Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Camping on the Shore of Wickiup Reservoir, Pt. 10

View from my campsite, the day before I depart.
Just a reminder. So far on my trip I have sighted sheriffs, fire crew, and state troopers. But so far, no one with the Deschutes National Forest, the folk that have direct jurisdiction over the area.

On my second day (or was it the third?) I had been asked to move from Camp 1, which was below the high water mark of the reservoir, to a second location, higher up.

So thar I was, minding my own business when a forestry service office appeared.

"Are you aware of the travel restrictions," she asked.

I said I was, that I had no fires and was above the high water mark. I thought I was bulletproof.

Well, I wasn't.

The fire crew-woman who moved me from that lovely below-high-water site a few days ago only gave me part of the information about the travel restrictions. Turns out that I have no business camping where I was, either, as it is not on an established road. She handed me a flyer with the details on it, and told me that I would have to leave. Now.

I dickered a bit, she allowed that she'd give me until sundown. No ticket at this time. But if she will come by tomorrow, early, she says, and if she finds me, then, well . . . the choice is mine.

So. I am an early riser. I think I will take my chances, and get everything ready to go so that all I have to do is drop the poptop and drive. I'll catch breakfast in town. My guess is that she doesn't even clock in until 8 am and I'd be long gone by then.

I proceeded to start packing for an early departure, when a couple of sheriffs came by. They paused to ask how I was doing and I explained that I was packing up to leave on account of the forestry service.

"Are you aware of the travel restrictions?" I asked the driver.

He looked puzzled They knew about the travel restrictions but didn't know I could not camp here.

I asked the office if he wanted to see the flyer and he said, yeah, and followed me around to the side of the van where I gave him the document that the FS official gave me. His partner joined quickly, what with the two of us being out of sight and all.

After reading the bulletin, he said he didn't see where I could not camp here. We looked it over and decided that the relevant sentence was that travel was restricted only to paved, gravel, or cinder roads bearing USFS 2, 3, or 4-digit numbers, and that this shoreline road is a dirt "use road," not a USFS road.

"Aw," he said. "That's splitting hairs."

I agreed that he might be right but that I was in no position to argue, and pointed at the declaration on the bulletin that said that a ticket could be as expensive as $5,000.

"Now if it was you camping here," I said, "you might be able to argue the point with her."

He said that was probably true. He said if he came across her he'd chat about it, and promised to come back if she agreed that she was being a bit officious.

They drove off, I continued to pack. About 30 minutes later, the sheriffs returned and said that they had been wondering about my situation and called the USFS office and spoke to a law enforcement officer. the driver pulled out a pad and started to write in it. Are they giving me a ticket? He tore out a piece of paper and on it was the name of the LEO they had spoken to.

This fellow, it seems, sided with the sheriffs on the matter, and told them that the matter came down to the interpretation of "gravel/cinder" roads vis a vis this dirt road.

Interestingly enough, the LEO asked if I was the guy in the yellow VW van who has been here for a week and was asked to move earlier on and did.

So I'm famous.

The sheriff said that if the USFS gal came by again to tell her that the LEO requested that she call him.

Not quite the same as the famous (and imaginary) "Letters of Transit" in Casablanca, but close enough!

I proceeded to open a bottle of Rortteus "Rattlesnake Red," but needed to avoid getting drunk, in case the FS gal comes by, but I decided I'd not lose any sleep over her..

Well before the sun set, the solar panels and all the gear were packed in the trailer, it was closed, and the  kayak tied on top.

Most things have been stowed for departure, dirty linens in the "launder me" bag, dirty cookware in the dishwasher tote, rugs have been addressed with the carpet beater and rolled up, floor swept, stovetop and cabinets wiped clean.

I was surprised by the sheer number of lawmen up there, having camped here a couple - three times before, and not seen a single badge.

I attributed their presence to the extreme fire hazard. The ranger told me that she doesn't usually patrol this area, is usually fighting fires. When I mentioned that to the sheriff, he pointed out that there was a fire on Mount Hood -- the implication being that she might be of better use there.

View from my campsite, the last sunset.
One does not want to get caught up in a dispute between two different law enforcement agencies. But I found his comment amusing. 

I was up early the next day and had an incident-free trip back to Bend.

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