Harrowing/Heartwarming Parent Moment of the Week

Lake Valhalla and An Imaginary Camp

In July, we went on one of our favorite day hikes with friends. Lake Valhalla is along the Pacific Crest Trail and is wilderness, yet is only a three-and-a-half mile hike in. We started hiking this area when the boys were just little and try to go back at least once a year. 

The trail zigzags through some beautiful forested areas before reaching Lake Valhalla. I even spotted a frog.

Back in 2014, after being encouraged by other writers to “write what I know” and put a bit of mountain life and camp fun into my fiction, I set out to design an imaginary camp where I could have a bunch of insane adventures occur.

I chose to make Camp CastleSnag along the shores of Lake Valhalla. Sure, things changed in my head as I worked. I turned the small meadow into a large one, added a 100-foot cliff at the edge of the lake, and caused a twisting monster tree to grow leaning out over that cliff. But in my mind as I picture my made-up camp, I see the breath-taking beauty of Lake Valhalla to ground my imagination in the real world.

This way I have real flora and fauna to populate my camp with before I add anything fantastical like Sasquatch or a giant death-pig!

While one could never build a camp here, it is protected wilderness, the real Lake Valhalla has plenty of adventure opportunities all on its own without a camp or rampaging prehistoric beasts.

I tried to get a picture of Scruffy, Judah, and Brennan jumping in together. They jumped, but it pretty much just looked like Judah had four arms.

 Leia was very concerned with all of this wild leaping and rushed to rescue everyone!

Scruff let her save him several times. If you grab her tail, she will tow you back to shore, again and again and again!

I did get an excellent photo of the splashes that they made.

Perhaps next time we hike to Lake Valhalla we can convince Theo to get into the water as well and I’ll be able to get that amazing “all boys jumping” photo that I’ve dreamed of.

After a quick lunch and another chance to swim, it was time to hike out.

The boys were much too fast for me to catch on film, but Scruff hiked with me and even paused for a quick photo with Lake Valhalla in the background.

Princess Leia Freyja got pretty hot and took a chance to cool off on a handy patch of late-summer snow that had clearly been made just for her.

Lake Valhalla is one of my favorite places in the world. Inspiring in reality and to the imagination. I can’t wait to create more craziness at the imaginary camp that sits in this mountain beauty! So what about you? Has a real setting every sparked a story in your mind? What are some of your favorite wilderness areas to visit?



I promise you a crazed animal, a concussion, and a kiss in every single book...you're welcome!

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