Thursday, August 11, 2016

Weekend on the McKenzie

Blame it on my husband....

Every time he make plans to go camping, it rains.

Clear Lake

Roger wanted to go camping in mid-July for his birthday.  Unfortunately, the weatherman was forecasting lots of moisture for our chosen weekend.  After enduring a soggy, cold tent last fall in Zion and Grand Canyon National Parks, I'd had my fill of rainy camping trips.

Drippy leaves

But....Clear Lake, in the Central Oregon Cascades had cabins for rent.  We'd noticed them two years ago when while camping at this charming mountain lake.  A quick phone call confirmed there was one "rustic" cabin available for the weekend.  However primitive, a cabin was still a step up from our clammy tent.  I eagerly shared my credit card number.

Clear Lake's unusual aqua-blue water

That Friday afternoon my hubby and I were on the road, dodging raindrops as we approached Santiam Pass.  Clear Lake is immediately west (ie the rainy side) of the pass, so no there'd be no escaping this wet weather.  But that was okay, because a warm, dry cabin awaited!

Foggy, rainy afternoon

We arrived, and checked in.  Our cabin, although as "rustic" as we'd been  promised, did have heat and electricity.  Roger and I sat at the window, watched the raindrops fall, and smugly reminded each other how nice it was to be indoors.

Glad we have a warm, dry cabin!

But it didn't take long for us to venture outside.  Rain or no rain, Roger decided to check out the fishing.  And I wanted to explore the lakeshore.  Throwing on raingear, and a protective pack cover for my camera bag, I set out on the path that circled Clear Lake.

Blue heron reflection

Cloudy days are always the best for photography.  There's no shadows to worry about, and the gray skies really help saturate the colors.  Clear Lake is a unique aqua-blue color, and the overcast skies were perfect for capturing this lovely body of water.

Wild rose

I hiked about a mile down the path before the rain forced me to turn around.  Despite the rain, it was a nice evening to be out and the lake looked lovely.  Returning to the cabin, I hung up my wet jacket to dry, and my hubby and I spent the hours until bedtime playing cards.  We nodded off to sleep with the sound of rain pattering on the roof, again feeling very smug not to be braving the elements in a leaky tent.

Sahalie Falls

The following morning dawned, cloudy but dry.  Roger wanted to fish some more, but I had plans to check out the nearby waterfalls.  I left my hubby at the lake, and made the short drive to Sahalie and Koosah Falls.

McKenzie River

The McKenzie River flows through Clear Lake and further downstream, plunges over two steep cliffs, creating spectacular waterfalls.

Koosah Falls

Since these waterfalls are extremely popular, I got an early start.  Arriving at the Sahalie Falls parking area, I was the second car.  Apart from a group trail runners, I had the entire viewing area to myself.

Icy blue waters of the McKenzie

Sahalie Falls was churning mightily, as was it's downstream sister, Koosah Falls.  And in between these gorgeous cascades was the McKenzie River's churning whitewater.  I loved the river's mini-rapids and icy blue water.

Proxy Falls misty shower

After a hour or so of exploring, Koosah and Sahalie Falls started to fill up with people, so I took my leave.  Back at camp, I collected my hubby and persuaded him to drive a short distance to Proxy Falls trailhead.  A waterfall I'd been wanting to visit!

Lower Proxy Falls

A short one-mile loop takes visitors to both Upper and Lower Proxy Falls.  A short trail, and our late morning arrival meant that we wouldn't be alone.  As a matter of fact, this place was crawling with people.

Upper Proxy Falls

Roger and I clambered down a steep primitive trail that led to Lower Proxy Falls base.  A jungle-like tangle of vegetation and downed trees, it took some scrambling to find a place suitable to take some photos.  But - oh - what an amazingly beautiful waterfall!  And it was huge!  Dropping 226 feet down a mossy cliff of columnar basalt, this cascade was quite photogenic.

Trail through the lava

Heading back to our car, my hubby and I walked through a huge lava field full of vine maple.

Vine maple already turning

Some of the vine maple leaves were already changing into fall colors.  In July!

Bold camp robber

Back at the cabin, Roger grilled bratwursts, while I sat in my camp chair enjoying a bag of fresh Bing cherries.  I was just throwing the pits on the ground, and those attracted the attention of the local wildlife.  Pretty soon we were surrounded by a flock of very aggressive bluejays (or "camp robbers" as they are also known).  A couple of chipmunks even joined in the hunt.

South end of Clear Lake

After lunch, I was hankering for another hike, so while Roger grabbed his fishing pole, I grabbed my camera for a walk around the entire lake. 

More lovely aquamarine water

Although the sun threatened to pop out of the clouds and heat everything up, temps stayed fairly comfortable.  Best of all - the rain stayed away!

Clouds hide mountain views

Clear Lake was created by ancient lava flows that dammed up the McKenzie River, creating a lake so clear and cold that old tree snags are visible down to 100 feet in depth.  The lake's east side crosses through these old lava beds, and although it's still an open, desolate area, vine maple and other vegetation are re-establishing themselves nicely.

McKenzie Spring

At the lake's north end, a gushing river emerges from underground into a ultra-blue pool in an old lava flow.  Nicknamed the "Great Spring" it's quite a sight to see.

Cozy cabin

Although we lucked out with a dry Saturday, by evening the wet stuff returned.  But Roger and I were inside our warm cabin, snug and dry.  When inclement weather threatened, we both decided this was the way to go!

I'm so glad we didn't chicken out and stay home.  My hubby and I ended up having a great weekend - and thanks to the Clear Lake cabins, avoided a wet camping trip.


