Friday, July 25, 2008
Camp Stories: Camping Among the Tadpoles
There we were. Nearly the end of July and we hadn't been able to get out of town for even an overnight trip. The new tent, bought to replace our old domed tent that was finally shredding to nothing after 20 years, was still in its box, the camping equipment scattered around the basement in various boxes. And don't even think about the canoe. The closest it had been to water in a couple of years was when someone left the sprinkler on in the back yard and some wetness seeped in through a crack in the wall.
So one morning last week Dave and I looked at each other over the New York Times and decided to head out for a quick getaway to the mountain. We threw the gear and Rosey into the car, leaving Walker at home under the care of Mr. B, and headed out to seek our campsite. Not having a map or a clue, we stopped at the Zigzag Ranger Station where the helpful young woman behind the counter had two words for our request for a small, simple campground where we could paddle our canoe.
Since it was just off the main highway past Timberline Lodge, it took only another half hour to be parked at our lakeside campsite. A half hour after that we'd set up the tent and Dave was shaking up a couple of his famous martinis. And shortly thereafter we were dining on pan-fried New York steak with portobello mushrooms and onions and a risotto with haricot verts.
Really roughing it (aka dinner the first night).
The next day the canoe, with Rosey reluctantly riding along, was launched and we rowed out into the lake past hundreds of quarter-sized tadpoles swimming alongside the boat, clear evidence that the lake's naming was not merely a romantic fancy. About halfway out I turned to check on Rosey and saw an incredible view of Mt. Hood rising up behind us (photo, top).
A great place for a quick getaway, it would also be fun for families with kids, especially because of the lake and the old-fashioned hand pump that provides the water for the campground. Good hiking trails to nearby lakes and viewpoints are also available according to the camp hosts, though we didn't check them out.
Any drawbacks in the form of nighttime temps in the mid-30s, a bit of traffic noise from trucks rumbling down the highway or the (updated) pit toilets were more than offset by the opportunity to sit by the campfire reading a (gasp!) book, paddling to our hearts' content on the quiet lake and just enjoying doing nothing for a couple of days. Choosing to drive back the long way through Hood River on a warm summer day made the whole thing sheer bliss. And something we'll be doing again soon.
Details: Frog Lake Campground, Mt. Hood. Recommended campsites: Numbers 16 and 18. Reservations accepted online.