Waldo Lake Late Summer Kayak Camping!

Waldo Lake! That name makes the heart of Oregon kayak campers leap! It’s Oregon’s largest natural lake outside Crater Lake and Waldo’s water is “dramatically ultra-oliographic,” meaning it’s unbelievably pure. They say it’s possible to see something on the bottom 140-feet down!

Not only that, Waldo’s 10-mph motorboat speed limit and lack of game fish mean the noise of motorboats aint gonna be a factor. This lake is a take-me-back-to-yesterday human powered recreation paradise. The indigo blue water is something to behold.

We arrived Friday afternoon and it was sunny and, well, a little smoky. Wildfires in southern Oregon sent some brownish haze our way. But the paddle was nice and we found a beautiful spot on a peninsula on the west side of the lake, about a 10-minute paddle from Rhododendron Island. We were all a bit freaked about whether our craft could manage to store all our gear!

Here’s a nice shot of the peninsula. We felt fortunate to be on such a pretty spot. Friday night there were stars a plenty!

Rod looking at camera on shore

Saturday morning we awoke to sun. Lucky us! The forecast called for RAIN early in the day. We made pancakes with blackberries/raspberries plus bacon! Quite the luxury. But by 1:00 the misty/light rain came. That was NOT going to stop us from paddling. So we headed down to Klovdahl Dam and saw some interesting perspectives along the way. The Gods seemed to blow clouds/mist over the crest of the mountains, which would create an aura of mystery on the lake. Some intrepid Hobie Cat sailors were out there undaunted!Hobie in Fog1

Then we headed down to Klovdahl Dam. This dam doesn’t mean the lake is man-made. Rather this guy Klovdahl was trying to use water from the lake to irrigate farms in the Willamette Valley sometime in the late 1800’s. His effort failed, thank God.Rod Katie Christian at Klovdahl

Okay. Saturday night was beat. We had fun and erected tarps and a shelter, but it misted much longer than the forecast! We did, however, have a nice Mexican meal before a blazing fire. Sometime during the night the clouds parted and VOILA! Sunday was BLUE BIRD perfect!Daybreak Sunday

Sunday morning was a fun cooking experience! Lots of extra stuff from dinner/breakfast Satuday (cut up potatoes and sausage) plus oats, yogurt, nuts, etc. All good!Katie Christian Andrea cooking

And then the plan was to let the gear dry out while we paddled. We took off for the north end of the lake. We found a pebble beach with fun boulders to climb on and use as a picnic spot! Then the wind kicked up and we headed back to camp, broke camp and that was pretty much it. Here’s Andrea after the wind calmed down. Right behind her is South Sister!

Andrea closer

Puget Sound Discovery – Hope Island

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An often overlooked and beautiful paddling venue is the lower Puget Sound. When most think of salt water Washington paddling, they head to the San Juan islands. But the areas between Olympia, Tacoma and the Olympic Peninsula are full of spectacular paddling and kayak camping opportunities! And, it’s only about two hours from Portland.

We picked a weekend where we’d be able to ride the tide to our camping spot and then ride it back to the put in. Tides can be over 2 knots and run much faster in certain parts of the Puget Sound, so detailed knowledge of the area with appropriate planning is mandatory. If you plan your paddle with the tide in mind, you’re going to have a lot of fun!

We set out from Boston Harbor Marina and headed about three nautical miles to Hope Island. The water at this time of year is in the mid 60’s, and I swam in it – you don’t need a dry suit! Along the way we saw Mt. Rainier, the Olympics, and some marine wildlife including seals, jellyfish, ospreys and bald eagles.

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Hope Island is a state park – it’s got trails and two camping areas. We were lucky to score a water trail site – it’s even got kayak racks – how convenient! There’s a very decent pit toilet but no fresh water – you’ve got to bring your own. After setting up camp we took off for a day tour around neighboring Squaxin Island, which is entirely an indian reservation. Winds perked up in the afternoon to about 15 knots, bringing whitecaps.

The following morning brought the low-low tide. There is a 12-foot tide in this part of the sound, revealing a world of life! Purple sea stars, orange starfish, jellyfish, dungeness and spider crabs, plus a few stranded fish crowded the shore. Sea anemonoes abounded and clams squirted at us. A few intrepid racoons smart enough to know crabs hide in slumber under exposed rocks were enjoying a seafood buffet!

We spent the rest of the morning relaxing on Hope Island, waiting for the tide’s return. The ride back brought out fantastic mountain views!

Timothy Lake Spring Weekend!

Timothy Lake Lunch

Seven of us braved the ugly forecast of rain and thunderstorms and the risk paid off. We wanted to get out of town, just enjoy a multiday trip up at Timothy Lake. It’s an easy drive from Portland, Oregon, and one can have a quick peaceful time up there.

Kayaking Oregon needn’t involve long drives. It’s only an hour and forty-five minutes from Portland. Yet, during the shoulder season Timothy Lake can seem much further away. This weekend the campgrounds weren’t full and at Gone Creek campground, where we camped, there were no RVs this weekend. Timothy lake sits at 3,200 ft elevation. The north side of the lake has lots of primitive campsites. This weekend, the water seemed unusually warm!

All of us arrived Friday. I got there about 3:30 p.m. and after setting up my stuff went for a paddle. Since I’m taking an instructor development workshop this coming weekend I wanted to do some skills practice. I set out rolling, edging and bracing. I couldn’t believe how warm the water was. And, it was nice weather!

It wasn’t long before I saw cars arriving at the campsite, so I beached the boat. Liz and Michelle had just arrived, and I helped them get arranged. I encouraged them to come out boating. We went almost across the lake and saw a rain shower, so we turned back. We got caught in a major downpour. I was OK since I wore my drysuit, but the ladies weren’t so lucky. But there were no complaints. A fun time was had.

The rain passed, and we began dinner preparation. We had canopies over our picnic tables. Tonight’s meal was everyone for themselves, whereas others were prepared in teams. As darkness fell, we gathered around the table for merriment.

Saturday morning was dry, though cloudy. Breakfast burritos filled our bellies, and then it was suit up and paddle the lake. Our route called for crossing the lake, then snaking along the north shore past Meditatation Point and up into the inlet on the northeast side of the lake, where there is a wetland. Kayak camping can be done on many sites along the north side of the lake. We might return for a quieter experience later in the summer taking advantage of the primitive sites. The sun broke through the clouds, and we stopped for lunch. Jessie was practicing turning her boat with edging and bracing and went a bit too far – she rolled over. But she held her own, finding the setup position and rolling back up!

In the inlet, we saw a number of blue herons. But the most interesting wildlife were the ospreys, which not only dove for fish but skimmed the water, something I’d never seen before.

We ended the day back at the camp with a Thai stir fry meal. Well deserved, and we pitied those who chose to stay in Portland because we had very nice weather! The fire was warm, marshmallows were roasted, and stories were told. We can’t wait for the next kayak camping trip!


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