Monday, June 9, 2014

Camping Big Lost River Valley - Part 3

If you click on any picture it will start a slide show of enlarged pictures.
After sleeping very badly and fighting a migraine headache the entire first night we were in Salmon, I woke up to the sound of the rushing water of the Salmon River.
As I lay in our camper bed, with LC beside me and Kory at the bottom of the bed still sleeping on my feet, I looked out the windows and gratefully realized that it was going to be a very wonderful day.
The sky was blue and  I could feel that it was warm already, even early in the morning.
What time WAS it anyway?
So wasn't that early.  It was 8:10, and as I carefully stirred from the bed (slowly untangling myself from underneath Kory and trying hard not to wake up LC because in this tiny space my bad night also meant HIS bad night), I succeeded in waking up my two traveling companions anyway.
Within minutes we all piled out of the camper eager to greet the day.
It WAS a beautiful day.
I grabbed for Korys' leash and we wandered over the embankment and down to the end of the boat ramp, and as we approached I looked across the river and saw our resident loon.
I had seen him a couple of times the evening before, looking for dinner in the quiet pool where he now stood yet  again, this time looking for breakfast.
I smiled as I saw him.  A beautiful, majestic bird, traveling alone on the river.
After Kory had waded first in and then out of the calm pool on our side of the river I turned back towards our camp site and smiled as I saw LC sitting in a camp chair messing with rod and reel and line.
Jokingly I asked him if he was going to catch us some breakfast.
Whether it was the too-fast river or the wrong lures or the luck of the draw, we ended up eating ham and eggs for breakfast in the late morning......................
A good part of our first full day of camping was taken up with routine VA appointments - blood tests in the morning and then physical in the early afternoon.
Followed by a quick nap for all three of us.
Kory and I drove into Salmon with LC for the morning visit and waited to eat breakfast until we got back from that appointment.............
We ate while Kory went back to bed..............
While LC drove back into town for his second appointment Kory and I stayed at the campground.
We had already wandered a good deal throughout the morning but my energetic dog was always ready for more adventure, and suddenly bored with reading I made a grab for her leash.
As always we began by wandering down to the water.  
We weren't close to the quieter water of the boat ramp.  Rather, we had been walking on a long, grassy mound that paralleled the river and I watched Kory closely as she easily maneuvered down through the rocks to get close to the fast-flowing river.
All was well.  A quick drink and she climbed back up to me..............
We were in a small campground and what little property there was to explore, we had already explored.
So I expected to wander in a circle for a few minutes and then return to our camp site............
Uninspired by the thought of walking in circles I zoned out and let Kory take the lead.
We wandered and inspected every camp site in the park.
We wandered back up to the long dirt mound that was built up a few years back when the Salmon River completely flooded its banks, and when the entire Shoup Bridge Camp Ground was under water for a time.
Still walking the bank we eventually found our way to the back of the caretaker camper, and that's when I saw it.
A narrow, partially overgrown trail heading into the woods..............
I had planned to stay in the camp ground and was not armed, and this was bear country.
Neither one of those realities crept into my brain at the time though.
All I knew was that Kory had unexpectedly found a trail that followed the line of the river.
There was a trail and we both wanted to explore it................
It was a decent and easy-to-walk trail and Kory and I happily walked it for 20 minutes or so.
Me enjoying the views and Kory enjoying whatever odors her extraordinary seeking-sniffing nose picked up.
Again, I was overwhelmed by just how endlessly beautiful this place was...................
20 minutes after we left the camp ground the whole "we're not in the camp're not armed..........nobody knows where you are...........this is bear country" realization finally hit my brain.
Oh hell. was time to turn back.
As soon as I slowed down Kory again climbed down the rock embankment headed for the water.
I fully expected her to do the same thing that she had done 20 minutes before.  Drink and come back.
Only (hot from the walk) this time she lowered her entire body right into the water.
The day before, I had judged the river to be moving at 10 miles per hour, so when I realized that Kory had stepped down into the deep and fast river I was immediately on alert and heading down the embankment towards her.
Right away I could tell that:
a) she was in deep water even beside the shore
b) she could swim
c) the swollen Salmon River wanted to sweep her down river
She was swimming very close to shore and her head was pointed towards land.  I gently yanked on her leash and within a second my pup was back on Terra Firma.
The entire episode from start to finish happened in a matter of a couple of seconds and Kory was never in any danger, but the entire episode was unsettling anyway...............
Cooling off in the quiet eddy by the boat ramp and our camp site..........
We had seen the sign as we turned into the campground the day before, and after a quick nap LC tossed his fishing gear into the back of the truck and we headed out in search of Williams Lake.
Crossing over the bridge that I had taken pictures from the night before, we immediately headed towards mountain ranges that we had never seen before..............
The sign by the camp ground told us that Williams Lake was only 10 miles away.
The drive started on flat paved road and transitioned into flat gravel road.
One left turn and we gradually began to climb.............
And climb.............
And climb.............
As we continued to slowly increase in elevation the terrain around us began to quickly change.
We had begun our trip surrounded by the ever-present Salmon River, very large farm houses on large pieces of property with hard-working irrigation equipment, mountains not too far away.
Within ten minutes homes were few and far between.  The mountains moved closer and grew higher.  The gravel road began to wind and weave its way up the mountain, and the drop-off on the left side of the road..........well..........if we had slid off the road I think that we would have still been falling.
LC glanced over at me and we both smiled at each other.  
Neither one of us had expected THIS.............