  1. Its good to have rain, as we are getting some wonderful clicks from your side after rain.

  2. That is certainly the way to Camp, bit like me with a caravan but I do still like to camp under canvas now an then

  3. Linda What a beautiful place to chill out. Good idea about the cabin but your photographs of the waterfalls are excellent. I woul have loved it there even in the rain. Loved the bird you found and shot.

  4. Wonderful images Linda. I think the touch of rain added a nice atmosphere to the shots. The waterfalls and lake are mesmerizing.

    Mersad Donko Photography

  5. Linda, what an absolutely gorgeous place! I love the rain! Unfortunately here in Montreal this summer thus far we have had very little of it and really, really need it. It is so hot and humid that even the flowers and trees are suffering, visibly so. The flowers and leaves are drying out. We are supposed to get rain today and tomorrow, and I am really looking forward to it and some cooler temperatures.

    Your photos are gorgeous, I love the reflections and raindrops!

  6. Wet, Wild and Wonderful...please send some rain!

  7. That cabin looks perfect, I love rustic. You captured river and waterfalls beautifully, as with the lake and forests.
    You even got some sunshine!
    Great post, Linda!

  8. Hello, Linda! I think renting the cabin was a great idea. It is cute and "dry" too. The views of the lake are beautiful, I like the water color. The waterfalls are gorgeous, your photos are always amazing. Cute shot of the Stellar Jay! Another great place to visit and post. Happy Friday, enjoy your weekend!

  9. Wow!! I have been missing "our" trips and I'm so glad I "went" on this one with You never disappoint and I'm always in awe of your beautiful photos!! What a wonderful weekend and I loved the cabin...:) Hope "we" travel again soon. Hugs!!

  10. Looks like a beautiful weekend despite the weather. I've been to each of those falls before, but have only driven past Clear Lake....beautiful!

  11. Fotografias maravilhosas, gostei bastante.
    Um abraço e bom fim de semana.

  12. WOW!!! what a beautiful area. Love Proxy Falls, it is gorgeous. We've stayed in cabins like this and they are so neat.

  13. What a spectacular place, especially those beautiful falls! I had several years when, if I camped, it rained. If I booked accommodation, the sun shone! Grrrr!

  14. Gorgeous area!!! I tried to find Clear Lake on a map of Oregon and couldn't find it...

  15. Good for you going for a cabin this year. At least you have space to dry your waterproofs. The scenery is so special and one advantage of the rain is the amount of water tumbling down the cliffs.

  16. Great decision to book a cabin to enjoy this magnificent area. The crystal clear blue water is stunning and without the rain, the falls wouldn't be as sensational. I hope Roger managed to catch a fish or two.

  17. Nice photos of your time away and a cozy cabin for your nights. I'm thinking waterfalls for our Oct getaway. Not sure if we are going east or south, yet, but enjoyed looking at your photos, as always, so lovely!
    Have a good weekend!

  18. If you can't avoid rain the best place to be is near waterfalls and a forest lake. Lovely place. I quite enjoy rain falling if I'm in a tent as long as I pitch it when dry but it is harder when everything gets damp then stays damp. Love the bluejay. So many of the smaller species in North America are still unfamiliar here as we never get nature programmes on them at all.

  19. That cozy cabin is a great idea! I could enjoy that kind of camping. Gorgeous pictures of the waterfalls, as always. I must remember that "cloudy days are the best for photography". I always make the mistake of looking for bright sunny days.

  20. I love a cozy cabin when it's raining, and it looks like your little cabin was in a beautiful setting. Sounds like you both had the perfect spot: gorgeous scenery and waterfalls for you, and a lake for fishing for Roger.

  21. No rain = no waterfalls, so we just put up with I suppose! I only camp these days if I am going light weight!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Darwin

  22. Rain or not you get such beautiful photos. Doesn't it always rain where you live? :)

  23. You made the most of your weekend away...even with the rain. Loving your photos as always, in particular the Koosah Falls... very beautiful.

  24. Hi! Nice trip instead of rainy days. I always like your water falls photos very much. These collection of photos are very impressive. The cabin looks very cozy. Thanks for sharing.

  25. This is a favorite hike of mine. You can combine the loop around the lake with a loop around the falls and make a nice little 9 mile hike out of it (I noticed you "cheated" and drove to the falls). I strongly suggest you revisit the area in mid-October if you can, and bring your camera (I probably didn't have to say that!). The fall colors are absolutely stunning and spectacular.

  26. Wow I am glad you went too, your photos are stunning! What a beautiful spot to spend a weekend:)

  27. How beautiful! The river and waterfalls are spectacular!

  28. That cabin looks so inviting! You found the ideal way to embrace a rainy weekend!

  29. What a lovely get away! I was in that area a few years back on my way home and it was beautiful and I loved the waterfalls (only spent a one stop there) and of course - it rained! LOL Poodles were not happy with that and my falls photos are not nearly as lovely as yours!

  30. Thank goodness for the cabin! I agree - cloudy days are best for photography, but you're braver than I am with the camera when it rains (even though my Olympus and the lenses say waterproof, I don't care to test them!). Love those blue water shots. I wonder if the ground has a lot of calcium citrate? The waterfall shots are magnificent!

  31. The weather many not have been perfect but the images are! And that bluejay is stunning. I've never seen one with colours like that. They look different here.

  32. This is a very interesting blog. Great photos!

  33. I love the rose and the waterfalls are spectacular!

  34. What gorgeous waterfalls! I love a rustic cabin when it rains.

  35. Love your shots here and think this place looks like an amazing place to hike, rain or not! Love the aqua blues of the water, and that camp robber so pretty. Your cabin looked like a wonderful place to stay with the rainy days


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