4th of July brought outstanding camping

Sean C. Morgan

A wall of campers lined the shores of Green Peter Reservoir and the shoulder of Quartzville Road over Fourth of July weekend.

“We’re full pretty much everywhere,” Linn County Parks and Recreation Director Brian Carroll said. Even outlying parks like Whitcomb Creek and John Neal were packed. John Neal had one spot open on Friday when a camper had pulled out a few hours earlier.

“It’s always busy on the fourth,” Carroll said. “In the last couple of years, it just seems to gret busier.”

The parks are seeing more day use on top of camping at capacity.

A few years ago, camping probably reached its peak along Green Peter when the reservoir was full, Carroll sadi. The last couple of years the lake, with low summer water levels, hasn’t been as busy, but it still gets good use.

Low water levels put pressure on Thistle Creek Boat Ramp when it is the only boat access to the lake, Carroll said, but with the recent rain, Whitcomb Creek’s boat ramp remained in the water over the weekend providing another access point.

Up from where it has been in recent years, Green Peter was busier than it has been in several years, a Corps of Engineers employee said, and boaters didn’t need to use the low-water ramp.

At Thistle Creek, boaters had filled the parking spaces and started overflowing up the driveway, with a handful parked at the entrance.

Farther up Quartzville, a group of friends and family were bridge jumping, calling down to boaters on the lake to make sure it was clear to jump.

Asked why he would jump off a perfectly good bridge, Mike Andrews of Bend said, “it’s a perfectly good bridge to jump off.”

His companions offering him cash to do a backflip into the lake.

“For $40, I’ll bust a ? backflip,” Andrews said.

Dennis King warned him not to.

“If you die, we’ll have to pay for a funeral,” King said.

One group managed to escape the bustling activity around the lake by climbing down into the river and camping on a rocky island. Only the occasional car and the acoustic guitar of Jeff Salata of Portland punctuated the peace and quiet.

It was the first time the half-dozen men from Portland, Corvallis, Idaho and Alaska had camped in the area, and they loved it.

Some girls they were camping with came up earlier in the week and scouted out the camp site, Paul Gorman said. Women they were camping with “came up here, scouted it out and found this excellent spot.”

That spot was accessible down a steep embankment off Quartzville Road, an area where they didn’t have to pitch tents five feet from the roadway.

“If you’re five feet away, I figure there’s a car that’s going to drive into me in the middle of the night,” Salata said.

Steven Schlough of Hayden, Idaho, was playing it by ear and thought he might stay up there two weeks, the maximum allowed camping time in the corridor.