January Excursion to South Prairie

Walter and I arriving at South Prairie Lake

The Adventurer, Vernon Wade

Vernon was born in the Pacific Northwest and still lives in the shadow of Mt. Hood, near the small town where he grew up. Vernon has spent decades wandering the hills, hunting mushrooms, camping and riding motorcycles into the remotest nooks and crannies to be found in the region.

Walter wait patiently, stuck on the ice My brother and I decided to take advantage of the unusually mild weather and went for a little excursion into the Gifford Pinchot yesterday. We ran into ice about the time we ran out of pavement, small patches at first, then long stretches which formed a treacherous, rutted ice rink.looking for traction in the unpolished ice at the edge of the roadFS66 just below South Prairie







Arriving at South Prairie Lake January 3, 2020 South PrairieSouth Prairie Lake was frozen over. The large meadow across the road was filled with several feet of standing water, but the adjacent meadows were dry.Walter at the South Prairie Launch site




Andys KLR at Lost Creek BridgeThere was more ice on the road above the junction. If I had fresher tires and ice screws I might have made it to where we camped on Lost Creek last year. Instead, Walter and I waited at South Prairie by the launch site while Andy continued up to the bridge. Returning shortly, he said the ride was exciting; the potholes sent him sliding in unexpected directions across the sheet ice. He didn’t think my bike would make it that far and laughed when I suggested his KLR might make it all the way into the campsite on the creek.



Chanty CampWe turned around and dropped down to a lower elevation and made lunch. I wanted to field-test my new BioLite Campstove 2. Andy looked for mushrooms while I fussed with the stove.bacon frying





waiting for lunchThe jury is still out on this gadget. When it works, it works as advertised, burning hot and clean and generating electricity. It works better with pellets than twigs. I cooked up some bacon and warmed slices of soda bread to make sandwiches. Then I smothered the flames when I added more pellets. A choking plume of smoke made re-igniting the stove difficult, but I managed to get it going again with several chunks of fire-starter.  Disaster averted, I put a pot on and warmed our eggnog.spiking the nog with rumhot eggnog





grating nutmeg into nog

Andy using his noggin

Vernon enjoying a hot lunch in the woods







We finished our lunch and packed up. The valley was shrouded in smoke from slash fires and the sun was setting as we returned home, riding along the edge of the cliffs above the Columbia River.

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