Spring 2019 OR-WA Regional Canpout CANCELED
posted January 13, 2019 7:40 PM   RSS

After researching further I've decided that this isn't a workable plan at this point - (a) June in the Olympic peninsula part of the world is colder and a lot wetter than I realized; and (b) July or August seems to be the best bet weather-wise, but ALL campsites at all the campgrounds I looked into are already booked for ALL those weekends. I'll try this again next year, but start the planning a couple months earlier. Sorry, everyone!
posted by Greg_Ace to Proposed (58 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Time-wise I'm guessing late June, but any information about the typical calendar period between "it's beginning to be Mostly Sunny" and "daily temperatures are starting to get into the upper 70's" is helpful!
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:00 PM on January 13, 2019

I am interested though dear god I hope we’re not still shutdown in spring,
posted by corb at 9:04 AM on January 14, 2019

I am also very interested! I don't know the area very well, but if we become desperate for local knowledge, one of my co-workers camps extensively and would happily give advice.
posted by kalimac at 9:57 AM on January 14, 2019

I think we also have to consider *mud* as a factor for spring camping in the Olympics. But I'm game!
posted by janell at 1:46 PM on January 14, 2019 [2 favorites]

That's something I hadn't considered. Would camping in that area work better in the fall (or more accurately, in the period where summer temperatures are past but the rainy season hasn't started)? Is there such a thing as a not-rainy-but-not-hot period in that area?
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:54 PM on January 14, 2019

I am in! I live here now and I can do this! So anyway I know absolutely nothing about the area, the weather, the campsites, etc, but name a date and place within 4 hours of Astoria and I’ll be there with a truck & tiny camper. Even got an extra, comfy, futon bed in the truck. In related news, any mefites dwelling in or visiting the north coast want to grab a beverage, HMU.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:32 PM on January 14, 2019 [3 favorites]

I'll be there even if it's only to have another shot at making/eating "Dutch oven lasagna with twice the cheese."
posted by bendy at 2:59 AM on January 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

It's good to have goals in life!
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:13 AM on January 15, 2019

Come to Whidbey and see me and maxwelton and surlyben and... I think that's it
posted by The otter lady at 6:23 PM on January 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

I have to say, it certainly looks inviting! And it's 4 hours from Portland (though that's mostly I-5, so not necessarily a scenic drive). Thoughts, anyone? Are there, like, hiking trails and such?
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:53 PM on January 16, 2019

A very enthusiastic vote for Whidbey! (Not least because it's fairly easy for my carless self to get there without renting a car :) )

The WTA offers a range of trails, and I know there's kayaking as well, although that might depend a bit on how warm it is.
posted by kalimac at 9:03 AM on January 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

One question: We're all pretty much car campers. I did some very cursory research and I *think* that the ferry to the island can carry cars...is that right? How far ahead of time would one need to reserve a spot?
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:16 PM on January 19, 2019

The ferry from Port Angeles is definitely a car ferry. Not sure about the other ferry. But there’s also a bridge (to Anacortes?) - it’s very pretty.
posted by janell at 10:34 PM on January 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Holy shit yes I'm probably in. I would have to be. I could actually bike tour to this.

If anyone is interested in bike touring to this, talk to me! I can provide local jumping off points, including layover camping! Or we could pre-meet at Sequim State Park in Blyn and hit the Olympic Discovery Trail from there, it's some of the nicest riding I've ever seen!

Location suggestions:

#1 and very likely our best bet for large group camping this time of the year:

Sequim County Park. (not state park, county park!) It's not the best of the Olympic Peninsula as far as moss and rain and rain forests, but it's in the rain shadow so it's usually much drier, cheaper than even the State Parks, they probably have large group sites available at a bargain if we book early enough.

Nearby features include the Dungeness Spit which is one of the longest in the world, a bird sanctuary, and another great bird sanctuary and interpretive center and river park is a few miles away on the Dungeness river.

There are plenty of grocery stores in Sequim, too, and relatively easy road access to the Olympic Discovery Trail a few miles away, suitable for tourers or even day trips if people brought their bikes.

Sequim is also slightly less gritty and crowded than Port Angeles, while offering similar vehicle access to Olympic National Park.

Lake Crescent and Olympic National Park are very easy car day trips from this location as well. Port Angeles is just about 20 minutes away, and Sol Duc is maybe an hour and a half or two hours. I highly recommend a day trip to Lake Crescent and the little park and waterfall that is there.

#2 Fort Worden State Park, Port Townsend: This would be hard to swing going into spring because of all the music festivals and how it's often booked up early, but it's a totally amazing park full of living history and would be an utterly epic, unforgettable meetup. It is one of the never used WW1 era artillery installations part of the triangle of fire. It has tons of creepy old bunkers, a nearby vibrant town full of music, artists and weirdos and much more.

