It’s an annual event I NEVER miss. A group of women gather, set up Shantytown, and spend a week off the grid grooving on the outdoors. Talk about chill! We’ve been doing this for years … Geezers for sure. Laughter is our activity du jour.
A few days after the summer solstice we gathered at Hart-Tish Park in southern Oregon’s Applegate river valley. Destination — Doe Point peninsula on the lake’s Squaw Arm. Our personal paradise. First night we were treated to a Strawberry Full Moon. It really is rose hued! An auspicious beginning to a perfect trip.
Applegate lake was created in 1980 when the Corps of Engineers completed construction of a 242-foot rockfill embankment dam along the Applegate river. The lake covers 988 acres. Its southern end abuts the California border. Water depths average 85 feet. Starting in May, water is quickly released to regulate downstream water temperatures, ensuring a healthy steelhead migration.
Most of the lakeshore is maintained in a natural state. The water is cold and clear. Night skies are star-filled, echoing with bull frogs croaks and cricket chatter. The quiet pine scented air soothes the soul. A hiking / mountain bike trail is tucked in the trees along the lake’s shores. Boats are limited to 10-mph. Canoes, paddle boards and kayaks are a staple. Not a place for the party-hardy cigar boat / jet ski crowd. Stocked with trout, bass and crappie, Applegate lake is a fisherwoman’s mecca. Grumpy old fishermen are welcomed too.
We pile our gazillion pounds of gear (no exaggeration, I swear!!!!!!) load by load, onto Chandra’s boat for the short cruise from Hart-Tish dock to Doe Point. We schlepp, and we schlepp, and we schlepp our stuff up the hill, setting up camp among the trees. Truth be told, we now hire strong young friends to help set-up and break-down camp. We have a stocked kitchen, dish washing station, shower tent and portable loo enclosed by designer curtains. No girly need is gone unmet.
We each bring a tent. Mine is equipped with two cots, one outfitted with down comforters and a full-sized pillow for a sound night’s sleep. The other cot serves as a surface for my “stuff.” I love to leave the tent lid off. Perfect for star gazing and feeling the cold night air through the screened ceiling. At night deer quietly graze amongst us.
As with most years, this year we had visitors. Pre-designated dock pick-up times were arranged. Louretta, Amy and Ginny arrived with a wonderful array of foods to add to our larder. Lunch was served on the boat. They stayed all day. A wonderful time was had by all.
Just as we were finishing dinner, Glenn and Brenden – proprietors at Hart-Tish, unexpectedly boated up. They gifted us a cooler filled with ice cream bars. One bar made it until morning breakfast. Talk about happy campers!
Louretta brought a squishy headed squeezable Trump. The package label read, “love him or hate him.” I found myself aggressively twisting him into knots. Suddenly he burst, spewing white liquid from the back of his head. The gunk got all over my blue tee-shirt … just sayin… He hung around for awhile until we regressed to gang mentality and stomped him into oblivion. We thankfully relegated him to the trash.
Terry conducted a Tarot card reading. Two of us picked the same card urging purification through detoxification. We were pretty sure it actually meant purification through retoxification. IPA yoga poses were demonstrated.
We call them “our’s.” A pair of bald eagles and several mated osprey pair were predictably nesting on the lake’s shores. Every single sighting of these majestic birds of prey brings excitement and joy. The osprey oftentimes announce their presence by a loud splash. If lucky, it rises from the water with a sizable fish gripped firmly in talons.
Mid June – early July the waterfowl hatch babies. This year we shared our space with Canadian geese and their goslings. A Merganser mama braved the waters with her babies in tow. They huddled so closely, it was hard to count their numbers. Each day the babies grew bigger, showing more independence. Our last morning I saw the babies cavorting on the shore and diving back into the lake. Mama kept a close eye.
The weather was perfect for daily water play. Our paddle board collection now numbers three. We paddle, swim and float perched on styrofoam noodles.
We cruised to the dam to say hello to our swifts. If you look hard you can see their eyes and yellow beaks peering out from the mud daub nests.
Breaking down camp is bittersweet. The lure of a long hot shower and flushable loo is pretty strong, but the desire to remain isolated from the “real world” is a tough competitor.
We made a commitment … in the afterlife we will each appear at Applegate Lake’s Doe Point from midnight until dawn on the summer solstice. Word of warning for future campers. We’ll be there!
Thanks for joining my adventures.
See you next time!