Chperwerksek: “I remember”

We made our way back to Klamath, CA again this year. It has been a lifelong annual trek for my husband who is from the Yurok tribe. He spent his summers there as a boy and teen at their family run, “Dad’s Camp” – a long span of beach where the Klamath River meets the Pacific Ocean.

Dad’s Camp was acclaimed up and down the coast for the huge runs of chinook salmon – and his grandmother’s famous blackberry pies.

The resort/campground owned by the Williams family was a summer home to hundreds of family members, friends, and visiting fisherman for decades until the river changed and wiped the campground out.

Up until a few years ago, we camped on the beach with enough extended family to ward off bears and mountain lions. There is nothing like the rest you get in a tent on the beach as the rhythm of the waves lulls you to sleep.

When the patriarch of our group passed away, people scattered, and we moved to the river. Beautiful and peaceful in its own right – but different.

All things change in time – but this year saw the greatest. A record low number of salmon were forecast to return to spawn this fall. Despite the winter rains, five years of drought and restricted flows due to upriver dams had a devastating impact. The lowered and warmer water birthed a deadly parasite that infected up to 90 percent of the juvenile salmon in the river while warm ocean conditions reduced the fish’s usual food sources.

With severe catch limits in place, fishing was curtailed about as quickly as it started. The fisherman who once lined both banks, battling shoulder-to-shoulder were replaced by empty beach, seals, and pelicans.

At least their catch was good.

In between meals, the seals sunbathed – finally at peace on their beach as nature intended.

The emptiness was a stark and sad reminder of our man-made impact on this magnificent place my husband once called home.

We found solace among the redwoods that still tower. Such majesty.

There is hope for the Klamath salmon. The owner of four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath has applied to remove them by 2020 which may improve the river’s year-round flow. But we are unlikely to return as a family to our beloved camping spot on the beach.

We hold those memories in our hearts. With a few small mementos that carry the sound of rolling waves.

Chperwerksek: “I remember.”


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I am a nascent gardener, rescuer, and photographer, chronicling the journey of the dogs at Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue and Sanctuary near Sacramento, CA - and the Memorial Garden we have devoted to them.

16 thoughts on “Chperwerksek: “I remember””

  1. Beautiful photos. Very poignant story that must fill you with emotion. I’m sorry that change seems to have brought a lifelong tradition of family reunions to an end. Wonderful memories for you though.

  2. I feel so sad when I see nature struggling to compensate for what we inflict in change, whether deliberately careless or in unintended consequences. But it would be very hard to accept when ancestral land is affected. Your family memories of camping on the beach sounds like a wonderful legacy and special memories. We are also hoping to get up that way sometime in the next year. Your photos definitely call to me!

      1. Audrey! Sending my love to you and Chris! You really captured camp in a special way. Thank you!

  3. Hello I visited this place as a young girl with my family. My parents, Clifford and Reva Robertson and Aunt, Dorothy Duley, were friends of the owner, Fawn. I would go to the office/store at the camp in the morning for her mother to braid my hair. I wonder is Fawn still alive?

    1. Middle Fawn and Little Fawn. Sadly, the Fawn you remember has passed. Dad’s Camp…it was a magical place. You may remember my husband who worked at the cook shack as a boy: Chris Eddy.

  4. OMGOSH! I’m so sad the camp isn’t there no more. We use to go there at least every other yr till I turned 16. I had my 5th birthday there, and Dad give me a rainbow all day sucker. He was so cool! That nite, I had ventured down close to the beach and was watching the sun go down,, and he took me by the hand an took me back to camp, an told me not to watch the sun go down, cus it was bad luck. I’ve never forgot that. He always came around every day an checked on everone…I loved him! I’m 66 now, but I’m gonna make at least 1 more trip there. I RV fulltime now, an I’m makin my way west… J. Darlene Thomas. My parents were Bud and Dorothy Savage. May The Great Spirit bless the William’s family..🌻

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