There is also Fort Townsend State Park near by just out of town which could offer easy access to town and Fort Worden, even via bus or bicycle.

One of the options available at Fort Worden is we could actually rent one of the historical officer's quarters as a group, at per-person prices that would be about the same as individual camping fees. Some of these cool historical houses can sleep like 20+ people.

#3 One of the other "Triangle of Fire" State parks either on Whidbey Island (Fort Casey) or Marrowstone Island (Fort Flagler). Much less crowded than Fort Worden with similar features, with access to Port Townsend via ferry from Whidbey or road from Marrowstone.

If we went with Whidbey and Fort Casey we would have day trip access to Deception Pass (including via free Whidbey Island bus!), Whidbey Island, and Whidbey Island MeFites could visit us easily.

#4 South Whidbey State Park - I think they re-opened this. Very gorgeous hidden gem of a park on Whidbey Island perched in a huge chunk of old growth forest on the edge of a cliff with beach access. I believe they have group camping sites available. Similar day trip access to Deception Pass, Whidbey and Port Townsend, but much less access to Olympic National Park

#5 I know a semi-secret spot nearish Sol Duc to the west of Lake Crescent. It is a drive up equestrian camp that is little used but well maintaned. It does not have water available on site and is otherwise unimproved, and there's not a lot of access to stores or facilities. There is a large, fancy outhouse.

While it does have access to the western leg of the Olympic Discovery Trail, the segment between Port Angeles and Lake Crescent isn't fully complete yet.

What it does have is VERY large camp sites and easy drive up access. I would be hesitant to use this site for more than 10-15 people, but I think they wouldn't mind an influx of camping fees/donations and stuff.

#6 I might actually be able to host 20-ish campers for up to a week on very lush and green private land. Not only is there a house and facilities here, but by spring I should have stuff built like a composting toilet and other features. I'd have to talk to my hosts but one of our goals is to be able to host gatherings.

We'd want to talk about people chipping in to cover the water use load since we have to get our water trucked in, but it'd be small potatoes to individual or group camping fees.
posted by loquacious at 1:04 PM on January 24, 2019 [5 favorites]

Fantastic suggestions - thank you, loquacious!

Any thoughts/preferences, anyone? (My general preference tends to be "near a river/stream/lake with lots of trees, surrounded by mountains".)
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:34 PM on January 24, 2019

Argh, I just lost a huge comment with a browser crash. Let me see if I can do a quick recap.

I'm really excited about this so bear with me.

As most of you probably know but just in case: I've been living and camping in the area for about four years, and part of my origin story here is being on a homeless bike tour of doom and surviving winter outdoors here a couple of times and blah blah I'm going somewhere with this because I everyone to be comfortable so I can show you around!

My idea of a good time is often sitting in the rain in layers and full rain shell and pants in the middle of no where all by myself, sometimes all day. I often carry a small pot, stove and water filter just so I can have hot coffee or tea and sit around in the tree and rain and moss for as long as comfortable.

I love this place and biome, I love the rain and weather, I love the cold because it's free air conditioning when I go tromping around.

And I'm not going to sugar coat the climate and weather:

It can be really cold, wet, rainy, windy, foggy and just plain old damp and grey well into June. In fact, we call June "June-arary" because we usually get a little break in the spring teasing us about summer then the gloom and rain comes back for a while longer.

So this is why everyone who lives here has a bunch of rain jackets and wears clunky waterproof shoes all the time, because if we waited for good warm weather with no rain at all we'd be outside maybe two weeks out of the year.

We don't see upper 70 temps around here often at all, and if we do it's usually late July or August. 75-80 is kinda warm by local standards. 85 for too long is a heat wave and fire hazard. I can't remember the last time I felt 90.

June temps generally are 50s-60s depending where you are, with varying amounts of rain from light mist to constant drizzle to downpour. Winds are usually mild but persistent, but we have occasional windstorms and gales that can rip up to 60-70 mph off the Juan De Fuca Strait. Near sea level temps are rarely below freezing, but it gets cold and wet quick if you go up into the Olympics and gain altitude. See also: Hurricane Ridge.

People visiting from outside the area and/or the PNW should be prepared for this with good rain clothes and camping gear and layers. It is honestly usually that soggy and cold.

Example: My outfit for more than a few hours of being outdoors right now and most of the year is long johns, wool pants, wool socks, thermal long sleeve undershirt, heavy wool jacket-shirt, warm scarf and topped off by a pretty serious gortex hooded rain shell and waterproof shoes. Also sometimes polyfleece gloves and neck/face warmer thing and rain pants.

By June I'll probably ditch the thermal layers, but will still have a rain shell and a hoody, maybe even a scarf. And maybe rain pants rolled up in a bag.

