Medicine Lake Once Again and Some Sad Abby News

Current Location: Rocky Point Oregon 59F and smoky at 7AM

evening at Medicine Lake It has been hot here this summer, hotter than we are used to in Rocky Point at least.  We don’t have air conditioning at this house, and except for a very few days in the summertime, that is just fine.  The forest cools us and the open windows let in the evening breezes for good sleeping.  Most of the time.  The big fans spin high above us to keep the air moving.  Even so, when it is in the high 90’s in Klamath Falls, in the triple digits in Grants Pass, our low 90’s out here in the woods can feel pretty darn warm.

the sun burns off the fog quickly Great time to head 100 miles south to our favorite little lake south of Lava Beds National Monument high on the Medicine Lake Highlands at 7,000 feet or so.  In the last post, I put in a link to my writings from our previous camping trip here last summer.  (Here is the link again: Medicine Lake 2013). With a simple 2 hour drive from home, it is a great getaway. 

morning clouds on Medicine Lake on our last day Many things we love about this sweet little campground, not the least of which is the absence of mosquitoes.  I have no idea why that is the case, but for the entire six days we were there, I delighted in being outdoors without having to fight the little stinkers.

Hoffman Lookout_025 When I read what I wrote last year I thought there was just no way I could write about this place again.  We often do the same things when we visit.  The highlight is kayaking at least twice a day from our campsite, having beautiful sunset campfires, and sleeping well through the chilly dark night skies. Gayle and Wes in the casita at Medicine Lake This trip was a bit different, however.  We managed to convince our neighbors, Wes and Gayle, to spend a few days with us.  They have a sweet little Casita that they brought north from their Tucson home for the Rocky Point summer and it was a perfect time to show them our favorite little camping lake.

There are three campgrounds lined along the northern shore of the lake, and our favorite is the Al Hogue camp.  We planned an early arrival, just before noon on a Tuesday, hoping to at least snag some kind of site with a lake view.  The local tribe has a Medicine Gathering at this sacred land every year, and we arrived on the weekday after the official gathering was over.  They close the third campground, Medicine Campground, for this gathering, but there is usually quite a spillover after the weekend.  It is expedient to check with the Modoc National Forest for the dates of this gathering.  It isn’t open to the public as a pow wow might be, and things can get quite rowdy and very busy around the lake during their celebrations.

MoHo view site 43Imagine my delighted surprise when we pulled into the campground with our two rigs and found not only our favorite site 43 wide open, but our second favorite site 45, right next to it, open as well.  Without a bit of difficulty, we unhooked our trailer and parked the MoHo in our favorite spot overlooking the lake with the short easy trail down to the beach.

casita view site 45 Wes and Gayle parked their little Casita in 45, with a gorgeous view, albeit with a steeper rocky path to the lake.  It couldn’t have been a more perfect introduction to Medicine Lake.  On that first afternoon, it was cloudy and 15 degrees cooler than the Klamath Basin, with thunderstorms predicted and even a bit of wind and hail to greet us.  Maybe that is why we managed to snag the best sites in the entire complex. 

Wes and Gayle at the Medicine Lake Glass Flow With the cool temperatures and windy conditions at the lake, it was a perfect time to show Wes and Gayle the trail from the campground to the Medicine Lake Glass Flow, just 1/4 mile north.  The trail was a simple one, and there was barely a breeze once we were away from the lake.

Mo and Sue enjoying Gayle's famous cosmos at Medicine Lake Gayle and I had planned shared meals, with each of us being responsible for one dinner, and then a shared meal.  Our first night was a delight of BBQd beef ribs that were tasty and in addition provided Abby with a nice stash of bones that lasted the entire week. Gayle and Wes also have the Happy Hour thing down pat, and Gayle arrived at our dining table before dinner with a shaker of perfectly concocted cosmopolitans and some yummy “snacks” as she calls them.  We were very happy to have room at the dinette for four people since it was too chilly and windy outside to sit at the picnic table.

burger bites for Jeremy Of course, Jeremy is quite polite, but thinks he should be at the table as well.  He doesn’t beg much, and will patiently wait for someone to decide to give him a snack as well.  Gayle was very good at dispensing the tiny bites for my geriatric cat.

Jeremy also entertained us in the evenings with his daily walk down to the water to drink.  Reminded me so much of a big old lion at the watering hole.  He would lap and lap and watch the horizon as he did so.  Jeremy loves to be in a campground where he can roam free, and he especially loves the lakes.

Jeremy loved going down to the lake to drink every evening

In the last few years, when we have camped here, we only bring the trailer with the kayaks and bikes instead of hauling the baby car.  While that makes for a relaxing week, there are some local sites that are a bit too far for walking that we were able to explore this time with Wes and Gayle along to drive their car.Hoffman Lookout_032

Wes drove the ten miles round trip of dirt road to the high point at Hoffman Lookout, where Mo and I went a few years ago.  The skies were incredibly clear and we could see Mt Lassen to the south and the Klamath Basin to the north.  Mt Shasta was shrouded in clouds, only adding to her mystery and beauty.  Hoffman Lookout_020

This morning as I am writing, smelling the smoke from the fires south of us, I realized how lucky we were to have chosen last week for this trip instead of the current week.  On July 30th, a lightning storm exploded in the Cascades west of us and east of Ashland/Medford, burning thousands of acres so far.  Currently the fire is only 5 percent contained, and has grown south into California.  I am sure the skies are thick with smoke over Medicine Lake this week and the views from the Hoffman Lookout would be nil.

