was really here," they claim.

You can tell if a site is taken or not by whether there is a ticket payment stub on the site number post.  The ticket stub states the date of departure.  I had 8/18 as my departure date on the ticket stub.  I'd paid up for Friday and Saturday nights.  You pay at a self registration box at the campsite entrance.  You tear off the front of the payment envelope before dropping that in their metal payment box, and put one stub on the site post and hang the other from your mirror.

It's an Oregon honor system but bullies and entitled shitheads often abuse it.

I said, "Did you not see my tent or the ticket stub on the site number post?"

They claimed they thought the tent must be with another site and as for the stub, they had removed mine and set it on a rock at the base of the site number post, and replaced mine with theirs.  I WAS MAD!

I fumbled for words.  I wanted to punch them.  It was dark. There's no camp host there.  There's no cell service out there.  There were a lot of them and one of me and you don't know what people will do anymore.  These guys had stolen a campsite.  Their excuses were just that, excuses.  They knew what they were doing unless they were just really really stupid people.

They claimed to be from Eugene.  I wanted to say, "You know this is behavior I'd expect more from someone from some white trash Springfield trailer park."

I was so worn out and now this.  My mind raced over what I should do.

Finally I asked they pay me for nights I'd paid for the site.  So they shelled out and I packed out my tent.

Under my breath as I'm taking down my tent, I whispered, "Maybe it's meant to be."  But I didn't know then, when I said that,  I had karma camping beside me.

I got back to Delta and my friends were already in bed.  They cheerfully however laid out their trailer kitchen couch seat for me to sleep on for the night, however.  I didn't sleep much.

Next morning I set up my tent on that ugly "promenade" area.  I wasn't happy and the bad nights sleep had put me in a particularly uncharitable mood.  I was mad I hadn't kicked that group of twenty something campsite thieves to the ground, or died trying.

I went to the Delta camp host and told him what had happened and that I thought somebody should know.  He said the outer campgrounds like that, are a draw to the drinking and thieving types sometimes, so they can try to elude consequence for undesirable actions like what had happened to me.

He said he wouldn't charge me the extra car fee for camping with my friends the night before.  But later, he came into our camp asking "for the girl who got run out of her campsite".  "That's me," I said, jumping forward, from the camp chair.  I liked the Delta camp hosts.

"I got a campsite for you," he said, excited, eager to show it to me.  I got on his golf cart run around and he took me down to the opposite side of the campground and proudly led me into a site, right by the river.

So this is where I camped, ten feet from the river, with the river singing me to sleep.  It was a beyond awesome campsite, better than my site at Sunnyside.  I was ecstatic!

That's the view I had out the front of my tent.  I wanted to live there!  Karma had struck!
But karma did even more for me.  Part of the deal from the Delta camp host, with me getting that site, was for me to drive back up and tell the camp host at Sunnyside what had happened.

So...later that day, Becky and I did make that drive back up.  We stopped first at the hot springs because the camp hosts sometimes work the entrance.  It wasn't Roger, the Slide Creek camp host, but he was a super nice guy and told us to stop on the way back out to tell him if we found Roger.

I liked Roger.  I met him the first day.  We found him cleaning bathrooms at Slide Creek and I briefly told him about my campsite being stolen by those young men from Eugene.  I was a little embarrassed now, since I had a great campsite replacement, courtesy of Delta, and the young men had at least paid me that night what I paid out for that campsite.

Well, Roger had more to say.  Seems the guys who would have been my neighbors, on the other side of me, had my campsite not been stolen, had kept everyone awake until after 2:30, blasting music, being loud and obnoxious drunks.  Then one or more of them had destroyed the only bathroom there at Sunnyside by vomiting all over it.

I was rolling in laughter by that time.  So was Roger, even though he'd had to clean it up.  So was Becky.  Becky piped up "Karma got them!"   Karma got the campsite thieves!

Roger asked if I wanted to make an official complaint and I said, "Nah, it all worked out."  He said, "It sure did."

I've always wondered why drunks go camping.  They simply move their drunken haze from home to a public campground.  They tell the same stories over and over, monopolize the conversation and think they're very funny, when everyone near them is groaning inside.

Same thing with groups of people who fully intend to get wasted and destroy the camping experience of anyone nearby with their noise, obnoxious behavior and blaring music.  How in the world do people justify in their minds behaving like that?  It's selfishness taken to an extreme.  If people want to get together and drink and play loud music half the night out camping, then they should go way way off in the woods to do it, way out, up some logging road, where nobody has to be affected by their choices or clean up after them.

Breakfast cooking

Campfires!

Clothes dry after swimming at Blue Lake reservoir.

Fern forest across the river from my campsite

Trees across from my campsite.
I had great fun, great food, and my friends and I played some rowdy cribbage nights with the campfire beside us and their two dogs under the picnic table napping.  We went to the reservoir across from Cougar, Blue Lake Reservoir, and had a blast.  They fished while I rafted and swam.  Becky and I walked the nature trail in Delta campground.

Am I tired?  Yes.  But I had a great time.  I'll post some photos later of Blue Lake and the nature trail.

I going to take a nap!

Tent Morning!

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