Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Getting Right at the Lake

I had a difficult weekend.   I watched an old woman for some friends.  Was a 24/7 job up there, plus running back here to care for my cats.  Not easy.  And I didn't sleep up there due to the noise of fans and the old woman sleep talking.  

So yesterday, to try to ease the tension and exhaustion built up over the weekend, I went up to the lake, Foster Reservoir, mid afternoon.  It was very hot, and just getting the raft blown up and onto the water wasn't easy.   I'd forgotten my little two wheel cart to strap to the rear end so I could easily walk it blown up to the water, too.

I'd cut my thumb, up slicing tomatoes at the Lebanon house, fixing supper for the old woman.  Their knives are very sharp, unlike mine here.  It bled badly up there, but I finally had gotten it stopped.  But when I was trying to get the boat blown up and into the lake, the wound broke open spurting blood everywhere.  I think there's some splattered on the bumper of my car still.  I had some super glue in my glove compartment and after I stopped the bleeding this time I applied some of that, hoping to hold the sides together.

But finally, fairly late in the afternoon, I was on the water.  Instantly I relaxed and was very happy.  I love the water.  I love that lake.  Well, it's not a natural lake, it's a reservoir.  One of two really close together on the S. Santiam river.  Green Peter is not that far up from Foster Reservoir, but I never go there. I always go to Foster. Just a bit too far to consider I guess.

When I was taking cats up to be fixed in Portland, and I haven't done so now in quite awhile, I'd have to kill the day somewhere, waiting for the cats to be ready to pick up.  Sometimes I'd go to Hagg Lake, a reservoir, like Foster, only near Forest Grove, to swim.  I hiked around it once.  It's a great place.  But this last weekend, a tragedy played out there. 

Nobody will ever know how it all happened.  A little boy first turned up floating dead in the water.  Other park users found him and tried to do CPR but he was already very dead.   First responders trying to make sense of a little boy dead with no parents around found a car in the parking lot.  That led them to a a picnic, in progress, seemed like, but no one there.  A little dog with a knit sweater was leashed to a table leg, waiting.  But for who?   Eventually water searchers found three more bodies.  A mother, her 13 yr old son, and her 25 yr old daughter.  The 3 yr old boy, found first, was the daughter's son.  Four people drowned.  Three generations.  Cannot imagine how it happened or the horror.

At Foster Reservoir, as I was yesterday, I generally row across the arm from the boat ramp, then up to the point and around into the next larger part of the lake, that if you follow it down the south side and around you'll eventually come to the second bridge over the second arm which leads eventually if you go under the bridge, to Sunnyside campground, the only campground on the lake and its basically just a big field where people camp.  But you have to pay.  It's kind of an ugly campground as far as campgrounds go, being sort of field really.  You have to pay to day use park there so I don't go there.

If you row across the lake from the first point, from the boat ramp on highway 20, you row to the day use area there that has a large nice picnic area and designated swim zone and lots of people go there afternoons and evenings, to get together with friends and picnic and swim.  It costs there too, to park.  $5.

I usually row around for a couple of hours then take a break and swim for an hour or so, then row some more and am always very reluctant to ever leave.

People are generally very nice on the lake, particularly the fisher people. 

I sometimes scavenge along the shores.  Yesterday, I found a pile of trash on one beach people hike down to, from the road.  It's known for assholes leaving their trash, including dirty diapers.  You have to watch your step, on such a beach because people use it as a bathroom too and there's human feces you could step in.

Asshole trash, including diapers

I found these very large fungi growing on a log.

Strangest thing, I was paddling slowly along the shore of an area it would be very hard to reach from the road, and saw movement near a tree overhanging the water.  It was a man with a tan and white dog.  As I got closer I saw he was holding a baby in his arms, an infant.  I could see something blue on a stump a bit out in the water.  It was an infant backpack, the kind you put your baby in to carry on your back.  I thought it was strange to see someone out there, with a tiny baby.

