The rain has finally returned after what seemed to be a limitless stretch of sunny weather last summer. The warmer days brought increasing numbers of people to Oregon’s tourist destinations and camping spots. Although the state parks are delightful with their modern amenities such as flush toilets, solar showers, and the always appreciated beauty of the yurt; sometimes it’s good to get away from the crowds. In any group there are always one or two people who chime in with their comment about not camping in a park. If you have never camped outside a park, there are probably a few things to consider.
As an example, picture going up to Mt. Hood sometime in the summer and just finding a place to camp. Most people who work in the forest will remind you not to camp too close to a creek because they hope to preserve the plants from being trampled. Another necessity is water and it is possible that there might not be a creek if you happen to choose a spot that’s up on a ridge. If you are above the timberline, there could be silt in swift running glacial water such as the White River. Silt is made up of tiny sand particles which can give you stomach pain. Backpackers generally take water filters with them, but silt can clog up the filter. One person in a discussion on Backpacking Light said that he brings coffee filters to sift out the silt.
Another area of concern discussed in the Leave No Trace movement is disposing of human waste. They recommend digging a small hole in the dirt with a trowel and covering it back up with dirt and rocks to allow the wastes to break down along with any toilet paper.
Have you thought about campfires much? Last summer they were banned on a lot of public lands due to fire danger. Many people recommend at least using existing fire rings if there are any. That way no more ground is scarred by the charcoal. Most backpackers take stoves. There are many that are small and lightweight such as the Jet Boil.
The slide show that accompanies this article was taken at White River Canyon during the peak of the dry summer season. This area will probably be filling up with snow soon. Also, it had more than one sign on the location warning that they do blasting there in the winter to prevent avalanches.
Much of the trail was on a ridge. The water in the White River looked opaque, which indicates that it has silt in it, so it might not be the best water source. Still, the scenery was as good as it could possibly be and the setting sun lent some wonderful silhouettes on the canyon walls.
The White River can be accessed on Highway 35, about 4 miles North of Highway 26. It provides stunning close up views of the mountain that are different from what you see in Portland. If you get a chance, it would be worth the trip.