Wednesday, January 27, 2016

And Then There's the Bad.

I love to write about the great places where Carole and I go to camp and kayak and hike. It's fun to recall them and I think it's a nice thing to do to tell other interested parties about our favorite spots.

But sometimes we visit places that are less than pleasant. Most of the time I don't want to think about those locations, and then there's that old saying about not saying anything if you can't say something nice. So I generally stay mum when it comes to lousy times at crappy places.

One spot that I kept meaning to talk about and haven't for some time is Cascade Lake Recreation Area. I had decided to mention it again--and how lousy a place it is to stay--and was looking up some links when I discovered that it's closed with no plans for reopening. So here goes what was wrong with it:

The campground was the closest National Forest-related campground that we could find to DuPont State Forest. Du Pont does not currently have its own campground and I'm not sure if there are any plans for it to ever have one. I've heard rumors, but nothing definite. We don't generally like private campgrounds because--frankly--there are a lot of negative aspects to private campgrounds and we almost always have a negative experience at private campgrounds.

My understanding was the Cascade Lake Campground is technically owned by the National Forest Service* but is rented out to a concessionaire. I don't know why so many state and Federal parks do this, but for some reason they argue that it's cheaper to let someone else hire out the premises for a chunk of any profits that are generated. One most often runs into this kind of operation with the hotels in such National Parks as Yellowstone and Glacier and Yomsemite, etc. The land and structures belong to us...the citizens...but the profits go to a private concern. Personally, I think this is a dumb way to run things, but there you are.

Cascade Lake Recreation Area was run like this. It was a concession owned by a non-governmental operation. The second we arrived we encountered what we almost always do with this kind of operation: rude, inept assholes acting like prickly little Nazis. We had to wait at the entrance for about 45 minutes before we could get in because the people admitting campers were idiots who didn't know what they were doing. In addition, they were very rude to my wife. Yes, I'm sure they were snippy because they were stressed, but that's the kind of thing we generally encounter from these concessionaires who win their contracts by being either the lowest bidder, or the only bidder.

From there it just got worse. The campground is on a nice, man-made lake, but it was extremely crowded. Also, a lot of the chores were farmed out to volunteers who weren't paid, but were given free campsites for doing odd jobs such as customer relations and cleaning up the garbage (of which there was much). The place was packed, messy, poorly maintained, and noisy. When we did encounter anyone who worked there it was a negative experience (imagine the Soup Nazi from the Seinfeld TV series).

So, briefly, I would never again stay at the Cascade Lake Recreation Area unless it was turned back over to the National Forest Service completely. As it is, I'm sure its closure is only temporary so that the slimy concessionaires can argue for better terms before "giving in" and taking on the job for a much better piece of the action. (Action which they will not ever get from our business.)

This was our campsite. It looks okay and was across the road from the lake. But it was in direct sunlight and was on an artificially created area produced by gouging out the side of a hill and dumping the fill into a wetland.

My nephew Mark and I in 2008. The reason we camped at Cascade Lake was for easy access to Du Pont State Forest which is totally insane with amazing waterfalls.

This one is called Merry Falls and was at the head of Cascade Lake near the dam.
Merry Falls.

*I just learned that it was never a National Forest property, but always privately owned. But it was run by the CFAIA which I had always associated with the National Forest Service. (My mistake.)

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