November 10 -15, 1999
Big Bottom Outing
November 12, 1999 - Friday
I didn't sleep very well. Mainly, I was worried about the wood getting stolen, that someone would claim the site and the wood and/or that the weather would go very bad. Then we would be in for a miserable four days. Steve was determined to stay for three nights, no matter the weather. He had made his mind to it and he was not open to anything less. He couldn't be left alone up there, so the deal was set. I got up at 4:30 AM, backed the truck out of the garage and started to load it up. I had all the stuff in the garage, but had not packed it into the truck like I should have Thursday night.
Everything ready, well sort of and the loading went well and fast. It took a while because the truck was simply filled to the maximum. There was no more room, anyplace. I made many trips to and from and the list never seemed to end. This was most of the list for the back of the truck.
Four camp chairs.
Two plastic buckets with things like ax, shovel, hammer, etc. in them
Box of propane bottles, bungee cords, baits, newspaper, and things
Two ice chests filled with ice and beer and bacon and eggs and the like
Large plastic box with the makings for a really big batch of nachos
One 18 gallon Rubbermaid chest filled with paper plates, plastic forks, cups, etc.
Matches, grub, foil, pans, etc.
New toilet seat lid.
Piece of astro turf to wipe shoes on outside of tent
Small reserve gas can
In the space behind the seat of the cab I had:
Two ball caps
Sorrel boots, hiking boots, rubber boots (wore light shoes)
Duffel bag filled with three sets of clothes, carefully layered and placed
Two sleeping bags (in case of cold or if one got wet)
Heavy cotton blanket
Rolled cot pad
Two sets of maps
Cased 20 gauge shotgun (still grouse season)
Binoculars 4" spotting scope
Optical adapters and accessory box
Bag with extra cotton gloves and wool things for the cold
My Duluth pack with revolver, shells, first aid kit, survival kit, camera, film
Tent, 10 x 17'
And other stuff.
By the time I was done packing, I had gotten soaked from the predawn rain. The truck was low in the rear and behind the cab was so full, I couldn't see out of the rear window. It was about the right load. Since I don't have a canopy, I had to put everything that could get damaged from rain in the back in a plastic garbage bag. Due to the humping, a tarp was not a good cover choice. One thing I made sure of was nothing in the passenger seat. I needed some open space to feel good. About 7:30 I drove off. It was a little later than I wanted to leave.
Twenty miles later, I stopped in Estacada and topped off the tank and filled the little reserve gas can. The owner of the gas station knew me from sight and asked what I was doing. I said: "Camping." He said: "Hunting." Hunting season was between weeks, so I said: "No, just camping." He knew that we had been topping off to go Bigfooting since Cliff told him months ago. He doesn't think much of it, I think. Anyway, he remarked on the hard rain that was coming down. Then, I stopped by the Thriftway store and picked up some beer and little things and enough ice to completely fill the chests. After that I went a couple of blocks to Harmony Bakery and got a blueberry muffin and a poppyseed muffin and headed up the hill. From home, I had good Folgers coffee in the thermos.
The view from the hill crest just south of Estacada was stupendous. The cloud cover was there, muting the morning light, yet it was clear beneath the clouds. The long, deep, narrow river valley stretched out below me, dark green with fir trees and the occasional orange flames of trees with autumn leaves. Rolls of low clouds roared out of the hollows and feeder stream canyons across the valley and up the west walls. It looked dark, yet it was clear. The cloud covered the mountains leaving the impression of a tunnel to nowhere. There was no rain.
Everyone that came up that morning got a similar view and remarked on it. However, I think mine, at that early hour, was the best from what the others said. The camera was buried behind the seat and in my mind, I was in a hurry, so I didn't take a picture.
At about 9:30, I got to the camp site. No one was there and the wood and straw hadn't been disturbed. I was relieved of my worries. It had been quite a risk. It was raining hard, so I just messed with the heater controls and listened to the radio. It was a New York morning talk show and for a person my age, quite entertaining. Normally, I couldn't get the radio even to Ripplebrook, so this was a treat. I had given all of my tapes to Goodwill, because of being old and all, so I didn't have any to take along.
Also, I just think that driving is a reward of sorts of its own and that it gives a person thinking time. For those who think modern driving is a drudge, consider the horse days of only 80 years ago .before that it was foot travel. Our modern highway and petro. based transit system is truly a wonder; besides, on all the trips up the hill, I was driving some very pretty roads.
About 10:30 the rain almost quit and I went out walking in my rain coat. When it got to be just a drizzle, I started packing my boxes from the truck, across the fallen log and over to the fire ring area. That was where there were three big tent sites. Then I got some wood from under the plastic and carried it over to the fire ring so we would have fire when we wanted it. About 11 I heard the whine of Steve's big tires on the road and then his big black truck rolled down the incline to camp. He had a big smile on his face. We were finally there. The expedition had begun.
It didn't take too long to haul a bunch of things from Steve's truck over to the fire ring. He and I both had big 10' x 17' tents. They were easy to set up with a little help from each other. Mine had shock poles and his had hard poles. We decided to use mine for sleeping for a couple of reasons. For one, I didn't have inside room dividers. It was like a miracle that we had no rain to bother set up. All we got was wet knees on our jeans. Then we set up his very cool canopy to cover the kitchen area. While Steve put up the kitchen, I brought some more wood over to the fire pit. Basically, the camp was done. It could not have gone better this time of year.
We sat around and drank a beer and talked a little and about 1:00, Cliff drove in with his black Yukon pulling a little trailer. He had his son's dune type buggy in it. It was a cute little thing with a big lawn mower engine for power and florescent lime green accents on the roll bar.
