Oxbow: more mini-camping near Portland

You know what’s amazing?? Camping when the weather is actually nice! I’d sort of forgotten, since all the camping I’ve done for a while now has been fairly marginal-weather camping — you know, the kind where unless you’re actively exerting yourself you’re kind of cold most of the time, where things are ubiquitously damp and you sleep for like 11 hours because it’s dark for 12. That kind of camping is fun (really!), but man is it amazing when the weather’s nice!

I know that intellectually, of course. But I forget how happy spring makes me until it actually feels like spring again and things are coming up everywhere and the world smells like flowers and then I remember and can’t believe I ever forgot. And every year I fall in love with life all over again. “Death is the mother of beauty,” as Wallace Stevens would say: without the long slog through the shittier weather, there is no way I would be so gosh darn happy about the nice — I’d just take it for granted.

Oxbow Regional Park(sun and the Sandy River: so, so lovely:)

That being said, I had a phenomenal overnight camping trip out to Oxbow Regional Park this last week. The sun was shining, the Sandy River was sparkling, the birds were singing, and there were flowers everywhere. The stars were amazing, especially compared to the weaksauce night sky we see in Portland. Plus, since I went on a Thursday night, the campground was still fairly empty. (A word to the wise: Oxbow is great, but it’s not a great last-minute summer camping destination, since the new reservation system means that if it’s a weekend you’ll probably get there to find all the sites already reserved.)

Oxbow moth(there was all sorts of new insect life)

fairyslipper orchid(and orchids I’d never seen before in real life — fairyslippers, or Calypso bulbosa. Despite being super small they smell amazing)

oxbow bench(lots of time to chill by the river, read, write in my journal, and otherwise soak up the awesomeness:)

salamanders(even some salamanders!)

It was pretty darn awesome. And despite having gone out there in some sense to disappear from the world again, I was pretty excited by the community I still found. One of the naturalists I work closely with was out there, so I stopped by his office to say hello, whereupon I also ran into some of the rangers I also often work with. Further down the road, I ran into a woman from a class I recently took, and then in the campground, sure enough, Russ and Laura from the Path Less Pedaled: bikey people I always seem to run into (though usually it’s in the middle of nowhere). It was a nice reminder that my little Portland community is always with me, even when I disappear for a while.

I came home feeling so lucky that I can have this kind of mini adventure: only about two hours of biking until I can wander through old growth cedar forest and sink my toes in the warm Sandy River sand.

new world order(and even fun quasi-political graffiti on the way home!)

There are more pictures here — and this time, the sun actually meant it was warm!

YAY for springtime!!




  1. Look for calypso orchids when you get to Opal Creek, too! They should be coming up pretty soon. There’s one that grows along the trail towards the Santiam 1 mine, if you go down that way on your hike in, and another couple that grow along the trail to Cedar Flats.

    • Awesome:) I was describing them to my crew yesterday and wishing I had enough time to show them in person. I hope they’re still in flower by the time we get to Opal Creek! :) So excited!!

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