Sunday, June 16
At dusk the crew and I ride up to Maple Grove Campground to fill empty water jugs. Right before dark the crew and I take a last walk down to the creek. Tomorrow we break camp!
Monday, June 17
Before hitting the road this morning, I post the pre-written blog entry about the man with the net. It’s a clear and windless day as we pass through the now-familiar territory of Round Valley, Salina, Redmond, Axtell (hello, burros!), Centerfield, and Gunnison. I stop for groceries and gas in Gunnison, and take a quick look at this blog while sitting in the PTV in the parking lot.
We continue on Highway 89 to the village of Sterling and make the turn to Palisades State Park.
The lake is pretty and the campground is nearly full.
A drive-through confirms that I don’t want to camp here. Prior research revealed the lake has a beach, a boat ramp, paddle boats, and so on. Translation? Lots of families. Lots of RVs close together.
So why are we here?
Dump station! Yay! For six dollars I empty the waste tanks and fill up the fresh water tank before resuming our journey northward on Highway 89. Soon we pass through the town of Manti. I pull over to photograph the Latter Day Saints’ temple.
I have very little idea where we will camp.
My plan is to stop at the Sanpete Ranger District Office at Ephraim to ask for suggestions. The first outstanding feature of Ephraim is the college-town atmosphere — outdoor cafes, sporting goods shops, and such, along with lots of young adult pedestrians. I find the ranger office easily on the north end of town.
Before going inside, I take the crew on a potty-walk.
I’m pleased to see I’m the only visitor. Two friendly ladies greet me and devote themselves to answering my questions and pointing out roads on a large map of Manti-La Sal National Forest which is displayed under glass on a low section of the counter.
I give the ladies my pertinent facts and my goal.
“I’m camping in a 17-foot trailer, self-contained, solar power. I’m interested in dispersed camping by myself. A camp next to stream would be nice. Oh, and I’d rather not scale a cliff to get there.”
After some discussion one of the ladies tells me what she would do.
“I’d go up to Bluebell,” she says. The other lady agrees. She draws a map with a ballpoint pen that keeps skipping.
“Government pen,” she murmurs. We smile at each other while she fishes out another pen.
Bluebell is a turn-out off the Ephraim Canyon Road.
It’s about three miles further up Badger Mountain from Lake Hill Campground which is about seven miles up the canyon from Ephraim.
Armed with this information and a free map of the forest roads, I thank the ladies and hurry out to the PTV. It’s around noon so I don’t want Bridget and Spike to sit long in the parking lot.
As one might expect, the road is gravel and steep with a tendency toward switchbacks. I persevere until we reach Lake Hill Campground. Well, as long as we’re here, might as well check this out. I wouldn’t mind stopping here for the night. Mountain driving wears me out.
The self-pay station says $5 regular fee/$2.50 with senior discount.
A glance at the campground map shows a body of water nearby. Oh great! I pull in, park the PTV, let out the crew, and together we walk the path to the water. The campground is empty and quiet.
One look at the green scum and I turn Spike and Bridget around and go back to the PTV. Boy, I’m glad I have Spike on a leash. He’d be in that water in a flash. He’d drink it, too.
I choose a campsite away from the water.
Figuring we’ll stay for one night without unhitching and then continue up to Bluebell in the morning, I back us into a site. Before doing any set-up, I sit at a picnic table in the shade of a fir tree. Bridget needs to settle down. She always gets so wound up when we enter a campground, jumping around, whining, overheating. She and Spike lie down on the cool ground under the table.
I notice sticky stuff like spilled drink on the picnic table.
So much for being careful in bear country. Soon I’m swatting flies. Bees arrive. That green water over there is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. I get a second wind and decide we can do better.
Three more miles up the mountain and I back the BLT next to a creek at Bluebell.
Cottonwood Creek flows about fifteen feet away, parallel to the BLT. There’s an opening in the brush beyond the rear of the BLT where I can sit and watch the creek. The aspens in the photo are on the other side of the creek.
Just a little bit too perfect, wouldn’t you say?
Not so! I realize I left my precious camera on the picnic table at Lake Hill Campground, three miles down the mountain. I unhitch, put the crew back in the PTV, drive the three miles, get the camera, drive back . . . sheesh.
Finally Spike gets a chance to . . .
Awww . . . Spikey . . . you cutie . . . you sweet, precious boy . . . I love your little body . . .
“Enough of Spike! What about the guy with the net?”
What did I do? Well, I tossed and turned that night, weighing both sides of the issue. I ruminated on most of the points which subsequently appeared in the comments section under the last post.
And I had this thought: What the heck should I do tomorrow if I find trout floating belly-up in the vegetation along the edge of the creek?
I run the gamut through my mind . . . from “mind my own business” to “how nice to see a dad spending time with his children” to “be a good citizen” to “let Fish and Game handle it” to “no one’s going to pursue this so why bother” to “I don’t need this!”
The next morning I’m relieved to see the family packing up and pulling out.
(This was Sunday morning. Locals like to come up here on Saturdays, camp the night, and leave in the morning.)
What did I do?
I did nothing, other than write about it on this blog. And maybe that’s the best thing I could’ve done. Thank you for taking the time to politely express your opinion and to politely “listen” to the opinions of others.
Now back to our regularly scheduled program . . .
Isn’t this a lovely camp?