In my last 10 or so blogs, I’ve focused solely on health and fitness. I’ve tried in my own experience and opinions in most topics and they have been your more typical health and exercise-related writings. This weekend on a camping trip I had an idea. It’s the beginning of summer and the start of many camping trips/adventures filled with all sorts of fun activities. I thought, “Why not blog about some of those?”. My message behind all this health and fitness stuff is just to have a better life all around. I believe fitness is just as good for your brain as it is your body. I think people who are physically unhealthy tend to be a little more mentally unhealthy as well. I think we all are a little crazy but… I see it a little bit more in the people with poor health. It weighs a lot on people. So my idea is to get healthy, mentally and physically so you’re free to get out there and make the most of the world. There was a time growing up when I wasn’t mentally healthy. I had to make some serious changes in my life and fitness really helped me through that process but it wasn’t until then that I was really able to thrive. I think switching it up from time to time and writing about my passions in life may be motivating for some people to change. It will at least give anyone who reads my blogs a better idea of who I am. It also might be fun to get a little creative.
So one of my favorite things to do on my weekends is to go camping! I grew up going to our family mountain cabin on Mt.Hood and have always loved the woods. I grew up watching movies like ‘Last of the Mohicans’ and ‘Legends of the Falls’ and imaged a life living in a rural area with fewer people and little technology. I’ve tried living out that fantasy in some way over the past 6 years driving to all ends of the northwest in search of beautiful more remote areas. These spots are hard to find. When I was younger I thought that when you drove past Mt. Hood there must be vast mountains where you can get away from everyone but It’s amazing how many people are out there and how close the next town is.
This past weekend was a small attempt to explore a new area I had yet been and maybe find some quiet spots. I and a friend Nick went to the McKenzie River. The McKenzie River flows from the East through Eugene where it connects to the Willamette River. Obviously, any part of the river near Eugene would be flooded with people, so the idea was to drive east up the river and see what was there. Nick had just bought a two-person kayak. We were looking to float the river and get out and fish from time to time.
After getting a late start Saturday due to us both working in the morning we headed out around 3. We drove down i5 till we hit Eugene and then took highway 126 alongside the McKenzie. There were more people in that area then we thought we ended up driving around an hour till people started to dissipate around Cougar and Blue River reservoir. Still more people than we had hoped, we managed to find a small dirt road that pulled off the highway and ran along the river where we camped.
The next day the plan was to kayak the McKenzie and get out here and there and fly fish. I grew up fly fishing with my dad and have been getting back into to it over the past couple years. I have been using a 6 weight Sage fly rod, the road my dad used when I was a kid. To be able to kayak the river with only one car and get back to where we parked the car and dropped in, I brought my road bike. Typically when people float a river they bring two cars. One of the cars is parked where you’re planning on getting out of the river so you can drive back up river to the car you used to drop in. We could have brought two cars but we came up with the idea of bringing my road bike along. We could hide in the woods beside the river and use it to grab the car.
After the first night, that next morning we woke up, made breakfast and went searching down the river for where we wanted to hide the bike. We decided where we camped would be a good place to drop the kayak in, now we just had to figure out what was a good distance to drive west down 126 along the McKenzie to hide the bike. After driving 7 1/2 miles and checking out a few spots we found a good place to hide the bike. There was a bridge a couple hundred yards away which made for a good marker to know when the float was over. You wouldn’t want to forget where you hid the bike and accidentally float past the spot you were supposed to get off.
After hiding the bike we drove back to where we camped the night before, parked the car and got the kayak in the water. We were now floating the McKenzie in a kayak neither of us had used before. All in all the float went pretty well. There were a few points where we almost flipped but we kept it together. The kayak was a sit on top kayak with the inside sealed so that it couldn’t fill up with water. If we had flipped it wouldn’t have been the end of the world. Through the float, we pulled over and fished 3 separate times. After fishing for probably 3 hours we cumulatively caught 3 small trout. Not big enough to keep so we threw them back. I was hoping to catch bigger fish but for me, most the fun is just the act of fishing and being out in nature. So I was ok with it.
After the 7 1/2 mile bike ride, picking nick and the kayak back up it was time to figure out what we were going to do with the rest of our very short trip. We had one more night and had been contemplating driving a little further east to a lake we had camped at before. It’s a thing narrow lake with camp sights at one end that you can only get to by boat. Or kayak! In the past, we have used one of Nicks dads boats to get there which was aluminum and probably 12 feet long and 4 feet wide. There was much more storage space in that boat. So if we were going to use the kayak to get to the camping spots we would need to bring the least amount of gear we could. We decided to go for it.
Like our kayaking experience earlier that day, it all worked out. We are both pretty good at roughing it and didn’t need to bring a ton of stuff. We ended up being the only people at the lake. We dropped our gear off where we were going to sleep and headed back out in the kayak to fish. Clouds were setting in and we were fearing rain. We were not prepared for rain! Nowhere in the forecast did it say anything about rain or clouds so it hadn’t even crossed our minds. I’ve never been trapped in a rainstorm without having the proper gear and was not trying to start now. It ended up slightly drizzling for maybe 15 minutes then soon past. It had been 100 degrees earlier that day and through the small drizzle, it still stayed pretty warm. We ended up catching 5 fish altogether and called it a day. We went back to our campsite, made a fire, cooked the fish, and went to bed.
The next morning we both decided to pack up a little quicker than usual and head back to Portland. We both had things we needed to get done before starting back to work the next day. The trip had been a success. Sometimes when you set out to explore a new area you spend a lot of time searching for a good spot and you never quite find one. Both Nick and I aren’t the best at doing a ton of research on where we’re going before we set out so from time to time we get let down. I don’t mind being unprepared a little in ways, though. Setting out to some part of the woods you only came across by searching on the map on your iPhone can be exciting.
Forgot to mention along the way I found a little something to jump off!
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