But what is this? Snow in the forecast? Well it's not unheard of in April in the Cascades. So with some trepidation we leave town under leaden skies, with the promise of snow at our destination - a camp at 3000'.
True to prediction, there is snow on the road, but luckily it starts just at camp's end. We arrive to heavy flakes that continue into the night, dropping a few inches of wet heavy snow. Eva is brave but starting to get cold feet in her useless rain boots. We strengthen her young resolve by adding 5 more pairs of socks to those little feet and all is well. A fire is near impossible in these conditions, but we soldier on and manage to maintain a meager flame.
Then it's off to bed with the sound of clumps of snow falling off branches and thud-splatting onto the bus roof.
By morning the snow has stopped and temperatures begin their steady climb.
Randy AKA Sluggo, always ready for a camp
Don and Murphy enjoy the sunshine
Stephan AKA Gypsie at the human statue tryouts
Eva the hearty camper
This Forest Service road, although paved, sees little traffic
Hal AKA Tristessa arrives in a balanced clatter
And then it's time to explore. What good is a camp without activities? I swear I was a social director in a past life. History and exploring are always easy to find around the Clackamas. Rho Creek, a tributary creek, once had a fine Forest Service trail that predated any roads in the area. The trail, partially logged and abandoned in the 80s was completely overgrown, with the route almost lost climbing up to Rhododendron Ridge.
After much hard work and determination, the route was located, flagged, brushed out. Later with burly help from Trailadvocates Don, Donovan, and Eric (www.trailadvocate.org), many immense down logs are cut out of the tread. In a final satisfying moment the trail was once again added to the Forest Service inventory of active trails.
New sign on an old trail
The trail once continued towards the Clackamas River and crossed, long before the days of roads. Nowadays, the lower section is still hard to find and locate. But each year we add parts onto the unknown sections, eventually making it all the way to the river crossing, decades ago.
In search of 1920 in the Clackamas riparian
Skunk cabbage, lit from within
The strange Seuss life of lichen reproduction
Near trail's end on seldom trodden tread
The next day's adventure is the attempted location of an old secondary trail up nearby Fawn Creek. The area ridges are steep and forgiving, and nature appears to have taken back her own. I thrash about in the brush for a long while but find no trace of the elusive past.
Fawn Creek quietly tumbling under deep canopy
Warm sun and old trees on the first glorious day of 2011
Road's end, time to go home
But first a quick stop at Estacada's finest brewpub
But no beer for the little ones