From the Blog

A Weekend, A Full Tank Of Gas: Chapter Eight

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Camping in Mt Hood National Forest. That’s right, bitches, Chapter Eight! I get around!

This time, we packed up the car, left work early Friday and did our best to escape rush hour traffic. It still took an hour to get out of Portland city limits. Traffic in Portland is no picnic. Especially when you are among the throngs of city dwellers headed into the mountains for the weekend. And extra especially when you don’t have a campsite reserved. And extra, EXTRA especially when you see other cars passing you, loaded with camping gear. Trying to steal our first-come, first-serve campsite, you bastards!

Our target was Green Canyon Campground in the Mt Hood National Forest. I’d send you off on a link to the campground, but there’s not a lot of info out there. Which was part of the reason why it was appealing to us. We were hoping that perhaps it was largely unknown and we would have no trouble getting a site. Also, the fire danger went from “low” to “moderate” through the course of the week. If they outlawed campfires, we would have a hard time grilling our dinner. Because as you know, wood isn’t really very hot until you light it on fire.

It wasn’t a long drive once we broke free from the oozy city traffic. We headed east on 26 towards the mountain. And since it’s July and there was not a cloud in the sky, we actually had some views from the road this time.

Mt. Hood. It’s a volcano! There’s lava in there and stuff! Maybe! It’s the highest mountain in Oregon. It has twelve glaciers. Six ski areas. It could blow up! It was pretty spectacular.

We got to Zigzag and headed south on fire road 2618, following the Salmon River. And we got to the campground and saw that every campsite was full. Fifteen sites. Except for one! We got the last campsite in the whole place! And people were burning campfires! And it wasn’t fricken raining! We felt lucky.

We unpacked, set up camp, and I felt bad for other cars that sadly trolled the campground looking for a site. If it had been us, we would have tried the other campgrounds in the vicinity. And if all else failed, we would have just driven back to Portland and pitched the tent in my apartment. And not let the cat in.

Each time we camp, we learn a few things. My tent is too big. Sleeping on the ground sucks. We should get a dish pan. Also, falling into the “Somewhat Charming For Now” Category: Camper Dave has a cute habit of telling ME to be careful after HE does something clutsy or potentially dangerous. For example: Dave nearly trips, or nearly cuts his finger off, or nearly falls in a river, and and says to me, “Ooh, be careful.” Huh. Thankfully, he’s not particularly accident prone. Because I don’t know how much more careful I can be.

The campground was tucked deep inside a canyon carved by the Salmon River. My goal was to camp among giant Douglas Fir trees and on a carpet of pine needles. And some places were like that. Our campground was filled with more bright green deciduous trees, dense new saplings, and ferns. Ferns creep me out a little. Especially fiddleheads, which I guess people eat. Which creeps me out even more.

Our site was not right on the river, but we could hear it.

Looks like Oregon, doesn’t it? The river was glacier cold. There didn’t seem to be any crawdads in the water. Neither one of us fell in.

After a morning stroll through our campground, we hopped in the car to check out other campgrounds in the area and maybe go take a peek at a volcano.

This is Trillium Lake. A little ridiculous, don’t you think? Doesn’t it make you want to gasp for air? Like your lungs may have forgotten what it was like to really breathe? Isn’t it nice to be reminded that such places exist? You’re welcome.

There were a number of large campgrounds around this lake, and they all seemed packed, sun-baked and full of kids. It was pretty, and the terrain was nice, but we were happy with the quiet hush in Green Canyon.

The next thing for us to do, naturally, was see how far up the mountain we could drive.

About 6000 feet. This was from Timberline Lodge. I was not able to get a good shot of the lodge, but you might remember it from here. This movie used Timberline Lodge for its external shots. As I understand, they have to dig tunnels in the snow for people to get inside.

We had lunch at the lodge. We used restrooms with running water! And actually washed our hands with hot water! And soap! Awesome! There were only “vault” toilets at our campground, and no running water. There are the things you deny yourself while camping. So that when you come home, and use your own private restroom, and sleep in your own soft bed, you feel like Queen Princess of the World.

We got back to our campsite, made a fire and cooked up some dinner. There is nothing, NOTHING you can’t cook with butter or oil, wrapped in tinfoil and thrown on a grill. We had roasted corn on the cob, potatoes and onions, edamame and grilled salmon. It was glorious.

We sat in front of a blazing hot fire until my knees were toasted. Went to bed late, got up early, ate kiddie cereal, (awesome), struck camp and was home by noon on Sunday.

I took a long, hot shower, climbed into bed and slept like Queen Princess of the Fricken Universe.

Other “Full Tank of Gas” Chapters:

Chapter Seven, Spruce Run Campground, Coast Range, Oregon
Chapter Six, Bend, Oregon
Chapter Five, Seattle, Washington
Chapter Four, Mt Saint Helens, Washington
Chapter Three, The Gorge and Hood River, Oregon
Chapter Two, The North Coast and Astoria, Oregon
Chapter One, Waipi’o Valley, Big Island, Hawaii


  1. Heather! I need to work on you since I can’t convince Dave. I think Chapter 9 of your adventures should be Elko, Nevada. (though it’s probably two full tanks of gas…each way) Just make sure you come before November, or you might have to wait until next June when we thaw out again.

  2. Yes, Dave already mentioned going to the Basque Festival next 4th of July for my birthday. Because there’s no better way to win a girl’s heart than to take her to Elko, NV for her birthday. Eh-hem.

    Elko Map

    It’s only 720 miles.

  3. It would be a blast to have you guys down here. Looking forward to it! I’d love to make it up to P-town in the spring for a Blazer game. Oh, and to see family too. :)

  4. Enjoyed the snarkiness once again.

  5. Meredith says

    You’re a fiddlehead. Why do ferns creep you out? They were in our woods growing up!

  6. I don’t like the way ferns unfurl. It’s creepy.

  7. If you’re going to go to Elko, I highly recommend going there (or back) via Bend, Lakeview and Winnemucca. It’s about a 12-hour drive but as beautiful as they come.

  8. before you go to elko nv read the book “strangers” by dean koontz. to put you in the proper frame of mind. and then camp. yeah!

  9. As someone who has done the drive between Wells and Twin Falls about 70 times (I’m 43 and we would go that way twice per summer — round trip) may I humbly suggest you take a different route? That stretch sucks. Completely and utterly. Jackpot can be fun in a kitschy way, but that’s about it. I cannot remember a year without road construction through there, even when we did the stretch in the middle of the night. Not fun, more like a deadly head-on collision factory. But I don’t know you so maybe that does sound like fun.

  10. I enjoyed reading about your camping trip.

    Green Canyon Campground used to be my favorite. We never camped there because we only lived a couple of miles away. We did go there on really hot days during midweek for picnics. It’s a great place to cool off. It used to be almost deserted during midweek but that may have changed over the last ten years.

  11. Hey Eliza! You have a great site! I’m totally not going to do any work today and plan my next camping trip!

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