Thursday, December 10, 2009

Big Blue Visits: The Willamette National Forest in Oregon

The great thing about roadtrips is coming across the unexpected and being impressed. There are some things that still impress me. Sunrises, yes. The ocean, yes. But some things don't, like sunsets and mountains. I've seen too many now to be impressed. Sunsets are sunsets and mountains are mountains. So, when I tell you that the mountains we saw in the north edge of the Willamette National Forest, heading west out of Sisters, Oregon were impressive, I hope you will believe me.

We turned Big Blue up highway 242 and began to climb. We didn't know what to expect. We knew we were going to climb, and we had been told of the good views, but we had no idea...

The area at the summit is miles and miles of lava rock. The trees have tried to come back, but it is remarkably clear.

McKenzie Pass - Elevation 5325.

Rock tower at McKenzie Summit.

You can actually see the very tip of Mt. Hood.

Down the west side of the summit, we parked and hiked to see Proxy Falls. The hike is just short of a mile and brings you to 2 different waterfalls. (here's a good description of the hike)

In all, it was one of my top roadtrip moments, and certainly one of our best days spent exploring in Big Blue. I understand the highway gets shut down in the winter, but in October, the light dusting of snow and the lack of crowds made this a day-long adventure that was well worth it.



My favorite part of the trip!!


This looks like it was a really great trip you guys! I am jealous.

Ludwig's Drivers

"Sunsets are sunsets and mountains are mountains."
I'll grant you the sunsets, but mountains are mountains? I know you're well-traveled (all but three states!), so I'm going to have to assume you've somehow managed to avoid the spectacular assortment of mountains found across this fair continent. Utah, Idaho, Montana (ahem), Wyoming, Nevada...there's enough right there to make ours easily the most scenic continent. Visit Glacier Nat'l Park sometime and tell me that mountains are mountains.

I'd be more forgiving on the issue, but the ocean? Two years of living about half a mile from it and I'm here to tell you: the ocean's the ocean.


ps. While I stand by my statements, I assure you that the above is offered as good-natured ribbing.

Ludwig's Drivers

Moss, moss, moss. I love moss.

Big Blue's Driver

Minnie - I think this are would be pretty close for you. It's a wonderful road!

whc03grady- Mountains are lazy beasts and have all grown the same beard. x number of years ago they did something and since then, they have been crumbling. The vistas they offer are similar. There are exceptions. Glacier is one. And this area was one. The rest are brothers in slacker-ness.

As to oceans - they define "liquid", and by that I mean, much like a campfire, full of chaos and ever changing. It eats ships and warns you of death and also comforts. I wish I could go out and stir it with a giant stick.

Plus, my oceans are the hard workers of the world - slowly taking down your mountains! The ocean will win, my friend! The ocean will win!

Melissa - I dig moss very much... I would like a yard of moss.

Big Blue's Driver

And EP - my favorite part as well. That, and carving the pumpkin!

Ludwig's Drivers

Hey Brett,
Just wanted to chime in to say I don't think all mountains provide the same vistas. After living here in the Rockies for the past few years I'm really beginning to recognize the differences between ranges that seemed relatively identical when we first moved to Montana. There are many ranges here in the Rockies that vary quite a lot. For example, the Bitterroot Mountains and the Bitterroot Valley are really different from the Swan Range, which both seem demure compared to the striking beauty and shocking steepness of the Mission Mountains. And many people are surprised to see how different the mountains surrounding Missoula are compared to the views in Bozeman. I'll admit that learning how the different mountain ranges were formed definitely helped me to appreciate and identify their differences.

I'm looking forward to eventually being able to visit mountain ranges in the East, like the Smoky Mountains. From pictures I've seen, it looks like maybe gnomes and hobbits (and curtains of moss?) might live in those mountains.

And I am in complete agreement with you that the ocean eats ships and warns us of death. The ocean is large and mysterious and deserving of more respect than it generally gets (giant islands of trash, unethical fishing, etc, etc). But I've never felt like more of a land mammal than when I stood on the shore of the Pacific. I'm not going to lie, the ocean is awe inspiring, but it makes me uneasy.

A yard of moss would be very pretty, but I can't stop thinking of what the slugs would do to my garden. :)

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