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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Well situated

[posted by Risa]

We went over to the East side of the Cascades (people there call themselves the Drysiders) for a bit of R&R. We measured; our destination, a cabin belonging to a friend, was only eighty-four miles from Stony Run Farm. The cabin is a one-room modified A-frame with pine paneling throughout, built some time ago, in an unincorporated community surrounded by National Forest lands, in the midst of miles and miles of lodgepole pines and little else, as most plants don't care for the twenty-feet-deep or more of pumice around there, laid down by the Crater Lake explosion seven thousand years ago. The site is well situated for visiting some good places up there, and we took full advantage.

A brief home away from home.

The first day, we went to Miller Lake, near the Mount Thielsen Wilderness, and then dropped into Chemult for ice cream. We walked up to the Union Pacific tracks there, and Beloved found a penny someone had left there to be flattened by the Coast Starlight, which travels between Seattle and Los Angeles. The local people were very welcoming, and we just about waved our arms off.

Beloved takes in Sawtooth Ridge, Mt. Thielsen Wilderness.

I paddled around on Miller for hours in my miniyak, trying to worry the kokanee (landlocked salmon) into biting, but August is just not their thing, as local fisherfolk acknowledged.

South and Middle Sisters from Crane Prairie Reservoir.
Lots of ospreys, eagles, herons, geese, and ducks were in evidence, as well as
dragonflies, mayflies, and damselflies -- signs of relatively healthy water.

The next day, to test our theory that staying at the cabin would improve our chances of a successful day hike up South Sister next year, for my sixtieth birthday, we timed and checked mileage while driving there along the Cascade lakes Highway, and found it to be a big improvement over driving from Eugene. On the way back, we stopped at Crane Prairie Reservoir, where I spent more hours in the miniyak looking for that lake's famous giga-rainbows, but -- August! -- settled for a couple of smallish bullhead which we had for dinner with some of our homegrown Yukon Gold potatoes. There was a forest fire nearby, but it was a small one, and the firefighters in the area looked pretty relaxed about what they were doing. Oregon has had another easy fire year, unlike California.

Today, we cleaned up after ourselves (we are messier people than the cabin's owner, so this took awhile) and took in Waldo Lake on the way back home.

Waldo Lake from Islet Campground.

At the extreme right in this picture, you can just see some dead trees on the shoreline. This was the southwestern extremity of the Charlton Fire, which burned some 10,000 acres of wilderness in the summer of 1996. Daughter and I were camping on Broken Top Mountain at the time, and could see the flames, a good twenty miles away, leaping bright red against the dramatic column of miles-high smoke, while we pelted each other with snowballs. Later, we picked up a couple of stranded campers who had been chased out of the North Waldo campground by the fire.

Waldo Mountain, which I have climbed many times with the kids, is just to my left in the picture. So this could be said to be my country ... yet this is the first time I've actually been to the lake in all these years. There is so much to see here that you cannot do it in one lifetime.

Ten square miles of some of the cleanest water on the planet. It's a rare sight -- but we both found most of the people hanging around to be unfriendly, unsmiling, and very focused on their private down time. We're private, too. But in the woods we practice our privacy by finding places where the other people aren't; when we meet others we like to treat them nicely, and be treated the same. So we took the hint and went home, where the poultry, who had been literally "cooped up," were more than glad to see us.



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