This area is tough to dress for because while it's cold you're not dressing for snow, and moreover you need to take care not to overheat and be able to control that. You're mainly dressing for wet and wind, not freezing temps.

If we're expecting more than 10 people and doing a group kitchen, we should probably plan for stuff like an easy up shelter or some nicely rigged tarps and otherwise be prepared to deal with rain and an apocalyptic mud bath no matter when/where we camp. This doesn't happen often, and when the weather is nice it's incredibly nice.

If you check around Port Angeles itself you'll find there's not a lot of camping options there that aren't in the ONP itself. There is a very lovely campground right on the lake on the west end of Lake Crescent that I think is a state or non national park but it's extremely popular and rather small, so group camping options in our time frame are limited.

I also haven't mentioned visiting or camping near the Hoh rainforest and trail yet. That's because it's probably outside of our logistical scope for a group campout of our size or day trips due to how it's farther away than it looks on the map. If we wanted to see or be near the Hoh we would need to look at camping near Forks or La Push. There's also basically zero infrastructure or amenities out there compared to Port Angeles or Sequim.

There are a bunch of other parks in the Sequim County Park system, too, many on the coast, but I have a strong feeling that the Dungeness County Park is going to be one of our best bets with the best car camping access, best prices, best availability for a group of our likely size with this lead time, best weather and least rain - while still offering vehicular access to ONP and Hurricane Ridge, Dungeness River, Elwa River and/or Lake Crescent for day trip opportunities.

For example from Sequim it would be possible for a well organized car caravan to do a whirlwind tour and spend a couple hours each at Lake Crescent, Elwa River and even Hurricane Ridge in one day and get back to camp in time for dinner.

Hiking the Dungeness Spit all the way to the lighthouse and back would be an all day but flat/mild hike and glorious in good weather, or a wild adventure in high winds, a high sea and a blow. Or we could do part of the spit in the morning, and spend lunch and the afternoon at the Dungeness River Audubon Center.

Drawbacks to Sequim and Dungeness Park are mild, and maybe assets: The Dungeness park is nestled on a beach bluff and cliff behind rural country a few miles to the NW of downtown Sequim and isn't in the mountains or forests proper, but does have lots and lots of trees. This is indeed lavender country. It's really quite pretty, and very relatively sunny even compared to Port Angeles as it's solidly in the rain shadow area. It's also a sleepy little retiree community for the most part. The campground itself is a little worn and well loved, but is unique and still very green and pretty and definitely not a parking lot or a KOA next to a freeway.

But keep in mind as a stealth bike camper and hiker/biker I usually get to camp in the best spots both paid or off trail, so my standards are high. Also, I can walk out of my shed walk immediately into a few acres of mossy trees and views of the Olympics.

But most importantly Dungeness is probably going to be available, affordable and accessible with access to a variety of some of the best parts of the area, including ONP and Lake Crescent.

And I think I'll put that in it's own comment.
posted by loquacious at 10:51 PM on January 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

#1 : Sequim County Park.

And I just realized I'm not being clear about which park I'm talking about.

It's Dungeness Recreation area, here.

And here's some more links to local stuff I'm talking about.

The Dungeness River Audubon Center. So damn pretty, the bridge and center are amazing. They are/were building a new center?

Dungeness Spit. That's a 6.8 mile trail out to the light house, one way!

Lake Crescent Lodge. This place is gorgeous. There's an amazing trail network and waterfall hike and rivers and stuff, and it's almost as mossy as the Hoh river, and then there's Lake Crescent itself and the constantly changing colors of the sky. (Not suggesting this as a camping location.)

Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park.

Elwa River.
posted by loquacious at 11:09 PM on January 24, 2019

And the most important piece of local advice of all that I can share is this, and I worked in a state park for a while and have had 4 summers out here, and I really can't understate this:

Booking and availability for camping in the entire area can be really competitive, especially in the summer.

We probably need to pick and book something ASAP like yesterday if we want to pull this off for a group larger than 10-15 anywhere near about a half a day's drive to the gates to Olympic National park and we want to either have a group site or individual sites next to or close to each other.

Almost everything on the Olympic Peninsula that's is car camping with facilities that's worth camping in (and not unimproved or back country) is likely already booked on weekends from Mayish through Labor Day if they take reservations at all.

I'm presuming that what we want as a group is car accessible camping with facilities like water, showers and bathrooms for the most inclusion, and something in the 2-3 day range?

I would recommend aiming earlier in the season rather than later. I can also recommend avoiding any major holidays or three day weekends.

If Port Angeles and Olympic National Park isn't a goal, there's a lot of other options around the area. If people just want some basic trees, smores and campfires and hanging out and playing guitar and stuff, there's dozens and dozens of cool little county parks all over the place that would likely be glad to have us.

