Act the Fool: Taidnapam Park

Visited: Aug 17-18, 2019

A cholera-infected snake bit your broken arm while you were fording the river. You died. Sorry. Return to Independence, Missouri and start over.

Gee, wasn’t Oregon Trail fun? Playing on an ancient computer in the basement of the pastor’s house, where sometimes, for fun, you filled your wagon party with people you didn’t like (brothers) and tried to see how fast you could kill them.

It was an arbitrary, capricious game, where you could do everything right and still your oxen would starve to death, or you’d die of dysentery, spewing out all your bodily fluids beside the historic wagon ruts.

This has nothing to do with Taidnapam Park. I just wanted to talk about the Oregon Trail, which is nowhere in Washington.

Taidnapam Park sits on the Eastern end of Riffe Lake, a 23.5 mile long lake nestled in the hills North of Mt. St. Helens, near the Goat Rocks wilderness. Surrounded by towering hills, it’s a peaceful campground (if you don’t mind the logging trucks.)

As we set up our campsite, a pair of bald eagles flew overhead, chuckling to each other. If you’ve never heard what an actual bald eagle sounds like, because it’s definitely not the sound they play in movies, please listen. It’s hilarious.

We picked one of the furthest walk-in campsites from the parking lot, because I apparently enjoy tricking my sister into carrying my 30 pound dutch oven full of chili over the hills and through the woods. That’s advanced level camping right there.

We traveled down the old boat ramp, now defunct due to lowered lake levels to a path that threads along the side of the lake and eventually drops to a sandy beach.


The lake was a mossy green, the kayakers were out, the dogs got to swim. It was perfect.


Charlotte as usual indulged in her usual tradition which involves two steps:

Step 1: Swim in lake


Step 2: Act the fool.


One special feature of Charlotte’s golden fluffy fur is that absolutely everything sticks to it. Our nature forays usually end with me trying to brush out all the dirt/sap/pinecones/horse poop/rocks out of that neverending fur factory. You know that saying, “I’m rubber and you’re glue, etc…” Well Charlotte is MAX XTREME INDUSTRIAL VELCRO!


The next day we ventured up yonder past ye olde fishing bridge through the tunnel and into the woods. We tramped a sort-of trail down to an outcropping of rocks where the lake is fed from the Cowlitz River.


Charlotte immediately disappeared over some rocks, and I worried she wouldn’t be able to make it back up, but that dolphin-mountain goat hybrid just came paddling around the bend like it was just another day.

Both dogs were equally incensed by a blob of foam floating down the river and swam out to investigate.

Upper left corner: Insidious Foam 

Also, Charlotte is apparently Jesus, can walk on water.




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