Labor Day 2013 – Trillium Lake

After spending a week in Florida with my brother-in-law we, my wife and I, weren’t done getting our “R&R” on…so we gathered up our camping gear, conveniently tucked away at my parents-in-laws house already packed into our car, and headed up to Mt. Hood to spend a few days at my favorite campsite on the mountain, Trillium Lake.

Everything was perfect for this trip, the weather was exceptional as it often is in Portland this time of year. The weather was mid 70’s to mid 80’s for the 3 days we were there with the temp maybe getting a little close to 90 one of the days.

Our camp site ready to be enjoyed

Our camp site ready to be enjoyed

Once we arrived at site #28 and set our tent and gazebo up, we took the dogs for a walk-about to give them a much-needed potty break as well as giving them a lay of the land. Soon all was right with the word.

Trillium Lake as seen from the opposite side of the lake

Trillium Lake as seen from the opposite side of the lake

Earlier I mentioned that this is my favorite place to camp on the mountain and now let me tell you why. Aside from the obvious scenic beauty of the landscape being painted with pines of all sorts, Doug Firs, Hemlocks and other woodland specimens, there are many magnificent critters to be seen, both avian and four-legged. There is also a small lake that is stocked with trout (yummy!) that is home to at least one beaver (more on that later). But the best thing to me about Trillium Lake is the view of the stars it affords us. The lake creates a kind of bowl with the trees and hills surrounding us, blanketing almost all light making it ideal for star-gazing (more on that in a minute).

Holding up this tree is hard work

Holding up this tree is hard work

As we were anxious to get into our kayaks and explore the water in more depth, we loaded up the doggies one more time and drove our two vehicles down to the lake and launched into our kayaks and canoe.

The two red dogs went with my parents-in-law in their canoe, our black dog went into my wife kayak with her and I asked my fishing pole to join me in my kayak. It readily accepted.

Fresh trout personally caught was wonderful

Fresh trout personally caught was wonderful

Soon we were all enjoying some time on the water and I was actually catching fish. As it turns out not all the fish that were recently stocked had been caught. I came back with only one for my first time out.

I would go back into the water the next two morning at 6am, bringing out 5 more fish as well as 3 more from a dusk outing that I shared with my mom and sister when we got back to Portland.

After we got back to camp from our fishing trip we heated some homemade chilli and dove in with gusto. This was washed down with a 22 oz. bottle of something alcoholic from Trader Joe’s.

Our escape-wagon, perfect for all activities

Our escape-wagon, perfect for all activities

After the evening settled down my parents-in-law and I walked down to the lakes edge on the first night and I am happy to report they appeared to be as amazed as I was at the magnitude and spectacle of what was above us. Stars beyond counting, big and little dipper were easily identifiable. The Milky Way was also easily picked out amongst the heavenly bodies. There was just SO MANY stars it was almost overwhelming. Truly a magical moment in time for me. I always get lost in that view on the lake at Trillium Lake at night when all the light has gone away.

The following day as mentioned earlier I was up when it was still pitch black outside to go fishing. I was met with success at convincing 3 more rainbows to join the one I already had so that now we had four which I fried up for lunch. This fresh fish was SO good.

Monday we walked around the lake (which was about 2 miles total) to exercise the dogs as well as ourselves. It was a really nice walk which yielded some interesting plants, trees, woodland critters (we even saw a marmot – I think, something related to the fisher or weasel) which were really quite satisfying to see in their own habitat.

More water fun, awesome food and drink for dinner and relaxing took place afterwards.

Tuesday morning I was up early again but this time my wife joined me, not for fishing but for kayaking. I caught only one in the couple of hours I put in. My wife had the real fun however; she spied a beaver moving across the lake and moved in a little closer look. As it spied her it rose up its tail out of the water and made a mighty splash that sent water spraying out for feet around. (I heard splashing and thought people were jumping into the lake is how loud Mr. Beaver’s slaps were) This went on a couple more times. After each slap he would dive under water for 30-45 seconds and reemerge someway else. Once spotted my wife pursued him again where he would slap the water and dive down again only to re-emerge somewhere else to start the sequence all over again. This happened a few times. My wife had a great time and the beaver ultimately just went on his merry way.

Timberline Lodge

Timberline Lodge

Later in the day we drove up to Timberline Lodge for only my second time. Quite a tourist destination by the looks of the cars in the visitor parking lot.

I was amazed at the enormity of some of the wooden support beams as well as the inclusion of the ram figure which was plastered over almost everything made of iron. There is a story there that I would be interested in finding out. After Timberline Lodge we drove to Little Crater Lake and Crystal Lake since we were driving around.

Details how Little Crater Lake was formed

Details how Little Crater Lake was formed

Once we returned back to camp I inflated the pontoon boat I have been jonesing to use in the hopes I will actually get to use it. After a last-minute check on the two pontoons I am unable to get them full enough so I abandon the idea of using the boat for fishing this trip. 😦

We return back to our campsite for more wonderful food and drink. What a great day.

Little Crater Lake

Little Crater Lake

I forgot to mention that preparing food is a big deal with my wife’s family and we all have our parts to do when a meal is being prepared. My wife and her mother are the organizers/choppers and assemblers of much of what we eat. My father-in-law is fire-master and beer procurer and I fill in where needed often cooking a side dish on my stove.

Peering down into the depths - 40+ feet

Peering down into the depths – 40+ feet

One thing I especially like is being able to help out with breaky when we make biscuits and gravy. My mother-in-law makes the dough by hand, cuts out rounds that will soon be placed into the dutch oven that has been slowly heating over the fire or coals. I brown the sausage in a pot, add flour, brown some more and then add almond milk. Friggin’ awesome! My wife guides me through this almost every time because I am a hands on learner and I don’t want to screw everyone’s breakfast up. At this point I imagine I could do the gravy no problem. I might try and tackle the biscuits next time.

The catch before they were dinner

The catch before they were dinner

Another breaky I helped with was bacon and french toast. I used the griddle I have recently come into possession of from my sister to cook the bacon and after that was complete I used the bacon grease caught in the outer grease trap on the griddle to add a little more flavor to the french toast. C’mon, who doesn’t like bacon? The whole meal was awesome.

My mother-in-law also pre-made chilli as I mentioned earlier and stew that we ate for dinner. Both are awesome over time since their flavors only get better with time and are hardy camping food you only need to heat to prepare. Nothing fancy but oh so good.

We wrapped up Wednesday morning and headed home where work awaited me on Thursday.

More to come…

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