October Tipi Camp on Pistol Creek


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.

Andy,Rob and I set out Friday for Pistol Creek. Dave McF would join us on Saturday. We stopped to collect a set of poles I had left at Chanty Camp, foraging for mushrooms on our way up. Robert and I found only a few each, but my brother found enough chanterelles to feed us well through the weekend.










It was late afternoon by the time we parked at the trailhead into camp. We unloaded the truck and cached our gear and the tipi poles a little way down the trail. Walter was harnessed to the cart and loaded with the canvas tipi. Each of us shouldered a pack, grabbed some poles and followed the dog cart into camp, leaving the bulk of our supplies and most of the poles behind.








It was past lunch-time: We dropped our loads and cracked a beer. Rob got a fire started and we hung a pot full of taco things to heat while we set up camp, Once we got some food in our bellies, we could retrieve the rest of our equipment.









We assembled quite a pile of gear in camp, and set about getting the tipi up and bringing in firewood.













It was dark by the time we got around to dinner: Andy’s homemade marinara and birch boletes paired with hot garlic bread. We washed down our spaghetti with a bottle of local red wine.





After dinner we had a little Irish whiskey while Robert played harp. The fire burned merrily well into the night.














ice i the fire bucketsWe woke up to a frosty morning with ice sheeting the water in our dish buckets. Throwing more wood on the fire, we heated water for our morning caffiene fix.




















The rocky beach steamed as the sun rose above the trees and finally started warming the morning. 







I struggled to get a fire started with damp wood so we could wash last night’s dishes and cook breakfast. With Robert’s help, I finally got it going.




We fashioned a tripod and hung the dishbucket over the flames. The waffle irons were heating and bacon frying while I mixed the batter. Before long we were prying waffles from the hot irons and wolfing down our breakfast. Dave McF showed up in time to join us.









After we ate Dave packed his gear into camp. I followed him out to the cache and together we retrieived the rest of the poles, adding them to our stash. We have almost enough poles secreted here for our longhouse next spring.

Andy took a little nature walk and Rob did the dishes, after which it was nap time.














After our siesta, we collected some dead poles and lashed together a cooking shelter on the beach.






Exhausted by our labors we retired to the creekside for a quiet beer. Or it would have been quiet if my brother would leave off proselytizing. Like a shepherd chasing wayward lambs using Even More Jesus (12% ABV) as his crook,  he attempted to herd us back to the rightious path.







In self defense, I uncorked the Irish Whiskey and brought out Shanky’s Whip. Michael arrived with snackage in time for happy hour. We sat around the fire, sipping drinks and eating sliced mango.











Noticing the shadows growing longer, Mike bid us good night, electing to leave while it was still light enough to see the trail. That was my cue to start dinner; I repaired to the kitchen shelter and started a fire in my folding grill to cook lamb kabobs.





While I was assembling the skewers of chanterelles, dried apricots, and lamb, Dave was cooking pearl cous cous over the fire by the creek and Robert kept an eye on the Dutch oven containing a rhubarb pie. Andy stumbled around in the dark taking photographs -ya gotta suffer for your art.








Sitting around the fire, we greedily consumed our dinner, splitting the pie four ways for dessert.















When we finished we sat there in the dark, listening to the creek, staring at the stars overhead and watching the fire die down.





As our beach fire died, the night enveloped us in its cloak. Andy went back to the tipi and got a fire going inside. When the last coals at the beach winked out Rob, David and I joined my brother in camp. 






Although we had fine weather for the weekend, recent rains left the woods soaking wet. Andy had stacked damp  firewood like lincoln logs around the fire; the wood hissed and steamed as it dried. We hung the kettle and made a hot nightcap, spending the rest of the evening laying about and telling each other lies.














Sunday dawned slightly warmer than the previous morning. It was still brisk, but there was no frost. We went back to the creek and kindled the morning fire. We had a bucket full of dirty dishes left over from last night, but they would need to wait a little longer. Until the sun reached the beach it was too cold to do anything but sit by the fire with our fingers wrapped around hot mugs of coffee.











Once we were caffienated, breakfast was the next order of business. As the morning sun finally topped the trees, bowls of hot oatmeal, with sliced apples and fried sausage patties warmed our bellies and the rising sun warmed our backs. It was shaping up to be a fine morning on Pistol Creek.














After breakfast Dave and my brother elected to hang out on the beach. Rob and I decided to explore downstream. We discovered the creek had dried up considerably since our canoe trip a few weeks before, and it disappeared underground much closer to camp.









We followed the dry streambed for a ways before striking inland, through dense old growth forest. We hoped to find boletes or chanterelles, but were disappointed. There was a variety of fungi, but nothing we wanted to collect. 
















We struck the end of the abandoned logging road and made a big loop, cutting back through the woods to the tipi, and following our trail from there to the beach. Andy and Dave were still there. We were pleased to find my wife, Amy, had hiked in the spend the afternoon with us.











It was getting on and Robert still had a long drive back to Salem. The time had come to strike camp. We doused our fires, packed up and hauled for home. Good friends and a great campsite make an unbeatable combination. We will be back. 








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  1. Robert Booth

    Don’t forget the part about having to use tortilla chips to start the wet wood afire.


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