One of my favorite parts about camping is waking up on a crisp summer morning in the woods, lighting the Coleman camp stove to boil some water, pour it in the French Press, wait for it to stew and then pour it into a cup and enjoy some piping hot coffee.
Mmm, just thinking about it has me craving some French Roast.
While camping at Big Creek Campground recently I enjoyed nearly all of those things upon awaking on a Saturday morning after a night full of rain – except for the part where we pour it into a cup.
How do two people who love coffee so much forget coffee cups? We pushed on, though. I used one of Catarina’s sippy cups and Veronica channeled Europe by drinking hers with a spoon out of a bowl.
It wasn’t the only thing we forgot (propane, two pairs of shoes [we’ll get to this], and more I’m sure), but it seemed like the worst at the time.
Big Creek Campground is a 29-site secret located in Mt. Rainier National Park just outside of Ashford, Washington.
When we promised to take Veronica’s sister Tori camping for just the second time in her life we had big plans – we were going to head to the coast. Give her a taste of the wildness of the Washington coast, maybe hit Kalaloch and Ruby beaches and hike in the rain forest.
Except I forgot to make reservations and those sites sold out immediately.
Then I figured I’d check out Mt. Rainier. Ha. Good one. Those probably sold out three years ago.
I got a bit desperate then. We wanted somewhere nearby because Tori had to work the Friday we were leaving and we didn’t want her going more than 2 hours away.
Enter Big Creek Campground.
We ordered our sites about five weeks before our trip. And the entire campground was nearly empty, which made us nervous. Was something wrong with it? After staying there I don’t think there is. Maybe because it isn’t run by the National Park Service means that the tourists from out of town don’t know about it?
Anyway, we pulled up to our two spots in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest near Big Creek and settled in on a Friday afternoon. It quickly began pouring the rain, and then I discovered I forgot the propane.
A quick trip back to Ashford fixed that, and then we sat under our canopy like good Northwesterners, ate our hot dogs, enjoyed our beverages and told stories.
We checked out a portion of the Mt. Osborne Trail which was beautiful, if not a bit steep. We headed back to camp, and Catarina roasted her first s’mores.
The next day – after the coffee fiasco – we headed up to Longmire in Mt. Rainier National Park and enjoyed some hiking. After getting back to our site in the early afternoon, my buddy Thomas and I decided to go on a Walkabout into the woods.
We discovered a game trail and soon found ourselves tracking Elk and what looked like a mountain lion print. We found two large owls who seemed less than pleased with our presence (perhaps a nest nearby?) and never actually found Big Creek.
So we decided to head back.
Except the problem with following game trails is that they aren’t real trails, so we were quickly lost. We kept having to double back after running into a wall of bushes taller than either Thomas or I (we’re both 6-foot-5), Thomas got stuck in some mud up to his shin, we tramped through creeks and through more stinging nettles than I’ve ever seen in my life. Wearing shorts was a poor idea considering the nettles. My legs were completely covered in a stinging rash to the point that they were kind of numb. Oh well. That’s the life of a bushwhacker I guess.
So, about that second pair of shoes.
I had worn my Skechers, which are my work shoes that I wear everywhere. Seemed like a good plan except for the mud, creeks and bushes.
My shoes were ruined, we were lost and I was covered in a giant rash of nettles stings.
Eventually we decided to trot down the creek to see where it took us and eventually hooked up with the Osborne trail, which led us back to camp.
A good adventure and a lost pair of shoes.
We enjoyed more s’mores, a glorious Hobo dinner (stew meat, potatoes, carrots, cream of mushroom soup and zucchini in a roll of tinfoil) cooked in hot coals.
After some coffee in styrofoam cups (went back to the store) the next day we headed home.
Not soon to forget a glorious time in the mountains at a forgotten campsite.
– Craig Craker