Thursday, September 15, 2016

Where's Waldo?

Where is Waldo?

I found Waldo.

Waldo is the gem of the Cascades, a natural lake where no motor boating is allowed.  Peace and quiet!

Off I went.  I took an entire 40 minutes to pack.  This was a mistake, turns out.

I might should have checked my sleeping bag.  Zipper's broken, can't zip up.   Or the weather report that declared nights would be in the 30's.

I might should have taken food, other than a couple cans of soup.   Also, you do need silverware to eat chunky hot soup.   Seems I forgot silverware.

However I loaded up firewood.  I had firewood.   And after a day and a half, bravely mountain womaning away to boil water for coffee, which I did not forget  so I was good, and soup, I recalled there might be a stove in the bottom of that camping bin I'd grabbed and thrown in, without really checking to see what might be in it.  Ah ha!  A stove.   Ah well, the cook over the fire thing probably impressed the yuppie neighbors.  Or more likely, disgusted them.

They were way way above me, I must say, superior in every way.  When I made the mistake of commenting on their lovely wood kayak, I got a look and brush off that would have cooled the night air even further.

In the olden days, when I was young, we'd get our revenge on uppity camp neighbors.  We'd clip hair from our dog, Spock, and hook it on branches and berry vines, and in the night, take our plaster big foot mold and leave some footprints.  Then try to control our giggles as we watched people stumble into our pranks.

Next time I go to Waldo, I won't go empty handed!

And I will take the silverware!

And a working sleeping bag.

I suffered the first night.  I retreated to my car, from the cold and noise of close neighbors.  I had my cot mattress laid out and would have been ultra comfy had it not been for the cold. I'd forgot my blankets.  All I had was that darn faulty sleeping bag, whose zipper unzips behind itself.

But the second night, I remembered my emergency wool sweater, hat and gloves I always carry.   And heated water on the stove to fill plastic water bottles I then slipped into socks.  I was cozy as hell the second night with my hot water bottles and my wool sweater, which is probably 20 years old or more.

A couple had been camped next to me.  They did not like the lack of privacy in their site or the noisy neighbors on the other side of me, so they picked up and moved off a couple spaces, sure that when I left a huge old motor home would get the site.   However, then the site next to their new site went empty and first thing, here comes a massive pickup pulling a massive trailer, loaded down with bikes and kayaks and the kitchen sink.  The pickup pulling the trailer labored to make the circular corner then to back into the site next to my former neighbors.

I cursed inside.  "Did you forget anything", I wanted to say loudly.

But that nice couple, my former neighbors, loaned me a blanket the second night, to help me keep warm.  I like them.  I like another couple too who came in a teensy trailer.  Both those couples I would call minimalists, not as minimal as I, but that's just because I don't have much to bring and I find it easier to bring as little as possible.  Course silverware would have been good, even just one spoon.  I made a spoon in the end, out of the plastic of a water bottle.

All three days I was there,  I rowed the lake in my raft.  My raft itself is getting old, but it still floats me.   It got many comments as it always does.  People like its look and the way it rows.

The first day I rowed north along the east shore.  The wind had come up creating white caps.  This is right up my alley.  I love it rough.  Keeps everyone else off the lake and I pretend I'm out on the open ocean!   Makes me feel alive and free!  Being on the water lifts my soul to a joyous place.  I never want to leave the water.

North end of Waldo Lake

Water is so clear!

Second day I rowed across the lake and then north, found a little private island, even had a picnic table. The water is so clear, so blue, so beautiful.  I think to myself, 'I will stay here forever.'
Backside of my private island.  There's even a trail to the top of it, and a picnic table.

My trusty aging raft, at my private island

The water is clear.  My foot is underwater in this photo.

My island again

The third day, today, I row south to the south east end, then to south west end.  I see a kayak camper with tent.  She or he comes out to stand, even though I'm over 1/4 mile away.  The stance says it all.  "Intruder.  Leave."  I understand the feeling, and give way and go west.  I find a beautiful sand beach and watch, through the trees, lines of hikers march through.  Waldo Lake has been found by many.  The campground was crowded too.
Beautiful south east end of the lake

Gorgeous beach at the southwest end of the lake

When I first arrived at Shadow Bay campground, at Waldo Lake's southern end, and found a space, the neighbor comes to the edge of my site, stands there and says "I think that's a double space and you'll have to pay double if you take it".  Apparently, by the sight of me, he figured I couldn't pay double price.  He was hopeful.  His friends had just arrived and it was clear he wanted the site for them.   I said nothing except that I checked and it wasn't a double price space.