obsidian at Glass Mountain But last week was different, and we had gorgeous blue skies during the rest of the time we spent in the Highlands.  After our trip to the lookout, we relaxed at the campsite a bit before embarking on another dirt road journey to Glass Mountain. The Medicine Lake Highlands and caldera have been volcanically active in the last 1,000 years, with the obsidian of Glass Mountain formed about 950 years ago.  This link from USGS has more detailed information about the Medicine Lake Volcano.  In addition, if you want even more detail, here is a link to the volcanic history and types of lava that erupted during five major stages of volcanism. 

walking on tinkly sounding glass obsidian We had a great time hiking around Glass Mountain.  It is extremely important to have good shoes when you are here because that obsidian is sharper than any knife.  I wish I could share the sound of walking on tinkly glass shards.  The weather had warmed quite a bit on this afternoon and the breeze lightened up enough to be only a slight deterrent to the heat.

silky smooth water in the early morning ready for a kayak at Medicine Lake(Notice the difference between the first photo in this post in the afternoon and the morning stillness on the water in this photo)

The next few days we stayed closer to camp.  With the winds dying down and the heat returning, we enjoyed early morning kayaks on the glassy water, and afternoon paddles across the lake in the evening winds. One morning was so chilly that we woke to ice on the kayaks, but once out on the water it was perfect.31 degrees on Thurday morning

The most dramatic difference this year, however, was the lake level.  I have never seen the lake like this, with the severe drought in California reflected in the extreme low water at Medicine Lake.  Across from our camp was a sweet man with his grandsons, who said he had been coming here for 50 years and he had never seen the lake this low either. 

Medicine Lake lower than we have ever seen itSurprisingly, when we took a morning to hike to Little Medicine Lake, we discovered that the level of the water in this small spring fed pond to be perfectly normal.  Medicine Lake has no outlet and is fed by a few springs and snow melt.  It is a closed system, with no outlet, however the ground is porous pumice so who knows where the water is going.  I can’t imagine that evaporation can account for the visible daily drop in water levels that we saw while we were there.Little Medicine Lake

That same sweet man and his boys were catching a LOT of trout, and one afternoon he came over with a bit string of fish and asked if we might like to have some.  I looked a bit guilty as I said, “I don’t know how to clean them”.  He laughed and said, “What if I cleaned them?”.  The result was a fabulous supper of fresh caught trout on our grill, with a couple of sweet pink native brookies in the mix.  Yum!

fresh trout Fishing is very popular on this lake, with rules that don’t allow fast boats until after ten in the morning and before 5 in the evening so people can fish in peace.  We saw only two jet skis on our last afternoon at the lake, and they weren’t out there very long.  Nice.  I even managed to get in for a swim when the weather warmed a bit.  The lake was chilly, but not so bad that I couldn’t get my head all the way under water a couple of times.

campfire time at Medicine Lake We got our friends out on the water in the kayaks and they found it was much easier than they thought it might be.  As experienced canoe paddlers, it took a bit of convincing, but once on the water they were hooked.  Who knows, a couple of kayaks might be in their future.Wes and Gayle try out the kayaks

Medicine Lake Day 2-49 

Mo I have no reason for adding this photo of Mo I took at Little Medicine Lake other than the fact that I just love it.

Wes and Gayle left a few days before we did, and Mo and I continued to enjoy days on the water and evenings by the fire until we left last Sunday to return home.  The week ahead was supposed to be leisurely, with time to prepare for our next big trip coming up, the Oukrop Family Reunion in Spokane, Washington,with an extra trip north into British Columbia for the MoHo.

Cottage work (10 of 14)Cottage work (2 of 14) Instead we spent a few days camped at the Grants Pass Cottage, working with the plumber to rework the cottage bathroom and trying to stay cool in the MoHo with temperatures at 104 degrees each day we were there.  Whew!  I did manage to finish the cottage curtain tab top panels that I worked on for much longer than I had thought it might take.  Sewing something with all that fabric and all those long seams takes a very long time!  I can’t believe I never got a photo of the finished product, but I can do that next time we are there.  I think Daughter Deb will enjoy have pretty lined curtains to keep out the heat rather than the 80’s nubby heavy drapes that were too dirty to clean and were also ugly!IMG_4288

Coming back home this weekend to Rocky Point was quite a shock, because the smoke from the Beaver Fire is hanging heavy and dark over much of the landscape.  Highway 97 east of us has been closed due to smoke, and our neighbors had heavy ash raining down on them the day before we returned.  We are safe enough here for the time being.  The fire is many miles south and west of us, and the many lightning fires triggered by the storm that started nearby in the Sky Lakes Wilderness, near Crater Lake, and on Pelican Butte behind us were suppressed almost immediately by diligent fire crews.local current smoke 08-04-2014

On a final note, our lives were saddened before we left for our Medicine Lake trip with Mo’s trip to the vet with Abby. 

up the trail to the MoHo from Medicine Lake We knew that things might not be good, and Abby was tested positive for lymphoma.  We have decided to not subject our sweet 12 year old dog to chemo or radiation, which would be terrible for her, and instead she is on a special diet and prednisone. 

morning coffee on Medicine Lake For the time being, she seems her sweet self, and isn’t unhappy or uncomfortable.  She is slowing down a bit, but aren’t we all.  The vet said maybe three months, but that doesn’t seem real, and we are hoping for more.  We are taking it a day at a time, and treasuring every extra day with our sweet girl.


