The energy of the universe is disturbed.
Ok, MY energy and MY universe were disturbed! I had my first unpleasant experience with camping neighbors. I’ll tell you some parts of it here, but then I’ll end this post with some wonderful, calming photos of Lake Wynoochee and some interesting information (and photos) of the dam that creates Lake Wynoochee. Feel free to skip ahead to the pretty pictures if you’d rather.
Five humans moved into the campsite next to mine around 5:30pm on Wednesday and made a LOT of noise (mostly the man was shouting and swearing and criticizing the woman and the three kids, but they all made lots of noise) until they went to bed after 12:30am. No Camp Host or Rangers were on site (turns out they always leave around 4pm and don’t come back until 9am), so I put up with the noise until the neighbors finally went to sleep in their tents.
The next morning, I chatted with a very nice Camp Host man who said he would talk with them and let them know there was to be NO NOISE starting at 10pm or they would be asked to leave … and if they didn’t leave voluntarily, a tow truck would come and tow their vehicles. I happened to be in my campsite when the Camp Host woman stopped by and told these folks exactly that! Hooray!
In my walk around the campground later that day, I came upon six Park Rangers having a staff meeting at a picnic table in an empty campsite. I interrupted them, nicely, and asked what I should do about these neighbors if there’s a repeat this next night. I was told there pretty much wasn’t anything I could do since there is no one on site after 4pm … no Rangers and no Camp Host. [So … I thought to myself … so who then would call this mythical tow truck to have these folks towed away? It didn’t hold water.]
The Ranger folk were apologetic and awfully understanding and said the National Forest Service gets complaints about this “all the time”, but still there is no one on duty with any authority. I asked if there was a place on the website where I could make comments and the head Ranger said yes and gave me the link.
So, that evening, after the Rangers and the Camp Hosts had left the campground around 4pm, the neighbors turned up their radio to LOUD and left it there until 10pm, when they then got quiet and went to bed. And they built a large bonfire with sparks flying up into the trees even though there was a burn ban in effect. And yes, we each received a printed set of the rules when we arrived.
Another trek by me to the Camp Hosts the next morning (who admitted to me that three sets of other campers had also complained). The Camp Host woman made a second visit to the noisy neighbors during which she told them that NO radios or other electronic noise or music was allowed AT ANY TIME and NO FIRES were allowed. I expected her to ask them to leave, but she didn’t. It was Friday and I was leaving anyway that morning, but it sure was irritating to have to endure two evenings and nights of that.
One nice thing that happened during that experience was that, after that first night of noise, two other sets of camping folks strolled by my campsite (most campers wandered around enjoying everything and often chatted with each other). These two separate sets of folks hesitated and dallied a bit in front of my spot. I said “hi” and waved them in. They were two sets of the other three sets of folks who had complained and each of them asked how I was doing. These folks were camped on the opposite side or behind the noisy neighbors and were getting an earful just like I was. These folks were as irritated as I was that the National Forest Service did not enforce their rules.
The camaraderie of these other people was nice, and helped me be a smidgen less irritated. But this sure made me understand why so many people choose to boondock in isolated places rather than risk rude neighbors.
After this trip was over, I reported all of this online in detail from home. I had already wondered why this stunningly beautiful campground, in the middle of a gorgeous August summer week, was half empty. Maybe I found out why.
Ok, enough of that. I report it here in this blog just so you know about this side of camping life. I encourage anyone who experiences anything like this to report it online, not just to a local authority. [Later in the summer, a State Park Ranger told me that I could have called 911 and the fire department would absolutely have come out in the evening and put out that bonfire and very most likely fined those folks.] Life anywhere for all of us isn’t necessarily continually full of sweetness and bon-bons. Camping/RV-ing life is like that too. Sometimes “stuff” happens. You do what you can, and then you move on.
So … let’s go for a walk to the lake!!
I had seen a dam at the end of the lake and wanted to find out more about it so I took off on foot through the campground, through the day-use area, and over to the dam. Gosh, was I blessed with great weather this week!
This floating barrier kept boats on the lake from approaching the dam too closely. Do you see the two-section line out in the lake in the middle of the barrier? It’s actually a “V” created by four sections of the barrier. That’s there so the barrier can lengthen when the water in the lake lowers, and then shorten when the water in the lake rises. The water level was down a little bit already, but would get significantly lower later in the summer. The smaller floating line with the orange floats was the border of the swimming area at the day-use site off to the right.
Here’s a link to the Wynoochee River Project website with more information about the lake, the river, and the dam. Interesting stuff.
After walking along the day-use beach, you can walk right up to the dam … but not on it.
So then I wanted to see the other side of the dam or the “down” side of the dam and found this Vista Overlook area. There’s a small parking lot there and a covered structure with informational displays and photos, and restrooms.
And the dam was RIGHT there! It’s not a large dam, as dams go, but it was so close to the viewing area! I didn’t see a fish ladder so I imagine spawning fish heading up stream are trucked around the dam.
The powerhouse where electricity was generated was further downstream, with water diverted through a conduit from the lake down to the powerhouse. But still, there would be times of the year when water is allowed to flow through the dam and out through these sluice gates. I’d love to see this dam when water is pouring through it. I bet that’s spectacular!
The next post will be all about driving many of the rough and tumble and switch-back Forest Service roads all around Lake Wynoochee in search of boondocking locations and anything else of interest that might show up. Get your compasses out so you can come with me and then help me find my way back to the campground at the end of the drive. Did I ever make it back? Who knows? Stay tuned!