A Mistake by the Lake

Labor Day weekend marks the end of summer – students show up at school tomorrow, and I’ve so excited to be back in a high school. This last week brought days of in-services, meeting my new fellow teachers, and planning for the first few days of school. Among some of my friends, Labor Day weekend is also time for the annual “Mistake by the Lake,” a camping trip at Timothy Lake. It’s just past Timberline Lodge at Mount Hood, and is the source of the Clackamas River.

I looked forward to spending a couple days camping with my friends and their 10+ other friends – some I have met before and others, not. I decided to arrive Friday evening and spend two nights, returning Sunday morning.

It was a great time – getting to know some new people, sitting around the campfire, playing “Polish Horseshoes,” and a little bit of ducking for cover out of the rain. The weekend brought fun conversations with a Pacific Crest Trail hiker who stopped by our campsites for the weekend (read about her hiking journey at http://willhikeforcheeseburgers.blogspot.com/). It brought playing Cards Against Humanity, and the many laughs that created. It brought me running 8.5 miles in my sandals, since I felt like running and didn’t bring the right footwear. It brought running to Little Crater Lake, a pond-size lake that was 45 feet deep, but was such a clear turquoise that the lake bed was totally visible. I also um…disrobed from my sweaty running clothes and went for a one-minute swim in the 34 degree water.

via brianbailey.us

via http://www.brianbailey.us (my photos are unavailable right now)

The weekend brought a LOT of alcohol and at least one night of impulsively cooking pork chops over the campfire at 3AM. There were several mistakes by the lake, but mine happened as I was heading out.

After four hours of sleep, I awake at 8AM, and since no one else was awake, I decided to lug half of my gear toward the 1.5 mile trail to my car. When it was time for me to say my goodbyes at 11AM, we loaded the rest of my stuff into one of the canoes for the quicker 10 minute float back to the parking lot. We loaded my tent, sleeping bag and cooler into the canoe,along with some trash bags that we going to get dropped off before the other person canoed back to the campsite.

Partway into the ride, we noticed his dog running along the shore through other campsites, following us.  Eventually, the dog came upon an inlet and decided to enter the water, swimming toward us. We were probably 500 feet offshore when the dog reached us. It pulled itself up onto the canoe, moved around, and flipped our canoe sideways. Seconds later, we were both in the water with all of my items floating in the lake. That clearly wasn’t my “mistake.” So what was, you ask?

I was wearing a fleece, hiking boots, and hiking pants. In those hiking pants were my keys, my wallet and my phone.

Good news: 1) My phone was in a zipped pocket. 2) My keys and wallet were not, but those pockets were held tight by the water pressure.

Bad news: My phone was submerged under the water for at least a minute, which is how long it took to observe the scene and come up with a plan of action. I noticed the other guy holding up his phone and decided he should slowly swim to shore, keeping his phone out of the water. I felt down at that point, realized the phone was in my pocket, and knew that the power was on, so the phone was likely ruined. I decided first to reach underwater and transfer the keys and wallet into my other zipped pocket. Then I held onto the slowly-capsizing canoe, treading water for about 5 minutes with my heavy shoes. During this time, I pulled my phone out of the water and held it in the hand wrapped over the canoe, just in case. People from two campsites saw us, and yelled to see if I needed help. I yelled back that I was able to swim (many people up here can’t), but since the canoe was obviously filling with water and sinking, I yelled “yes.”

Two guys came in a raft and two other guys came in a boat with a trolling motor. They took my wallet, keys, and phone, then pulled the canoe out of the water, draining it. Then I was able to climb back in and return to shore using their emergency paddle while they picked up all of the items still floating in the lake. They were able to retrieve everything but one of the guy’s sandals. I wasn’t able to rip my phone open and take out the battery until I got in the canoe. But then, I still didn’t have a dry place to set the pieces. They set on my soaked fleece, sitting on my lap, until I reached the shore. We waited for the boat to bring us the tent, sleeping bag, etc. and thanked them!

Once I got in my car, I spread out two microfiber clothes and my dry clothes (that were already there) on the floor, and spread my wallet’s contents and the phone pieces on it. I drove two hours back to Portland with the heater blowing full blast at the floor.

It’s been about 36 hours now and the phone is miraculously working, except the SD card is corrupted (even though it wasn’t a few hours ago). The pieces have been in a bowl of rice for hours, on the dryer, outdoors in the sun, and everything seems fine. Except for the SD card. A new one is arriving on Wednesday, via Amazon.com, and whether it works or now will determine whether my phone needs to be retired.

My “Mistake on the Lake”: not using a dry bag when taking electronics on the water.





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