North Through Oregon

9th July - 18th 2011

First stop in Oregon was the town of Klamath Falls, where we were able to re-provision but forgot to fuel up Harvey-the-RV before leaving town. This meant turning around and heading back to Klamath Falls when we realised how far away the next town was going to be (there wasn't one!). We finally escaped the clutches of Klamath Falls and headed to the Crater Lake National Mosquito Reserve (sorry National Park)! We were again amazed to find that despite our visit being in July, a large part of the park was still closed due to snow. Fortunately some of the campsites had been dug out of the snow, so we were able to keep the cold at bay, snuggling in Harvey, listening to the menacing, desperate buzzing of the freezing mozzies outside. Who would have thought, double jeopardy, snow and mosquitoes!

The exceptionally heavy snowfall did have one advantage, we were able to join a Park Ranger the following day on a snow-shoeing expedition in the Park. Despite the winter weather we'd enjoyed in Wales last winter, this was a brand new experience for the Brits and very entertaining! Much fun as the expedition was, we were glad we didn't have to walk all the way to the North Pole on snowshoes, it was quite a work out! When we finally took the show shoes off, it took quite a while to stop walking like John Wayne!

Stunning Crater Lake National Park

Forgot to ask if show-shoeing was on my post-surgery permitted list of activities - can't think why!

The lake had started life as a massive volcano, Mount Masama sitting on a huge pool of lava. When it finally erupted, spreading ash over 8 US States and three Canadian provinces, the whole lava chamber was emptied and the volcano collapsed, creating the deepest lake in the USA, almost 2000 feet deep. The water in the lake came entirely from melt water and precipitation as there were no inlets. We had perfect weather to enjoy a mirror finish on the stunning blue lake.

That afternoon we drove to the town of La Pine, where we set up camp in the State Park. We'd heard that this area was famed for its trout fishing. Park map in hand, we set off on what we thought was the trail to the river. Unfortunately we weren't actually on the trail to the river, although the forest road we walked did eventually wind up at a very boggy section of the Falls River. We worked our way along the river, wading through the bog, swatting at mosquitoes and finally arrived at the spot where the real trial ended, just in time for a very brief spot of fishing before we had to head back to the campground before dark! It was an adventure and at least when we returned to the park a couple of days later, (to enjoy the new shiny shower block again) we actually got Phil fishing a little quicker because we knew the way!

Things we spotted near the Falls River............

..........while we were lost!

This area of Oregon seemed to be filled with volcanoes. Our next visit was to the Newbury National Volcanic Monument. Here we camped at Paulina Lake, another crater lake. The scale of the lake was too daunting for a canoeing trip, so instead we hiked to the nearby Obsidian Flow. Here eruption had created massive boulders of what was, in effect, glass, black, smooth and glinting in the sunlight, with sharp corners. Another hike took us around Little Crater, which gave us another wonderful view of the Obsidian Flow.

How did those even grow in these rock?

Obsidian Flow viewed from Little Crater.

On local recommendation, we headed next for Hosmer Lake, which was reputed to be an excellent fishing lake with no motor boats permitted. After a long dusty drive up a gravel road, we were excited to find a perfect campsite, right on the water. We were delighted to have snagged a great campsite just before the arrival of an Airstream convention! We hurried to inflate the canoe ready for action. It was only once we'd done that, we realised we were actually ON THE WRONG LAKE! Hmm. Somehow we managed to stuff the semi-inflated canoe back into poor Harvey and headed another couple of miles down the gravel road until we actually did arrive at Hosmer Lake and again were lucky to find a waterfront spot!

You sure now that this is HOSMER lake???

Snuggled in the Reeds at Hosmer Lake

Hosmer lake was definitely worth the effort. It consisted of two deeper lakes joined by a reed-lined shallow, narrow, crystal clear channel between them. You could actually see the fish you were trying to catch. Another novelty was that, in the past, somebody had decided it would be a good idea to stock this inland lake with Atlantic Salmon. Phil got the chance to catch his first Atlantic Salmon on fly, which was quite surreal in the surroundings. Unfortunately no salmon dinner was on the cards, as it was catch and release only.

When the wind picked up, we nosed our trusty canoe, Sevy Paddlesteerus, right into the reeds and held on tight, to stop the rapid wind drift. This was a marvellous vantage point to watch the red-winged and yellow-headed blackbirds hopping through the reeds picking off the emerging bugs, it was fascinating to be so close to the birds, which didn't seem bothered by us at all. On our return to the boat launch we met a group of fly fisher-ladies and were stunned to find that the leader of the group, Ria, knew our friend Davy Wotton down in Arkansas. This was only our first "small world" experience at Hosmer Lake.

Back at Harvey, we called distant relatives David and Shannon in Salem, Oregon. (Second cousin's wife's nephew!). We'd never met, but David's parents in the UK had suggested we call and visit, as David too was a keen fly fisherman. During the course of our conversation we mentioned our sailing friends in Salem, Kate and David. It happened that the two David's had just met for the first time at a business meeting - spooky!

Despite the distant connection, we were warmly invited to come and stay, so that David and Phil could go on a steelhead fishing expedition. Phil was so excited, this would be another new experience in his fishing repetoire. We showed up at their beautiful home in the country outside of Salem and settled Harvey on their driveway for a couple of nights. We spent the day enjoying getting acquainted with the family and being entertained by their daughters Lily and Sophie.

Dinner with new family!

The day of the great steelhead expedition didn't bode well. Rain had been hammering on Harvey's roof for a good part of the night and persisted. Nevertheless the intrepid fishermen set off at 5.30 am to David's favourite steelhead spot on the river.

Several hours later they returned, soaking wet and freezing cold, having been chest high in the chilly river. Luckily we had a back-up plan for dinner, vegetarian chilli was just perfect for the weather. The boys decided it would be far more fun to assemble Sophie's new bedroom furniture instead and set to work. Meanwhile the girls took a trip to a somewhat damp Salem Art Fair and enjoyed the amazing range of arts on display, picking up some artwork for the girls' revamped bedrooms. It was such a shame that the weather turned bad for this outdoor event, it must have been worrying for the artists to see their works getting damp!

Cape Lookout

We headed north from Salem on Monday morning, when our wonderful hosts had to go back to work. We promised to return for more fishing adventures on our way south (hopefully in better weather). We took the indirect but scenic coastal route north, making a stop at Cape Lookout State Park. We couldn't pass it by, we'd been to Cape Lookout on the East Coast. There was a beautiful but very muddy hike out to the end of the headland. From this precipitous spot we had stunning views over the Pacific Ocean just before the fog rolled in! As we trudged back through the ankle deep mud passing many other hikers slogging out to the viewpoint, we didn't like to mention the fog which had descended over the vista!

We were looking for a convenient spot to camp near Astoria, in northern Oregon, so we could cross over into Washington state the next morning. We found Fort Stevens State Park on the map, only a short distance from the massive bridge over the Columbia river. On arrival we were stunned to see a queue to register for campsites about a dozen people in line. It seemed we were going to be lucky to get a campsite, despite the hundreds in the campground! It was certainly a popular spot, not really our scene as we prefer a little more space to ourselves but it was convenient and we were tired. We parked at our spot in the madding throng and took a walk to the beach. Here we visited the wreck of the Peter Iredale. Next morning we drove right to the mouth of the massive Columbia River before heading towards the bridge.

Wreck of the Peter Iredale

Mouth of the Columbia River

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