When I was about to leave today, but had over an hour left on the site, I encountered a woman, when I came up from the lake, wandering my site.  "Excuse me," I said, "but this is my campsite."

"Oh yes, I know, but I want it." she says.  'Great,' I'm thinking, because my bear pepper spray canister was behind her in my car.  I think sometimes that is the best way to deal with campsite aggression, just pepper spray the hell out of the perimeter.

She goes on and on how that's her favorite site, how she saw a wedding there once, and am I about to leave, by any chance. I knew she'd probably already checked out the inside of my car, through the windows, to see if it looked like I was packing up.

  I finally admitted I was and said she could have it, but that I needed assistance getting my raft up on the trail.  She looked ten years older than I but you get, you give.

She helped me about ten feet, citing its weight and that they have a kayak but it seemed much lighter.  I got ten feet of help out of her though, before she gave out.

I let her put her stuff on my table before I'd even packed up the rest of my stuff.  While she went and registered the site as hers,  two more cars of people came looking at it, wanting it.  One carload pulled into the nice neighbors place, before they finally noticed the tent.  My fingers were edging towards the bear pepper spray again.

I'm not sure if I'm a camper anymore.  I don't like dealing with people close up and personal like that.  I wanted to get away.  Out on the lake its a different story however.  I feel free, alone, at peace, full of happiness.

Maybe I'll take up backpacking if I ever camp again.  How many people could be out in the real wilds these days?


  1. Great photos, story telling and it must have been very good for your mental health.

    1. Yes, it was very good, the entire trip, even the cold, for my mental health. I just endure cold and know the night won't last forever.

  2. What a beautiful, beautiful place. And you are right about the water being clear. Which can be a trap. Years back we went out with my father while he fished. My mother and I wandered downstream looking for somewhere to swim. It was all toooo shallow. So I decided to walk across the river and look for a swimming hole on the other side. And stepped in well over my head. It was so clear it looked to be inches deep. It wasn't.
    I am so glad you got this restorative get-away.

    1. Glad you survived that, EC. Clear water's depth can be deceiving and all I think about, hovering over it, is I want to dive down into it, and swim as deep as I can go.

  3. Lake Waldo is beautiful. I understand why so many people want to be there. My husband does a lot of backpacking and says there's nothing like getting away from the crowds and seeing things that few other people see. I on the other hand am not willing to put up with the physical strains of backpacking enough to go away for a week or two to get to the places he talks about. I'm glad that he (and you) take pictures.

    1. I may go back to backpacking. I used to do a lot of it. Time to dust off the ancient backpack I think for next summer because I can't do campgrounds anymore.

  4. Beautiful place, Lake Waldo is! There are times I'd rather spend the night in a WalMart parking lot than a campground... some campgrounds are way too crowded and noisy for me! Glad you got away for a few days... everyone needs renewal....

    1. Yes, campgrounds can be awful places. I had thought the crowds would have vanished by September. Had hoped. I may be done with campgrounds.

  5. I, too, am glad for your getaway. What a shame about rude campers. That has never happened to me. Wherever I've camped in Ohio through the years other campers have always been friendly yet unobtrusive. These bold confrontations are a foreign concept; I must be extremely lucky. Admittedly, I have never tent camped without a partner, so maybe that makes the difference. It's nice to know you have the bear deterrent if needed!

  6. I love Waldo Lake but it is hard to find a campsite up there anymore. The season is short and the spring and summer are full of mosquitos so September is a favorite time for too many of us.

    1. I noticed, on the campsite shortage and desperation to get one. I went a few years ago in September and was lucky enough to be nearly the only one in the campground. I guess I thought it would be the same this time, or hoped.

    2. This year seems especially bad in Oregon for finding a campsite from what I have been reading on people's blogs

    3. Interesting. It's a shame, for sure. I tend to think colloquially and have a difficult time imagining the different weather patterns around the country (and world). This sheds light on the phenomenon.