Things to do, places to go, and summer reading on the wild Klamath River

What are your kids doing for the summer vacation from school? I was reading that Sasha and Malia Obama’s fabulous summer vacation includes foreign travel, the Eiffel Tower, Rome, the Pantheon and the Kremlin, concerts, and being free from school routines. They also spent time volunteering at Fort McNair in Virginia, where the girls helped stuff backpacks with books and toys for the children of military families. But the presidential family limits their television and computers all day until just before bedtime, which is early for the girls even during summer vacation.

While we don’t have opportunities to tour Paris and Rome, I think that kids along the wild Klamath River have better opportunities in some ways. If you want to go away, there are Redwoods and the Pacific Coast to the West of us. They could go explore Oregon Caves just north of us, or the Cat Zoo in Cave Junction. Further up the coast there are the Myrtlewood Carving Factory and Prehistoric Gardens to explore.

Mount Shasta Museum has a display especially for the 100 year Centennial of the Boy Scouts of America. Yreka has the Siskiyou County Museum with many exhibits. They could also see museums in Fort Jones or Etna as well as the Kerbyville Museum. Have you been to the Willow Creek Museum yet, where they have a whole room added for the Bigfoot collection?

Best of all, on a hot day, kids along the Klamath have their choice of going to the Eddy or Clear Creek, or the mouth of Elk Creek for great swimming in clear cold water! They can go rafting or kayaking with their families or just drift boat for a lazy summer day on the Klamath. A student in Cave Junction used to bicycle (not motorcycle) over Greyback to Happy Camp for many years which seemed to ,me to be a great accomplishment!

They could set up a tent and camp out, either in the backyard or, as they grow in maturity and experience, progress all the way to backpacking the wilderness areas We live in the heart of Wilderness Areas so they can go any direction and find more wilderness to hike and backpack through! Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail has always been a wishful dream. Wouldn’t it be fun! The younger set can hike up Town Trail and look down on the entire town of Happy Camp.

We have a museum all about the Karuk culture to see — right in Happy Camp!! And if you haven’t visited the Forest Service Information Center, they are sure to enjoy seeing the fish (real live fish!!) and the mountain lion, and learn more about our forest. We have a beautiful River Park where they can practice disk golf or walk the nature trail.

The Cub Scouts have been busy working on collecting for a nature center: rocks and stones, tracks and just the sort of thing that young boys love to investigate as they discover the beautiful world we live in. One of these days we will find a place to keep all their displays and collections and that will be great fun for the kids! Vinson Brown’s, How to Make your Home Nature Museum was the inspiration for their collections, and in years to come it will help them to earn merit badges in all sorts of fascinating areas! They are also working on getting photographs and learning to operate a camera this summer. It is a good thing to know, since they practice the leave no trace camping, or as the scouters call it leave nothing but footprints, ways in the forest. Rather than collect things, collecting a picture of the beautiful things they have seen leaves them for the next person along the trail to see and enjoy as well.

The Happy Camp Branch Library is open fewer hours and days this summer, but is still a good place to choose a book that will interest your young (or older) readers. If you haven’t read Dear Madam or Land of the Grasshopper Song you are sure to enjoy these classics from this area. A wonderful story of life a boy growing up in Happy Camp is the The Klamath Treasure: The Adventure of Euclid Plutarch Hammarsen If you grew up along the wild Klamath River you will feel like you know Euclid and participated in many of his adventures, perhaps because the author, Trisha Barnes, did just that!

When I was dealing with a disabled van this summer, strolling down to Evans, I found a really great book, a real fish story. Springer’s Quest: Life of a Pacific Chinook Salmon by a former teacher, Nina Gee. She has written the story of this salmon that hatches and endures exciting adventures both in the creek to the river and in the ocean before returning up the Salmon River to spawn. I wondered about some of the vocabulary for youngsters, but the kids knew the words that I didn’t, so it is sure to be helpful to them in studies back at school. You don’t have to tell them that, of course! I learned a few things in a less scientific format than the information could have been presented which makes it all the more interesting for the young folks and the rest of us too.

Have a wonderful summer of doing things, going places, and summer reading along the wild Klamath River!

Greyback is open for 2007

By Judy Bushy

Page Mountain Snow Park on Grayback Road in Oregon.

When you talk about “Over the Hill” in Happy Camp, it has nothing to do with anyone’s age! Ever since prospectors found gold here back in the good old days of the previous century, people have been mining north of Happy Camp in places like Indian Town, Waldo, O’Brien, and other little places that have disappeared.

If the Oregon tax collector came to visit, they announced that they were citizens of California. If the California revenue man came by, they announced that they were Oregon residents. Even before that, the Karuk Tribe headed over the hill to trade with tribes in Illinois Valley. Greyback Road has been the center of our double-minded residency ever since.

Driving over the hill is a fantastic route with rare Brewer Spruce and Port Orford Cedar trees. At the top of the hill is a side road off to the Tanner and Bolan Lakes. Bolan Lake was the site of a popular prospecting place that had a bowling alley in the tavern about the same time that Indian Town was prospering. Nowadays they are popular hiking, fishing and camping retreats for the backpacker.

The Page Mountain Snow Park, at the top of the mountain, is on the Oregon side and blocked to us in the winter, but that doesn’t deter enjoying the summer and fall pleasures of hiking and exploring there.

‘Over the Hill’ is a popular path to take whether you go to the Taylor Sausage spot for Saturday night music, stop by Dairy Queen or prefer the Chinese menu at the Golden Dragon Gate. It used to be that there was an outdoor drive-in theater but since the days of home video entertainment, that closed. There is a wild animal cat park that is well worth a visit.

Cave Junction has always been the gateway to the Oregon Caves National Monument. Well, since they will celebrate the hundred-year anniversary in the next couple of years, it has been a long time. Oh, for an expert to teach us spelunking. But barring that, Oregon Cave tours are fascinating.

The Selma Farmer’s Market, the Kirby Historical Museum, burl and wood carving shops, are all good reasons to get out to Oregon.

If you live in Happy Camp, there is no way to go anywhere else, unless you drive Highway 96. You can drive 75 miles to the east of Happy Camp and come to Yreka, and I-5 freeway. You can drive west on Highway 96 to Willow Creek. Once you get to Willow Creek another little drive, total of 120 miles, and you’ll be in Arcata on the way to Eureka and ocean beaches.

Sometimes the Klamath River floods and we can’t get out to Yreka. Sometimes there are rock or mudslides down the mountain and we can’t get out to Willow Creek. All winter long another road, up over Greyback into Oregon that meets with Hwy 199, is closed by snow. But in the summer, that scenic route is one of the favorite routes and the only way out of Happy Camp if you don’t take Hwy 96.

The cabin at Page Mountain Snow Park

State of Jefferson Scenic Byway - Grayback Road