Late Thursday afternoon, after making the decision to camp somewhere for a couple of days, we decided to head east from Corvallis and give the Cascades a shot. Driving out, we passed car after car heading the other direction bearing OSU paraphenalia presumambly on their way to Oregon State Eastern Washington football game in town. It was enough to get me hyped for a few mintues. This traffic thinned out significantly once we passed the I-5 interchange.
With no clear destination in mind we consulted my weathered road atlas and decided to shoot for one of the tent icons on the map. The closer to the bigs peaks in the area, the better. This ended up being an adventure in itself as Elliott Corbett State Park, our chosen destination turned out to be a mile drive off of the highway down a steep dirt road in the middle of a completely burnt-out forrest. Oh, and it also turns out that there was no campground at the end of the dirt road. We kept laughing as we slowly bounced down the rocky road and chose to see it through if only to see what was at the end of the road.
Rocks, lots of rocks and burnt trees.
So, we ran the dogs on the rocks for a while and enjoyed some sublime views of Mt. Washington, then headed back onto the highway. By this time it was starting to get dark so we figured we’d stop at the first campground we came to. This turned out to be a campground at Suttle Lake and we snagged one of the last available spots, with a gorgeous view of the lake.
I built a campfire in the dark and we cooked up some nicely charred burgers before crashing for the evening. It was all very pleasant and a nice last-minute find.
Friday morning we awoke to a sunrise over the lake then drove into Bend, OR to see what all the fuss was about. Fuss, confirmed. This city is amazing cool, if a little too trendy. Certainly has that Boulder, CO feel to it. Views of the Sisters peaks in the background, runners and kayers everywhere, insanely clean parks, and natural bouldering walls in the city itself. We walked along the Deschutes river with the dogs and later drove around some of the suburb neighborhoods and checked out fliers for million dollar houses.
Leaving Bend, our plans were again a little unclear, and I on a whim decided to check out a road leading away from the city of Sisters that looked like it headed up closer to peaks. Fifteen miles into (and up) the whim dead-ended onto a gravel road that in turn another mile down dead-ended into a nearly deserted campground.
We at first found this a little odd, as we had left our Suttle Lake campground due to Labor Day weekend reservation stickers on every site. We pulled through sites surrounded by fields, forests, and rocky outcroppings, most with spectacular views of a looming mountain rim to the North. No reservations though, very nice. So we dropped our twelve bucks into the self-serve slot, set up camp near a little stream and ran the dogs ragged for the next few hours along a pseudo path through the woods.
Later in the evening nearly all of the sites filled up, but I made a mental note to remember this campground as a beautiful and available little escape for future camping vacations.
It was an awfully cold night however and we woke to frost on the ground Saturday morning. We did some exploring throughout the day, wandering up a well-worn path to Three Creek Lake at the edge of the tree line. (Again, I’ll post pictures when I get a chance, for now you’ll just have to picture a crystal-clear lake with a bouldery shore and rocky cliffs towering in the background.) I later talked with a guy who explained how phenomenal the rim hike is and I added another mental note to make that a priority the next time through.
There are so many hikes and climbs I’ve already seen that I want to come back and complete. I never thought of Oregon as being a place with significant mountaineering opportunities, but it seems there are these medium size pockets of legitimate peaks to explore. Next summer.
For now, we’re spending the next two nights in clean sheets in the Super 8 in Corvallis and should be in our new house from then on.