By Judy Bushy
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.