Outcast Imagary - Dirt Road Diary

 

Southern Oregon Coast Thanksgiving

December 15, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Having taken care of the family obligations the prior weekend meant we had the 4 day holiday weekend free.  We've been having pretty good weather so we took the opportunity to head south and do a little exploring.  While I've been through the area around Coos Bay and Bandon, I've never spent any time there.  While many people were putting big birds in the oven, we hit the road.  

Our first stop was a little beach at Heceta Head.  The weather was fantastic...

Along the way we checked out many of the Dunes National Recreation area sites.  We did some recon for future trips with our ATV's.  

Umpqua Lighthouse

For this trip, the plan was to stay in state parks.  While I'm not a big fan of them because of the close quarters, you can normally get some separation in the off or "discovery" season.  With the short amount of daylight, having shore power to run a small heater and a laptop to watch a movie was welcomed. Watching movies isn't usually something I do while camping but when it gets dark at 1645hrs...it's something to do for a couple hours.  While a FWC is a fairly small space, it's quite cozy and with a Grandby, we didn't feel claustrophobic.  Our first night we'd stay Sunset Bay SP at Cape Arago.  The park was busier than I expected but we were able to find a decent site.  While the site was nice, noisy neighbors reinforced why I don't care to stay in them and wouldn't during the summer.  One of the attractions at Cape Arago is Shore Acres SP.  It's a botanical garden donated to the State years ago.  For the holidays they do an outstanding light display.  I had never seen it in person so I figured it would be a nice little surprise for Melissa. Of course there was prerequisite sunset shots.

We even got a chance to see the "green flash" as the sun set beyond the horizon.  Pretty cool. 

And to get into the holiday season...if you're into that sort of thing. 

Being an early riser has it's benefits.  Kokanee and I had Sunset Beach all to ourselves...well almost... Those are seals in the bay checking us out. 

We bombed out of Sunset Bay soon after and headed to the actual Cape Arago and thought this would be a spectacular place for breakfast.

From here we headed south and spent some time in Bandon.  The plan was to spend the night at Bullards Beach SP that night.  When we did our drive though early in the afternoon we thought....uh.... no!  Let's head to Cape Blanco.  It's off the highway and it shouldn't be crowded at all.  

We rolled in a little before sunset and my hunch was right... We picked a nice spot where with good buffers. It was a little different crowd here...one which we could relate to. We watched the sun go down, turned on the Civil War game, and made dinner by campfire light.

The next day we spent some time at Port Orford heads SP which was just down the road.  As the sign reads, it's got some historical Coast Guard significance. 

There is a system of short trails and there are some nice views. 

Below is the former site where the lifeboats use to be kept and launched. It's quite a walk down there. 

The Barracks.

We decided that Cape Blanco SP was the place to be so we stayed a second night.  The weather was going to change and it did.  We awoke sunday morning with wind blowing through the trees and the rain hitting the roof.  It was good trip and we had great weather.  Got to spend some time in areas that we hadn't previously spent any time in and enjoyed the time spent in our second home.  

Our campsite at Cape Blanco.

This will probably wrap up our camping for a couple months.  The to do list at home is piling up, daylight is scarce and besides, our normal weather will eventually get here...which it did. 

Thanks for listening.

Rich and Melissa

 

 


Wandering Central Oregon

November 17, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

With an extended weekend for Veterans day, it was time to hit the road and get away for a few days.  I really didn't have a plan.  North coast, south coast, east...  I guess we'll figure it out when we climb into the truck Saturday morning.  Since the forecast was hinting at rain on the west side we decided to head east where it would be drier.  The older I get the more I loath the rain and winter.  I had a semi plan but nothing was in stone.  I wanted to go to places that I haven't been to before...

We headed north on I-5 and crossed the Columbia and headed east on SR14.  I have never driven that highway and it seemed like a good way to start off instead of taking I84.  So we made our way east with some stops along the way.

Looking east and at the mouth of the Deschutes. 

We stopped at Stonehenge, a war memorial which was fitting given it was Veterans Day Weekend.  Thank you to all those who are/have served our country.  

From here we crossed back into Oregon at Biggs and headed south on 97.  Oregon State Parks recently built a brand new park along the John Day river at Cottonwood Canyon. New parks don't happen to often so we headed that way to check it out for maybe a future stay. Since it's new there isn't much there so we didn't stay in the campground although there were a few folks camping.    

Cottonwood Canyon State Park

We made our through Condon and Fossil.  I was anticipating staying the night at the Shelton State Wayside CG which was near Rowe Ck Road which would be the back into the Painted Hills Unit.  When we got to the CG, it was closed. Luckily in some of the loose planning I did, I knew if we headed toward the Painted Hills, there was a small camp along the John Day River where a lot of floaters launch so we kept on going.  There were 3 other campers at the CG when we arrived and we elected to stay the night on the gravel bar right on the rivers edge.

