Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Our first choice of camping spots was in the Columbia River Gorge. We had hoped to hike up near Multnomah Falls before all the leaves had fallen for the season. Most campgrounds in the area are closed this time of year, but we found a nice private campground in White Salmon Washington that was willing to to let us rent a space for the night. It had been a stormy week, but the local weather station was forecasting improving conditions throughout the weekend with gradual drying periods. We were ready to brace the cold, and give winter camping a try.
Just minutes down the Gorge, near Rooster Rock State Park, the showers turned heavy and the rain suddenly turned to snow…wet sloppy flakes. Enough though to cover the highway with an inch or two of slush. We started second guessing our choice of camping spots when we saw an accident on the highway going the opposite direction. We decided that was as far as we were going and turned around to head back into the valley. We knew traffic would be stalled and anticipated slow progress until the accident had been cleared. What we didn’t count on was the fact that other drivers would still be speeding and following so closely in poor conditions. Literally 10 feet in front of us, car after car plowed into stopped traffic at full speeds. I believe by the end, at least six cars were totaled. How we missed getting hit is still beyond me.
Our nerves were shaken and we considered just going home but decided instead to check out Champoeg State Park just outside of Woodburn and less than a half an hour from our home. I’m glad we did. The older part of the campground was closed during the season, but the newer loop was still open. This is a typical state park campground – less private and rustic than we prefer, but during the winter it was perfect. There are very few mature trees in this area, but the camping spots are large and easy to back into. The bathrooms are also very, very clean!
In the early afternoon we pulled into spot B5. It was a large site that backed up to an open field. We spent the afternoon walking through the park along the Willamette River. The trees had lost most of their leaves at this point, but I love walking through the leaves on the ground as well. The air was brisk and the smell of leaves on the ground was wonderful!
It was a quiet weekend…watching movies….reading books….and nice walks between rain showers. The skies cleared each evening and we were able to enjoy two pretty campfires. All in all we enjoyed winter camping in our little Bambi. We’re looking forward to taking it out again in December. We’re going to have to learn to embrace the Oregon rain in order to enjoy mini adventures during the wet season here!