Tuesday, October 07, 2014

The Dog Hunters

You must have known, if you know me, that I might take another trip into the mountains on behalf of the roaming dog.  See my previous post for history about the dog's tale.

Yesterday was the day I took off.  I was going to go over the weekend, but I never got the steam.  I'd hurt my back again helping the neighbor with some cabinet fronts and then made it worse carrying 40 lb bags of wood pellet fuel into the garage.  I use that for cat litter.

I really didn't want to go up there, given the pain of living lately.  But I had to.  All the campgrounds close up real soon and I wanted to settle things in my mind so I could sleep ok, sleep knowing I tried.

I like to sleep without regrets.  Or as few as possible anyways.

I had a grand time.  I was gone just over 24 hours.  You wouldn't think you could pack in such an adventure in one day.  I did.  I always manage.

Clear Lake is just four miles down highway 126 from its junction with highway 20, that comes up from Albany.   At the junction, I am 40 miles from Foster Reservoir and  72 miles from Albany proper.  Takes me about an hour and a half to drive it, but that depends on luck, who you get behind.  If you're driving up to the summit behind a line of slow big rigs or pickups pulling heavy trailers, it'll take longer.

The snow posts have been attached now along the road.  An ominous reminder of winter's approach.

I stopped in first at Lost Prairie campground.  I knew by now I would not see the dog at Coldwater Cove, so I was playing tourist.  Lost Prairie Campground like most now was completely vacant.  Not a soul to be seen.

Lost Prairie campground is just a couple miles before the junction with 126.

Just past the junction, is Fish Lake, which isn't a lake at all by this time of year.

What becomes a lake come winter is now just a marshy field.  Even the fish have figured out how to survive the seasonal changes and go up into the streams before the lake vanishes.

I stopped in here and read the signs and used the restroom and talked to a nice couple from Idaho and soon we were talking about the wandering husky shepherd mix.  They vowed to watch for her.  But then, out of the restroom, comes a woman who had a happy lab tied up outside.  She says, "What dog are you talking about?"  So I told her.

Turns out, she is a veterinarian who works in Bend.  She said she'd follow me to Clear Lake.

She'd never been there and wanted to look around for the dog and also see the area.  So off we went.

Clear Lake is deep, cold and clear, very clear.  Clear Lake births the McKenzie River.  The McKenzie River trail, which is extremely popular, starts just north of Clear Lake and runs 27 miles down to McKenzie Bridge and through a lot of country.  It is not only popular with hikers, but also with day walkers, runners and mountain bikers.     Near Carmen Reservoir, the McKenzie goes underground during the summer months, emerging at the rather famous Blue Pool, or Tamolitch blue pool.  The Falls there vanish during the summer, but reappear during the winter.  You can hike to this fabulous location from the north or the south.
The above is a map of the McKenzie River Trail's entire length. You can see where Clear Lake and Coldwater Cove campground fit into this picture, too.

And the wandering lost dog, last seen at Coldwater Cove campground just after Labor Day.

When the veterinarian and I reached the boat ramp parking lot at Coldwater Cove, a large van pulled up.  A middle aged man rolled down the window and asked us if we'd seen a lost dog.  The doctor and I looked at each other, incredulous.

"What dog," I asked, "are you talking about?"

 "It's kind of a husky," the man said.

 "Is it the one on craigslist?" I asked.  It was.  The couple are from Michigan.  They had been staying in Yachats visiting their youngest son, who is a dog lover and who had seen the Eugene craigslist post about the dog, and asked his parents, who were next heading to Bend, to stop and look.  He would adopt the dog if they found it, they said.

The doctor took my flier and her happy lab back to Bend, when she left.   The Michigan couple with their friendly dog Sophie, stayed and we camped next to each other each with beautiful views of the Clear Lake.

Campsite 16, and, turns out, the campsite where the dog hung out when he or she was still around.

The campsites at Coldwater Cove are deep forest, shaded and spacious, also private and beautiful.

This is why they call it Clear Lake!

Early morning fog

My new friends and fellow dog hunters--from Michigan, in their camp van.
The resort end of Clear lake

The Michigan couple shared their supper with me.  They fixed some organic lentil soup over their stove, with Tillamook white cheddar and blue corn chips.  I had tossed a decade old can of Campbells chicken noodle soup in my car for supper, but this beat that by a long shot.  Barry, the Michigan guy, helped another camper blow up his air mattress, then took him up on his offer to share a growler of local microbrew at his campsite.  That man was up from Eugene to day hike.  He was leaving today also.  There were only four campsites taken in the entire campground.  Myself and the Michigan couple took two of those four.  The Eugene man another.  A pair of men with a canoe, who were there to fish, camped in the fourth.  Of the four occupied sites, I was the only camper without a dog along.

