Sunday, September 11, 2011

Lost Creek Camping Trip

A few weekends ago we camped at Lost Creek Campground in the Mt. Hood National Forest.  We were supposed to camp the entire weekend but our plans got sidelined by a series of miscues.

The night before we were scheduled to leave, I was asked to sub on a softball team - my first time playing since before Grant was born.  We turned the garage upside down looking for my softball gear and found it all, except my sliding shorts.  Curt's logical input - "Just don't slide."  I had every intention of following his advice until I got a good hit and decided to stretch it to a double.  I slid safely into second base and tore up a huge chunk of my leg with the biggest road rash/strawberry/raspberry I've ever had in my entire softball career.  (I've spent the last three weeks regretting it.)

sweet, sick baby girl

While I was reliving the glory days, Katie got stung by a bee, which wouldn't be a huge deal if she wasn't allergic to bee stings.  By the next morning her arm was swollen to the size of the state of Kansas, itchy and hot to the touch.  I was investigating Katie's arm when Paige stumbled down the stairs crying.  She had a temperature of 103.5 and spent the next several hours laying listlessly on the couch. We decided to postpone our trip.

Saturday morning we re-evaluated.  Paige's fever was gone, Katie's arm was feeling better, and my bottle of Advil promised to ward off the pain from the road rash.  Armed and dangerous, we loaded the trailer with all our supplies and the van with all our kids (including Sarah) and headed to Lost Creek Campground.  "Situated in the Old Maid Flat Geologic Area on the west side of Mt. Hood National Forest, this is a small campground (only 15 sites) at a 2600 foot elevation."  Our site, B4, was a pack-in site.  We parked in a small lot and hauled our gear about 1/4 of a mile to a huge, remote and private camp site.  Backing to Lost Creek with hiking trails a stone's throw from our tent, it was perfect for our family.  

kitchen, living room and Sarah's tent
 The kids played in the woods while we set up camp: backpacking tent for Sarah and the big tent for our family.    Sarah helped me set up the "kitchen" while Alli designed the "living room" around the camp fire ring.  Once the Stilmot (what we call combined Stilp-Wilmot family outings) temporary home was established, we all explored the creek.  The water was ice-cold and deep in spots.  The crazy kids actually played in the water and the sane adults stayed on the shore and chucked rocks at targets.  The flies were thick and highly annoying making it difficult to stay in one place for long, so we decided to take a hike.  

crazy Stilmot photo by the creek
Our original plan was to take a full day and hike the seven-mile Ramona Falls loop since the trailhead was a mere half-mile from our campground.  Our shortened trip nixed that plan.  We opted instead to go to the Top Spur trailhead.  Located 15 miles further up the Forest Service Road from where we were camping, it's the start of the most impressive hike I've been on since moving to the Pacific Northwest.  My Mom and I hiked the ten-mile route last year for her birthday and I remembered that there were two stunning viewpoints, neither of them too far into the route, that would make for beautiful photos and a perfect before-dinner hike.

The first half-mile of the trail is straight up through thick woods that were swarming with flies.  Nothing about it was pleasant and poor Paige tripped on a tree root and fell smack dab into a thick mud puddle.  She was covered with mud from head to toe, bawling her head off, and wanted nothing to do with finishing the hike.  We coerced her into continuing by promising a very short hike and continued up the narrow trail.  A few minutes later I spotted hikers coming down the trail toward us.  They looked vaguely familiar and I started laughing when I realized it was my Mom and her husband Terry!  None of us knew the other was planning on being hiking and we just happened to choose the same trail at the same time on the same day.  What are the odds of that?!?

family at viewpoint
kiddos at viewpoint
 We said goodbye to Ru and Terry and climbed the last little bit to the first viewpoint.  Mt. Hood was in the foreground with layers of foothills and a river in the canyon below.  Sarah and I thought it was magnificent.  Everyone else didn't care and just wanted to know when we were turning around.  Alli didn't wear socks and her shoes gave her blisters.  Paige was consistently mad about the mud that was now drying on her clothes.  Grant chucked rocks off the edge of the trail to the canyon below, making me jump and shriek on the already dangerously narrow trail.  Katie didn't like the flies and Curt just wanted to get back "home" so we could make dinner.  Sarah (I think) was afraid to have an opinion.  Poor girl!  I wanted to continue on the trail to the next viewpoint (2.5 miles further down the trail) which I inaccurately remembered as being "just around the corner."  When I realized my error, we turned around headed back to the campground.
the hills are alive...

The morning we were leaving, Sarah and the kids discovered two super cool forts in the woods just steps away from where we were camping.  One was finished.  The other needed some help.  While we packed up our gear, the kids completed the second fort.  It kept them contained to a small area and they were so proud of the finished product.

wanna come in the fort?
Like any good family vacation, our trip was a mix of intense fun and irritation.  We made s'mores and put kids in time out.  We laughed and diverted arguing.  We bonded and rolled our eyes.  We worked hard, played hard, and tried to be Godly.  The godliness came in fits and starts for all of us, but the overall experience was good.  Life is rarely smooth sailing.  More often than not, it's a bit bumpy and rough around the edges.  I love that God still allows us to find beauty and fun even in the midst of the bumps and the chaos.  We will definitely be back!

Here's our family on the road trip home.  Fun was definitely had by all!

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