Friday, June 27, 2014

Camping Big Lost River Lower Campground - Part 1

After packing up the camper, washing up and wandering briefly down to our so-far very-favorite boat dock with Kory, we loaded into the truck headed for Mackay, stopping only briefly for ice, muffins and the largest coffees we could find.
The Big Lost River Campground (confusingly labelled simply as a "Sportsmans Access" on Highway 93) is located a few miles above Mackay.
LC, Kory and I had stopped there briefly to check the place out, on our way back from our Salmon/Challis trip of a few weeks ago.
On that day the campground was completely empty of people, save for a couple of county guys who we interrupted as they sat at an out-of-the-way tree-lined river access quietly smoking pot.
They left pretty quickly.............

The campground was beautiful. Filled with endless trees and mountain views and multiple access points to the river.
And so when our new friend from Arco invited us to camp there overnight we happily left Mud Lake and headed in that direction, looking forward to good company and good fishing.
Pulling into the campground LC and I could immediately see that on this late Saturday morning we would have to share this space with other campers.
After the almost total quiet and isolation of Mud Lake (yes...........we're spoiled) I sighed in slight disappointment but not great disappointment.
This place was BEAUTIFUL.  We would still have a great time..............
Our friends' truck tucked into the trees, and our camper barely visible among the trees............
While LC got the camper settled underneath the trees and visited with Capp, I (as I always do when we first arrive at a new place) walked recon with Kory.
Very much wanting to see the mountains and trees and the river, and also check out the people who had decided to camp at this same campground on a very warm summer Saturday.
The camp sites are all surrounded by trees so there is a very good semblance of privacy at this place, but as I wandered with Kory I realized that there was easily 60? people tucked away in every corner of the camp ground.  Folks camping in both tents and campers.
I was disappointed to realize that, and was briefly disappointed that we had left Mud Lake, but this WAS a wonderful site and I quickly shrugged the disappointment away, determined to not let minor aggravations turn a good day into a bad day.
One look at the mountains made that an easy thing to do..............
This area is completely surrounded by mountains in all directions.
Some (even this late into June) still had the white remnants of winter on their peaks...............
I snapped a couple of pictures of tent dwellers but deliberately photographed around the campers while working my camera at top speed.  This place took my breath away.  The day was perfect and we couldn't have asked for a prettier place to spend a day and night.
Kory and I had only been at this small campground for a short while but had already walked the perimeter, exploring as we went.
Dogs (some friendly - some not so much) ran up to greet us as we walked.
With Kory on leash one dog was fine (but two was an overbearing and uncomfortable experience for my dog), and after the life my girl has led I don't like her being forced into positions that make her uncomfortable.
There were river access points that we had seen last time that we could not see this time because campers had already claimed the space.
But there was still plenty to see, and I knew that if nothing else I would get some great nature shots...........
Sitting on the bank of the river I watched Kory play in the water.
She obviously loves the water and I have seen her swim, but she doesn't seem to have huge motivation to travel far from shore.
It pleases her to wade into the water, cool off, take a drink.  And because it pleases her, it also pleases me............
Still sitting on the bank in the shade under a tree I watched the river.
It was moving water, but not as fast as it had been further north in Salmon.
There was a couple of very large, rough and rugged cliffs located on the opposite side of the river.  They were brown and beige and treeless, and contained many small openings.
Were they large enough to be caves?
I wasn't sure, but I found them interesting and was curious about them.
There was a partial log jam in the river.  The water was cool but not freezing cold.
The feel of the water took me back to a day a few years ago when LC and I actually did an adventure race together.
It was only a six hour race (a time frame that I never raced) and we did it down in central Georgia.  It was August (and I tried to never race the SE in the dead of summer) and the hottest day of the year as it turned out.
But he wanted to do a race and so we did.
He out-biked me on the hills and I called him unChristian-like names for talking me into doing a race - in the south - in the summer.
I out-enduranced him overall because that was my strength.
And by the time the sun was going down and we were looking at a hilly bush-whack to get back to race headquarters in time to make the cutoff, LC's legs were shot.
And so we swam back.  Over a mile, fully clothed, in the dark and carrying packs.
Because that was HIS strength, and our only real chance to make race cutoff.
The water was so warm it felt like we were swimming in a bucket of spit.
I lost a brand new, expensive headlamp (that was doing its maiden race) in the bottom of that lake when it slipped off my head and was already sinking fast before I even noticed that it was missing.
We made the race cutoff, and got a standing O from everyone at the race when they were handing out awards.
Quite the adventure in that adventure race..............
By the time Kory and I were weaving our way back to our camp site I looked up at the sky and was surprised to realize that the sun was beginning to fade.
The temperature had unexpectedly dropped a few degrees, and the blue sky was suddenly transformed into grey and white sky.
Was it going to rain?
It sure looked like it might, and although it wasn't in the forecast to rain, the promised endless sunshine of the last few days had really only been hit and miss sunshine, so who knew?
We were also surrounded by mountains and (as the old trapper in the movie Jeramiah Johnson said "the mountains make their own weather, pilgrim").
I've been caught in the mountains during bad weather all over the eastern side of the country.  Seen rain circle all the way around and miss Cody Wyoming completely because the rain bands could not clear the mountains.  Been caught up on Rattlesnake Mountain outside of Cody when the weather abruptly changed from good to bad in only a few minutes.  We spent a harrowing 30 minutes in that storm, surrounded by thunder, lightning and heavy rain while trying to keep the truck on the narrow, slick-mud trail and not have it topple down into a huge ravine.
So much more than a movie quote, the mountains really do make their own weather.............
These trees were all over the campground.
When I first noticed them I was enthralled with their rich black and brown trunks and limbs.
I had never seen such colors on trees before.
When I finally got back to our camp site, and found LC and Capp talking and relaxing, I was told that they were wild cherry trees.
Capp wasn't 100% positive (and thought that the trees were non-fruit bearing), but regardless they were abundant and beautiful................
There’s always a period of curious fear between the first sweet-smelling breeze and the time when the rain comes cracking down..............Don Delillo

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