Tuesday, August 4, 2015

What Were They Thinking?

Washington Lake from the Dam
When they built Washington Lake Campground in the 1990s, they built a campground.  Unlike some of the more popular lakes on the Mirror Lake Highway, we have no fisherman parking, no day use area, and no boat ramp.  So while the water access for campers is superb, the water access for non-camping visitors is almost non-existent.  But forget “if you build it, they will come.”  They didn’t build it.  People are coming anyway.

When we have campsites available, we are able to sell them for day use.  It’s really not a tough sell.  The site runs $20 for all day access to the lake, complete with picnic tables and fire rings – not to mention clean restrooms.  We sell several on Sunday afternoons after most of the campers have cleared out.  But when the campground is full, we have to send day users to the Crystal Lake trailhead, which is about ¼ mile walk back into the lake.  We do allow them to drop their canoes, kayaks, float tubes, etc. before they go outside to park.

Boat Ramp?
There is a closed graded road that leads to the Washington Lake Dam, and when I walked it, it looked like there had once been a graded boat ramp and parking for five or six vehicles.  I asked the clerk at the Kamas Ranger Station why they had closed the old boat ramp.  She told me that it had never been a boat ramp.  The access was strictly for the water company to maintain the spillway.  Apparently access for non-camping visitors was not in the plan for Washington Lake.

Fisherman Parking?
It is open season on messengers.  People’s emotions range from slight annoyance to all-out anger when told that they will have to park outside the campground and walk in to fish.  We’ve had people stop us and rant at how unfair it is that the only people with access to Washington Lake are the campers. 

The situation turns worse when we miss someone at the gate and find them later, parked in a prime lakeside spot.  I have yet to master the art of asking someone to either pay for the campsite or leave it.  It’s negative – no matter how I try to soften it.  A few folks will laugh at my economics reference.  “It’s Economics 101.  I can sell this site to a camper for $40.  I can’t let you use it for free.”  But mostly the reaction is annoyance to anger, with a few audible references to my apparent resemblance to a female dog.

To the fishermen reading this – we welcome you.  We wish we had better parking, but since we don’t, please be prepared to park outside and walk in.   Bring your lightweight gear.  Come on in and drop your watercraft.  There’s plenty of room at the lake for everyone.  

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