Tuesday, September 16, 2014

One Night Stand with Waldo

I got out of Dodge.  I spent one delightful night with Waldo.  28 hours.

I drove up for one night at Waldo Lake, up past Oakridge.   I'd always wanted to see it.  It is pristine, I'd heard, a lake with no inlet, with some of the purest water in the country.  No float planes, no generators, no chain saws, no gas boat motors are allowed on Waldo.  Thank goodness!

They're allowed almost everywhere else.  But not at Waldo Lake.

There are three campgrounds on Waldo Lake.  The southern most one is called Shadow Bay, and with 74 sites, it's large.

Farther north, along the eastern side of the lake but near it's northern border, is North Waldo Campground, the most popular of the three.  A mile south of it is Islet, which is more private, more like Shadow Bay.

I made no reservations, I loaded up my tent, my sleeping bag, my stove and my raft and took off.

 To get there, you take highway 58 about 25 miles east of Oakridge and turn up a forest service road, and go about 9 miles, and you're at Shadow Bay. If you go another four or so miles north, you'll get to the other two campgrounds.

I was worried smoke from the Deception Complex wildfire burning near Oakridge would cloud over Waldo.  It was sure smokey in Oakridge.  Those poor people have had to breath that wildfire air for over a month now.
Deception Complex Wildfire smoke near Oakridge

I got site 83, not far from the water.  The sites next to the water are very popular.  There were only a handful of campers in the entire huge campground.  I guess they all vanished a day before I arrived.  Thank goodness!

I threw in some cut up old cherry wood, from my tree, and had two nice campfires, one last night, one this morning.  That night, with my back twitching and convulsing so that I could not sleep, I lay there and marveled at the total blackness of the night and silence of the forest around me.  The stars came out so bright against the black I didn't mind my wakefulness and back pain, because I got to enjoy the night.

The gray jays were more than aggressive.  They even would land on my leg or shoulder, to make sure I knew they were there and wanted food.  Gray Jays are also known as Camp Robbers.

This Stellar Jay was not as aggressive.  Just loud!
Water is pristine!

Looking east from the lake

Looking north from the water, with an old burned area to the left.  I rowed clear up to the north end of the lake the first day and that was not easy.   It was so quiet.  I never saw another soul out on the lake.  I just didn't want to stop.  But I hurt my back and had a very difficult night last night, in pain.  Until the Aleve took affect.  It was worth it.

Looking down at the lake from my camp.
Someone built rock forts on some of the small islands.  There are many islands.

This is my beach, right down from my campsite and a little island not far out.  In some places, the water can suddenly turn shallow with rocks sticking up, so you have to watch where you're going, when rowing a raft that can be punctured, in some areas.  It's easy though.  The water is very clear.

One of the island forts.

When I'm out alone on my raft, this is what I carry with me:  I carry a boogie board from Goodwill, has a short line with wrist strap attached.  This along with the life jacket are my emergency measures, my lifeboats, to get to shore should my raft deflate.  Also, if I go ashore somewhere and take a swim, I fasten the velcro wrist strap around my wrist and tow the boogie board for safety.  I also carry a float I found once at Foster Reservoir.  It has a hole running down its middle for a rope so I attach a length of line to it.  It's for casting out if someone were in trouble in the water, but its mainly to tie to my raft on a long length of rope should my raft deflate to mark its location, so I could come back for it.  I also carry a bag with water, some energy bars, some sunscreen and my binoculars to look at things far away or to watch birds.

The people with the red canoe and small sailboat left early Tuesday morning.  There was a young couple camped nearby, from Portland. They had a rented green canoe and took off in it before noon Tuesday.  I was a bit concerned that they had not returned by 4:00 p.m. when I left.  I told the other couple about them, but I'm sure it was all well and good.

Rowing south

Two kayaks on a beach near Islet campground, to the far north on Waldo.

Far north shore of Waldo.  I was on my way back from rowing clear up there.  I became so tired on the row back I made up songs and sang them about being so long away, from my home at Shadow Bay.....it helped!

Part of the trail that goes completely around the lake.  You can hike it, but it is very popular with mountain bikers. There are many many hiking trails in the area.  Too many to list.  It's paradise up there.

Shadow Bay boat ramp and day use parking lot.  People can come here to put in canoes or kayaks or sailboats, or to park to take off mountain biking or hiking around the lake.
South end of Waldo.  Early this morning, that's where I rowed, way down to an island at the south end, and behind it.

More of the trail around the lake.

The beach and trail up to my campsite.

Trees just below my campsite
After rowing almost all the way to the north end of Waldo yesterday after I arrived, then rowing to the south end this morning, I was ready to come home.  But then a couple camping in the same loop asked if I had seen the Gates.  I didn't even know what they meant.  So they pointed them out, clear across the lake on the far side.  Seems in the early 1900's, some Eugene engineer, decided to try to turn Waldo into a reservoir for irrigation in the Willamette Valley and began building aqua gates and a big tunnel to funnel the water out of Waldo.  He apparently did not know, or care, that Waldo has no inlet river, so once the water's gone, it's gone for a very long time.  The project eventually fizzled and concrete fills the tunnel and covers the gate, but occasionally leaks still must be repaired.

I'd never heard of this near miss for Waldo and I decided I needed to go see it, even though I knew it would take two hours of rowing, which it did.  Was worth it.

I'm home now and worn out and dirty and all unloaded to boot.  Tomorrow's another day and I'm so happy I just took off for a one night stand with Waldo Lake.  I had Waldo Lake and the campground almost to myself!

I spent 28 hours at Waldo Lake.   In those 28 hours, I did it all.

Well, I did a lot!   I want to go back and stay two weeks.  But I had 28 hours!

Made me happy!


  1. What an absolutely GLORIOUS spot. I am so glad that you went - and grateful that you took us with you. Thank you.
    And I hope your pain eases off quickly.

  2. Ahh, Waldo! a favorite place. You didn't mention the mosquitoes, so they must be gone. We always want to go after mosquito season, but once we camped there in July. There wasn't a soul in any of the campgrounds on that trip because of the mosquitoes. Once out on the lake it was fine, but getting to the lake was quite the adventure through the black clouds. Great photos and story of a precious lake.

  3. No mosquitoes this time of year. Have heard the stories of Waldo in earlier months. Might have gone late August, but I heard September is safest as the bugs be gone.

  4. What a beautiful and interesting landscape to play in. You are lucky to have this playground. I'm glad you got away for some much needed R&R.

  5. It was fabulous, Jane, yes we are lucky to have such beauty and so close too!