Six Days off the Grid

Waking early Wednesday morning, I looked out over Medicine Lake, smooth as silk, without a ripple anywhere. 

quiet morning at 41 degrees and no windThe skies were clear and only a faint bit of smoke remained on the eastern horizon.  Our days of doing nothing were about to begin with a meandering 3.5 mile loop around the perimeter of the lake.

CaptureOur campground site is at the upper mid right of the map above, the swimming beach is the far right marker, the best fishing hole is on the lower left on the lake and the Brownell Cabin in on the lower bottom left on the shore.  The good bike trail goes to Little Medicine Lake on the upper left shore.  Somehow slipping into a kayak in the early morning feels like nothing at all, no effort, just a silky glide across water so clear I can count fish and silence only broken by the cry of ospreys. Mo on the morning miasma at Medicine Lake

I don’t know how long we were out there that first morning, maybe a couple of hours, but by the time we returned to camp the wind had picked up a bit and the smoke was disappearing completely.  The day began with french press coffee and tiny donuts before we went out on the water and waiting for a mid morning hearty brunch seems to work best for us on this kind of trip.  toward the meadow on a perfectly still morning on Medicine Lake

The day would have continued without much fanfare, but as we settled onto the beach for a bit of sunny doing more nothing, our neighbor approached us all full of conversation and questions.  She wanted to know where we were from, where we got our kayaks, and if we wanted to join up with their kayaking group from the Medford area.  Martha was a very gregarious, talkative, and friendly woman and by the time she left, we had exchanged emails and had plans to contact each other for a day on Recreation Creek. 

we just rolled the trailer down the hill by hand from 45 to 43Not long after that conversation, she and her friend pulled out of the site just next to us, number 43.  Earlier, when we found out they were moving, I asked Mo if maybe we should relocate, and she said, “No Way!!”  But after they left, and we walked over to the site, the very easy, not steep, and not rocky path directly to the beach from the camp spot changed her mind.  Ok, let’s do it!

site 43 from the back of the MoHoWithin minutes we pulled in the slide and backed the MoHo down the 50 yards or so to the much bigger, much more level, much more private site even closer to the lake.  The funniest part of all was later when I was reviewing my photos, I realized that we had camped in this site back in 2005.  How could I forget?!? Rather than hooking up the trailer, we just rolled it down the hill by hand to the new site, and floated the kayaks over to their new beach..  site 43 in 2013

So much for doing nothing!  After getting all settled in again, I had to run around in a flurry trying to take photos of the new site to remember why we made the move.  It was a great plan and for the next several days we said over and over how happy we were that we didn’t have to get up and down that rocky trail to the beach from 45.  Funny, I think I remember saying yesterday that 45 was such a great site.  Well, it is, but only if you can’t get into 43.

view out the back of the MoHo in our new siteA bit later we were down on the beach again when another woman came up to us asking questions about the boats and our rig.  Seems as though she and her husband were camping and were hoping to eventually retire and buy a small motorhome of some kind.  Before long we discovered that her husband was the base commander at Kingsley Field back in Klamath Falls and she was some kind of retired air force officer who now had three kids.  I swear this woman didn’t look a day over 35.  I guess some people make all the right choices at the right moment.  She talked about her travels in the world, her husband, being active duty parents, and all about how much they loved living in Klamath Falls. People in campgrounds are just so incredibly friendly.

Ansel and Barbara on Medicine LakeIt wasn’t long afterward that another couple moved into our vacated site 45, only they at least were camping with a tent.  Next thing you know, they are coming down the trail asking about the kayaks.  They were from San Francisco, at least that is what they said at first.  When we responded with “Oh, where in San Francisco?” she said, “Pacifica”.  Then when Mo said she had taught in Pacifica for 25 years, they started talking about driving Devils Slide and the new tunnel, and then it came out that they actually live in Montera, just a few blocks away from Mo’s ranch in Montera where she lived for that 25 years while teaching.  We all laughed about how you just say “San Francisco” to folks you assume won’t have a clue where Montera actually is located.  How does that happen anyway? 

It turned out that Barbara and Ansel were a highly entertaining couple, with some crazy quirks and a LOT of stories that they liked to tell with gusto.  They also had a brand new inflatable kayak and were fairly new kayakers and wanted some advice about where to go on the lake.  By this time it was very windy and there was no way anyone was going out on that lake in a kayak.  We knew there was a small window of quiet usually in the morning for silky boating and told them to be up and on the water by 7 if they wanted to take advantage of it.thunderstorms maybe?

We spent the rest of the day doing our usual nothing, which includes some reading, some sitting and watching the sky, throwing balls for Abby in the water, watching the lake, and eating.  We used the Weber Q for our suppers and the days just seemed to run all together.  I had taken the computer with me, thinking that I could at least write for the blog with the inverter or when the generator was on, but sure enough, I had forgotten the plug!  I am having to remember all this several days later since writing with a pencil is something I just can’t seem to do any more at all. I didn’t even take photos for two entire days and the only way to remember what we did is to go back over the photos.

evening at site 43 on Medicine LakeWe kayaked every morning and some evenings, had a big campfire every night where I roasted marshmallows and filled them with little pieces of chocolate that would melt perfectly.  We had great dinners, and wonderful big breakfasts that were closer to lunch and never bothered with lunches the entire time. 

water knotweed polygonum amphibiumWe went for short hikes up to the Glass Flow, rode our bikes up to Little Medicine Lake on the lovely bike trail.  We tried to ride to Arnica Sink on the not so lovely bike trail that was deep sandy pumice mined with fat lava rocks.  We turned around on that one and decided that riding on the road was much more fun. Sue in the knotweed at Medicine Lake

