2012 CAMP SERIES: INTRODUCTION
For more than 20 years, our family was part of a group that converged on a campground located within the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest for four days each summer. Cedar Springs is a small campground in a forested area on the banks of Bumping River.
Over the years, the river has changed, and I guess we have as well. During the last several summer get togethers, we have left the camping equipment in storage, and opted instead for more luxurious accommodations.
However, for our 2012 reunion, we gathered again at the Washington State campground that had been our temporary home for many long weekends in previous years. This year’s group consisted of 17 people from five families as well as two dogs.
We were greeted by a series of thunder storms, a reminder that even in the middle of July, nature sets its own schedule. But by Saturday, the sun broke through the clouds, and the scent of fallen ponderosa pine needles gently toasting, brought back fond memories of past camping moments.
Cedar Springs Campground provides sites that accommodate tents, trailers and RVs. Although there are no electrical hookups or showers, there is a hand pump for drinking water and vault toilets. Yes Cedar Springs is for those willing to rough it a bit.
I, personally don’t really mind the lack of common necessities that go along with the camping “experience”. For me, camping provides an opportunity to briefly forget about the unending chores that are piling up at home, put aside the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and get in a little uninterrupted reading. It is also an excellent time to spend time with family and catch up with friends without many of the distractions that usually present themselves.
But the area around the Cedar Springs Campground also offers many activities for those who are not content to chill with a good book next to the riverfront:
• The rivers themselves provide a nice place to cool off and have fun, but they are mostly the result of melting snow and rarely get very warm. Some years Bumping River is ideal for a little white water rafting. However, like many rivers, the character of the flow changes over time, so use caution when navigating any unfamiliar waterway.
• A trailhead for the American Ridge Trail is practically across the street from the campsite we usually chose. This hike features 26 miles of paths with significant elevation gains, which means some stunning views as you travel higher. With all the camping we have done in this area over the years, this last visit was the first time we ever explored the trail. But we didn’t exactly hike it. Instead, my youngest son and I did what you would have to call extreme running, over a several mile stretch of the the trail. It was definitely a bit of a challenge. Unfortunately that meant we didn’t get any photos of the spectacular views from above.
• Chinook Pass Guides and Outfitting is less than a mile away. For $35, you can ride a horse along a 3-mile trail which winds up the forested hillside. Longer, more elaborate rides are also available. From the campground, you can often see a group of riders on horses lumbering along on the other side of the main road where the horse trail passes by.
• Just a couple miles down the highway in Cliffdell lies Whistlin’ Jack Lodge. Whistlin’ Jack is a popular destination for those wishing to get away and experience the wonders of the great outdoors, without resorting to sleeping on a leaky air mattress with a root jabbing you in the back. Besides lodging, they offer up a fireside café complete with a river rock fireplace as well as a lounge.
For the camper, the grocery store attached to the lodge can be a lifesaver when it comes to replacing dead flashlight batteries or stocking up on the insect spray you forgot to pack. And on those unbearably hot days at the campsite, it’s nice to know that you can all pile into the car and head to Jack for ice cream cones.
• Boulder Cave is down the road about 9 miles. A mostly uphill hike leads to the cave entrance. Expect a $5 fee to park a vehicle at the trail head. Make sure to bring your camera, a flashlight, good hiking shoes and bottled water. In the near future, I intend to do a post featuring the cave, so stay tuned.
• Near the summit of Chinook Pass, is Tipsoo Lake. This small, shallow alpine lake has always been a stopping off point for us before we head down the final miles to the campground. The abundance of wildflowers alone are reason enough to stop. However, this year, there were no wildflowers. We couldn’t even get into the parking lot due to the snowpack. We did get a glimpse of the lake, but it too was covered with snow.
• Just up the road from Tipsoo Lake, at the summit of the pass, the Pacific Crest Trail crosses over the highway on a massive wooden footbridge as it stretches from Canada to Mexico (the trail, not the bridge). Although I don’t do any serious backpacking myself, I would imagine this to be a popular starting and resupplying point for hikers who do the PCT.
• The surrounding Rainier National Park offers abundant opportunity for the outdoor enthusiast with a wide variety of activities.
• Although my own camping experience in the area is limited to Cedar Spring, there are many camp grounds along Highway 410. One of the most popular is at Bumping Lake which is another 9 miles past Cedar Springs down Bumping River Road. Each campground in the area offers its own amenities specific to its location. If you are looking to camp nearby, I would encourage you to check out the other camps to find the one that is right for you.
One of the reasons I wrote this article was to give a little background as a lead-in to a few posts I plan on writing of some of the natural wonders I came across as I wandered through the nearby forests.