Last Summer Blast

I don’t know about other parts of the world, but here in Bend there is a palpable sense of summer (and even fall?) drawing to a close. We’ve already had a couple nights where it’s dipped into the 20’s, and the week before last had a definite bite to it: cool days, overcast skies and brisk breezes… all hallmarks of the winter months ahead. But this past week has seen a (brief, I’m sure) return to summer – balmy weather in the 70’s and 80’s, and beautiful, glorious, blue high-desert skies. It’s no surprise that everyone is scrambling to eek the most out of what we all consider to be the last dregs of summer.

For me, this meant accepting without hesitation a couple of invitations do some hiking and biking this past weekend. Saturday found me hiking South Sister, the highest of a triplet of ~10,000′ peaks near town. Climbing this peak had been one of my goals for the summer, but my original plans (the prior week, with my friend Andy) were quashed by the weather. So it was nice to be able to pick this one off at the last minute so to speak. And as you can see, we made the most of it – the weather and views were spectacular! That top picture there is me (the little dot) standing in the middle of the glacier on the south side, with Broken Top Mtn. in the background.

Part II to this weekend was a mountain bike ride along the McKenzie River. This trail is hailed as one of the most spectacular in North America and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The ride is set among the verdant forest of the Cascades, with towering Douglas Fir and Oregon Cedar trees; the volcanic geology of the region, with jagged black rocks lining much of the trail; and the McKenzie river. The river alone is pretty amazing – crystal clear, blue water that spills over some spectacular falls and which collects at one point in the “Blue Hole”, a swimming hole for those willing to brave the sub-40 degree temperature. (Which we did, btw! And all three of us guys looked pretty ridiculous as we splashed our pasty, white heinies back to shore as fast as we could.)

Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, the fall colors were absolutely stunning along the upper half of the trail! I mean just amazing! At times the we rode through overhanging canopies of vine maple where the colors were so vivid you’d swear the air itself was on fire.

Anyhow, I’m back in the office this morning, with legs and body pleasantly sore from… hmm… 12 miles of hiking, 28 miles of biking, for a total of something like 8,000 of vertical gain. And I’ve got an inbox full of pictures from the folks I did all this with, that are so stunning I need to post at least a few of them here. Which just leaves me the problem of how to write enough to fill up all the otherwise empty space that’s gonna be next to them.

… oh, wait. :-)

[South Sister photo by Ted and Shannah Werner. McKenzie trail photos by Tod Wooldridge]