The birds are always a highlight, and after a few mornings I actually recognized the two blue herons that flew from shore to shore.  It is always a decision as to how close to get, with the rule being if the bird is uncomfortable and starts to look nervous, you are too close.  I think I got too close to these herons.  I felt guilty, and then would think, well maybe if I am really slow and still it would be ok, but it wasn’t, they flew away, and dang!  I need a longer heron on Medicine Lake

The lake is populated with at least a dozen ospreys, perched on snags on the east and west shorelines and always entertaining with the diving and fishing.  We also saw one bald eagle on the west side one morning, and a couple of red tailed hawks and another hawk that I couldn’t identify.

osprey, one of several patrolling the lake I was surprised to see several vultures as well, as I don’t remember seeing them at this kind of high altitude before.  There was one Great Egret in the meadow on the first morning, too far for a photo, and he wasn’t there again.  Ducks were surprisingly few, with just a little group of young ones without a mother paddling along on the east side of the lake.

Mo and I don’t fish, but we had a great time searching for fish in the clear water, with some great success along the southwest shoreline where one of the springs comes up.  Sometimes we could see six to ten trout, maybe 14 inches or so, swimming around beneath us.  We also love paddling into the knotweed with the happy pink flowers standing up above the water and making for some great photos with my pink kayak.

blue heron high in the treeOn one of our days the winds blew so incredibly hard I decided to spend a large part of the day inside the rig knitting a luscious wrap that I have been working on for much too long. The sound of that wind was fabulous, and the clarity it brought to the sky was breathtaking.  I loved it, even though it made it too wild on the lake to take out the kayaks or try to take a swim.

I completely finished reading a great book about cheese, and Spain, and slow food, and betrayal.  It was written so well that I had to highlight phrase after phrase of beautiful words to remember.  I highly recommend “The Telling Room”, by Michael Paternini.  Reading that makes me feel like I have read something worthwhile is great. We even had time for watching a couple of movies in the evenings, with the inverter handling it just fine without having to run the generator.  I laugh to remember that we had this rig for several years before we knew it would do that. 

Finally on our second to the last day, the wind died down completely, and I managed to slip into that crystalline water for a great swim.  Cold, but great.  Barbara and Ansel came down the hill to join me, but neither one of them could manage to get all the way in.  I probably wouldn’t have stayed in as long as I did if I hadn’t been trying to convince them to swim with me.  The day heated up beautifully, but with the warmer temperatures and no winds, before long there was a bit of smoke in the air again.  Nothing like Grants Pass a couple of weeks ago, but smoke nonetheless.

Mama heading for the salt lick on the Brownell ranch with Richard coming to say hello to usOn our last morning kayak, we took our slow time meandering around the lake.  While admiring the old historic cabin on the southwest shore, the owner came down to the shore to visit with us.  I must say I haven’t had such a busy social life in a very long time!  He regaled us with stories about the cabin, built in 1928 by his wife’s father who saved the life of the original owner of the property.  When asked what he would like in return for saving his life, the man said, “If you ever sell the property, sell it to me”.  Sure enough that is how he got it.  Now there are three sisters who share the space with extended family who have memories of staying there as girls in the 1940’s.  They live there 3 months out of the year and then return to Morro Bay in California.  Mo on Medicine Lake

He told us that  the first trout were brought to the lake on mules in 1880 and by the 40’s there were huge browns in that lake that the girls remember catching.  In the 60’s however, chubs were winning, and the Fish and Game decided to kill the lake and start over.  Now the fish that are planted each spring are fairly well fished out of the lake with no big old boys left.  The deepest hole in the lake is about 150 feet, but the rest of the lake is quite shallow.  It was great to get local stories from the local folks.  He even said we were welcome to hike up behind his place to Brownell Meadows but we will have to wait for the next trip to take him up on the offer.  Besides, this was the camping trip for doing nothing and we were getting a bit carried away with all the somethings that we were doing.sunset at Medicine Lake

When it was time to leave, once more the campground was very nearly empty, with only a few occupied sites even over in the busy Medicine Campground.  Our Hogue camp was almost completely empty.  How often can you find an empty campground on a lovely lake in the middle of August!?! We read on the campground sign that there was an RV dump nearby but turned the wrong direction and ended up going south on 49 instead of where we were supposed to go.  As many times as we have been to Medicine Lake, I still needed to get out the map to be sure we were on the right road heading home.sunset at Medicine Lake

Down from the Highlands, summer set in again, with temperatures rising ten degrees in as many miles and smoke thickening the air as we approached Klamath Falls.  bummer.  At least we got a nice break from it, and Rocky Point has enough thick forest to help oxygenate the air a bit.  I just read that Janna and Mike tried to see Crater Lake this week.  Such a bummer and bad timing.  I an only imagine how disappointing it must be for folks who travel from all over the world to see the beautiful lake and its gorgeous blue.  Ah well, Medicine Lake isn’t quite as blue, or as big, or as dramatic, but it was lovely and perfect and I am so glad that after five years we finally took our Medicine.


