Camp Journal #1: Site 66 Seaquest State Park ~ August 2020
Updated: Jan 30, 2021
I had just been camping in May, June, July... but in August, I was jonesing to camp; and on a Wednesday night, was surfing for a cancellation. I lost out on a few, then I got this one. After I arrived, I couldn't *believe* my luck ~ an instant favorite.
Pictured: Site 66 all set up and ready for some solo camping!
The name seams coastal, but is actually inland and named after a person ~ the 475+ acre state park is RIGHT on the way to Mt. St. Helens. Sunlight streams through secondary old-growth trees, and the sites are surrounded by ferns and shrubs that offer siteline privacy. Hiking and biking trails abound, and an under-highway tunnel connects the southern portion of the campground with the Silver Lake Mt. St. Helen's Visitor's Center. A trail and boardwalk around wetlands bordering Silver Lake offer amazing views and a lovely stroll, morning or evening.
I arrived much later than I'd planned, due to construction and backup from an accident on the freeway there, so it was late afternoon as I pulled in. So many friends said, "You are CRAZY to go camping, it's going to be over 100 degrees this weekend!!!" True. And it was very warm... very very warm. No, it was HOT. It was 92 in later afternoon. I drank a whole bottle of water in the hour it takes me to set up camp, and dumped another down my front to try to cool off. Since there was ZERO chance of rain, I extended my tarp from under the tent out in front, to create a "clean zone" for Keens and boots.
Pictured: looking out at the Silver Lake Wetlands next to the Mount St. Helen's Visitor's Center, just across the highway from the campground.
After set-up, I took a quick trip through the under-highway tunnel to see dusk descend over Silver Lake and the sunset on Mount St Helen's in the distance before dinner. I debated a PBJ for dinner as the night settled in, but went for a hot dog and some fresh sweet corn on the cob and fruit by (citronella) candle lantern light... very satisfying.
Pictured: Camp classic hot dog by candle lantern light - can't be beat.
I set up a campfire because that is one of my chief camping joys, always... but one s'more was all I could take in its vicinity, it was that hot out, even at night. I headed up to the restrooms with an idea to shower and rinse off the sweat, but it was already in use. So I just brushed teeth and rinsed off face and hair, and headed back, enjoying the coolness created by moving through the evening air on wet skin. I brought a little ziplock of ice from the ice chest to bed with me to drip on my forehead. Sleep didn't come super easily, due to the heat, some road noise from the nearby highway, and some other campers several sites up who were LOUD talkers. Earplugs from the camp kit helped with the latter two.
I am a late sleeper typically, but this morning I was up about 8, and took coffee in my commuter mug back across the highway to walk the boardwalk and trail that I'd only glimpsed the night before. The view was spectacular... there were so many birds in the protected wetlands, and flowers of all kinds abound. I sipped my coffee and strolled and paused to rest on benches, and. just drank in the morning in this beautiful place.
Pictured: A portion of the lovely boardwalk, and just some of the many flowers below, in the loop in the wetlands nearby, just across the highway from the campground.
Back in camp, I USUALLY do pancakes... but I'd brought the last of some artisan sourdough cinnamon raisin loaf from Where the Wind Blows Bakery, a home bakery in my town. I thought about toasting it over the fire... but I decided some French toast sounded good. And I just could not see a fire, it was already really warm. Some milk, vanilla, eggs, and I whipped up a great breakfast, and ate while contemplating the day.
Pictured: A little campfire sourdough cinnamon raisin French toast, ready for the pan.
Fortified, I read my book and had another cup of coffee, and sweated, even in the shade. I was really wishing for a hair elastic - I couldn't believe I didn't have one in the bathroom kit, the car, the glove compartment, anywhere. My KINGDOM for a hair elastic!! Using my available resources, I dipped a bandana in the ice water of the ice chest, and tied it up over my head to lift my hair off my neck. PERFECT! I kept that puppy wet throughout the day, keeping it down around my neck or tying my hair up. And added hair elastics to the Bring Next Time List.
I decided it was way too pretty a day to be so close to Mount St. Helen's and not take a day trip up there; so I got my fishing gear ready just in case I saw a good stretch of stream, packed an apple and some granola and a PBJ and lots of water, and took off. The drive provides several breathtaking vistas and side trips to hidden lakes. The valley created by the eruption is amazing... wildflowers were everywhere. Hot, yes. A great day just doodling around, stopping and side-tracking wherever the mood took me.
Pictured: The mountain plays a great game of hide and seek on the winding road to the top. Luckily there are many turnouts that let you stretch your legs, have a snack, and take picture after picture after picture.
On the way down, I was looking forward to another hotdog for a late lunch proper in camp, when I saw a glimpse of the North Fork Toutle River around a bend in the road that was worth a U-turn and a backtrack. I had this stretch of the river all to myself for an hour, and even though I only got a few rolling strikes, it was a lovely zen to just toss the line in this beautiful place, stand in the cold water in my keens and cool off.
Pictured: The stretch of the North Fork Toutle River where I was sure I'd catch a trout. Nope.
Back on the road I'm not going to lie, it was really hot, and too late for a big lunch, but too early for dinner. So I whipped into a tiny grocery and grabbed a cold water and an ice cream bar that REALLY hit the spot. I tried a few more fishing spots to dangle a line in, but catching wasn't in the cards.
Back in camp, I'd brought ice chest fish just in case :) so I panfried some salmon and made couscous as a simple side; some salad tossed, and dinner was served. After so much exercise in the day, I scarffed it down. I let the dishes sit... I wanted a full evening stroll at the wetlands walk, so I watched dusk descend there, hearing the frogs start in on their chorus. So beautiful.
I decided back in camp that the dishes could go ahead and soak overnight, and headed up to the showers. It felt SO good to wash off the day, and it really helped me cool down. Unpacking my shower kit back in my tent, I found a daddy longlegs had hitched a ride from the bathroom... I put him BACK outside. Not my favorite, but there are things you have to be willing to put up with for all that beauty. Your feet will never been clean... and there are some insects involved.
I was up early, not really like me, so I WENT with it... coffee and a morning walk through the tunnel to the wetlands, startling a doe on the way. I brought my favorite book of devotions for some Sunday morning contemplation in this amazing place~ such a nice way to welcome the day.
Pictured: The under-highway tunnel that connects the south campground to the Visitor's Center and path in the wetlands.
Pictured: Interspersed with boardwalk are lovely paths
Pictured: Devotional time with "Just One Word" by Susie Crosby, and a beautiful morning.
Usually on pack-up morning, I want to avoid dishes and just have a lazy morning of slow coffee, reading, and a disposable cup of oatmeal enhanced with crannies or nuts, or a bagel toasted over the fire. But, since I had dishes to do regardless, I broke out the pancake mix and made some (Trader Joe's Pumpkin mix) pancakes and eggs. With coffee flowing, it was hard to think of packing up. I allowed myself a bit of extra time, which was good because in the heat, I had to rest and hydrate a few times because the many trips to even a nearby car was a LOT.
Pictured: Pumpkin pancakes and ham, cheese and eggs, Two Burners going!
Seaquest State Park is a great campground, with lovely well-greened campsites, a huge backyard to play in, and lots to do. It's a hard one to sit still in and hammock or linger in and read when you just have a weekend to explore. You WILL hear road noise from various areas in the campground, more or less (I was in a southmost-spot, closest to the road... but the tradeoff was being so close to the tunnel and wetlands. My next trip here will be of longer duration. And maybe in June. :) But I'd do it all again in August, as well.