Also, something to note is that pretty much everything that is actually "mountains" and above about a thousand feet in altitude where you can camp next to a river in a forest while also having mountains actually tower above you or even being up on a mountain that's on the peninsula is likely to be inside the Olympic National Park. We just kind of live on a ring around it in the foothills and peninsulas and stuff.
posted by loquacious at 11:45 PM on January 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

Ferry info is here.
posted by loquacious at 11:48 PM on January 24, 2019

Olympic Discovery Trail.

If there's anyone that likes biking, the segment between Port Angeles to Blyn is complete and just amazing. Riding from Dungeness Recreation area to Blyn or Port Angeles are do-able as an easy day trip for strongish riders. Downtown Sequim or to the Dungeness Center would likely be easy for even casual riders.
posted by loquacious at 11:56 PM on January 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

And for the hikers, yes, there's all kinds of trails all over the place, but if you're looking for anything really rugged it's going to be in ONP, but there's stuff to the north of Lake Crescent or along the Olympic Adventure Trail segment there's some rugged stuff and a bit of altitude.

Most of the car camping sites in the area have some form of good walking and hiking. As many of our parks and campgrounds are on coastal sites there's often steep bluff and cliff trails available in addition to more leisurely stuff.

Also, for the casual campers? If anyone has any questions, shoot. And don't necessarily let my warnings about the weather and potential for rain and mud scare you off if you're lacking experience or think your tent or shelter might not fully be up to it.

I might be able to help as I have a ton of experience setting up good rain flies, and thanks to all the trees around here I can do things like take a cheap hardware store poly tarp and a handful of paracord and give your tent a whole lot of additional rain shelter. I'm used to camping on a budget.

And, again, and I'm presuming we're aiming for some pretty easy car camping somewhere pretty and where we can go see some of the amazing stuff in the area without too much driving and hassle.

I'm also very ok with just picking one place and staying there. I get to live here and see this stuff every day and I love it OMG MEFITES ARE COMING TO CAMP OUT HERE OMG OMG. :) :)
posted by loquacious at 12:21 AM on January 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

Again, loquacious, thank you for the fantastic info!!

Booking and availability for camping in the entire area can be really competitive, especially in the summer.

Yeah, that seems to be pretty much a constant for all our other campouts as well. Planning/committing 6 months ahead has historically been one of the hardest things for folks to follow through on, and is why reserving a group spot in time has never worked out. We've always ended up booking individual sites next to or nearish each other, then picking one as the "group hangout" that has enough room around the fire pit for everyone to sit and watch the fire and nurse a beverage or two, plus enough open space for the communal kitchen. The advantage of that method is that people can choose to join the group or relax quietly by themselves as the mood takes them.

I'm presuming that what we want as a group is car accessible camping with facilities like water, showers and bathrooms for the most inclusion, and something in the 2-3 day range?

Definitely car accessible, potable water is nice, and at minimum vault toilets (though there are definitely those among us who strongly favor shower and bathroom facilities). 2-3 days is the norm; I personally like to get to the campground mid-late Friday afternoon and others trickle in later that day or on Saturday, and after breakfast Sunday most of us pack up and head home.

People's preferred activity levels vary between hanging at the campsite all day to short hikes to vehicle-based outings. Nothing too hard-core.

We don't see upper 70 temps around here often at all, and if we do it's usually late July or August. ... June temps generally are 50s-60s depending where you are, with varying amounts of rain from light mist to constant drizzle to downpour.

Hmm, I didn't realize that and it's very good to know. Due to that plus the plan-ahead reservation concerns, it might be worth shooting for mid-July-ish rather than June. Unless of course the July weekend dates are already getting snapped up now....
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:35 AM on January 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

Also I should mention that by "car accessible" I'm referring to paved or well-maintained gravel roads. Some of us have cars that are definitely not appropriate for rutted backcountry tracks.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:39 AM on January 25, 2019

Also also, we generally look for campgrounds that have sites large enough for 2 to 3 tents and double up so we don't need as many separate sites.

Also also also, here's the spreadsheet (freshly renewed for the next event) that we use each time where we plan meals and list available equipment, just to give folks who are planning to join us for the first time a sense of the sort of semi-luxurious car camping we like to do - needless to say we eat well!
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:50 AM on January 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'd like to chime in as a PNW resident for over 30 years - September is often super-nice, weather-wise, and far less crowded than summertime. Especially if we shoot for just after Labor Day. By super-nice, I mean mid-70's (especially in the rain shadow of Sequim) and a (relatively) statistically low chance of rain.
posted by dbmcd at 1:47 PM on January 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

Hmm, I didn't realize that and it's very good to know. Due to that plus the plan-ahead reservation concerns, it might be worth shooting for mid-July-ish rather than June. Unless of course the July weekend dates are already getting snapped up now....

