Can you really say you're roughing it when you have fourteen dozen raw oysters in a coffin-sized cooler? Not to mention martini glasses, cocktail fixin's for just about any drink in a home bartender's guide, anchovy-stuffed Spanish olives for the aforementioned martinis and enough wine to ride out (or would that be float out?) the apocalypse.
Now, I have to say that Dave and I have wowed camp neighbors over the years with margaritas shaken in a handy plastic tub and some mighty fine camp cookin' like the posole we made last year in Dave's brand new Lodge cast iron pot. But the crew we joined over the Fourth of July took it over the top and then some.
Only 167 to go…
My brother (that's him shucking, lower right) and his bride have always headed for the hills over the holiday to get away from the crazies who seem to think the city's streets are their own private bombing range. This year we decided to invite ourselves along and spare Walker and Rosey the panting, pacing, drooling trauma of staying in town.
The plan was to meet up in the no-fireworks-allowed pristine surroundings of the aptly named Paradise Creek campground just north of Carson, Washington, in the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest near Mt. Adams. A small, shady campground, its 42 primitive sites are dotted along the confluence of the Wind River, Paradise Creek and Juice Creek.
The creekside campsites are the most private and the largest, each capable of handling anywhere from one to three tents, though an additional fee is required for more than one vehicle per site. The best is site 29, but sites 25 and 27 are lovely, too (27 is next to the toilets, though buffered by trees and the creek). The camp hosts keep the pit toilets clean and well-stocked, and they also have firewood available, though after the first night you'll be going back down the road near the fish hatchery where an enterprising family sells dry, chopped wood for a much better price.
As for those oysters, our group consisted of five couples, two singles and a toddler, so appetizers on two evenings were taken up shucking and slurping both raw and grilled bivalves, though the toddler preferred consuming a fair amount of native terroir (that is, dirt) with his meals. Those were divvied up between the comings and goings of the various participants, with everything from beans and franks to steak and corn to, yes, our posole. Breakfast was a rotating affair that always started with coffee, then moved on to campfire hashbrowns and eggs or toasted bagels or scrambled eggs with chorizo sausage, then cold cuts, cheeses and salads for lunch.
Some amount of hiking and stream-walking was required to interrupt all that eating, and there are trails aplenty in the area including one hefty climb up Lava Butte from the campground, which ended with a somewhat disappointing non-view at the top.
The best part, though? As the sun went down on the night of July 4, the only crackling and popping came from the campfire, with no hissing from anything other than water flowing over the stones in the creek.
Read other Camp Stories in the series from Trout Creek Campground, Shadow Bay at Waldo Lake, LaPine State Park, Indian Crossing Campground, Frog Lake Campground, Patrick's Point State Park, Harris Beach State Park and Moss Creek Campground.