It turned out to be a great place to stay and all of us that there were far enough apart that we felt all alone.  

In the morning after breakfast we made our way to the Painted Hills.  Some of the locals...

We walked and hiked every trail in the unit.  It took most of the morning and into the early part of the afternoon.  The texture of the soil I found interesting.  

The View from Carroll Rim... 

From here we had no plan.  We headed through Dayville where I picked up a small can of coffee since I forgot to grind some beans before we left.  I'm an admitted coffee snob but the Folgers hit the spot! It's now my official "camp" coffee.  From Dayville we head out on the South Fork Road figuring since it paralleled the South Fork of the John Day finding a place to camp should be pretty easy.  Well there is a lot of private property along the south fork is turns out.  We kept driving and at just about dark we finally found a spot along the river.  We even had some left over firewood from the hunting camp that was there before us.  

This day had been pretty nice and the sky was clearing as the day wore on.  How cold it would get over night left me wondering... We were cozy in the camper bed but it felt pretty chilly when we awoke at daylight.  When we started to stir, Melissa's pillow had frozen to the canvas.  Even the outside spigot had frozen in this hard frost. 

During breakfast we decided we didn't want a full day of driving like the last 2 days.  Let's get to camp around 1:00 and just relax was the suggestion and a good one at that.  Looking at the map, getting to the Muary Mountains in the Ochoco's should meet our timeline.   

On our way we passed the South Fork Falls.

Some more locals...

We arrived at Elkhorn CG around 1:30.  First Season Elk was done and we had the little CG all to ourselves and a good supply of split-able firewood.  Time to kick back, pour a rum and coke, and enjoy the nice weather and surroundings.  

This night didn't get cool, in fact it was fairly warm overnight so no frozen pillows.  Of course I can't give a camping report without at least one foodie...Last camping breakfast... and a possible Cablea's ad.  Haha!  We didn't go all out on the food for this trip and most of the dinners were made in the dark so not many photos that were worthy of posting.  

It was a great trip and exactly why I've got the camper I do.  We covered some ground and spent some time out in the back country on gravel roads with no real direction.  For a 1.5 days of the trip we saw 6 vehicles.  We saw over 50 deer, a herd of antelope, a pair of eagles, and some gorgeous landscape.  Cell service was spotty most of the trip although we had 4G at Elkhorn CG...Go figure.  

Oh and Kokanee seems to enjoy the wanderings as well...

Thanks for reading another chapter of what I now call my "dirt road diary". - Rich

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Olallie Scenic Area

October 21, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

A little late with this but it's been a busy fall...

After a crummy Fall Chinook season and wanting to spend some time in the mountains, we got a break in the tides and headed east to a place that holds a special spot in my life.  When I was kid, the Olallie Lake area was almost an annual pilgrimage.  I helped build or rehab all of the campgrounds in the area growing up as a Forest Service volunteer with the now defunct Washington County Chapter of the Isaac Walton League of America.  My old man and some close family friends were members and the group would spend a weekend to build (multiple weekends) or rehab campgrounds in the Mt. Hood National Forest. In exchange for our labor, we got to spend 4 days camping in a closed campground while 25 to 30 people worked on various maintenance projects in the campground our group was occupying.  This is probably where my love for the outdoors and camping was nurtured.  We spent the majority of the 20 some years we did this work in the Olallie Scenic Area.

 

I hadn't camped up here in about 12 years or so.  It's about 3.5 hours from home and since it was late September, the crowds should of lightened up a bit (it's busy in the summer).  I skipped out of work a little early so we could get there before dark.  We made it and took advantage of the last bits of light. 

Several years ago a wildfire came through the area and changed the landscape.  It's one reason why I haven't been back in a while but it's still a beautiful place.  With the fresh crisp air we were up early to see what the sunrise would look like....

 

(Mt. Jefferson in the background)

Even Kokanee was taking it all in...

Olallie Butte, the namesake of the area...

Peninsula Campground is where we stayed. There are a couple ADA accessible camp spots and a dock that's accessible.  In all of the years I've never seen a wheelchair up there but have watch some spectacular thunder storms there. The wildfire came through part of this campground so some spots have more shade than others if you're so inclined to check it out.

Then it was time for dinner... buffalo steaks, bread, and beans on the fire.

The next morning (Sunday) the wind had come up so there was to be no "mirror" images of the lake.  A breakfast melody was on tap and a chance to try out our new set of REI cookware.  The cookware worked great!

After breakfast it was time to head home but we were going to take the scenic route via Breitenbush Lake, my favorite place up here. 