Just behind him came Woody in his old and true 1974 Chev 4x4 pickup. It was white with a fine dose of rust on the hood and other places. It had a canopy he had raised so he could get his 4 wheel off-roader in it. He had sold his good van and was waiting delivery of his new pick-up. Big red "For Sale" signs were in the canopy windows. Later he said that some fellow had come up to him and asked if the rig was for sale. Woody said the man didn't seem too bright. Anyway, it looked like he was going to buy it from Woody so things turned out all right. The truck was a good one and well worth $2000. Woody had followed Cliff up from Sluggo's Ice Cream in Estacada.
With the camp mostly up, there wasn't much to do, so Steve and I took off up the mountain to set some high traps. Woody and Cliff wanted to stay and fine tune camp and cut up the fallen tree with Cliff's chain saw. The weather had cleared some more and in general, we were lucky.
Steve drove west, up the mountain asphalt logging road. He drove with care, it was wet and curvy down low. We passed exposed sedimentary rocks in two places. At one, the layers were thin and the rock hard, the other had kind of big fat cobbled layers. Sometime, I need to break some of them up to look for fossils. Most of the road was lined with about 40' plus reprod and on the right, the cliff side, there were occasional good views of Devil's Ridge and Peavine Mountain.
Peavine Mountain is a long big hump of a thing running roughly north south. It is all covered with firs and has big logging cuts giving it a bit of a patchy appearance. To the north of it is Rock Butte, also fir covered, but smaller. Just north of that is Timothy Lake, a dammed lake put up by PGE as a water power source for Three Lynx power house.
When we turned south at the cut-off to middle level Lowe Creek and Tumble Creek. Lowe Creek wasn't far. It plunges through a old growth tree belt left by the logging planners. It is very pretty. Above us and immediately adjacent to the west was the rock quarry, showing its big brown-yellow steep scar and to the NW was Burnt Granite and the Thomas sighting site. Steve put up one trap below the road and while he was setting up the one above the road, I walked an old logging road. A bear had been along it not long ago and had rolled over many stones looking for grubs. Some were in the 50# range. Up over the crest of a little rise, the bear had ripped apart a rotten log. This time of year, they are very hungry while they get ready for hibernation.
We continued south to Tumble Creek. It too has an old growth tree buffer, but only on the north side of the stream. Steve set one trap. I really like Tumble Creek for some reason. It is a natural transit lane going down mountain from the central/south section of Mt. Lowe. If I had only one area to watch, it would be Tumble Creek first and Lowe Creek second.
The day was getting toward dusk, so we went down to the camp. Cliff had cut up most of the fallen log and they had piled a good bit of it next to the fire. The stack of rounds was quite comforting.
Then came some visitors who cruised up and back and up and back out on the road looking over the camp. They were in an orange and brown painted van and seemed to want to come into the site. The driver finally just gunned the engine and roared back out to the main highway. That was uncomfortable. There are forest hogs and those folks were clearly big fat porkers and they were probably armed. From then on, we would have to have a camp monitor. We were planning on one anyway.
Steve has a swell kitchen setup, with tables and a cooking and food prep. station. It fits together in a "T" under the kitchen canopy. The setup has open wire shelves and a good place to set a water container. We had lots of water with us. We brought two gallons a day per person and used a lot of it.
His dining canopy is the damnedest thing you'll ever see. It folds up into a little rectangle and to open it, it has a bunch of little elbows that fold out and there are slide down leg clicks and then you have about a 10' x 10' shelter. It started to rain, so we slid the chairs in as close as we could under the shelter around the tables.
Cliff and I were on the north side and the rain was coming so it drained over the north shelter lip. We had to really scrunch in close, but Woody and Steve had it a little better. Still, Cliff and I got a little damp on the back. Haay, we were camping, right?
While we nibbled on some good sausage, aged white cheddar cheese, "Scoops," good jarred salsa and drank some beers, Steve worked on the chili. He cooked up a big batch of hamburger in a pan - boiled it in beer really and then he ladled off the fat and dumped in three cans of chili makin's and some other stuff to make it real good and was it good! We all ate a plateful and then a little more.
Then it was time to get into some real serious talk. We had to talk. With all the planning, nobody had brought a deck of cards. We all had brought plenty of nickels and penny's, but no cards! When Steve sat down, he noticed it was just a bit chilly, so he lit the kerosene heater. The kerosene flamed up big and then settled down. Then Steve put the heater right under the tables. In about two shakes, there were four sets of feet next to it. That and a bit of fine Irish whiskey kept us warm and talkative. Pretty soon , the heat from under the table melted the grated cheese in its plastic bag. That was choice and got a laugh.
The tops of the tables and us sitting around it sort of held in the heat. We talked about Sasquatch and the older Sasquatch hunters, like Green, René, Peter and Larry. We talked about the net. We talked about this area. Then the maps came out, but the lantern light and getting tired just made us put them back. We talked some more until about 10:30. Then the communal decision was made to go to bed. It had been a pretty full day. I was dragging by then, but it turned out that everyone had woke up early, in anticipation I guess.
Cliff slept in his Yukon and Woody slept under his canopy with the rear door open. He has a trick remote controlled battery powered lamp he showed us. They both had plenty of sleeping gear. Woody had a pad and Cliff had a pump up air mattress. That gave Steve and I plenty of room in the tent. We didn't set up the heater in the tent, partly because it was not cold and partly because it was drizzling and we didn't want to open vents. My rainfly doesn't cover the doors very well.
Steve has a cold weather bag and mine is good down to moderate temps. He had his Hudson Bay wool blankets and I had my heavy cotton blanket. He had brought two thick foam pads and I used one of them instead of my thin pad. That helped keep my back warm. We went to sleep pronto. Deep into the night, Steve woke me up asking: "Is that you?" I told him: "No," and went back to sleep. Didn't think about why he had woke me up.
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