Every time he make plans to go camping, it rains.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The McKenzie River flows through Clear Lake and further downstream, plunges over two steep cliffs, creating spectacular waterfalls.
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.
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.
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.