Yep, exactly this. The good, warm weather is pretty predictable (and short!) and the area around ONP is one of of the more popular camping/vacation destinations in the US. It's just behind stuff like Yosemite, the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone.

The July-September period is the most competitive part of the season of all.

I don't mean to freak people out but I simply cannot under emphasize this. Even for regular non-group sites, any place that takes reservations is probably approaching fully booked from July to September.

I have to have this conversation with close friends that wish to visit on a regular basis, that they need to plan and book many months ahead if they want a hotel room, airBnB or camp site here in the summer.

Also, one of the reasons I'm recommending Dungeness Recreation Area is I believe they have a certain number of first come, first served sites available for car camping that they don't allow reservations for. I was recently there on labor day and while it filled up for that weekend, it was practically empty before that.
posted by loquacious at 1:55 PM on January 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

I'd like to chime in as a PNW resident for over 30 years - September is often super-nice, weather-wise, and far less crowded than summertime. Especially if we shoot for just after Labor Day. By super-nice, I mean mid-70's (especially in the rain shadow of Sequim) and a (relatively) statistically low chance of rain.

Confirming this. I was in the area right after Labor Day and it was super nice.

It's unlikely we can get into any of the really good car friendly and accessible campgrounds on weekends in July, so if it's not in June-ish or after Labor Day it's going to either be crazy crowded or just unavailable.

The local tourist industry calls the spring and fall "shoulder season" and that's when most of us go out to enjoy the local trails and campgrounds and stuff. I went camping near Crescent Lake in November with a friend and did a nice tour, and it was practically empty everywhere we went except for Hurricane Ridge.

And June can sometimes be quite nice and tolerable. And while people should be prepared for rain any time of the year, the rain we get here is generally just a gentle, persistent drizzle or mist. It's not like monsoon or thunderstorm downpours. Even when it's a wild windstorm it's rare that it's dumping actual buckets of rain.

And if we end up in Sequim, it's actually often very sunny there due to the rain shadow effect. It is consistently warmer and drier there.

And I'm tromping around in this weather all the time and it's rarely an actual mudbath. The ground and soil around here is volcanic and super chunky and doesn't really stick to your boots. It's often so richly textured that you can kneel on it in the open rain and you just kind of get a little damp.
posted by loquacious at 2:09 PM on January 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

Just to give folks who are planning to join us for the first time a sense of the sort of semi-luxurious car camping we like to do

Copy! Yeah, I was working with something like this kind of camping and easy access and facilities.

I can report that Dungeness has great private room showers and good bathrooms, and there's lots of easy, accessible forest trails and cliffside views. Car camping sites were spacious and most of them had a lot of good landscaping and privacy vegetation as car camping sites go.
posted by loquacious at 2:18 PM on January 25, 2019

On a personal scheduling note June 21st is probably right out for me because I hopefully have a DJ gig and solstice party that night.
posted by loquacious at 2:20 PM on January 25, 2019

Whoo, so much good advice! Just so I don't dominate the thread and make this a unilateral decision, I'll shut up and wait for others to chime in.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:26 PM on January 25, 2019

I'm really excited about this and don't mean to dominate the thread either, and I'll go wherever the group wants to go.

If we end up anywhere near PA or Sequim it probably means I can bike to it, and that means I usually can find camping even if it's crowded because at most campgrounds for self-powered hiker/biker campers they don't take reservations and usually just make room for you if it's full.

I'm also really excited about the idea that I might get to show some mefite folks the Dungeness River Audubon Center if people are into it. I talked about it in one of the metatalktail threads when I was on my bike tour last fall, and I remember telling the very nice docent lady who let me hang out and charge my USB battery bank about MetaFilter and how they'd love the place and I'd try to bring people with me next time I came back.

So maybe that will actually be a thing!

Also, with as much energy as I'm putting into talking about day trip opportunities, I'm also very lazy and don't hate sitting around and doing nothing at all around a fire. I'm not super invested in it, but I'm available to show people around and/or plan a nice day trip or tour for Saturday.

Also also, again as a backup I could easily host 15-20 people here with a lot of dispersed and private camping and stuff. We're on almost 10 acres, and personal sites could all be pretty well spread out in different places.

It wouldn't be that difficult to rent an outhouse and set up some facilities or even rent an RV that had a bathroom and shower and run power to it. This property is REALLY PRETTY and much lusher than a car camping site, and people could yodel their hearts out around a big group campfire all night if they wanted to.
posted by loquacious at 3:11 PM on January 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

You do make a convincing argument... I'm pretty sure we'd all be willing to split any expenses in lieu of site rental and reservation fees.
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:26 PM on January 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

I am so excited about this and loquacious thank you for all your mountain of knowledge!
posted by corb at 3:46 PM on January 25, 2019

Also, kalimac? And other bus riding carless people?

