panoLast weekend we went camping, at Colonial Creek campground up in the North Cascades National Park on Highway 20. I’d never been there before, it’s a great place to camp, and an easy drive to get there. That section of highway, which follows the Skagit River, has multiple large campgrounds and lakes to choose from.

BoathouseColonial Creek campground is situated on Diablo Lake, a man-made lake created by the construction of Diablo dam, built by Seattle City Light in the 1960’s. Incidentally, did you know this is our state’s branding campaign? Washington. The State. That really sucks you in, doesn’t it? It’s a disturbing reminder that it’s so generally accepted that people in our country don’t know geography, that we have to tell them Washington is a state in our branding campaign, to be sure they know we’re not the same as Washington, D.C.

The water in Diablo Lake is a gemstone shade of green, apparently caused by fine granite particles which reflect the sunlight. Fish were jumping, and it looked like a few people were catching. We didn’t put any poles in the water ourselves. Our friend brought a speedboat, so we were were able to do a little sightseeing on the water. Here we crossed under the highway.

Hwy20On Saturday afternoon, it was a bit rainy and cold, and the lake was pretty vacant. We decided to venture out during a dry spell, and passed an old motor boat with a large family aboard- kids, dogs, and adults of all ages. We waved hello and went along the curving route of the lake as it follows the river upstream to the next dam.PassageIt started to rain, so after about an hour we called it quits and headed for the dock. Here was this same family, not far from where we’d passed them, this time all waving for help. Their motor had conked out, and they only had one oar! They did not look like they were having much fun! 😀 Luckily, they were not too far from the dock, we were able to tow them there, and hand them a second oar so they could navigate the last few feet to moorage. They were relieved.MiniLighthouseIt reminds me of a story told by a public speaker of whom I was a fan as a teenager, about a horrible camping trip with bugs and bears and bad weather. These things we do, like camping and boating in the rain, are all about “making memories.” Because at the time, they aren’t always fun at all, but somehow when you look back on the memories later, you enjoy them. It’s a funny paradox. I imagined those people in the future, reminiscing, remember that time we were stuck on Diablo Lake and there wasn’t a soul in sight, it was pouring down rain, the Chihuahua was freezing, the kids were complaining and we were contemplating who might have to swim for shore and go for help? Ha ha ha, now that was funny! 

But they weren’t laughing when it happened, they were cold, and more than a little worried. So it’s a good reminder about boating. I think sometimes we don’t take it seriously enough, especially if we grew up here and have been swimming and boating our whole lives. But it really is dangerous being out on very cold water in a tiny floating thing, on which a million things can break. So, people, remember your life jackets, basic safety gear, flares to call for help, and both oars! You never know when that stupid boat motor you haven’t run since last summer might just decide to quit.trailWe hiked a modest trail on  Saturday, about 425’ in elevation gain, 2 miles one way, to a lookout over the lake called Thunder Knob (panoramic picture at the top, click to view larger image). I really appreciating having middle-aged, trained dogs on the trip. I can remember a day when both Maggie and Gene were handfuls to travel with. But nowadays, they are easy travelers, well behaved campsite companions, and walk politely on their flex leads (with pinch collars to discourage any temptation to pull). They had a great time, as did we.