Medicine, or dropping off the grid into a Volcano

Medicine is a word of several meanings.  As in, Take Your Medicine, or more beautifully, This Place Has Powerful Medicine.  Medicine Lake is named for the second meaning, the sacred meaning, but the two seem to overlap here in the deeper meaning of healing, either body or spirit, and of course, both are connected.morning miasma on Medicine Lake

Medicine Lake is a small lake in the bottom of a 4 by 7 mile caldera on the Medicine Lake Highlands near the Northern California border.  This sweet little lake is just a couple hours drive from Klamath Falls, and yet I don’t often hear of people from Klamath traveling here. Most of the license plates are from California, with folks driving up the nice paved two lane road from Mt Shasta.  It is a bit of a drive, off the grid entirely, so perhaps that accounts for the open campsites and quiet lake. 


evening play on the beach at Medicine LakeThere are no hookups here, no cell phone service, water in the campground but not at the sites.  We came ready to boondock for six days, with a full tank of fresh water and empty waste tanks.  Generator use is allowed in the campground from 8 in the morning to 10 at night, but we tried to be considerate and except for one early evening movie when the campground was nearly empty, we only ran the generator for an hour or so in the morning to keep up the charge.  We were careful and when we left, our tanks still had plenty of room to take on the extra six gallons of water we added with jugs and a funnel.  Mo has a small solar panel and although it doesn’t support heavy use, it does keep the charge up throughout the day.We unhooked the trailer to slip it into the parking area next to the MoHo

Medicine Lake Highlands has the distinction of being the largest volcano in the Cascades and the largest volcano in California.  Unlike the dramatic peaks we are all so familiar with, Shasta, Lassen, Mt Hood and others, this volcano is a broad volcano with dacite and rhyolite lava and obsidian flows as recent as 1000 years ago spreading from the shield volcano for more than 30 miles in every direction.  From Klamath Falls, the Highlands can be seen in the distance to the south, unassuming, appearing as a nondescript broad plateau.  Medicine Lake Camping (2)-032

Medicine Lake Highland’s volcanic area exceeds 200 square miles in Modoc and Siskiyou counties and encompasses portions of three National Forests including Modoc, Klamath and Shasta-Trinity. Over the last half-million years, volcanic eruptions on the Medicine Lake shield volcano have created a rugged landscape dotted with diverse volcanic features including more than 700 lava tube caves. Some of the most popular features include Glass Mountain, Burnt Lava Flow, Medicine Lake Glass Flow and Undertakers Crater. Medicine Lake has no known outlets yet the water remains clean and clear with inflows only from snowmelt, rainfall and springs.

Medicine Lake mapDriving south from Klamath Falls through Merrill, home of one of the best quilt shops in Oregon, Tater Patch, we continued into California on Highway 39 to Alturas, turning west toward Tionesta 40 miles or so south of Tulelake.  The road to Medicine Lake is well marked, but narrow, paved but very rough.  Abby and Jeremy complained quite a bit about the thumping, bumping rough sounds of the regular seams across the road.  I guess they are created to prevent frost heave on a road crossing soils thick with pumice deposits.take off blue heron on Medicine Lake

The road rises over 20 miles or so from the juniper sage desert at 3900 feet to high red fir and lodgepole pine forests at nearly 7000 feet elevation.  We watched the temperatures drop from the mid 90’s to the high 70’s as we drove.  The skies were clear and gorgeous, with just a bit of smoke from the California fires marring the blue.  In the past few years, we have planned trips to Medicine Lake, changing our mind at the last minute because of fires and smoke.  This time we decided to go anyway, because fires and smoke in the west seem to be a constant and if we wait for no fires, we may never get back to this favorite little place.Mo on the beach at Medicine Lake

We decided to skip the tow car on this trip, instead hauling the boats and bikes in a small trailer.  We have traveled here several times, and spent days wandering the forest service roads exploring lava flows, obsidian flows, and taken in the views from the high mountain fire lookouts.  This time we intended to relax completely.  Without the car, we wouldn’t be tempted to wander any farther than we could go on a bike or our own two feet.  camping kitty

We arrived on a Tuesday afternoon, to find one of our favorite sites wide open.  There are three main campgrounds at Medicine Lake, with the first one a bit more open and a sign says not suited to larger rigs.  We aren’t quite sure what that means, because the sites are quite large, but the road is narrow.  The sites are also not even close to level.  We could camp there in a pinch, but the second campground, Hogue, is our favorite.  There are a few sites in the upper part that can accommodate bigger rigs, but our favorites down by the lake are a bit small and not level.  Medicine campground is the third one in, usually busier with lots of room for larger rigs.  The Headquarters campground is farther west on the gravel road beyond Little Medicine Lake, and is very quiet, open and usually empty because it is a bit of a distance from the lake with no lake views.  Another place that would do in a pinch if you drove a long distance to camp and there are no reservations here.

Our site 45 has a gorgeous view of the lake, a nice big picnic table down the slope from the rig, and for some reason there are two additional rock firepits added to the big one that was here when we camped last in 2008.  A rocky trail leads down to the water and with a bit of maneuvering, we got the boats down to the shore where we could leave them safely for the duration of our 45 overlooking Medicine Lake

We settled in for a great afternoon of watching the water, watching the sky, playing cards, and I brought out a decidedly sinful and delicious supper of old fashioned hot dogs, baked beans and potato salad that I made the day before at home.  The site has only a small drawback.  It really is a bit more suited to tent camping than a rig, but we managed to get the MoHo leveled and pulled in far enough that the back end was off the camp road.  It is times like these that we are grateful for our perfect length of 26 feet.  We can fit most anywhere and yet still have enough room to travel comfortably for weeks or months.not bad.  Site 45 snagged on a Tuesday afternoon in August

Our sleeping area looked out over the camp road, but there was no one in the site across from us, and the road was quiet, so it wasn’t a serious problem.  The night was completely silent, the moon was low and reflected on the lake and the stars were brilliant.  I wondered momentarily about the next several days.  No internet, no phone, no car.  Just a book, a boat, a bike, and a chair.  Ahhhhhhhhh.first night supper at Medicine Lake  Yum!

