Monday, July 14, 2008

Camping! Dirty!

Nature, wilderness, quietude, we'll get to all of that in a moment, but first, this:

Yesterday I peed standing up.

Now back to the camping report:


Drew's favorite place to camp and hunt when we lived in Bend was Black Crater, where there was a little lake so secluded that you had to drive really lousy excuses for "roads" in your least favorite junker and then hike another mile to reach. This, Drew's Happy Place, was our destination this weekend.
Drew in his Happy Place. Such as it is.

Of course, we knew that there had been a forest fire two years ago, foreshadowingly called The Black Crater Fire, but in Drew's rosy-tinged world, he saw the map of fire destruction as seeming to have miraculously saved Black Crater itself and its tiny, pristine, and lonely lake.

As you may have guessed, the lake is still tiny and lonely, and pristine in a way, that is, pristine of all animal life save bugs, a few confused frogs, and some trout possibly dropped by air tanker during the fire.

At least the lake is still pretty...

And it's so quiet. In the morning, there was no sound at all. No sound. Imagine.

Life is showing signs of revival, but it's early still. The green trees are small, but getting lots of sunshine through the dead branches looming above. The fish are jumping. The frogs are chirping. And there is one pair of woodpeckers (I think they're dating) having a field day in the dead wood.

This is your bark. This is your bark under intense heat.

The actual camping experience went mostly well. We were (understandably) the only people there - probably the only people within a five-mile radius. We could have walked around completely nude (but that would have required much too much bug spray). The quiet was shocking and soothing and habit forming. I could have used some grass to lounge on. There was mostly just dust and dirt, so we stood and balanced on logs a lot.

The moral of the equipment story: the expensive stuff performed well, the cheap stuff performed (with one exception) on a par with their price. The winners:

  • My super-technical backpack with secret compartments I'm still discovering;
  • Our new space-shuttle Jetboil cooking equipment (faster than a microwave at boiling water, we swear);
  • My sleeping pad (which is pink, because it's totally girls-only);
  • Our two-person tent with stash shelves and vent action (the one cheap thing that made the winner list);
  • The French press; and
  • The beef stroganoff-in-a-bag from Mountain House (it's like real food!).
The losers:

  • Drew's cheap sleeping pad;
  • Drew's new air pillow; and
  • the Kung Pao chicken-in-a-bag from Backpacker's Pantry (not sure what it is, but we doubt if it's made out of food).

On the List of Things to Bring Next Time:
  • More beef stroganoff;
  • A hammock;
  • Wet wipes;
  • Garbage bags; and
  • More underwear.
We decided that despite the road sitch and the dead tree issue, we should come back every year to watch how the place comes back from charcoal to life again.

And, finally, the latest entry into our collection of butt-shaped objects: the butt-shaped tree.

I'm looking forward to it.


hedera said...

I will be very interested to follow the development of the Black Crater after the fire. We've been having a few of those (fires) out here in California, if you hadn't noticed.

On the subject of fires, see this absolutely hilarious cartoon about the Tassajara Zen Center by Tom Meyer of the S.F. Chronicle. The Zen Center actually did have 5 guys who stayed to (successfully, or the cartoon would not be funny) defend the buildings from the Indian Creek Fire...

piglet said...

Hah! Namaste, hedera!

hedera said...

Namaste, yourself.

By the way, where is the Black Crater? My husband the solo backpacker would like to know.

cpt a said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it mostly...I wasn't sure you were ever going to get over the ride up there. Thought I'd have to peel your fingers out of the headliner of my truck. It'll be fun to go up and watch it repair over the next several years...Hugs Baby

And what is Namaste? I feel so out of it.

piglet said...

Black Crater is in the Sisters Ranger District of the Deschutes National Forest just east of the Three Sisters Wilderness area and the PCT in Oregon. We follow some barely marked forest roads to get to the east side of the caldera, but there's a nice trail to the west. You can read more about it here

piglet said...

Captain -

If you had ever gone to the Unitarian Church with me (and checked out the comic referenced in hedera's comment above), you would totally be in with the in crowd.

It just means howdy in guru talk.