Tuesday, September 17, 2019

A late summer trip to the Oregon Cascade Lakes

Written from the warm dry comfort of home, on September 17th, 2019

Actually it's pouring rain outside, giving me a chance to work on the desk top for a while, but it's warm and dry here inside. A trip to the Oregon mountain lakes via teardrop trailer, pickup truck and canoe might seem like an odd sort of thing to post in a Vietnam-motorbike blog, but this may be the wave of the future. . .old age is slowing me down, the motorbike is parked in Hanoi and towing the teardrop up to a comfortable spot by a lake in the mountains seems like a splendid adventure now. . .so here's our trip to Hosmer lake!

The most important part of the outfit. . .the galley in the aft end of the teardrop trailer, er. . .and the dish washing table.  M'Lady Wife is serving a late breakfast (or is it an early lunch) after our first paddle on Hosmer Lake.  It's the 2nd of September, the days are bright and warm (or downright hot) and the nights are cool and covered with stars. . .at least until the big front arrives.  H'mm.
Sourdough pancakes with maple syrup, oh my goodness.  Actually, this fellow was relatively shy.  The real camp robbers were a great deal more aggressive!
In flocks of three or four or even five birds, they worked the table top in a steady rotation.  All  my photos of their coming and going featured the hot sauce bottle in perfect focus in the foreground, with the blur of a bird beyond.  Sigh.
Two love affairs in one photo. . .m'Lady Wife and the new redwood strip canoe!  This little dock at the end of a twisting channel through the marsh gave us a delightful access from right behind our campsite out to the main lake, which, really, is mainly channels through marshes, with a couple of stretches of wide open water too.  It's all shallow though, from a few inches to a few feet, but never more that we saw.  The water is fine and clear unless you stick a paddle in the mud.  Actually, I'm told the lake was called Mud Lake just a few years ago.  I wonder who "Hosmer" was??
It probably gets better than this somewhere for a little while now and then, but this is pretty good.  Mount Bachelor, I think, in the distance.
Note the dense bed of reeds marking the "shoreline" in the foreground here.  It would be wet walking!  This is the start of the largest stretch of open water in the lake, where the serious fishermen tend to congregate.  The lake is well filled with splendid trout and landlocked salmon. . .it's fly fishing and catch and release only, so the fish are big and plentiful, but not necessarily stupid. . .

 Quinn Creek is the source of the lake, flowing out of the mountains and into the valley flat. The mouth of the creek is really wide and shallow and  covered with a thick layer of white mud.  You can see where here and there a paddler has tried walking instead, and it's pretty soft and squishy! The canoe with both of us aboard slipped up into the faster moving, pebble bottomed creek and let us pole, paddle and scrape up to this nifty little notch in the bank to haul out and walk the last hundred yards or so to the falls and the old horse bridge. . .
This is effectively the head of navigation, but if this doesn't stop you. . .
The falls will!  The old bridge is pretty rotten now, there are signs up to warn you to walk your stock across the horse ford, though the bridge is still "open to hikers and bicycles".  
Looking downstream from the falls, you can see what a lovely little creek we came up.  Don't count on a lot of solitude here, it's a popular spot!
Back on the lake and into the reeds, the long winding channel from the boat launch ramp and our "private dock" in the marsh, on the way home to camp.
Reeds. . .actually maybe two different sorts, not to mention water lilies and other marsh greenery.  In much of the lake the water is so shallow that recovery from a capsize, if need be, would consist of standing up and dumping out the canoe.  H'mm.
The outlet!  That's the lake barely showing in the extreme left edge of the photo.  The creek flows through what is clearly a man-modified "dam" of  lava rock. . .there's a 2' diameter outlet pipe through the dam, with a big slide gate shutoff valve. . .and the valve is shut!  The creek just flows cheerfully through the lava rock and down into. . . 
. . .a lovely little pond perhaps ten feet below the lake surface!  From there it goes splashing away down hill into the jumble of lava rock. . .
. . .and disappears!  Goodness, we won't canoe in this creek!
Thursday morning early (really early!!) after a midnight completely full of stars, there was a truly violent frontal passage.  The thunder and lightning were amazing, and the closest bolts were truly frightening, way too much like accurate artillery, but we lived (and no fires started).  We'd even set up the ten by ten galley  tent for shade on Wednesday afternoon, so the whole galley area was still nice and dry in the morning.   We drove down into Bend, checking out Elk Lake (good drinking water available, as well as a resort with $5 showers!) and Sparks Lake. . .rather an odd situation, with the campground far removed from the lake access. . .but it looks lovely.  Eating lunch at a taco wagon in Bend we lived through more thunder and lightning and a ferocious downpour, first rain, then hail the size of marbles and then LOTS more rain.  It ran like a river through the taco wagon picnic tables, where six of us squeezed into the dry spot!

A better view of the galley, propane stove hiding behind its Vietnamese made wind screen  (there, see, this belongs in the Vietnam blog. . .), Dishes and pots and pans on the bulkhead, along with the spice rack, three drawers of cutlery and assorted kitchen necessities, and the roll-out cooler.  With the hatch up there's even a bit of shelter for the cook if you don't have the ten by ten pitched, and the overhead light makes after dark cooking and clean up workable.  Headlamps of course help!  
The canoe can be quickly rigged for rowing, though only as a solo boat.  I generally leave the carrying yoke at home, and only leave the stern thwart in place.  The oarlocks are mounted on blocks set  (glue and screws) on top of the gunnels, with the locks themselves outboard.  Thus we gain both a little height and an inch and a half of beam, both precious in such a low and narrow row boat.  The seat and foot rest unit just sits in the canoe. . .you can move it fore and aft at will.  She flies!

Here's the boat with the rowing outfit (and a paddle. . .you'd never get her out of the channel from the dock under oars, 12' of beam in a 6' stream!)
The night before departure, storm clouds and dramatic light over the marsh. . .
And the morning after the storms, 

There's the whole outfit, ready to pull away and head home. . .sigh.

And then the anti-climax in a well paved and crowded monster campground part way home.  The highway noise from I-5 only a few hundred yards away wasn't enough to keep us awake though.  It's a long run from Hosmer Lake to Bainbridge Island but we'll do it again. . .

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