Part way up the mountain we saw the cross on the edge of the drop-off.  Someone had gotten too close to the edge.............
Passing a rustic and rugged alpine campground we turned one more bend and that is when we captured our first view of Williams Lake.
We stopped in the middle of the road (that was too narrow for two vehicles to pass each other) and looked down at this mountain lake.
Neither of us had ever seen a mountain lake before.
The serenity of it, the beauty of it, even the very presence of it in this high mountain place, was stunning..............
Continuing further we dropped steeply down to the lake.
LC dropped me, Kory and my kayak down by the boat ramp, and then drove 1/8 mile back up the ridiculously steep road to the parking area.
While waiting for his return I wandered down to the water with my pup in loyal tow.
God, what WAS this place?
We had no idea that Williams Lake was a mountain lake, or that it was something so special.  
We had hoped for a body of water big enough to kayak in.
That was the extent of our hopes.
And this place is what we found..............
So..........I may be out of practice river paddling but this quiet, little, beautiful, placid lake was my speed.
Leaving my Mountain Boy and my sweet dog sitting together on the boat ramp, I donned pfd, snapped my two piece paddle together, climbed into my old recreational kayak (with its Calvin and Hobbs "Life's Short - Go Kayaking Naked" graphic) and eagerly set off onto the water..............
I paddled in one direction briefly, snapped pictures of the mountains after realizing that I would quickly hit a dead end, and then followed the shore line counter clockwise as I slowly cruised the lake.
I knew that I had disappeared from LC and Korys' site briefly, and when I reappeared I could hear my dog barking excitedly on the opposite side of the lake.
I smiled to myself because I knew that my dog had been looking for me.
In this direction I quickly began to find lake front homes.
Some small and quaint.  Some so ritzy that I knew there was a LOT of money floating around these mountains and this small body of water.
There was a home on stilts on top of a cliff that initially grabbed my attention (above), but it was this beautiful house on a point that was so completely wonderful - an extraordinary A-Frame with tons of windows, I found myself constantly looking over at it even when other sites briefly grabbed my attention.
After I got back from camping and had a chance to do some more research on Williams Lake I found this information on this specific house.
It's a rental.
You can rent it for a cool 300 bucks a night.  
I am sure that many spend their summers here, but many other dwellings are rented out for days and weeks at a time throughout the spring, summer and fall...............
Believe it or not, those who rent the A-Frame still have to pay an additional rental fee for use of the little metal boat.................
As I slowly and leisurely paddled around the lake I tried to imagine what it must be like to spend an entire summer in this place, instead of the scant few hours that we had.
Such a peaceful and magical place.
It would be wonderful..............
By the time I got back to the boat ramp LC had put his fishing pole up and Kory was barking in the realization that I was returning to her.
By the time we had retrieved the truck, loaded the kayak in the back, loaded ourselves and were again winding our way back down to civilization, we were all tired but ecstatic at our unexpectedly wonderful adventure.
It was a good trip.
It was a better than good trip.
It was a trip that neither of us would ever forget...........
That second night, we all slept very very well.................

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