A full day on the Cle Elum River
The Puppers didn’t let me sleep past 7am, forcing me out of my warm sleeping bag by persistent nose pokes and sloppy kisses. Since covering my head with the sleeping bag didn’t work, I finally gave in and surrendered myself to the brisk morning air.
I have some ideas for making our sleeping area more comfortable and warm for the puppies. The tent (16′ x 9′) can be separated into two area by a zip down curtain which helps to build a little warmth during the night. I have my two collapsible crates on either side of the tent, against the back wall, with two extra long inflatable camp pads spanning the floor between. My cot blocks these in and sits against the cloth wall. This way I can be more toward the middle of the tent opposed to the cold outer wall. The sleeping pads are covered with piles of blankets so the dogs can snuggle down.
I think I’m going to have to come up with something better as the temperature drops. The entrance to the tent leads into the ‘dining/livingroom’ area. If the weather is nice i can cook outside the tent but the stove provides some heat. Of course there has to be plenty of ventilation when cooking indoors to keep both the moisture and CO at a minimum. When I reach Missoula I plan to by a CO monitor and small fire extinguisher. The tent has its own awning 6′ x 9′ which i can back the car into making a dry cooking area and access to the car.
Still loving the tent. I look forward to having extended periods using it. This is the company I bought it from: site
Considering I’ve only been out for one day, I’ve accumulated a list of chores.
1. Clean out cooler
I bought dry ice in Bellevue so I wouldn’t have to worry about the mess and replacement of Ice. Alas, I need to brush up on the use of this smoky element. I put the $30.00 block on top of all my soda cans and by morning they’d all burst. This wasn’t the worst of my problems as the impact of the exploding cans caused the lid of the cooler to open and the dry ice evaporated into, literally, the thin air.
============I carry the heavy cooler down to the river and wash it and all its contents. It was an exercise for both me and the poodles since I dropped the paper towels partly down the gravel bar and had to have the poos retrieve it for me. They thought it was quite fun….
2. Reorganize the car
This will probably puzzle Joe since he watched me work for about 4 hours organizing the car yesterday before leaving. I have a feeling that I’ll be working on this throughout the trip as I shift the less often used items things to the top of the car.
=============It’s amazing how hard it is to re-pack. Things that fit yesterday have no place in the car today. I move the majority of my clothing to the roof top bag…saving a few things that can be used for camping and putting away my ‘good clothes.’ I make room for the chair and cot in the roof bag by bring down the container of cooking utensils and stove. I’m trying to keep the back of the car open enough so I can sleep inside without removing anything… very important if I need to car-camp while it’s raining.
3. Collect firewood
============= During the morning hike I gathered twigs, small branches and moss to start a fire.
I looked high and low for large pieces of wood but they were all damp from several days of rain. I was preparing to give up the though of a fire. In Roslyn I’d considered buying a bundle of wood but couldn’t bring myself to do it. I’m happy to report that during an afternoon drive (to explore some of the dirt roads in the area) I came across two felled trees. They were splintered into large pieces (probably 2 feet long and 9 inches in diameter. I had to scramble down an overgrown hillside to get the wood and the poos thought it was part of a very exciting game. We had seen three mule deer down the road and I’m sure the underbrush was full of wonderful scents.
During this trip I let the dogs run with the car for about 3 miles. It’s a form of exercise I used to do with the gang on our way in or out of a day’s hike. Since they’re out of shape and their pads aren’t conditioned, I limited the distance and speed. Mica and Nickel can pretty much go forever. Eureka likes to join them from time to time but TinTin wants nothing to do with it. I leave the side door open and she lays there watching her partners doing all the work. I leave the side door open because it seems to give the dogs a sense of security… I’m not going to drive away without them. They trot next to the driver’s side door or out in front of the car. If they fall back and trot next to the open door I know that they’re ready for a break, I stop the car and they jump in. My normal speed is between 10-5 miles per hour. Today we kept it under 5 for most of the trip.
4. find a way across the river for a scramble through the woods
==========I really want to find a way across the river.
We follow the river up-stream for about a mile. There are several spots that, at first, look promising but the river proves to be too swift, deep and cold. It’s probably only about thigh high but with the temperature and current I don’t dare risk it with the dogs. TinTin is quite happy with the decision and heads back to camp before I even had a chance to shout, ‘RETREAT!” We follow the river back to camp via the wooded shore rather than the gravel bar. Much easier on the ankles!
5. Work on the blog
=========Today, I took pictures and took notes for future work. There’s absolutely no internet access here. I sit in my little pink chair next to the river. You couldn’t find a more peaceful place to journal. By now it’s around 5 o’clock and I pour myself a glass of wine, carry the chair out to the gravel bar and soak up the last of the warm sun.
The poodles spend a great deal of the time chasing crows, sniffing rocks, wading in the cold water and laying in the sun.
6. Build Fire
After working on journaling I decide it’s time to think about dinner and get a fire going. There are a few droplets of rain but still no threats of a storm. It’s been a long time since I made a fire. There’s an odd satisfaction in starting and maintaining a blaze.
I’m reminded of Phil’s declaration that I made ‘White Man’ fires: Large, extravagant and wasteful. I tried to keep it to a reasonable size
but as darkness sets in I can’t help myself but to make one that’s big enough to be seen from inside the tent and one that will last until I fall asleep without tending.
There’s nothing better than the smell of a camp fire.
***and so another end to a wonderful day***