My silver dog food bowls, from last week, were still there, empty. I put out food, and within 15 minutes the birds had the bowls empty.  I put out food after dark then, after the birds were in bed.  I cruised the campground in the night.  I had fallen asleep early but back pain awakened me by 11:00 and I cruised out to the road, down to Sahalie Falls, and the entire campground.  I saw chipmunks and voles and squirrels but nothing larger.  I took Aleve and fell asleep again, waking up at 4:00 a.m. So I took another car cruise around the campground.  The two loops are very separated.  The dog food was not touched all night.  But when dawn came, the birds had it gone within moments.

I fell asleep again and slept until almost 10:00 a.m.  I was shocked I slept so long despite extreme back pain.  The camp host from Big Lake came down.  This time it was the husband of the woman I talked to before.  He shed light on the dog mystery.  He had seen the dog, he said.  In fact, he said, the dog would lay in campsite 16, where I was camped.  He said the dog would bark and growl at the camp host, but would not let him get close.  A man came along and befriended the dog and the dog followed the man when he took off on a hike, he thinks to the falls, but he doesn't know for sure.  When he came back, he told the camp host the dog had taken off following some other hikers, when he was out on the trail and he didn't know where the dog went or if it would come back.  The dog never returned.

The camp host thinks the dog is hopelessly lost somewhere out in the wilderness, or dead, or hanging out near another campground probably a longs ways from Coldwater Cove, because otherwise, it likely would have returned, since it hung out there for weeks.  Those hikers the dog followed, after first following the Coldwater Cove camper out on a hike, likely were on the McKenzie River Trail, may have been heading south on it.  The dog may be much closer to Eugene now somewhere.  But it is sad all around.

Didn't take me long to pack up the little I had brought with me, which was basically some firewood, a lawn chair and my stove and sleeping bag.  I'd thrown in a can of soup, some carrots and some little individual bags of trail mix I keep in my freezer.   That's it and it was plenty.

I stopped by River Bend campground on the way home, which is just above Foster Reservoir and fairly new.  I wanted to see what it was like.  It's good for RV type camping but otherwise, I'd say no.

The spaces look manicured and perfect and it's like a city, not like camping.  But that's what some folks like.

I stopped in at Foster too, where I rafted this summer and the water is very low.

I'm home now and the cats barely noticed I'd left.  They had not overflowed their litterboxes or even eaten all the wet food I left them.  Most have not awakened to notice their beloved me is home. Ha!

Their beloved me, now the dog hunter, with dog kiss on my face (from Sophie) and dog hair on my jeans, along with the smells of a night in an Oregon forest campground.  I may have not found the dog but I found new friends.

Good luck to you, dog, wandering, out there, maybe still alive.  People care.  You might still stumble into one of us somewhere.  Keep the faith!

1 comment :

  1. You see so much of the bad in people that I'm glad you got to meet some caring people on this trip.

    I just came home early from a class partly because I was bored but also because of back pain. I took 30 mgs of oxycodone during the class, and still couldn't get comfortable. What I mean to say is that I really do feel for you (no pun intended), and I also worry about you because I'm afraid you won't take care of yourself. I'm one to talk, I guess, but it's easier for me to live with not taking good care of myself than with worrying about you not taking good care of yourself, part of the reason being that I know you don't have access to great medical care.

    I very much admire you for going back up there. I've not uncommonly seen lost dogs here in town. Some, I've brought home and looked up their owners, but most wouldn't let me near them, and since the cops don't give a rip, and the dog catcher works banker's hours, I would just give them up for hopeless and come home, my thought being that if I persisted in trying to get close to a lost dog, it might run out in traffic or in front of a bike because of my misguided efforts to help.

    One thing about Brewsky is that he misses me when I'm gone, and he misses Peggy when she's gone, so I can only assume that he misses the two of us when we're gone. I still feel badly that I didn't get a cat from you, but as it has turned out, he's probably the very best cat for the person whom I am that I could hope for (then too, when Peggy saw him, she said that that was the cat she wanted, period). It seems to me that it's a lot easier to get a good dog than to get a good cat, and I'm not enough of a cat person to have a lot of flexibility in that regard. I'm only now, after nearly four years, becoming attached enough to Brewsky to think that I just might miss him if he died just as much as I would miss a dog. Part of the reason for that is that it's obvious to me how much he cares about me.