Posts Tagged ‘forest’

Camping in the forest

31st December 2010 by Helen

[29th December]  Not long after we got up this morning a US Department of Agriculture Forestry Officer (not sure if I’ve got his title right there) stopped to speak to us.  Clint McCaffrey was a lovely man.  He told us a little about his unusual family and we told him what we were doing and why.  He explained that the particular rest area where we had stopped is on Forestry land and run by the Forestry department.  Unfortunately the campsite at that rest area had already closed for the winter but he gave us directions to another one that remains open all winter, a few miles back the way we had come, near a town called Superior.  After cooking breakfast we headed off, found Superior, bought some supplies, found the campsite (called Trout Creek campground), found some wood, got a nice fire going in the fire pit and cooked dinner (on the petrol stove), before settling down to an early night for a change.  While putting the tent up, horror of horrors, after all the kerfuffle with USDA in Seattle, we discovered some dried grass seed and mud on our ground tent!  Brought all the way from Mongolia!!  Oops (we dealt with it appropriately of course).

[30th December]  Next day we pottered around the campsite for a bit but it was very cold.  Nothing much seemed to be working.  It’s too cold for batteries to work, pens are not writing either, frost is forming on the inside of the tent (we watched it rise up the side of the tent even as we sat with the stove on keeping ‘warm’), batteries are not working, and everything else is frozen or freezing.

[31st December]  Waking this morning Paul found the petrol stove wouldn’t light, the only water we have that is not frozen is in the thermos flask, and even that is already forming ice crystals, and, as before, nothing else much was working either.  There was no point in staying any longer.  In fact, if anything, it was dangerous.  Sure, we’d been warm enough in our nice warm arctic sleeping bags during the night but with the stove playing up and now having to defrost all our water we were not going to get anything much else done other than survival.  It was no contest.  We both agreed it was time to move on.  After a short walk in the forest, we made one last feeble fire (to burn our rubbish) before getting Landy’s engine started.  Mind you, that was a job and a half.  With our cooking oil solidifying in its bottle it wasn’t hard to imagine the effect of the cold on the oil in the engine.  With the thermometer not working we had no idea what the temperature was but didn’t think it was quite cold enough for the diesel to be waxing.  The starter motor had been playing up for a while and continued to do so.  The batteries were already depleted, purely due to the cold, and Paul was wary of wasting what precious little power they had left.  Paul took off the front of the air intake and handed me a can of fly spray.  As he cranked the engine, I listened for when it fired and simultaneously sprayed the fly spray straight into the air intake.  The trick worked.  The butane in the spray did its trick and Landy’s engine fired up, held on and kept running.  We were both relieved not to be facing a seven mile walk back to Superior.

And so it was, both reluctantly and thankfully, we were back on the road again.  Wondering this time what the new year would bring.

Snoqualmie

27th December 2010 by Helen

It was with much sadness we left Seattle behind, having renewed friendships and made new friends, all of whom we look forward to keeping in touch with in the future.  But we are on a journey and sooner or later we would have to pick up the mantle and move on again.

And so it was, on Boxing Day (in the UK), two months after we first arrived on these shores, we packed up the car and headed off, as we had planned, back to Snoqualmie, where we had been with the local Land Rover club the previous week.  By the time we arrived daylight was fading so we headed straight for a spot where we had seen some campers the previous week and put up our roof tent.  It’s a long wide space, and just ahead we can see the signs indicating there is a closed road here.

It was cold and snowing.  We realised we were right underneath some power lines.  Looking up the lines glowed a faint green in the gloom beneath the stars.  The electrical buzzing sounded like a waterfall was only a few metres away.  Less pleasant, the ground below us was very wet with lots of puddles.  We decided we’d find somewhere better in the morning and so did not bother to put up the ground tent.

We ate a traditional Boxing Day meal – left over chicken from Christmas dinner, followed by mandarins and chocolate mousse desserts – accompanied by the twinkling lights of Landy’s very own Christmas tree, a personal gift to him from Carl.

Snuggled up in our sleeping bags under the duvet we were warm and comfortable, lulled to sleep by the sound of the artificial waterfall above our heads.

CLANG!!  CLANG!!  CLANG!!

evidence of snow overnight in Snoqualmie

evidence of snow overnight in Snoqualmie

We were being roughly woken by the sound of someone banging hard on the aluminium roof ladder.  Paul peered out to find a torch being shone in his face.  “Washington State Police.  You are trespassing on a private road that belongs to the electricity company.”  A few exchanges later and we go back to sleep.  We’ve agreed to move in the morning.  No problem, we’d planned to anyway.

Next morning we wake to see six inches of snow has fallen in the night.  The trees are bowing under the weight and occasionally drop their load of snow and spring back into place with, if you believe trees have feelings, some relief.  We cook breakfast and chat with a local man who is out walking his dogs.  Three border collies, one black and white retired search and rescue dog, two brown and white.  He later emails us with his contact details, saying that if anyone is passing this way in future he is happy to share a beer and offer a bed for the night.

Eventually we move on.

Campsite – Snoqualmie

Distance travelled – 50 miles

Weekend in the forest

17th October 2010 by Helen
Camping in the forest

Camping in the forest

With our next priority to arrange Landy’s shipping to the US we set off for a final weekend camping in the forest.  To get here we have driven about 100 km back out of Vladivostok.  Where the road ended we followed a dirt track for another 6 km.  We have been surprised by the number of houses tucked in amongst the trees but now there are none.  We know that about half a kilometer further on is one more house.  So we feel it is quite deserted here.  Paul is looking forward to a couple of nights peace and quiet away from the hubbub of sleeping in lorry parks over the last week (ah – see blog Snuffles!!).

Over the weekend we have repacked some of our clothes into rucksacks, added a tent and our sleeping bags and some bits we can use for washing ourselves.  Despite slimming our packs down from the original packing they are still ridiculously heavy (well, Paul’s is, mine’s not big enough to get ridiculously heavy) – we might not be walking that much after all.  We’ve given Landy a wash inside, repacked the things off the roof so everything is now inside, so that sometime next week he can be ‘containerised’ ready for shipping to Seattle.  It’s taken us about four times longer to do than we anticipated!!  But that seems pretty par for the course really!!

The nights are dark and cold.  By moonlight the hunters are out – the human kind.

ice patterns in the sap

ice patterns in the sap

On Saturday morning we awoke to the sound of wind and rain, which lasted until lunchtime, so we stayed in the tent and listened to the sounds of nature.  Camping isn’t camping without the sound of rain on the tent.  Then we heard a ball of wind rustling the leaves a couple of hundred yards away.  We listened to it’s approach, getting nearer and nearer, the sounds of rustling becoming more insistent, until the wind hit the car and tent, rocking us for a few minutes, before passing by.

After a frostier night, on Sunday morning we were enchanted by the grasses, displaying crazy ice patterns where the sap had frozen during the night and burst out of the stem. 

As each day wore on we were amazed at the number of cars trundling back and forth along this otherwise apparently deserted track.  Locals were out cutting down trees – not sure if it’s for firewood or building – I suspect the latter as they are quite picky about which trees to cut and the ones they choose all seem to be the same size.

With some sadness, as this really marks the end of this leg of our trip, on Sunday night we headed back into Vladivostok.  No more the plush hotel but we are moving into a backpackers hostel.  But for tonight we are too late to be wanting to negotiate the last stretch of roadworks into town to get to the hostel and, having packed up the tent, we kip in the cab one last time during this leg of our trip.  Same spot we slept in on our first arrival in Vladivostok.