Next: kayaking, birds, and social life at Medicine Lake

September 2006 Camping at Medicine Lake

The following was written on my old laptop and saved.  At the time, I had lived in Jamestown, California for about six months and was incredibly homesick for Oregon.  It was wonderful to go back north for the Labor Day weekend and a long camping visit with Mo.

It’s around 6pm September 1 2006, and I am sitting at a picnic table at the campground at Medicine Lake. We are in space 43 this time. Once more we have a site on the lake with the Baby MoHo. It’s windy and cool however, and this afternoon we spent a lazy time reading and napping, waiting for the chance to kayak in the quiet evening when the lake is usually pretty smooth. Maybe not tonight, however. 02camping 9-3-2006 8-25-52 AM

I arrived in Klamath last Saturday afternoon and Mo and I left fairly soon after that for the Blues Brats and Blues Festival at the Pelican marina. It was smaller than last year it seemed, with fewer people. The brats were good though, and it was great just hanging out there at the lake and listening to the music. They had a hard time getting things going with the sound, but finally we did manage to get some dancing in and stayed until 9 or so enjoying ourselves. It was fun. Mo and I practiced our swing steps and laughed a lot. We got home in time for a great hot tub under incredibly brilliant stars and some quality time catching up.28TableMtn08_2006 Just a little comparison: This is my survey area near Jamestown, on Table Mountain.  Gorgeous in spring, not so much at 114 degrees in the summer.

Sunday morning we got up and had a good breakfast and decided that maybe it was a little bit too much to try to kayak the Wood River and then still get to Jacksonville for the Britt Fest, so we did some house chores together, cleaning up a few things things, blowing off the roof, Mo blowing the roof while I basically hung around to be sure she didn’t fall.

We left for Medford, went to Costco and to Fred Meyer for some food and then over to the festival to stand in line early enough to see the KD Lang show. It was hot, but we parked ourselves under the shade and just waited and watched the people lining up. Even getting there at 3:30 we were number 38 and 39 on the south side and when the gates opened we still didn’t manage to get down in front. We decided that was ok, though, since it was hot and probably crowded down there anyway.

The show actually was really good, and KD Lang reminded us why we like her. Her voice was so smooth and controlled. She made some jokes about aging gracefully in the music business as she sang some of the old standards. It made for a better show, really, and Mo and I love those old Peggy Lee songs anyway.

Driving home again late, over the pass, I was glad it wasn’t snowing and that Mo can manage the night driving thing pretty well. Slept like a rock that night and woke up Monday morning with a plan to drive to LaPine and get a load of wood from Roger’s place there. The drive was nice, still good weather, and I entertained myself with lots of phone calls back and forth with Chris Gebauer, the new project leader for my old soil survey project in Klamath, trying to get a handle on the big diatomaceous soils tour for the next day.000-DiatomTour 8-30-2006 8-

The tour was excellent, with soils people from all over the west participating.  Diatomaceous soils have some specific properties that are very different and at times hard to quantify.  Evenings during the tour were spent in town with favorite friends, David Marr and Jeanne Skalka.130-DiatomTour 8-30-2006 2-

Thursday morning was the last day of the tour, and Mo and I loaded up the kayaks early in the morning so that she could get an early start to find a camping spot for us. The drive to town that last morning was gorgeous, with a beautiful sunrise to accompany my commute.  As soon as the work day ended, around three so that folks could travel back home, I headed south for the two hour trip to Medicine Lake.400-sunrise 8-31-2006 6-19-

It was a good thing that Mo went to get the space in the afternoon because people were starting to show up by evening on Thursday and by Friday morning there wouldn’t have been anything left for us that we liked. We still like the Hogue campground the best. Hemlock is way too open and Medicine is really open and full with the campsites close together. We just have to be sure to come mid week to get these great spaces on the lake in our favorite spot.

We had both eaten before I arrived that night, so Mo had a fire and we drank some wine and talked before going to bed. Nice to be back in the MoHo, though. I have missed it.02camping 9-3-2006 8-34-14 AM

Friday morning we got up slowly and had a good breakfast. When we first got up, it was smooth as glass out on the lake but by the time we actually got out there it was pretty windy. Still had a good kayak though and I remember the lovely patch of knotweed in full bloom on the lake. One time I didn’t take my camera, darn! Back to camp and we went for a little walk around the campgrounds, had some chicken and macaroni salad for lunch and then thought a nap sounded good. Pretty relaxing afternoon for sure, with reading and napping. I really wanted to relax on this trip and we seem to be doing a good job of it. I think I knitted for a bit as well in the early afternoon, but all in all it just about watching the water and the sky and doing nothing. Great.

I cooked pork chops and broccoli for dinner and for no reason either one of us can figure out it was pretty tasteless. Then on the way out the door of the MoHo I tripped on the lower step and went crashing to the ground. Bummer. I was so mad at myself and so frustrated and it really hurt, but thank goodness nothing broke. I’m pretty lucky that way, I guess. I hope that luck holds up since I seem to be pretty clumsy more and more lately and always seem to be tripping or crashing or something. Dumb.

