Sunday, September 3, 2017

Forest creature

It’s Labor Day weekend. Everyone is out in the boonies for their last hurrah until hunting season. And there’s a major heat wave everywhere in the West that isn’t the beach or above 5,000 feet. So, where to go? Because going is what I do.

The weather map makes it clear: stick to the mountains. The Cascades are still a way from Colville, Washington, where I’ve stopped for the nice 4G LTE signal. And since the Cascades are closer to high population centers, camping areas there are more likely to be packed with weekenders. But there are other mountains nearby, and National Forests. There should be places to camp.

I cross the Columbia River at Kettle Falls and cruise west on highway 20, keeping my eyes peeled for promising National Forest roads. There are campground signs, too, but I suspect any of those along the river will be full.

Then I spot a campground/trailhead sign pointing away from the river, up a mountain. Trout Lake. Why not. It couldn’t hurt to look.

The unpaved (but well maintained) road narrows to one lane as I climb through switchbacks and heavy forest. I cross my fingers I don’t meet someone coming the other way. I notice occasional dispersed camping spots—vacant ones. I’ll keep them in mind if the campground is full.

When I arrive at the campground, not only are there a couple of nice sites open, the campground is also free. Thank you tax dollars.

Two drawbacks, though. No cell service (which I can cope with) and almost no sunlight for my solar panel. That will be an increasing problem in this forested region. I’ll need to so how that works out.

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