Back to the river

Between book gigs, guests, and appointments we managed to squeeze in two nights of camping at one of our favorite sites last week—our first camping trip this year. It was far too short, but it was good. Best, perhaps, was having the campground to ourselves. Apparently the heat had chased everyone to the coast, so we reveled in the quiet and enjoyed our own private Metolius.

Morning brought a view of turkey vultures high in the trees across the river. I counted four soaking up the morning’s warmth and looking like Disney caricatures as they dozed—hunched over on the branches of a dead tree—or spread their wings in the sunshine. Soon it was a regular convention with at least 14 birds arguing over the best place to sit. Eventually they took off, soaring high above the tall trees, circling and circling in the updrafts until they were carried out of sight.

Much later a young Forest Service worker came down the trail with a clipboard, so naturally we had to ask about the restoration work they’ve been doing—bringing in logs to encourage shady pools for fish, and replanting the banks. The replanting with native species was done this spring by about thirty third and fourth graders under his supervision. “They did everything wrong,” he said, “but it’s all growing anyway and looking good.”

It was too hot to hike but we made it down river to the bridge; then it was back to our books and a cold beer.

The next day we had lunch at Camp Sherman and headed home, stopping at the Hackleman Old Growth trail for a short easy walk through shady groves. A few hours later we were back in the heat (106F) and the business of real life.

Every time we go camping I just want to stay forever. I really need a house in the woods.