You can get to Sequim and Port Angeles via bus and the Bainbridge ferry very cheaply, as well as Whidbey. I take the bus to Seattle regularly and I know the routes well.

Depending on where we end up I may also be down to meet one or more people interested in getting to the campout via bus and being a guide. While I would like to bike to the campout, if I'm the only one doing it it's not as fun, and it would be more fun to meet up with a posse in Seattle and ride the bus as a group to the campground.

Also, I can also recommend Whidbey. It takes us out of the sphere of ONP and Port Angeles, it might be a little more wet and windy than Sequim, but it offers really easy access to our local Whidbey folks and to anyone coming from Seattle.

As for my suggestions of Dungeness, this is just because it's likely the closest available campground to ONP and I've been assuming that access to ONP and Port Angeles was a goal.

If people aren't focused on ONP as a group goal, there are much prettier and less crowded places to go camping. Places like Hurricane Ridge or even the trails around Lake Crescent Lodge are likely to be pretty crowded and I personally feel that visiting those places in the off season is much more pleasant and enjoyable.

And if the goal is mainly to hang out and go glamping and not do hectic day trips, there's lots of good places for that and Whidbey is a pretty good bet.
posted by loquacious at 12:43 PM on January 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

I am not particular about ONP, and like both Sequim and Whidbey if that helps. I am definitely pro group site and anti reservationless-hope-for-enough-space. I would prefer not to have to drive as far as, say, Bellingham.
If we are thinking about September, I would like to Exclude sept 27/28/29 due to Flock and Fiber.
posted by janell at 1:05 PM on January 26, 2019

My only initial goal was "somewhere on the Olympic peninsula"; as I said initially I'm not familiar with the area so I wanted to leave it pretty open-ended for all interested parties to discuss.

I'm a bit wary of parks that don't take reservations for campsites; traveling for hours to get somewhere only to find out it's full is no fun, and especially so when trying to coordinate with others and not being able to depend on having a phone signal available to post updates online. Having a better sense now of how popular the area is makes me feel it's even more important to be able to reserve sites.

I'm continuing to look around and I hope to have a variety of campgrounds (that take reservations!) posted soon to add to loquacious' suggestions, so that we can all decide which one we like best.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:06 PM on January 26, 2019

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that September is tricky for me as well, as I've got other things coming up that month (and I see janell does as well). That's why I was hoping to shoot for an early-summer thing.

And I guess, taking janell's not-particular mention into account, I should ask if anyone in the general region has other locations they'd like to suggest? I mean, I'm still open to the Olympic peninsula since I've never been there, but I definitely want this to be a happy group effort!
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:22 PM on January 26, 2019

As for using my friend's property - it's doable and I'll ask him about it soon.

The main hitch I think would be parking what could be 10 or more cars, but that could be solved pretty easily by having people drive up to drop off gear and then parking down the driveway on the street.

Camping-wise there is a limited amount of perfectly flat and mobility-accessible spots, but there's a lot of spots all over the property that are just slight inclines with either grass, moss or cedar litter ground. Those that were more active or wanted more privacy could pick from a lot of farther-away sites with easy access.

Since potential sites aren't graded or developed, it would be like very light back country camping for most suitable sites, just without all the hiking or offroading.

And if you happen to be a hammock camper you'll be in heaven and have your pick of the property.

If we rented an RV or trailer for group use it might push things beyond individual camping fee costs or might be altogether less especially since it won't be driving around and burning gas, but it sounds like a fine idea for easy comfortable group camping and taking the load off the house.

I'm hoping by then we have the power run and on to the tiny house in the area where the main group area would likely be, but using onboard propane for showers and hot water would be fine.

But the idea has a lot of positives, and as long as we don't light it on fire or go tramping unduly through the ferns and more delicate micro-biomes we'd be free to go bonkers for three days. And unless you happened to bring a rave ready sound system (please do, hah) it'd be difficult to make too much noise for the neighbors since they're about a thousand feet away at a minimum.

String up lights and decorations, set up solar showers, practice some permaculture skills. Want to go full on scout and try lashing together a bridge or some furniture? Bring your hatchet and rope. I have a pile of alder saplings you can mess around with. Hell, bring a tuba. Or a guitar amp.

Between my shed and my friend's office there's technically two music studios here, and I definitely own more speakers than towels.

I mean, I'm not expecting this to be that kind of a party, I'm just pointing out that it could be and there's a lot of freedom to not worry about annoying other non-mefite campers - or even ourselves - because there's plenty of room to spread out.

It's also a fantastic place to be really quiet and still and wait for the birds to come out. Very pretty.

