I like to camp with the family and couple friends we know as often as I can. Recently Amanda put together a trip to the Scablands and invited us all along. The trip being scheduled at the end of August so the weather was a crap shoot but it ended up being a perfect weekend. That perfect weather was put to good use with all the activities in the area. The cherry on top for me with seeing Phish at the Gorge Amphitheatre to close out a three night run.
Because I was seeing Phish on Sunday I drove myself. As typical for me when on vacation I got a lazy start to the day. By the time I had things packed and ready to go is already noon. I stopped at H Mart for some last-minute provisions and set out on the long drive to Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park in central Washington. On purpose I took the longer route to get there as I would be taking a different way home from the Gorge. I unfortunately got caught behind in a wreck and two construction zones. It was not until 7pm that I arrived at the park.
Halfway through my setup everyone else arrived at camp. One reason I drove myself was to setup my tent without distraction. Unfortunately I got a lot of hellos while setting up my campsite. I had to tell people to hold off till I was done. Just as the sun was starting to set I finished setting up camp. It was time to sit, relax, and say hello. After a long day of driving and the setup I could now relax and just enjoy central Washington. See what sort of display nature was going to put on tonight. It wasn’t long before we all turned in for the night to get some much deserved sleep.
Sleeping that night was rough but waking up the next morning in camp more than made up for the rough nights sleep. One thing I love most when camping is fresh ground coffee on a chilly morning as the sun rises. That crisp feeling to the air with the smell of fresh coffee just can’t be beat. Camp slowly roused but for the briefest of moments the world almost appeared to stand still.
First full day in camp and we got motivated. We started just a few miles away at the Dry Falls visitor center which has a really great view of the……..dry falls. These falls and the surrounding area are an ice age relic of Earth’s history. As the ice age ended and the glacial ice melted this created huge reservoirs of water blocked by seasonal ice dams. Eventually those dams broke in a rush of water scarred the land of wash of eastern Washington. Something like that. Some of this landscape scaring was the dry falls in front of us. The huge coulees at the base and the sheer size of the cliffs. Seeing this in the late morning sun with a speckled cloud cover, it’s pretty amazing.
From here we headed south for a hike at Lake Lenore Caves Trail. I had seen the sign for this on my way into the park and it was definitely on my radar. A very poorly marked trail starts in the parking lot which is right off the road. I figure it’s a little over a mile round-trip. As you ascend up the trail it cuts into the mountain side you soon come upon several caves used by humans long ago. At the end of the trail is you get a pretty good view of the small lake below and the cliffs on the other side of the road.
One of the things you see a lot of is rocks. We were next headed to see the largest rock around. The size of the rock is not necessarily impressive. When you think about the amount of water and force needed to push it down to its final resting spot, that is what is amazing to think about. In fact when we turn off onto the dirt road we totally drove past it the first time. Its literally just a giant rock in an open field. We soon realized our mistake and turn around. Again, what is impressive is the amount of force need it to move it. Its just a rock.
Last item on today’s agenda was Summer Falls Day Use Area. This is a park at the base of a waterfall that is visible in the summertime as the name indicates. This park is run by the Bureau of Reclamation instead of the state. In the summer for a reason I do not know Reclamation bleeds off the reservoir and creates the falls that we see. The turn off is rough and unpaved but if you can manage the road its a great park to hang out at.
Saturday was the beach day. A day just hanging out doing whatever we wanted and I was excited about that. I like the water but I often just like being around it. Today was no different. Throughout the day everyone got into the water doing whatever. I spent my time onshore lounging and having my own fun. Smoked a cigar with Bobby, played some corn hole and did lots of people watching. As the afternoon went on and people cycle in and out of the water I had long conversations with the kids which was fun. They are inquisitive and I love knowing where their head is at.
Late in the afternoon we headed back to came to clean up. The shower was cold as shit but it felt so good. Third day so it felt good for so many reasons to cleanup. We were headed to Grand Coulee Dam. Tracy found they have a nightly laser show and that was interesting to all of us.
Steamboat Rock State Park Crown Point overlooks the dam and town which we thought would be a great spot to see the show. When we got there we explored a little and then Bobby, Tyson and I headed to a nice outcropping of rocks. Here we smoked a cigar and just hung out, really relaxing stuff. Since we were camping we brought gear to make chili dogs that night for dinner. Cigar, sunset, beautiful scene, a colorful sky, conversation and then food.
As night feel we got dinner going and waited for the show to start. We found the radio station for the audio but it was to weak for us to pick up. Tracy did some quick thinking and found a recording on YouTube. After a couple false starts she synced things up so we heard the last 2/3 of the half hour presentation. Really cool stuff. Goes through the history of the land and how it was turned into a dam to regulate flooding, generate power, and used for irrigation.
Almost as soon as things started it was time to go home. Another lazy Sunday morning getting up and getting out. Everyone else was headed home but I was headed to the Gorge Amphitheatre for the last night of a three night Phish run. I was so excited. Initially I decided against the show. I couldn’t make all three nights and it would mean burning another vacation day. As the camping trip got closer it became more important to me to see them and fuck the rest. A $250 camping ticket and another day off of work was worth seeing the show that night.
I had plenty of time before showtime so I headed back to Summer Falls Day Use to relax and get some writing done. It was another beautiful day and worth being outside as much as possible. The park has some covered picnic tables so I posted up and got to work. Had a good spot overlooking the small reservoir and water fall. It was a busy day at the park. Saw a multi-generational family come up and do some fishing for several hours, that was cool.
After a long time at the park I started making my way to the Gorge for my last hurrah before home. This was a great trip with friends and family. I love camping, I just don’t do it enough. Weather was pretty good and the Scablands is a great area to explore with lots of natural beauty. We spent three days there and I could do a week for sure.