Time to explore a new place! Our destination - Clear Lake, high in the Oregon Cascades, situated between Santiam and McKenzie Passes. It came highly recommended by one of my co-workers, who'd recently camped there.
|Our killer lakeside camping spot|
Since we didn't have reservations, Roger and I both took vacation July 3rd to beat the holiday rush. Leaving Portland early that morning, our plan worked like a charm. Not only did we get one of the walk-up campsites, we scored a killer lakeside spot.
|The reflections were nice|
Clear Lake totally exceeded my expectations. Such a gorgeous place! Situated high in the Central Oregon Cascades, just west of Mount Washington, this body of water was created when an ancient lava flow dammed the McKenzie River. The spring-fed water bubbling into this basin makes the lake so clear you can see all the way to the bottom (yes, this lake was very appropriatly named!)
|The guys trying some fishing|
Due to it's clarity, the lake's water was a fetching shade of blue-green. The shores were ringed on three sides by lovely old-growth forests. The fourth side was cleared due to the lava flow. But the rough, black lava was quite interesting, and scenic in its own way.
|A few tiger lilies hangin' out|
After setting up our camp, and cooking brats over the campfire, I was ready for some exploration. A few short steps from our tent got me to the shore of Clear Lake. The banks here were very brushy, but a couple of clearings provided access.
|Lovely evening water patterns|
A 5.5 mile loop trail circled Clear Lake. You know me, of course, I had to hike it! Leaving Roger back at the campsite with our old dog, I headed 'round the lake counterclockwise.
I started out in the campground, passing by other campers, all enjoying the forested shade on this hot summer day. Approaching the boat dock, I observed a few kayakers and fisherman in rowboats. Motorized boats are not allowed here, which I loved. The motorboat ban attracts a totally different crowd, usually those who want a quiet, serene outdoor experience.
|Trail around the lake|
And then, I hit the lava beds. The cool forests gave way to barren ground and direct sunlight. Very hot direct sunlight.
|Hiking through the lava fields|
The dense, black lava rock didn't help matters. It felt as though the rocks were absorbing the sun's heat and reflecting it right back at us poor hikers.
|Green water and more lava|
Yeah, it was a very hot trek through the lava fields. Thankfully, the Forest Service had constructed a paved path so that hikers didn't have to traverse the rough lava rock.
|The water was an unusual color|
Even though this portion of my hike was toasty, the lack of trees made for some great views. Around every corner was another gorgeous cove, with glittering aqua-blue water. Lush green vegetation surrounded the shoreline, adding to the color palette.
|Two of the Three Sisters mountains rise over Clear Lake|
At the lake's northern end, I passed by the "Great Spring" a rushing 300-foot long river that miraculously emerges from under an old lava flow. The water in this pool was the clearest I'd ever seen. It was an eerie metallic blue color and very, very cold. I later read that the water from this spring maintains a constant 38 degree F temperature year-round, which prevents the lake from freezing in winter months.
Rounding the northern tip of Clear Lake, I continued to take in some very nice views of the opposite shore. Then the small resort building came into view. The county operates a tiny resort with a restaurant, cabins, and rowboat rentals. Rising above the forested shoreline, the tips of two of the Three Sisters mountains revealed themselves.
|Wonderful reflections at the lake's outlet|
I continued around another long inlet creek, which seemed to take forever to traverse. Seeing more and more people on the trail made me realize the resort, and civilization wasn't far.
After hiking in solitude for most of the way thus far, it was a shock when I finally made it to the first set of cabins. From there, I wandered along a gravel road, dodging bikes and people until arriving at the resort restaurant/general store.
|Trees and sky|
The store sold a very limited selection of food and drink. But a large bottle of ice tea called my name. It tasted mighty fine to this hot, sweaty hiker. I guzzled that bottle in no time flat.
|More of the lake's green water|
Refreshed, I was ready to tackle the final two miles. The trail dived back into thick woods. The cool forest was a welcome relief. I passed by some enormous old-growth Douglas Fir trees. I tried to capture one with my camera, but the image just didn't do it justice.
Then I crossed a log footbridge over the lake's outlet creek. The water's colors here were amazing shades of blue and green. Surrounding trees and bushes reflected themselves perfectly in the colorful waters.
|Time for dinner!|
Rounding the south end of the lake, I traveled by some lovely little bays. The late afternoon light illuminated the water's color to a brilliant aqua blue. And there were more amazing reflections. Simply beautiful!
|Baby ducks play in the water|
I ended up back at our campsite just as Roger was putting baked potatoes and steaks on the grill. It all looked so good! Hiking around the lake had given me an appetite. We finished our meal roasting "adult" marshmallows dipped in Bailey's Irish cream. Highly recommended!
|Mama and babies on a floating log|
After dinner, Roger and I sat around the fire, listening to some baby ducks splash and play in the water below. The peeping they made sounded almost joyful. When I went down later to photograph these cuties, I spotted a mama duck and two babies perched on a floating log. (All together now.....awwwwwwww!!!)
Tomorrow, Roger and I planned to visit two waterfalls within hiking distance of our camp. I also hoped to hike one of the trails at nearby McKenzie Pass. But those adventures will be part of my next two blog posts, so come back and visit!
Sharing with: Our World Tuesday and Wednesday Around the World.