Another cost benefit and infrastructure thing we could do is have a load of nice firewood dropped off instead of individually buying expensive bundles of the crappy sugar pine you usually find at a grocery store.

There's even bus access here but it's a bit of a hike. I do it a couple of times a week and it's pretty mild.
posted by loquacious at 1:52 PM on January 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

Oh, and I should note that the private location I'm offering as a backup or potential primary is on the Olympic Peninsula near Discovery Bay, about 20 miles outside of Port Townsend.

It's close enough for a longish day trip to Lake Crescent, and stuff like visiting Fort Worden or Port Townsend is a very easy car trip.

For hikers, well, you could start with our driveway, but there's also access to the forestry roads around the property and there's even a local peak called Mount Townsend that's an easy drive.

And I guess the main benefit to this is we wouldn't have to worry about reservations at all and could put aside the stress of wondering if we could do it in, say, July, and people could come and go as they pleased without worrying about check in/out times.
posted by loquacious at 2:04 PM on January 26, 2019

ahhh, sorry I missed a few days - work's been bonkers this week!

Loquacious, I'm super happy to bring my bike and we can be bike buddies! Once we have a solid plan, I may call on you for help getting me + bike to a site :) I really love the idea of camping on the private land, for all the practical reasons you mention vis-a-vis reservations, but also it sounds pretty close to a ton of awesome things. Obviously I'm happy to kick in to pay to offset our footprint. (Also, depending on how I get there, I might kick some dollars to someone with a car in order to pick up food on my behalf, if anyone's willing to do that. My panniers are big, but I can only schlep so much....)

Anyway -- I mostly skimmed things and am now going to go back and read properly, but in general I'm up for anywhere! I am unafraid of June-uary weather. September is not great for me since I'm hoping to be traveling overseas then, but the rest of the summer/late spring should be fine. I am a big fan of doing Stuff at least part of the day, and then the evening relaxing around a campfire. (I'm a pretty good hiker and can go forever, a decent-but-will-be-good cyclist, and an okay-but-enthusiastic kayaker.) I'm down to split a big campsite, but have to admit that my introvert heart really likes the idea of being able to spread out a bit more and have some quiet time to myself. Friday - Sunday is best for me as well, if only cos then I don't have to get anyone to feed the cat.
posted by kalimac at 7:04 PM on January 26, 2019

OH! I meant to mention -- I'm hoping to start doing more hammock-camping than tent-camping, so a site with trees (or that lets me take advantage of otherwise-inaccessible-to-camping areas) is a bonus! Also a bonus: I will sleep properly.
posted by kalimac at 7:10 PM on January 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

Loquacious, the private location seems like the ideal way to do it. Thanks for offering that. As for when, the only dates on my schedule that won't work are July 12 - 17. Depending on the dates, my wife and 14-year-old son would likely join in.
posted by ShooBoo at 7:34 PM on January 26, 2019

Wooo a bike and hammock buddy! If we end up camping here, I might have to go bike with kalimac and help them carry gear or something so I can get my own small bike tour in.

Also if we do it here I can just be boring and sleep in my shed/tiny house, which means I'll probably have a spare hammock and such I can have available for someone else if they can bring a sleeping bag and bedding.

We should still be looking at public campgrounds as being able to host people here hasn't been confirmed or locked in yet. This also hinges on how many RSVPs we get because if we push past, say, 25 people it might get a little crowded, but that would be true at a public campground.

But I'm not that worried about it. Right now we're planning a housewarming party and the invite list to that is probably going to be like 60+ people having a rager of a party.

We could fit about a dozen 3 person tents just on the lawn around the house if people were friendly - but if we do it here I'm trying to avoid that entirely and aiming to offer much nicer, quieter camping as well as a nice group hangout fire pit and kitchen and stuff than what we'd get at any given public campground.

By summer there may actually be a yurt or geodesic dome on the property as well which would just be a nice bonus.
posted by loquacious at 1:39 PM on January 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Once we have a solid plan, I may call on you for help getting me + bike to a site :)


If we end up at a public campground, we can talk about meeting up to bike to the location. I'm an old hand at using the buses even with a touring load on my bike, so I can get to places without having to bike the whole way and guide around the few roads around here that definitely should not be biked.

If we end up here on private land I can bike/bus out to with empty panniers and help carry some load.
posted by loquacious at 1:44 PM on January 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Also, I want to assure people that despite my doom-saying above about the weather, this part of the world is just incredibly pleasant and peaceful once you get the hang of dealing with the misty gray drizzle.

Weather is predictably mild, if damp. But, yeah, our idea of a hot summer starts at about 80 F, so don't try to wait for that kind of weather or plan on it.

Another weather related issue to be aware of is that if it gets too warm or too dry we go into very strict no-foolin' burn bans where outdoor fires are illegal even on private land, but especially at campgrounds.