He may have been trying to walk around the lake because as I approached, rowing, he put the baby into the backpack and headed along the shore, but to a nowhere zone, where he could not possibly walk along the shore and it is clogged to the land side with berry vines.  What was he doing, I thought, and why was he walking half submerged logs with a baby, when he could easily slip and no big deal to him, but the baby on his back would be hurt or drown.

So I passed him and went on and saw that he could not get around one point on foot, and then I thought, I should go check on that baby, because what an a-hole putting a baby at risk like that and how'd he even get to where he was, did a boat drop him off, I thought.  But I rowed back to where I could see that entire shore and he, the baby and the dog had vanished.  Likely he had backtracked until the berry vine barrier gave way then climbed into the woods, and from there likely he could find a trail back to the road.

The bottom of the lake can be muddy with logs or choked in weed or rocky, depending on where you are.

Here the bottom is mud and weeds.

There's this place I visit, but I don't get out there anymore.  I call it Teepee Cove.  See it there?  Well, after landing once and realizing its actually a "pit stop" so to speak, reeks of human bathroom use, I don't stop in anymore.  But I didn't stop in this year so maybe the smell is washed clean.

Steep rope swing.  One time when I was watching kids jump from this, the young man who had just jumped complained the rope was too short and had broken.  So I offered him some rope I had in my raft and they took it and it's the reddish rope piece hanging on the end.

Tangle of ropes at the top of the rope swing, there to help pull the rope back up to them.
This is usually the Osprey tree, but yesterday, a Bald Eagle was there.

The eagle (far left) flew off as a turkey vulture approached (middle).
Back to the boat ramp.  So happy to have the little camera I can carry on my raft!


  1. Beauty and tragedy in the same place. A bit like life really.
    Hiss and spit to the crappers and dumpers though.

  2. Well, the four who died, died at Hagg Lake and this where I go is Foster Reservoir. Hagg Lake is up near Forest Grove and I've gone there when I've gone up to the FCCO clinic with cats. I guess I didn't make that clear.

  3. Thanks for the photos. They were beautiful. I was glad to see your boat, too--I'd wondered what it looked like. I've probably missed earlier photos.

  4. I love my boat and I get more people asking about where I got it and all that even still. I think now it's four years old and has suffered several leaks and tears, but so far so good and I love it so much. I have eyes now on Waldo Lake. It is pathetic I've never been there. It's a huge lake, maybe 9 miles long, I've heard. I can't imagine rowing it up there. It's also a real lake, not a reservoir. But the mosquitoes I've also heard are notorious. But I want to go. It's two hours drive from here. Foster is almost an hour's drive. If I drove one hour more, I could visit somewhere I've never been and have an adventure on a real lake. However, chainsaws and generators are prohibited there, so I wonder if my raft blow up pump would be also, as I think the prohibition is noise related. I used to blow my raft up by hand. I could do it again, for such an adventure. The winds can be high on the lake also. I will need to take a "life boat" in case of emergency. Now I have one, a water toy fancy inner tube type thing I found along the shores of Foster, discarded and have fixed of its leaks.

  5. If I visit Waldo Lake I will have seen two places in Oregon on my bucket list this summer--Summit Lake was the first and it was quite fabulous the camp trip there despite the thunderstorms, which seemed to follow us home. I'm not getting any younger and I want to see something at least of Oregon before I croak.

  6. But....big wildfire near Oakridge, threatening Oakridge in fact, so that's a factor, because to get to Waldo, you have to go through Oakridge.

  7. I cannot believe how you row around and swim ALONE, not to mention running into weirdos. Joe and I have been ooing and aaaing over the photos until I read him your post. I swear, I've got shivers.

    Do I have your email address?

  8. I will e-mail you, so you'll have it. I've done things alone since I was very young, even climbed mountains in Alaska alone and learned to scuba dive as a child and dove alone as a child. It is not new to me. I wish I had people to go with. You guys should visit!