My hand hurt most, but we decided to get out on the lake while it was again smooth and quiet and had a lovely kayak toward the swimming beach as the sun set. Perfect timing as we arrived back to camp just as the sun went over the hill and things cooled off. Gave me a chance to drag my hand in the water as well and I think that was good for me.

Mo made another fire for us and we sat outside and watched the evening change to night and went to bed plenty early in spite of the afternoon naps. I still slept well and didn’t have a bit of problem falling asleep. Relaxing! Yes!04camping 9-4-2006 6-48-45 PM

Today we woke up closer to 8 than 7 and it wasn’t quite as cold, but by the time we were half way through breakfast the wind was up fairly strong so we didn’t go kayaking today. Decided to go for a drive and explore a little bit to the west and go up the lookout at Little Hoffman and then drove down around Little Glass Mountain and across to the giant Lava Flow and found Chimney Crater.  It’s hard trying to scramble around all the crunchy lava but it was pretty dramatic looking down in the crater.01Hoffman 9-2-2006 12-01-12 PM

Back to camp in the afternoon, pretty early, but fairly late for lunch, so we ate sandwiches and now dinner seems as though it will be pretty late. The wind hasn’t died down yet at all, and maybe it isn’t going to this evening. We had hoped for a kayak but I am sitting out here at the table and the wind is cold and strong and the lake looks gray and choppy.01Hoffman 9-2-2006 1-28-43 PM

It’s different not having access to phones and internet and such, no television, no news. No clue how things are progressing out there in the world. Here the world is dominated by our own little space and all the campers that have come in to Medicine Lake for the weekend. Across from us there is a huge family with lots of kids and relatives from Mt Shasta. They must have 5 rigs and half a dozen big pickups and a dozen little kids. What better way to haven fun.

Battery down so I guess I am finished writing for now.

Later: In spite of the choppy lake last night, as things began to darken we decided to go out on the lake. It was a beautiful ride. We paddled toward the sun at the west end of the lake and then turned and came around directly down the center. It was really incredibly lovely with a magnificent sunset as an extra treat. We stayed out an hour and a half or so and returned just as it got dark. Mo built the fire and we cooked our steaks by flashlight in the dark. They tasted fabulous and eliminated any idea that we had of losing our tasters. Great dinner, even in the dark.

To bed after 10 and we read awhile before going to sleep. Neither of us slept very well though, not sure why.04camping 9-5-2006 7-54-22 AM

Woke this morning to a rather chilly sunrise and wondered if we were really going to have the guts to get out there on the lake. But it was actually warmed out on the water than it was back in our camp so we took our coffee and wearing jackets we headed out toward the pink flowers. Right away when we got on the water it was warm enough to take off our jackets. I don’t think we have ever experienced such a perfect lovely morning. The lake was like glass, and so crystal clear we could see fish swimming around in the roots of the polygonum plants. The ospreys were catching fish and there were just enough clouds in the sky to give a good reflection on the water.

02camping 9-3-2006 9-01-12 AM Sometimes floating along I felt as though I was soaring through the sky instead on the earth. We paddled along the south end of the lake to “our” meadow and then headed straight across for camp. Took just 12 minutes to cross the lake and as we headed in the wind came up really strong. It blew us right home at just the right time. Mo started the fire for breakfast and we cooked bacon and potatoes and eggs again and spent a little bit of time cleaning the MoHo.

03glassmtn 9-3-2006 12-01-52 PM By the time we left for Glass Mountain it was 11:30. we drove the back way along Arnica Sink and then walked the old path up to the black obsidian outcrop and then down the road with a bag of some pieces of really nice arrow making rock for Ed’s friend. Then we headed west again along 49 over the rim of the caldera down toward Lava Beds. By the time we got down there we realized that both of us had actually forgotten our wallets so our ideas of going into the park and maybe even driving over to Tunisia to get gas were nixed. We realized that we had to pay attention to our gasoline consumption since the truck was already down to half a tank and I filled it back in Klamath. Always the issue running out of gas and water and power.

01Hoffman 9-2-2006 12-07-05 PM Back to camp in the afternoon, we rested a bit and listened to music and then filled the water tank with about 17 gallons of fresh water from the faucet across the street. Nice to have good water around even if we have to pour it in. Mo is going to get a better funnel though so we don’t lose so much water in the process. Our battery was getting low this morning as well. So we ran the generator for about an hour while we charged up the MoHo and I charged up the computer so I could keep up my journal here.

04camping 9-4-2006 3-45-22 PM We can go about 3 days without recharging things and we each just took one shower and had to get more water. Our propane is holding up ok, maybe down one notch after 4 days of running the refrigerator. The waste tanks are still just at 2 lights each so we should be fine to make it for the full 5 nights and 5 days out without using shore power. When we go to canyon country we are going to have to remember to try to bring a lot of extra water along.

I’m missing Southern Utah canyon country a lot. I can’t believe that it’s been two years since I’ve been to Utah. Last year Shera and I didn’t go because it was too much for her by then. (Shera passed from cancer in early 2006). I miss it, although the lake here is wonderful and after such a long hot summer it is pretty wonderful to be by water and have cool breezes and cold nights for sleeping. I love it that Mo handles the fire, although at the moment she is moving a big log around and I keep wondering if it’s going to flip on us. My fire lady! It’s so nice to wake up in the morning and have her out there building the fire when I can’t make myself get out of the warm bed.

