Last weekend Greta and I embarked on our first camping trip of the season. Well, okay, so we only have two scheduled for this summer, but that’s one more than we achieved last summer. Maybe we’ll find a third somewhere in the mix of having nearly every weekend booked till September. We have amassed a pretty epic collection of camping gear (car camping, I need an all-terrain wheelchair if there were ever to be backpack camping, and maybe a trailer for that wheelchair) and like to keep everything together in go-boxes, ready to load in the beast and go. This method is something that I whittled down to be very efficient back in my days of boys trips to the dunes with our atvs, which were rarely planned much more than a few days in advanced. When exercising this technique of go-boxes for frequent and last minute camping trips, it’s important to go through your collection end of season, dispose of any un-needed or past-due items, take inventory, and restock.
As you can imagine, this end of season inventory never happens and the first camping trip after winter always ends up being a shake-up of discovering what you need to replenish. For our first of the year camp, we faired well. I will admit that Greta has stepped up this game since the days of Tyler and I’s dune trips, where it was always a fun “nobody wins” game of finding the grossest or most puzzling item, or eco-system burgeoning in one of the go-boxes (this was usually the kitchen/food supplies box). Things found missing that we need to replenish for the next trip: mantles for the propane lantern (check, purchased a couple extras at the camp store, then found the already possessed extra set in the bottom of the gear box), fire starters (luxury item, I had no problem getting the fire going this trip without them), dish scrubber/sponge, extra triple-A and double-A batteries for the headlamps and eno lights, new citronella candle, spices to go with salt and pepper, and, well, I think that’s it.
Lost Lake Resort and Campground is a beautiful place. Relatively private campsites as compared to many other campgrounds, a clean, clear, absolutely no motors allowed lake with scenic views of Mt. Hood, SUP, paddle boats, canoes, and sit-on-top kayak rentals, and a well stocked camp store, all located within 45 minutes of Hood River or two hours or less from Portland, make this a very popular place. Until this year (available spring of 2015), all of the campsites have been first come first server and with the above mentioned popularity, if you didn’t join the strategy of sending up a representative starting Tuesday or Wednesday night to secure your campsite, it was pretty dicey driving the hour and a half or so and hoping that you could find an open campsite, so you didn’t have to turn around and head back home. Fortunately, the people spoke, and Lost Lake listened, opening up all but the F-loop and tent only walk-in campsites to being online reservable through Reserve America. As an added bonus any campground reservable through Reserve America is eligible for a discount (typically 50% off a single campsite per stay) to holders of a Federal Access Pass, which is available for free to anyone with documented proof of being permanently disabled. Last year we were fortunate and the camp host allowed us to grab their extra miniature site when everything else was occupied, so this year, within minutes of the sites being available on Reserve America, I booked two different weekends for this summer.
In terms of Lost Lake Resort and Campground being accessible… it is wheelchair accessible, although borderline wheelchair friendly. What’s the difference between these two things? Well, I’d say some places claiming to be wheelchair accessible provide the bare minimum to achieve this rating, while wheelchair friendly places go above and beyond providing access to all of their amenities. The latter is probably a difficult status to achieve for campsites, especially more rugged locations such as Lost Lake Resort and Campground. They have many campsites designated as being wheelchair accessible that even by my more adventurous wheeling standards, are not really passible. I could only access one of the two pit-toilets (the number one thing I’d like to see upgraded at this campground) near our site, the second one had stairs leading up to it, upon further exploration, there was a path that lead there from around the side, but my wheelchair could not make it through (I tried) on account of both the narrowness and the extremely rough surface. The accessible path leading to the camp store, while un-paved, was perfectly smooth enough to wheel, although the pavement ended just before the two Disabled Parking spots, leaving you to wheel through rough/deep gravel in the immediate vicinity of your vehicle. Same goes for the main lake access, deep, rough, gravel that I can, but just barely roll down, but have to get some serious push effort getting back up. The nature trails around the campground claim to be accessible, they might be, I didn’t get a chance to explore this trip, but will give them a try next month.
Over our visits, this last time included, we have taken advantage of the sit-on top kayak and SUP rentals to get out and enjoy the lake. These are first come first serve, and on a busy weekend, sometimes difficult to secure, before our trip this next month, I’m going to have to check out how much of a price difference it would be for us to rent a bit higher quality SUP and sit-on-top Kayak from somewhere here in Portland (such as eNRG Kayaking where I’m attending a paddle night through Oregon Disability Sports this coming week) to transport with us for the weekend. Also, gearing up for my ParaTriathlon endeavors, this is an ideal place to get in some open-water swims. I managed a couple of lengthy swims while we were up there this last weekend, but unfortunately I forgot to take my swim goggles, and I had no way of tracking distance (the Garmin Forerunner 920XT is on my wishlist). Although it’s not looking promising that I can afford the Garmin Forerunner by our next trip up there end of the month, the swim goggles are on my reminder list to pack, and I might be able to talk Greta into paddling a SUP alongside me with my iPhone tracking via the Strava app so I can at least get an idea of distance and time.
While I’m somewhat loath to recommend Lost Lake Resort and Campground to you on account of increasing the popularity even more, you really should give it a try, we love camping there!