A view point along the way...

While the road doesn't look too bad, there are parts that's slow going.  The road from Horseshoe Lake to Breitenbsuh is less traveled and a high clearance rig is recommended.  I believe it's only 8 miles but takes over an hour to make the trip.  I just drop into 4lo and creep along and enjoy the scenery. 

Breitenbush is located on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation so it's a bit unique that we can actually camp here. Normally camping would be prohibited but there has been an obscure agreement that leaves it open. However, over the years the situation has changed (there was always talk that the Tribe was going to close the campground) and not many people camp there any more due in part to the "rules". I understand it's Tribal land and respect that, it's just too bad a few of those rules pretty much rules out any sort of real camping trip.   

There is a bit of history at this lake.  It's at the entrance to the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness Area.  Most people access the PCT at the parking area a quarter mile down the road (People used to stay at the campground in years past).  This campground also benefited from projects built by the Civil Conservation Corps (CCC).  Our group rebuilt the shelters and the bridges many years ago in an effort to save the structures but time is taking it's toll.

I can remember when we set these logs to make the bridge using a FS backhoe.  The FS brough in an alaskan mill and that's how we made the decking.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  The pipe to the right is a spring and is some of the best natural cold water anywhere. 

Breitenbush Lake...

A pano...

There is a shorter route to Breitenbush off of FS46 if you're coming from Detroit.  It's 10 mile to the lake from the pavement and takes about an hour to get there (FS4220).  It's a slow and narrow road.  Here is one of the best spots...

We had a great trip and spent some time in a favorite place.  Most of the "old timers" of the Isaac Walton League have passed away but their memory and efforts live on in a couple of plaques that commemorates the volunteer group.  When the federal government decided concessionaires could do a better job, that was the nail in the coffin for the group and in my mind, an end of an era. 

I guess this is how I know I'm getting old, when I'm able to tell stories about better times, great people and mentors who have passed on, and I return to a place that's still special, but not quite the same.

Thanks for reading and letting me ramble a bit.

Rich

 


2013 Deer season

October 20, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

I had successful blacktail hunt this year after a long hiatus from hunting.  This was the first year since 1998 or 1999 that I filled my deer tag.  Truth be known, I only started hunting again about 3 years ago.  Last year I was pretty serious about it and spent the off season "re-gearing".  bought some quality optics, and new rifle, and new pack, and more stuff to put in it.  Hunting has changed around these parts as many areas are close to vehicle traffic.  Not that I'm a road hunter but our style in the coast range was to cover a lot of ground and find those places that have activity. This year a lot was learned and more gear will be acquired.  One thing for sure is that is feels good to be in the woods and to have some meat in the freezer. 

 

 

It was also a bumper crop for Chanterelles...

 


Mill Creek Wilderness

September 25, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Better late than never...  It's been a busy summer and since the rains have come I've got some time to do a trip report. 

This trip was the next weekend after our Trask Mt. trip and since we were in between fishing seasons and we wanted to used the new camper we headed out.  Mill Creek is just outside of Prineville. It's not usually busy and we found that to be the case.   We arrived mid day on Friday to a pretty empty campground.  There was only 3 others set up.

I love the Ochoco's and the pondarosa pine forest. One of the landmarks of this area are the Pillars.  Here is Steins Pillar...

The Campground is also a trailhead into the actual Mill Creek Wilderness. 

Saturday morning after a good breakfast, we headed up the trail.  We didn't have any real destination other than to get to a good view point.

I've been here before but since the last visit, a forest fire came through the area a few years ago.  The fire changed the forest and is probably why it's not very popular. 

Mill Creek

On the way back in one of the deeper holes I spotted this little guy.  I'd guess he was a good 9" or so.  Not bad for such a little "crick".  If you look close there's another one just below him almost under the log. 

We ended up hiking about 7 miles round trip.  We got back to camp mid afternoon and the temperature was well into the 90's. It was time to relax, grab a solar shower, and enjoy the rest of the afternoon.  One great thing about having a camper is having a fridge and the ability to make ice on the road.  Nothing like a little rum and coke...

And of course dinner...

Another great trip and a couple more nights in the FWC.  We're still getting used to it and slowly getting it tuned.  So far the MPG's on the truck show a less than 1 MPG drop which isn't bad considering some of the trips have a lot of miles off the pavement.  Can't complain about that. 

We ended up taking the long was home via Prineville Res. and the Crooked River.  We checked out the campgrounds at the lake and it didn't appeal to us.  The south side looks better and we'll need to go back and take a look so maybe we'll bring the boat with us for an extended stay. 

Lovin' the FWC and it's simplicity. 

Happy trails,

The Outcast Campers 

 

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