October 5, 2012

Morlocks discovered at Walton Lake

Walton Lake
During a week-long trip into Central Oregon, my bride and I ran into heavy rains in the Cascades, so we tried to skirt the bad weather by heading east and trying our luck in the Ochocos. We ended up at Walton Lake in the evening, unpacked in decent weather, set up camp, and crawled into the tent for the night. Little did we know that we had planted ourselves in the midst of a community of devil critters.

When we awoke early the next morning we discovered the food cache we had mistakenly left on the table was pilfered by nocturnal raiders. It became obvious, as they appeared from the ground while we ate breakfast, that the thieves were ground squirrels. The dozens of holes littering the grounds of our campsite had been overlooked the night before. The squirrels were popping out of the ground now, probably wired to look for a handout after years of being fed by campers.

California Ground Squirrel
California Ground Squirrel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As we checked to see what food had been gnawed on, it was obvious they were particularly enamored with the marshmallows. Only about one bite was taken from every marshmallow they could get there teeth on. Despite the critters having satisfied their sweet tooth with what we were to use for Smores, we had fun watching those rascals run back and forth from their holes looking for something else to snatch.
Walton Lake is a small reservoir, only about 19 acres, in the Ochoco Mountains which was created in the 1940s by construction of a 28-foot high, earthfill dam near the headwaters of Camp Creek.
After stashing our food cache inside the tent, we drove to the edge of tiny Bridge Creek Wilderness. From there we hiked to the North Point Ridge, where the view is outstanding. Next, we drove to the top of nearby Pisgah Butte with its occupied fire lookout.
View from North Point Ridge
When we returned I spotted a couple of ground squirrels darting from our tent.

"I thought you zipped up the tent before we left," my bride said.
"I did," I answered, just before I noticed a softball sized hole in the side of the tent. The stinking squirrels had actually chewed a hole through the tent. It didn't take us long to pack up and head to Bingham Prairie, located on the northern border of Mill Creek Wilderness
Bingham Prairie

From Bingham Prairie we hiked to Twin Pillars. Along the way we saw several deer, a couple of them thick bodied, four-point (8 point in other parts of the U.S.) bucks. They were, as expected, much more timid than the rodents from hell we had encountered at Walton Lake.
Twin Pillars
The Jokes On Me:
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson went on a camping trip. After a good meal and a bottle of wine, they laid down for the night and went to sleep. Some hours later, Holmes awoke and nudged his faithful friend.
"Watson, look up and tell me what you see."
Watson replied, "I see millions and millions of stars."
"What does that tell you?" Holmes asks.
Watson pondered for a minute. "Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three. Theologically, I can see that God is all powerful and that we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. Why, what does it tell YOU?"
Holmes paused, then said, "Watson, you idiot. Some jerk has stolen our tent."

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