04camping 9-3-2006 7-44-32 PM So here we are with the sun setting, the dusk coming, the fire warm and crackling and the music playing on the MoHo porch. Shania. Oh yes, this afternoon we decided to go for a walk before dinner and walked up through the campground and then across the road along a motorcycle trail that we didn’t have a clue where it went. Sure enough after a mile or so we came to Arnica sink, which surprised us because we thought it was a lot farther away. It was a really nice walk and Molly did just fine, although she is sleeping now and will probably sleep well tonight.

Great day. And more to come tomorrow.

Monday evening

I am standing at the sink boiling some navy bean soup from a mix, bear creek something or other. It smells as though it will be really good. We put our steak and pork leftovers into it. Today was lovely. Fun watching all the people leaving as the holiday weekend comes to a close. We slept better last night than the night before.

This morning we did our morning kayak before breakfast again, and it was great. Got some really nice photos of the ospreys. Came home to our last campfire breakfast, we have used everything up pretty much this time. The morning went by simply and we decided to go for another kayak ride to go to the swimming area that we had seen earlier. It was pretty windy, and even though it was shallow over there it was still too cold to swim. I did manage to go in for about a minute and it never really warmed up at all!04camping 9-4-2006 6-49-12 PM

Molly was Mo’s wonderful dog who went to Doggie Heaven not long after this trip in October of 2006

Came back and walked around the campground and found some good firewood and Mo got a maul and a hammer. Left Molly in the MoHo for another walk while we took the main trail out of Hogue camp to the medicine glass flow. We aren’t sure if we have done this before, but I laughed and said I would write it down this time so we don’t forget!

Played cards today, but neither one of us could remember the rules exactly. Mo beat me anyway though. 2 out of 3. Right now she is playing savage garden on the outside speakers, the house is clean the air is fresh and lovely, and we both decided that we really don’t want to kayak again tonight.

04camping 9-4-2006 7-29-59 PM

We had a great evening fire and Mo put all the wood we had on there so it was big and warm and really beautiful. We also had a little ceremony of burning her Birkenstocks bought back in the 60’s. They were somewhat worn, and she decided to let them go in the fire. It was fun, and we even got a photo of it. 04camping 9-4-2006 7-31-05 PM

Tuesday morning we woke early and decided against trying to kayak before I left for California, a good decision since it was only 34 degrees anyway. Managed to get out of camp after a cereal breakfast by 9:30. Drove together to dump and the new dump station on the Arnica Sink road. A great trip!!

Tomorrow I’ll be heading back to my life in Sonora, heat, smog, traffic, too much to do. Ah well. Hopefully I can remember these peaceful clear lovely fresh days when I am back there in all that.

Tent camping at Medicine Lake

Written in April of 2011.
P1010061 Mo and I have been camping at Medicine Lake, located just a bit south of the California border, for several years now, and this story is about the first time we traveled there together in 2003.  In those days I didn’t have a blog, and would try to keep track of our shared travels in a thick red leather journal.  At the time, I was still working soil survey in Klamath Falls and lived up on Pacific Terrace in town.  Mo lived in Rocky Point, and we had only known each other for a few months when we embarked on this trip.
P1010002 We left for Medicine Lake from my house around 4 in the afternoon.  It is only about 2 hours from Klamath Falls to the campground, so we knew we could get settled in before evening.  Mo pulled the sailboat with her Chevy van, but had a little bit of trouble with the hitch because it was too high to track properly until we added all the weight of our camping gear to the sailboat.  We drove south to Tulelake and then west up the hill to the lakeside campground.  We immediately found a great site on the north side of the lake on a rocky promontory by the water.  It didn’t take long at all to set up our big tent and cook a great supper.  The campsite wasn’t big enough to store the boat, so we parked it in the lot down by the boat launch about half a mile away on the east side of the lake.
P1010009 Friday morning we woke to a brilliant, sunny sky, but the wind was blowing too hard for sailing so we decided to go hiking instead.  We drove south to the lava caves and tubes, walked the obsidian flows, and explored Glass Mountain where we found some huge chunks of snowflake obsidian.  In the afternoon we drove the narrow dirt road up to the Hoffman Mountain Lookout with views in all four directions, with Mt Shasta to the west, and Klamath Falls in the northern distance.  We saw the beginnings of a large forest fire that we learned later started that afternoon at Hagelstien Park north of the Klamath Lake.  Our evening was topped off by a nice supper cooked over a lovely campfire and sleeping to the sound of the wind outside the tent.

P1010045P1010056 On Saturday, we got up to another perfect sunny day and drove to the caldera rim for another long hike on the obsidian flows.  Finally by afternoon the winds died down to reasonable breezes and we launched the sailboat.  We were the only boat on the lake and the winds were perfect for practicing our come-abouts. We laughed a lot on this day about our morning plans, with Mo saying, “Well, first we can eat breakfast, then we’ll do something, then we’ll eat, and then do something, then we can come back and eat”. In the late afternoon we took off exploring again with the boat in tow behind the van and laughed a lot about how funny that must have looked to the few people we passed on the high narrow dirt roads miles away from any kind of water.
P1010035 Sunday morning after our campfire breakfast we went for a little hike to a tiny hidden lake where Molly could swim and followed the trails back around the lake to our campsite.  We packed up camp about mid day and traveled home by way of Mt Shasta and the tiny logging town of Bray along Highway 97, with it’s little matching houses lined up in cute little rows.  Back in Klamath we stopped in to Old Town Pizza for supper.  Mo dropped me off at home before she headed back to Rocky Point. 


Our first camping trip together was a complete success, and a whole lot of fun.