Monday, July 30, 2012

Backpacking In Willamette Forest

This weekend Jessi & I embarked upon an epic backpacking trip in Willamette Forest near the McKenzie River to celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary. We actually hiked around 4 small lakes: Scott, Hand, Tenas & Benson Lake, and up one mountain: Scott Mountain. The map above shows our approximate 9 mile loop.

We started Friday morning near Scott Lake & headed for Hand Lake. There we stopped & ate lunch, relaxed a bit and practiced filtering water from the lake. See the beginning of the video below. We eventually came to a choice: Go over Scott Mountain or go around it. Going over involved snow and steep elevation changes. Going around was MUCH longer (easily 3 times), and didn't appear to have as many water options. We decided to go over the mountain.

Sitting by Hand Lake for lunch

We stopped on the hill for the night, with absolutely nobody else around. It was awesome! Unfortunately, the mosquitos were bad, but manageable.

Our little camp-set up

Just the trees and us. That's it!

For dinner we ate toasted bread, cup-of-noodle soup, boxed wine (yup!), and enjoyed raspberry crumble for dessert. Vinnie enjoyed several special snacks including some beef jerky and string cheese.

The stove that made it all happen. It worked like a champ.

Celebrating in style. The raspberry crumble was very delicious.

Vinnie still had room for his food after all the snacks we fed him.

The next morning we broke camp and were met with snow patches. Thankfully we talked to a couple people the day before and they told us to follow their tracks. It's a good thing too because we never would have been able to follow the trail! During this part of the hike we let Vinnie off the leash and he ran around like crazy! We were a little concerned about how far he would be able to go, he is pretty short after all , but he did amazing. He easily walked 4 miles each day and probably could have gone further.

We made water from snow. Here we are finding a clean spot to shovel from.

One of the many snow patching covering the trail.

Vinnie ran all over the place! He loves the snow.

He surprised us by jumping into a mini-lake and ran around in it for a bit.

The one thing he didn't like was sleeping in the tent. At first he fell right asleep, but then he woke… and wanted out… He proceeded to walk laps inside the tent looking for an exit. I even got a good picture of him looking at the door practically begging me to let him out. As a result, none of us really slept much.

This was him at first. Totally calm an awesome.

This was him a little while later. Ready to do out and play. We did... at 2am, 4am and 7:30am. This was at 7:30am.

Anyways, the second day we arrived to Tanas Lakes and found a nice spot near the water where, surprisingly, there were no mosquitos. Yes! We hung out there for a few hours. I managed to push Vinnie into the water once, and he managed to fall in once all on his own. Poor guy - he's not designed to swim… ha ha. Hanging out at the lake was easily our favorite part of the trip: beautiful view, warm sun, cool water, no bugs.

Pretty awesome, right?

I took a nap & Vinnie decided to join me. I guess this was payback for pushing him into the water.

Another view of the lake. Pretty.

We made it to our second spot around 4pm and set up camp. This time the mosquitos were horrible! I literally had trouble seeing because of the cloud around us. When it's this thick, no repellent works. We set up the tent and hopped inside. Once we killed the 50 mosquitos inside the tent we relaxed and talked about options. After a lengthly discussion about the purpose of the trip, we decided to walk the last mile to the car and go home. The mosquitos were so bad that all we wanted to do was stay inside the tent: the exact opposite of what Vinnie would want to do once he woke up.

He literally climbed onto my lap and passed out for a bit.

Looking at the map and realizing we're only about a mile away from our car.

So, we hiked out and drove home. Once home, we set up our camp gear and made Mac & Cheese for dinner in the drive way. We also toasted marshmallows & finished off our boxed wines. It was really nice not worrying about bugs.

We even busted out the car-camping stove to speed up the cooking. :)


All three of us went to bed completely exhausted. It was a fun, adventurous weekend. Definitely an anniversary we'll remember for a while. The next day we counted how many mosquito bites we got.
Vinnie: 22 just on his face & ears that we could see pushing up fir
Jessi: 141. Check out the picture of her shoulder as an example
James: 248. What can I say? I must smell delicious.

Here's a video of a couple different times during the trip.

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