We generally have a burn ban in place once a year, especially during peak heat and summer months. If we end up doing this in June we should be fine.

I'm sure you'll understand that I take these burn bans very seriously as I am very into being surrounded by all of these living and green trees and I care a lot about them.
posted by loquacious at 1:51 PM on January 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Btw, this thread seems to have fallen off the proposed meetups sidebar on MeTa. Bug?
posted by loquacious at 12:39 PM on January 28, 2019

I think that once a post hits the two-week mark it's no longer featured on the sidebar even if it's still active. I've noticed this in previous events and even mentioned it to the mods...
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:53 PM on January 28, 2019

Copy that!

I also want to mea culpa about totally spamming this thread. I hope I'm not stepping on anyone's toes, taking up all the air in the room or stifling the discussion or other ideas.

I promise I'm not this exhausting or manic in person. I'm just really sincerely that excited about all of this. And I'm a planner and a helper, and this is the kind of thing I do for fun.

I've was already thinking about calling for a meetup and/or campout in this area for a while because it's frickin' gorgeous. I've had ideas about having a regional meetup out here ever since I landed here 4+ years ago.

And I also just really like camping, and, well, now I have a perfect storm.

And I just had a chat with my friend about hosting the campout here and he's open to the idea and we'll kick it around.
posted by loquacious at 2:09 PM on January 28, 2019

No problem at all. I literally asked for feedback in the original post, so no toe-stepping has happened as far as I'm concerned!
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:28 PM on January 28, 2019

*poing poing poing poing*

Also, if anyone has ANY questions at all about climate, camping, gear or any accessibility issues or needs, or anything you think I might be missing in terms of hosting on private land - please do ask. I love answering questions and I'm not a camping elitist or anything, so even "dumb" beginner questions aren't actually dumb. (Not really expecting any because MeFi is smart peeps, but if you have any let me know.)

One thing I can note is that yes, cannabis is legal in WA state and, yes, you definitely may consume it here and we're pro cannabis.

This doesn't hold true for the county parks as far as I know, and definitely not for national parks. On state parks it's legal within a registered camp site out of view because the state park code defines a campsite, tent or other shelter as a legal home, therefore it is legal within that legally defined temporary home, but it's supposed to be not in view. (Which follows the state regs for legal cannabis to the letter.)

No one here currently smokes tobacco but we don't really care as long as it's not inside or bothering anyone.
posted by loquacious at 10:12 AM on January 30, 2019


Well, shit. If that trend continues we should plan for the contingency of burn bans as early as July.
posted by loquacious at 10:39 AM on January 30, 2019

I would love to camp but the weekends that work for me are few and far between. So I will keep checking to see on when a date is picked before I hit that commit. (since I've flaked on the past three or so camping trips sadly.)
posted by vespabelle at 3:55 PM on February 2, 2019

What weekends would work best for you? Might as well mention them before we start fixating on one, just to bend the odds in your favor!
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:42 PM on February 2, 2019

Due to my ignorance of typical weather patterns in the OP area and it being too late to reserve a campsite on any July or August weekend (the only time when the weather's a bit warmer and sunnier), I've canceled this event. My apologies to everyone.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:00 PM on February 3, 2019

Also, a special thanks/apology to loquacious for all of your advice and efforts!
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:57 PM on February 3, 2019

Aw man!

Ok, is anyone still interested in doing this? Because we can still do this.

In particular I'm personally interested in hosting low impact, low infrastructure or otherwise self-sustained and contained campers and backpackers, or using this place as a jumping-off point to go hit up the ODT for a few days on a bike tour. Bike touring campers have more flexibility and usually better site availability.

But, yeah, if you start now for next year it'll be doable. Seriously, we could pool up and rent one of the houses at Fort Worden during one of the cool music festivals or something. Or I could help plan a dispersed forest road spot with good access for free group dispersed car camping.

This place is ridiculously gorgeous and actually has a lot of cool stuff going on.

But right now it just started snowing which is not unwelcome for me because we haven't had any yet, so I'm walking around in that in the cedars!
posted by loquacious at 2:25 PM on February 3, 2019

Loquacious and I talked about this already, back when he visited a few weeks ago, but I'm definitely still planning to go up to camp/enjoy Port Townsend/hike whatever, come warmer weather. If anyone else is keen on low-impact/low-infrastructure camping, I'd love to plan for that! (I don't have anything against glamping, just always done wild camping myself, and it's hard to get really louche without a car...)

I'm also up for planning ahead for next year :)
posted by kalimac at 4:45 PM on February 3, 2019

I'd still be up for something this summer. It probably would make sense to create a new event for it.
posted by ShooBoo at 7:31 PM on February 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

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