Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Elk Lake Camping Trip

Long overdue for a vacation, Maree and I decided to go camping for the weekend. I feel ashamed to say that this is the first time I've been camping for nearly three years out here. I've hiked a lot, driven around a lot, but not so much camping. We decided to try for Elk Lake, a campground recommended in a book I got as a gift, thanks Celeste! As a first come, first served campground, we were worried that it might be full when we arrived, seeing that we were coming in on a Saturday afternoon. Luckily, there were several spots left, and we got one towards the back of the campground, away from the lake. This turned out to be a blessing, as the inhabitants closer to the lake were loud, and there was more vehicle traffic as well. Plus, we found a cool trail that led from our camp to a secluded beach on the far side of the lake. Aces!

I had it in mind to go on a hike on Sunday, but we partied a little too much the night before and were awoken several times by what sounded like a herd of angry owl/turkey monsters in heat. Needless to say, neither of us had the energy for a hike, so we just kicked it around the campsite, listening to music, taking short walks, eating, and hydrating.

On Monday we packed up our things and headed out. We stopped at Dunlap Lake on the way out to see what it was about. There had been a large camping party there when we arrived on Saturday, preventing exploration, but they were gone now. Dunlap Lake is sweet, a smaller, circular lake only a mile or so before Elk Lake and a great spot for a group camp.

We had plans to go to Breitenbush Hot Springs, but their day-use limit had been reached, so we were directed to some Russian tubs that were just up the road. We parked and hiked in a half mile or so to find what looked to bethe ruins of a bath house. There were two large pools next to the structure's foundation, and a number of smaller, defunct pools that were part of the original structure. The hot spring was still active, and the pools were nice and hot. We had to cut off the supply from the pools and divert it down to the river for a while so they would cool down. By the river there was an old iron bathtub catching the overflow from the upper pools which fed a small rock lined pool next to the river. While the upper pools were cooling, we set out to do some repairs/remodeling to the riverside pool. We never got the pool quite hot or deep enough for our liking, and the work was literally cut short when I sliced my foot on a piece of glass. Damn you ignorant littering types! Not to worry though, Maree hiked up to the car to get first aid, and I hung out and listened to the river and took some pictures. When she got back the upper pools were perfect, and she got to have a nice soak in them before we headed back home.

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