Breakfast at Fourmile Lake C.G.
Oatmeal with apples, yogurt, and milk. Then coffee with cocoa and cream. There's quite a difference between backpacking and traveling with a cooler and ice. Ice is nice.
Hunting for canoeing places
Drove back down to Rt.140, then backtracked eastward to Rocky Point Rd.
I wanted to visit the Rocky Point Resort to see about the canoeing opportunities, but I must have missed a sign and continued north. I also somehow missed visiting the Upper Klamath canoe “trail” (#5 on the map below) and ended up on Rt. 97 going north. So now I need to plan another visit to southern Oregon to see all the things I missed the first time.
Not an easy launch site
Near Chiloquin, there is Collier Memorial State Park campground. It is a highly developed and correspondingly expensive place with all the hookups and amenities. A good place for people with those big RVs, but it looked crowded. What I was looking for was a canoe launch for the Williamson River, which was listed on my brochure (#4 above). I didn’t see anything (found out later it’s a short carry to the river) so I followed a sign a couple miles down a gravel road to a more primitive FS campground upstream on the river. There, too, it was not easy to get the canoe in. I carried it a tenth of a mile. The center crossbar (without a yoke) cuts into my bony shoulders after a while, plus it’s hard to get the canoe on or off the shoulders without dropping it and risking damage – a good way to twist the back; not a good idea for old men. Much easier with two people. But I managed to get it in the water.
It was raining again. I had put on raingear and rubber boots.
Solitude on the river
The river was very shallow in places. Fortunately, I chose to go upstream so it would be easier coming back. There were frequent riffles where the canoe had to be dragged rather than paddled, and some deeper narrow spots where the current was strong enough that I had to fight not to get forced back downstream. Later, on the way back down, I had better luck skimming over most of the riffles by being kneeling in the center and balancing the canoe evenly.
An eagle flew overhead, and there were two kingfishers spaced well apart, calling out their territorial warnings.
A trout struck my dry fly, but I failed to get him hooked. I’m so efficient at ‘catch and release’ that I release ‘m before I catch ‘m. I also tried some of that artificial bait in the deeper spots, but no bites.
There were some beaver signs – willow and alder sticks with the bark chewed off, showing their teeth marks, and beaten down grass slides along the riverbank. here is an artist's watercolor:
There were empty freshwater clamshells on the riverbed, but I couldn’t find live ones – they were extremely well camouflaged to look just like the little brown stones. In the past, in the Adirondacks, I’ve eaten quite a few freshwater clams on canoe trips, but they were easy to find wherever the rivers were shallow and sandy.
Getting the canoe back up the hill
Since the path back to the campground was grassy and not often rocky, I avoided trying to get the canoe back up on my shoulders and dragged it up the path right side up, with the bow rope.
A terrific logging museum
Across from the state park is an expansive outdoor logging museum. It is well worth a visit. The whole history of logging is displayed in the examples of equipment used. From logging with horses and 2-man handsaws to steam engines to bulldozers and chain saws and all the inventions and variations in between.
Gift shop logger
They also have a nice gift shop. I liked the wooden beaver “logger”.
Cold Spring Creek
Right alongside the museum you can fish for trout in Cold Spring Creek, which is actually bigger than the Williamson River. The water is absolutely clear. This was a great source of water for the early logging camp here.
Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuge
43 miles north of Klamath Falls or 92 miles south of Bend, Silver Lake Rd goes east through the Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuge.
A good place for bird watchers
For me, this was a disappointment because the former marsh has been mostly drained to be used for livestock. My vision of a marsh was one where there's enough water to explore all through it with a canoe or kayak. There’s only one place to put in a canoe here, and I couldn’t find it.
But according to the literature, serious bird watchers would really enjoy visiting this area. Apparently the marsh is seasonally boggy, attracting hundreds of migratory birds, but in September it just looked like hundreds of acres of high grass.
I was surprised to see a badger alongside the road, because my only former sightings of badgers had always been in dry ground areas. No place to stop and get a picture of him – sorry. I’ll show another borrowed file photo in case you don’t know what a badger looks like:
There was a road sign: “Wocus Bay Information”. I turned in there. It was a seriously bad, narrow dirt road. By the time I realized that there were no wide spots and no way to turn around, I started praying that I wouldn’t meet any other visitors’ cars. Fortunately, I didn’t. Eventually, after several rough miles, there were a couple forks in the road. Apparently one of them goes to the bay where you could launch a canoe, but there were no signs, and by that time, I was not about to get stuck on a dead end road with no room to turn around with the trailer. So that’s why I never found the launch site. I did see a couple deer.
About 4 PM, the rain switched from normal to torrential. It was the kind that the windshield wipers can’t keep up with. But it only lasted about 15 minutes.
Sheep - in the woods?
Finally the bad road intersected FS 43 – a good, wide, gravel road, so I won’t complain about the occasional washerboard effect. Before getting back to the Silver Lake road, I came across a big flock of sheep on the road and all throughout the woods.
Back on Rt 97, I got gas and ice in Chemult. About a mile north of town, I drove 13 miles up another gravel road to Miller Lake, and pulled into Digit Point C.G.
This is a nice campground and a beautiful lake. There were only a few guys, in RVs, in the large campground. Deer season (for rifle) would open in two days. There’s a boat launch and a dock. In places, the lake has a sandy bottom which would be a good place for family swimming in the summer.
The weather was clearing. I easily found a wonderful camp site and settled in for the night, with no one else in sight.
Coming: Day 8 of 9 day trip. Canoeing and hiking, mushrooms and otters.