Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The great hurricane creek campsite hunt

I slogged across a snowfield hunting down a campsite. Not here, I thought. In the best of times, this narrow canyon is difficult to camp in. Steep walls, thick vegetation, and a big river make it challenging. Relatively few people camp here because most are bound for the lakes basin or hiking/trail running up only a few miles for the day.

Nice views on the hike in.
But I wanted to do some solo backpacking, and this trail was the closest, and most likely to be clear of much of the snow that still blankets the higher elevations. It might be disturbingly weird, but solo backpacking is how I recharge. Day hiking isn't quite enough. Too much time indoors in summer isn't good for me.
I'm pretty happy in my own company.
Which leaves me with the ability to make my own decisions, such as where to camp. I admit it, I am picky about campsites. This probably comes from years of being a wilderness ranger, when we were told to pass up the choice spots for visitors to take, and also to hide our campsites so that the person we had just ticketed for having an illegal campfire wouldn't come get us. We were often forced into brushy, slanted sites with no view for the sake of safety. Once we repeatedly fell into the lake outlet because we were camped on the other side and had to cross slippery logs to get to the toilet (this lake had a backcountry toilet). I would hear a splash and a curse, and know the intern had fallen in again.

Part of the hurwal divide. Hurricane/Walllowa, get it? Nowhere to camp here.

too steep to camp here.
I passed some possibilities. But none were quite right.

Hiked up to this waterfall hoping to find a flat spot, but no.
Finally I reached the perfect spot. Perched on a dry meadow above the river, it had a great view of the Matterhorn, arguably the highest peak in the Wallowas (Sacajawea may be higher).

Campsite view!
There's something great about finding the perfect campsite, even if you only occupy it for a few hours. You can pull out a book, take a short walk, nap, or look at the scenery. It is very peaceful.

On the trail the the next day, I passed a meadow with a waterfall. A tent was perched high on a bluff. I looked admiringly at it. The people had to traverse a steep, brushy slope to get there. They were, I decided, people after my own heart, fellow perfect-campsite hunters.

Am I the only weirdo that needs the perfect campsite? Anyone else out there like solo trips?

15 comments:

  1. I'm all about the perfect campsite, too. I want to be wowed when I get up in the morning! I like going solo, but haven't backpacked solo yet.

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    1. It isn't for everyone, it seems like people either love it or hate it (or are terrified).

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  2. Hell yeah! I love views and will work for them. I position my tent at just the right angle for sunrise. We are backcountry sisters! You're just a bit more BA :)

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    1. Don't know about that, Mt Whitney in winter.

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  3. Oh such lovely scenery! I could pitch my tent anywhere. How lucky you are to have this right outside your door.

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    1. Would be great to see some of your professional photos if you ever came here.

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  4. I like your photos a lot. I'm sure you know in Alaska, we have a lot of perfect camping spots only, we have to share them with the mosquitoes. That's worse than having bears around, lol.

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    1. Well....I am pretty baranoid. In Sitka we really didn't have mosquitoes with the ocean breeze. Plenty of bears though.

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  5. I definitely prefer solo backpacking. It's so much less stressful and so much more restorative. I love the quiet contemplation time. I definitely hike solo much more than I do with another person. I am planning some trips with R this summer in SW Colorado, that will be a challenge for me. I've gotten very spoiled only having to plan and schedule for myself.
    I'm picky about a campsite when I have the luxury to be. If I'm exhausted or trying to beat a storm or the dark, then not so much.

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    1. Ooh southern Colorado. The CDT? Should be really beautiful. This makes me sound intolerant but I agree, it can be stressful if the people you are with have their own rituals such as sleep until 11 (been there). Because I know this about myself I am really working on becoming a better hiking companion and more patient. But it is mice after a long work day to just do your own thing.

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  6. I thought I was the only one to spend so much time seeking the perfect solo spot!

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    1. No. I am pretty ridiculous actually.

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  7. Judging from the photos, that's tough country for anyone who can't sleep standing up.

    I normally use a hammock, and a perfect site for me is just about any place that's out of sight and has two agreeable trees. But even that would be tough to find where you went, so I guess I can't be of any help.

    As for quiet, once (only once) I came across a couple in the Olympics who hiked together without speaking. Not having any of my own hiking buddies, sometimes I do talk to myself but it's only moving my lips around - no screaming arguments or anything like that, but they had it dialed in. They talked when they stopped and otherwise traveled quietly, and experienced more.

    Normally you can hear people hooting and hollering at each other from at least half a mile away. Going solo and being quiet you see a lot more. Like the day I almost got run over by a cougar. Which maybe is an argument in favor of having friends along. On the other hand, when the cougar got a good look at me, it couldn't get away fast enough, so ugly also counts for something.

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  8. Yes Mary I'm just like you when it comes to the choice camp spot.
    In fact your view of the Matterhorn looks a lot like the view I had the last time I spent the night in Hurricane Creek several years ago.

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  9. My husband is always on the hunt for the perfect campsite, while I'm all, "this looks fine, let's just camp here." Sometimes it can really get on my nerves!!!

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