Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sunstrip Camp - January 2011

Camping in January?  Sure why not!  As long as you don't mind 1.2 hours of sunlight and constant rain and fog.  Anything above 1000' will of course be buried in deep snow, slumbering until an all-too-brief summer.
I don't do well in the winter.  I get goo-goo eyed ga-ga and start going stir crazy soon after winter's first icy blast.  Luckily we have miles of rainforest ridges just down road from Portland, albeit the lower elevations where the snow only lingers briefly.  The fog, however seems to go on forever, possessing a life of it's own, rising from river bottoms to join and collude with it's airborne sisters.
My oldest daughter is visiting for Winter Break, home from college.  Reared in the twin opposite poles of Chicago and Portland, she of course choses Grinnell College buried deep in the heartland and Iowa's abundant prairie, now stacked with rows of corn.  I miss her.
Like a crazy fool she agrees to join me on the rain-soaked shores of the mighty Clackamas River, to slumber under too many drops and to stumble about, kicking clumps of moss and lichen like so much discarded laundry.
The Clackamas is fat and raging, swollen by tremendous winter rains.  The days, now just past the Solstice are short and dim.  Night is creeping near in this old camp, constructed in the 1920s as a work camp for a crystalline railroad snaking up the canyon, now gone, replaced by time and Highway 224.  Man's hand is never too far away.
But trash.  Inevitable in a disposable age, a plague to our shared natural areas.  Each camp trip I spend hours picking up other people's crap piled in these majestic places.  I'm sure the Earth doesn't mind, as we are all the combined creation of stardust and the sea-soup of untold ancient creatures.  But the trash makes me mad and I pick up what I can, restoring some respect to our green mother.

Just downriver is the ancient "Sounds of 2 Rivers Trail".  Once a main route out and up from the Clackamas, it is now a moss-tossed backroad, just a comma in a age-old run on sentence.  Located and restored by volunteers, the trail is seeped with mystery and peace, with a chorus of indigenous voices nearly dripping from the branches of immense Douglas firs.  The trail's colorful name is in reference to the Roaring and Clackamas Rivers crashing and flowing nearby and always audible in spite of the deep forest's hushed tones.

And then it's time to go home.

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