September 22, 2015

North Fork Campground

“I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out to sundown, 
for going out, I found, was really going in.” 
John Muir

We entered the “Black Forest” and stopped at the Camp Host site to inquire which campsite number site we had been assigned (we had made reservations in advance because it was the weekend before Labor Day). Before giving up that information, she let us know that the campground had been placed on notice for a possible evacuation due to nearby fires on the flanks of Mt. Adams, "so don’t get too settled." We got to our site and proceeded to “furnish” our home for the next few days…as we assumed that they would provide us enough time to pack up and evacuate if necessary. Dick and Melinda, who joined us later, were our only neighbor in this almost vacant park. We think the fires may have cancelled some camping plans for many.

This beautiful campground sits along the north fork of the Cispus River, which we could hear from all parts of the campground. And as lucky timing would have it, there wasn’t a day here that we did not see Coho Salmon spawning up the river. North Fork is situated between three of Washington’s most impressive mountains, Mount St. Helens, Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainer. Shaded by a canopy of trees, this dense forest is a stand of mixed conifers, most of Douglas Fir, but a sprinkling of, Hemlock, Maple and Cedar. The campground also comes with a thick carpet of ferns and vibrant moss. While we were there, it was more apt to being called a rain forest as we saw sunlight only on our day of arrival. After that we had light showers every day and on one evening a nice dump of 6”. Come to find out later it was the same day that they had those destructive winds and rain in the northern part of the state. It has been a long time since we heard the sound of rain, let alone on the roof of an RV and it’s music was magical. And since the upper canopy of the forest was so thick and anything wanting to be sunlight was blocked out by the thick cloud cover, our solar panels were just some bling bling on the top of our trailers. Fortunately we had our “emergency” Hondas to keep our batteries charged.

Within the campground is an old and vacant US Forest Service Guard Station built in 1937. Every vehicle passing through the lower Cispus Valley was required to carry basic fire fighting equipment before they were allowed to pass the North Fork Guard Station in the 1930’s. Over time the original Cispus road which provided access to the high lakes area was abandoned and the station no longer needed. The guard station  has been used more recently as housing for volunteer campground hosts and Forest Service Employees.

We did manage to find a window of opportunity to go on a short day hike. So we donned our rain gear and headed up on the North Fork Loop Trail. This cool trail seemed ominous at first as it climbed 500’ from the campground during the first half mile. But it later leveled out and rewarded us with many spectacular views of the valley below and vivid images of a vibrant and healthy forest.

Across from us was camped a “hard core” off road camper. They were equipped with an off road tent trailer, high off the ground, chrome plating on all four sides, heavy duty rack systems for water containers, gas cans and generator, hitched behind a mean looking 4 wd dodge ram. As the rain gear clad passengers disembarked from this intimating tow machine, out popped two Pugs…definitely not expected (two huskies would be better suited) and they proceeded to walk the campground loop like they owned it. In times past, I would show indifference to the breed, but over the years, Pugs have captured our hearts…Zoey, Sally & Annabelle and now Lemon are our “grand dogs”…and seeing their cousins prance in front by me in this isolated rain forest, validated that the “Girls” could go anywhere!

Although the campground stayed dark until late morning and kept us damp with the constant drizzle we entertained ourselves our entire stay. We even had time to play one of our favorite games, hand made by our dear friend Frank, appropriately named Pegs and Jokers. And Frank, please let Gwen know the boys walloped them girls this time and it felt real good!

The day we left North Fork felt pretty good for no sooner did we hit the open road that we gazed upon some open skies, patches of blue and a few warm rays of sunlight. Mt. Rainer was still shrouded by fog and clouds, so we chose to head west. A visit to that majestic peak will have to wait until our return visit. We stopped at Copalis Beach for a night to enjoy some open skies, long stretches of beach, the smell of sea air and the sound of pounding surf. The rain god did not need a change of scenery, so the showers never ceased. It looked like that “magic sound” of raindrops on our rig was going to be playing for quite awhile.

Here is another RV/camp item that we highly recommend…solely because we use it all the time. Normally at night we choose to light our trailers with the soft glow of candles or for reading, small LED lamps. Well my “Brother” Phil gifted me this cool little lantern, the Black Diamond Moji Lantern and it has quickly become one of our favorite camp lights. We love it because it is simple, bright and compact. The LED bulbs put out 100 Lumens of ambient light, weighs only 3 oz. and it features a dimming switch. Imke just hangs it above our bed via the lantern’s collapsible double hook and she has a wonderful nighttime reading light. We also use it outside, either hanging it from our awning or placing it on one of our tables. You gotta have it!

At Waypoint 46.45083-121.78778
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