Friday, May 27, 2011

Mouse Camp - April 2011

Although I do enjoy the company of others immensely, I am by nature a solitary cat.  I think that's a big part of the reason I spend so much time in wild places with "50 miles of elbow room".  Funny how solitude can be a companion.

Early April the stress of daily life had taken its toll, and I really needed a couple days with my friend the wind.
Luckily I know just the place.  Formerly known as Clacky Camp, now called Mouse Camp due to, well, mice.  If you've ever had this uninvited camp-guest, then you can understand my disdain.  These little guys like to shred things and leave a trail of tiny poops, not fun.  And true to name, a few of us who have camped here have unwittingly transported these little furry friends from forest to town.
Aside from the mice, it's a gorgeous place to camp.  It's low level rainforest right on the banks of the mighty Clackamas and surrounded by old growth trees and the spooky hoot of night time owls.
Mouse Camp is one of the closest camps to Portland within the Mount Hood National Forest.  While it does retain its spectacular qualities, it has been somewhat abused like most natural areas closest to population centers.  Perhaps you've heard of urban creep - the phenomena when city supplants the rural.  The same thing happens in the woods.  You're likely to encounter trash and some noise in spite of ancient trees.  Truly, the best places to explore are those that are a little harder to get to.  "Keeps the riff-raff out", I mutter to myself.

My bus, a 1969 Westfalia with 15000 miles on a new engine (built by this here narrator) is running quite well, but the generator is failing - brushes down to nubs in just a few thousand miles.  Of course it occupies some of  my thoughts as I try to unwind; true to form it was a pain in the ass to deal with on the return trip, but that's another story.  But to ease any concerns the new generator is performing flawlessly.

The Clackamas is virtually littered with history as well.  Those that came before us left not only their legacies, often forgotten, but they left an indelible mark on the land.  In many places various eras come to life, be it a Native American stripped cedar tree or the ruins of a last-century log cabin.  Armed with a map and compass, a drop of common sense, and active curiosity one can discover all sorts of traces of the past.

Fish Creek Mountain, still covered in deep snow.  Once the site of a USFS fire lookout tower.

I spend the weekend hiking, exploring, resting, reading; earning a much needed rest and reconnection with source.  

The night before leaving town, I had a dream about a large black bear climbing over a dirt ridge, studying me, then sauntering off.  It was a powerful dream and stuck with me.  What did it symbolize?  Communion?  Dominance?  Fear?  Or just the scrambled eggs of a human mind trying to sort out a life of experience?  Of course it is impossible to say.  I was however quite surprised to see the same ridge as my dream, guarding the banks of the Clackamas and forming a high perch.  Didn't see any bears though.
The Clackamas River, draining a nearly infinite bathtub and fat with spring snowmelt

As the sun sets over another adventure, with my systems once again regulated by the setting sun, I am sad to leave.  I can only thank God that I have the ability to have these adventures, breathing fresh air and mingling with the infinite, if only for a spell.  Each creature has it's day in the sun, vital and free.
Swami Shantarupanda once remarked, "darkness defines the flame".

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