In The Zone
In Army boot camp, they spelled camping b-i-v-o-u-a-c.
Guys carried a tent pronounced ‘shelter-half‘, which means half a tent. You find someone else to make up the other half and set it up.
Hardware in Army camping included an M-16 and an entrenching tool, a folding shovel.
Once you get your tent staked, you dig a shallow trench on the uphill side to divert water. If it’s summer you dig the trench to divert urine in case the campers above you on the hill can’t find their way to the can.
Army camping is the standard for all camping to those who’ve done it.
Those who haven’t Army camped think RV or trailer.
Quartzville Creek camping takes all kinds, from the forty foot Intruder RV, to the pup tent.
Our tents were nylon pop-ups.
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The further up the road, the fewer the campers. We went as far as we could before it got dark.
The road started out paved and two lanes. It was still paved forty miles east of Sweet Home, Oregon, but shrunken down to one lane. It felt like an English country road except for the cliffs on one side without guard rails and a ditch on the other instead of hedgerows.
A sign said camping was allowed in any pull-out with a fire pit, which is a circular steel ring with a steel bar grate hinged on top.
The further up we drove, the fewer fire pits we saw, until it started looking like we’d have to turn around.
The driver said, “Relax. We’ll find a spot near the river with a waterfall and pool near the campsite. That’s where we’ll stop.”
A quiet doubt filled the car.
It’s worth mentioning that most campers near Quartzville Creek drove SUV’s, pick-up trucks, or beater sedans. The wildlife wasn’t all obesity and tats, but it felt that way on the drive-by.
Was there room for a mini-van?
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Every river on every continent comes from modest beginnings. It’s hard to imagine where the Nile begins, or the Amazon.
Where do you go to jump across the Mississippi?
Quartzville Creek had the feeling of something big, just not where we were. Water trickled between rocks, gathering in small pools, then flattening out to shallow runs.
Everything underwater was slippery, but that doesn’t mean staying dry on the bank. If camping is about exploring, then you’ve got to get in.
Explain to the reluctant adventurer that Oregon streams don’t contain poisonous water snakes. An alligator isn’t waiting to roll off the bank and tear you apart with a death spiral. It’s you and your coordination versus the creek.
In the right camp group you get up after a fall.
In the right camp group you tap out if you need help crossing the slippery rocks.
You adapt to the conditions you create by forgetting things like cooking utensils.
Anything missing is forgotten once you see the night sky. The stars look about ten feet over your head on a clear night.
Getting to Quartzville Creek and back might take a day of driving from Portland, but once you get there, time stands still.
Then you’re camping.