Lake Easton State Park was the answer to a spontaneous summer "hey I want to camp this weekend" thought on a Tuesday, and someone else's disappointment and cancellation was my score. About halfway between Seattle and Yakima and RIGHT off I-90, it's a great place to meet friends from the other side of the mountain for camping or a day by the lake in the day-use.
Pictured: The Yakima River skirts the campground along a nearby trail.
I had passed the sign for Lake Easton State Park so many times, but had never been. I'd pictured taking a winding road off into the trees, to a quiet place with sweetly green-spaced semi-private campsites that overlooked a serene lake. I'd imagined wrong. I'd imagined Lake Kachess, actually, truly. I got my lakes mixed up. Lake Easton is on the other side of the freeway, a bit closer to the Eastern side of the mountains than Lake Kachess, much smaller, is a state park not part of a national park, and is visible from I-90, turns out. So, a bit wrong on ALL counts! The lake IS serene and lovely. It is also RIGHT off the freeway, as is the State Park and campground. While convenient, this is closer than I like my major roadways to my solocamping. The freeway becomes background white noise after a bit, but it was a bit disappointing to encounter.
Pictured: Site 130 upon arrival
Then, two more disappointments in rapid succession: The ranger informed me at check-in that there was a Level 3 burn ban on, just since the day before, so no campfire possible. I looooove sitting by the fire, morning and night, and it was a major blow to my anticipation. Then, the campground where my campsite was is pretty open - trees but not much vegetation between the campsites in the center (the ones on the perimeter have more) and so my neighbors and I were pretty darn apparent to each other. Between noise, neighbors visibility and no campfire, I was feeling bummed. I decided to start by sitting at the picnic table and having a PBJ before setting up.
Pictured: A PBJ Classic hits the spot and brightens the mood
Pictured: Site #130, all settled in
Once I got set up, my mood improved. I decided to go take a walk along the river, check out the good fishing spots for tomorrow. The Yakima River runs along the back of the campground along a parallel trail which dips into pockets of pools along the way. I was a bit shocked no one was fishing, I saw some holes that looked like they needed me to drop a fly in there... but it was still really quite warm, and fishing happens at dawn and at dusk. So I just enjoyed the views and the babble of the rushing stream.
Pictured: The path from campground the river; and checking out the river for fishing later. And just enjoying the beauty.
Back in camp, I found out that one of two (closest to my site) restrooms was closed, and hoped to be repaired - tomorrow. So alllllllI the campers would be using 1 restroom building with a total of 3 seats in the women's - no shower in that one - and because of covid only 1 person in the small room at a time to really maintain distancing. I reminded myself that camping, and solocamping, has a component of rolling with the punches, and that the experience I had would depend solely on my response. So, BUCK up, Kathy.
Pictured: An afternoon hammock session is always nice - great hammock trees in this site
Hammocking is a delight, and really was a nice way to realign with solocamping and all the goodness that comes with it. I read and dozed until my stomach told me dinner would be a good idea.
A camp classic - a burger with everything, corn, grapes, and my Weird Orzo Salad which I'd made at home and brought (recipe will be added in the Make & Take section) and a nice Wyndridge Cider came together quickly and tasted sublime.
Pictured: A burger with the works fried on one burner, corn on the cob boiled on the other
Usually I read by the fire after dinner dishes as night falls, and it's a joy I look forward to. It was hard to see a cheery fire going at my neighbors on two sides - the park ranger who told me about the burn ban at check-in warned me that I might see campfires going at other sites, because propane fire pits WERE allowed in a level 3 (no floating ash or sparks resulting from these, unlike a crackling wood fire.) Tonight I read at the picnic table and later at my camp chair, and enjoyed watching a sweet dusk settle in.
Pictured: A book and some sippage as the sun sets, and that lovely pink dusk light descends.
No stinking burn ban was going to keep me from my S'mores. This trip I'd brought Nutter Butters to get my s'more on. You CAN toast marshmallows over the propane flame on your campstove, turns out, and nutter butters make a GREAT s'more. Dipped in marionberry jam, t'was the making of a new favorite, even without (forgotten) chocolate.
Pictured: Nutter Butter Propane Campstove S'More
Pictured: The sunset took place above me in a riot of rose and purple
After a good night's sleep, I was awakened early by things being dropped on my tent. BAM. BAM. The squirrels were scolding me and literally throwing large pinecones down on my tent... I believe strictly for their amusement, or maybe to try to get me up so that food made an appearance and the possibility of stealing some was afforded them. When I got up, there were no less than 7 displaced pine cones at the edges of my tent.
Pictured: The local squirrels' weapons of choice
Sometimes I pre-breakfast, and today was one of those days. PopTart, warmed on my French-press camp coffee, was the first course with my book in the camp chairs.
Pictured: Pre-breakfast coffee
It was late morning when I ventured over to the ice chest and the campstove and got after breakfast for real. Pancakes, fruit and more caffeine hit the spot.
Pictured: Trader Joe's Gluten-Free buttermilk mix pancakes are a breakfast fit for a queen
After breakfast, it was time to rig up my fishing gear and take a bit of a river stroll. RIGHT in the heat of the day, so not ideal for catching... but it was what I felt like doing, I had a day license so it seemed like the thing to do. I set out for the river and the honey holes I'd checked out yesterday afternoon.
Pictured: Which fly to choose? And in the heat of the day, the river feels good on my feet, and I can roll up my jeans, wade out a bit, and get my cast farther out there. LOVe my Keens.
Although there were some perfect casts that landed right where I wanted, there were only a few lazy rolls and nibbles. Which was fine by me. It was just lovely being out. But now I'd caught the fishing bug, so I decided on an early dinner and to then head over and try my luck at the lake, which I hadn't even seen yet.
Something that always tastes great out camping is a camp classic, Burritos. One burner for browning meat or meat substitute, and then adding the burrito spices and tomato sauce to simmer; on the other burner sometimes I do rice & beans, but this time, just was a warm day and wanted a light dinner. Although two burritos may not be "light." :)
Pictured: A loaded burrito fortifies for a lake evening
I started out on a path that goes around the lake - but the lakefront here on the East end has very steep banks, and no casting room, so although here I got actual strikes as dusk approached, I also lost a few flies and spent more than a few minutes untangling my line. The views at the top were lovely, though, the early evening light sparkling on the water, and well worth stopping and just gazing.
Pictured: Lake Easton from the North East banks
Pictured: Some pretty bright scarlet berries along the path
I discovered farther down the lake the boat landing, swim area, and day use picnic grounds, as well as the RV camping area, which is elevated up above the day-use one with a pretty view. I like to hang out by myself (solo camper :)) so I stuck to the boat launch, where the day boating folks were just pulling out. As the sundown brought some nice coolness and a little breeze, I hung out there and cast my line. Flyfishing is a zen occupation when you are on a beautiful lake and thinking your thoughts.
Pictured: Me, my fishing vest, the lake, and the end of a lovely day of solocamping
If you'd asked me at the beginning of this trip if I'd be back, I'd have told you no, this was a 1-time trip here to Lake Easton State Park. At the end, because I'd left myself open giving it a chance, I found I'd had a lovely time, and I would go again. I'd choose a site at the perimeter if possible and would cross my fingers for no burn ban and fully open facilities - but it's a great, accessible campground that can host a spontaneous trip with ease.