One of the best campsites ever. That’s my feet, a fire, the Sandy River below me, and Mt. Hood in the background.

Look. At. This. View. The peak of Mt. Hood is shrouded in clouds, but even seeing the lower slopes of the snowy mountain is pretty awesome.

That view didn’t come easy. Our weekend began a couple miles farther downstream. Arno and I put our tent out on the beach this Friday on the exact spot that Tara and I put our tent on the beach last Friday. Everything was perfect until a gaggle of annoying, self-absorbed, offensive teenagers brought their lightning-bright lights and huge stereo sound system in to the campsite directly across the river from us. The whole back end of someone’s car had been built into the bass speakers. The river valley shook for hours on end.

Boom Boom BaBoom Boom BaDaBoom Boom DaBoom….

It continued until 1:00 am. After getting up at 4:30am Friday morning, working a 10 hour day, then driving out to the wilderness and setting up camp, I was so devastatingly tired I was ready to ford the Sandy River and go strangle JoeBob, BettySue, AND Lady GaGa. Rah rah ah ah ah!

trillium

wild orchids

It’s my last weekend in the United States. Since I had my Tara weekend (in my last post), this is my Arno weekend to say goodbye. I am thrilled that he was as eager to go camping as I was. Saturday morning we went on a hike to Ramona Falls, on a trail Arno had found online after I described the location of our campsite.

trail to Ramona Falls

The trail was awesome! Well-worn, interesting, beautiful, and close to our camp. It was only 7 miles roundtrip, so a nice easy afternoon hike. Arno packed sandwiches and fresh strawberries for us to have a meal along the route. The trailhead was huge, and full, because the warm sun was encouraging many of us to seek the out of doors.

View of Mt. Hood in the Sandy River crossing along the trail

There were a number of people on the trail, but it wasn’t crowded, and it seemed to thin out as we got farther along the path. When we arrived at Ramona Falls, I was astonished. It was more incredible than I had imagined. Thank the National Forest System for putting a trail out there to get to it. A common rock formation around here are walls of columns packed together when lava cooled. The igneous rock formed into vertical rods that break off at different levels over time. Ramona Creek tumbles down the mountain 120 feet, splashing on hundreds of these columns, fanning out across a wide area by the time the water reaches the bottom. It’s so amazing I took a video and will place it at the bottom of this post.

Ramona Falls crashes down over moss-covered columnar basalt

Pacific Crest Trail {click to enlarge}

see the photographer, bottom center, for scale

Another very cool thing was that part of our trail followed the Pacific Crest Trail. Arno and I confessed to each other that we hope to hike the PCT one day. We agreed that the PCT holds more appeal than the Divide Trail or the Appalachian Trail. This is the third time I’ve stepped onto the PCT. We hiked about 1 1/2 miles of it, so that is the longest stretch I’ve done. Hardly preparation for the real thing, but exciting nonetheless!

We shared the trail with many older people, obese people, children, dogs, horses, families, couples, friends, and loners. It occurred to us that, despite the many things we might not have in common with the others (even the awful young people with their obscenely loud music), the one thing that binds us all is that we want to be in the forest on a beautiful day. It made us really like all those other people.

Arno and I crossing Ramona Creek

Back at the trailhead, I scoped the area out and saw that it looked like a nice place to camp, for someday in the future. The river was pretty close, it was dry, the forest was mossy and open.

Our next trip was up Lolo Pass, because I wanted to get a good look at Mt. Hood from there.  I know I rave about that volcanic peak all the time, but I can’t help myself. It’s a truly stunning mountain. Stunning. Inspiring. Humbling. We found a climbing spot, French’s Dome, and had to turn around at that point because Lolo Pass is still closed. Maybe for snow.

Mt. Hood from Lolo Pass. (I know you’re sick of shots of Mt. Hood. Sorry!)

Arno and Mt. Hood

We returned to camp and, from the road, a good 200 feet from the beach, and across the river from the dance club campers, we could hear the bass. From inside the truck, we heard the whump whump whump of the sound system on the other side of the river! That was it for me. I said to Arno I wanted to move camp and he agreed. Where? Well, I had just spotted something that looked promising at the Ramona Falls trailhead. We packed up camp to the thunderous soundtrack, and were gone in twenty minutes.

Our camp on the ledge

We wandered around from the trailhead parking area and found a brilliant spot. On a ledge above the river, we had a wide view up and down the river canyon, and best of all, Mt. Hood rose up above it all. Though we had been lucky to have great weather all weekend, by Saturday night, it was starting to cloud up. The clouds obscured the peak first thing and then spread out.

I’m the pyro, so I got the fire going, “swept” the campsite clear of debris so we had a good clear spot to place the tent (with a view of the mountain). Arno cooked us carbonara with bacon, pine nuts, and cheddar (because he forgot the Parmesan). We had a divinely peaceful night without another camper visible or heard. Sunday morning, after a leisurely breakfast of scrambled eggs with sauteed scallions, sausage and tortillas, we went back to civilization.

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