I Love Camping and Hiking in the Metolius River Region

7 01 2015
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The Metolius River from our campsite!

Bubbling up from the ground fully-formed, the Metolius River, at Camp Sherman, Oregon, is one of the state’s most magical outdoor gems. The Metolius River Valley stretches 13 miles from the mouth. Because it lies just to the east of Santiam Pass, it is solidly in the Central Oregon ecosystem. Blessed in a rain shadow, the valley is dry most of the year – and dry-climate-friendly Ponderosa Pines dominate the forest.

There is a lot going on in the Metolius River Valley – but it’s subtle. It’s not widely advertised. First and foremost, it’s all about the river. At the head of the valley the Metolius emerges from the ground as a fully formed river. It’s not a little spring. It is urgently rushing out at its headwaters. The water is glacier snow melt coming directly from glaciers in the Three Sisters, where it disappears underground and flows for many miles in underground lava tubes, only to emerge in the Metolius River Valley. That means it’s extremely cold and pure.

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Fly fisherman on the Metolius

This river, wending its way through snags and bends, is perfect habitat for trout and salmon. The Metolius River is a national blue ribbon trout fishing stream. When visiting the area you always glimpse fly fishermen trying their luck along its banks.

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Nothing like a multistory fire!

There are several campgrounds sprinkled along the Metolius River, plus there are lodging opportunities in Camp Sherman. My personal favorite is Allen Springs Campground because it sits along a U-shaped bend in the river. There are three walk-in campsites on the U-shaped peninsula. If you score the campsite at the end of the peninsula, you have guaranteed privacy and simulated back country camping. You just need to walk your gear to it. This guarantees no RVs parked next door. No generators grumbling during the night. All you hear is the glorious burbling of the Metolius!

Forget to bring everything? Fear not. You can get what you need at the Camp Sherman General Store. Even better, the store has delectable made to order sandwiches! It’s worth not bothering to pack your lunch because you can get a scrumptious fresh hand made sandwich at the store! If you order a club sandwich they’ll be cooking the bacon right in front of you.

There’s much more. There is a hiking trail running for at least 10 miles – down one side of the river and back up the other. A visit to the Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery is well worth the stopover. For swimming and boating, Suttle Lake is just a few miles west of the exit for Camp Sherman off the highway. And in July, if you are up for an alpine hike through spectacular wildflowers, Three Finger Jack beckons.

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Rod pauses in front of Three Fingered Jack

On this trip my old college buddy Tully accompanied. For dinner, we used the tried-and-true Wok cooking method. Wokking is a great alternative to traditional camping meals. First and foremost it’s delicious! And fresh. It’s great for group cooking because the ingredients are all laid out and then each camper cooks their own. Some may be intimidated at first, but it’s virtually impossible to screw up a Wok meal!

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But prior to dinner there is the obligatory post-hike and pre-dinner happy hour. That requires a campfire. We violated all dietary guidelines by having a bag of Fritos. A camping secret is that Fritos and Doritos are excellent fire starters!

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Fritos are super fire starters!

No kindling??? No problem, IF you have a bag of Frito-Lay products on hand. The next thing is music. Tully provided plenty of songs from The Grateful Dead, The Eagles, and Eric Clapton. All good blended with the burbling of the Metolius River.

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Tully pickin’ on the guitar

Next day we glimpsed an unusual sight walking along the river. Turkeys!

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Turkeys!

There were 8 – 10 of them. Who knew! During a lunchtime visit to Camp Sherman we learned there are a lot of turkeys in the valley and they are a nuisance to some homeowners! The ones we saw looked innocent enough.

If you are in Central Oregon you should consider a visit to the Metolius Region!





Metolius River, Oregon and Wok Cooking at the Campsite!

28 05 2012

May 12-13 we headed to our favorite campsite down on the Metolius River! There is something about the Metolius River Valley. The river is so bubbly, urgently moving down the valley, so clear. Fly fisherman walk up and down the river casting their flies. Red Ponderosa Pines line the banks, and the meadows below are green, the river blue. The air is dry and the temperature is in the low 80’s. It can’t get any better than this!

We feasted! Saturday morning we do a blueberry pancake breakfast, with bacon, and strawberries and blackberries.

There’s nothing like that smell of bacon cooking at the campsite!

Rod & Lisa make blueberry pancakes & bacon!

Saturday, we grab fantastic sandwiches prepared by the Camp Sherman Store and then do a four-mile hike around Suttle Lake. During lunch a lone slalom water skier gives us a show.

The hike around the lake is relaxed. High rewards and low effort. Perfect!

From the trail, you can see down into the clear waters. Today it’s not breezy. Most times I’ve visited Suttle Lake, the mountain breeze kicks in, and it can blow beachside sun shelters off.

Laura, Lisa, Kent kick back!

Saturday evening we put together a stir fry bar! Lining the picnic table were little bowls filled with water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, peanuts, broccoli, onion, chicken, shrimp, carrot, pineapple, fresh green beans, with at least a dozen Asian sauces to go with them. WOW! YUM! And super easy.

Then it was time for entertainment…primitive weapons competition. We had blow dart guns, throwing axes and knives!

Check back. I have to get the weapons competition video from Lisa! I successfully threw the hatchet several times.

April Obern joined us for Saturday evening dinner and a Sunday hike on the river.

It was another perfect day. It is always SO hard to leave this slice of heaven!

I will return to the Metolius for many years to come.





Metolius River Never Disappoints!

22 06 2011

Right now, I’m working at Alder Creek Kayak and Canoe, and that means weekends working. Sooo, to get away during Oregon’s dry season, I gotta just take off midweek. Sometimes it’s alone.

At home at the walk-in sites at Allen Springs Campground

A reliable choice is the Metolius River area – and this time it turned out perfect.

Weatherwise, that is. However, my favorite spot, Allen Springs Campground, had been taken over by the RV crowd. Nevertheless, thankfully it’s got walk-in campsites away from that scene. I found peace and was invisible from the other sites.

I had a sunny, warm spot to hang out and read!

My Keen Targhee II shoes, ready for anything!Ahh, nice, warm crackling campfire!And a windy paddle on Suttle Lake to round things out!

It was so pretty and comfy.

And simple. I just read some overdue reading material, and had a nice time with the campfire and then was lulled to sleep by the sounds of the river.

 

Recommended! Get a hand-crafted sandwich at Camp Sherman Store! I had a turkey sandwich piled HIGH with 2″ of turkey! WOW! And they cooked the bacon for it right then and there!

After a perfect night under the stars, I enjoyed a morning campfire.

Took a walk along the river in my Keen Targhee II shoes!

Following that, packed up and headed to Suttle Lake, off Oregon’s Hwy 20 with its Cascade views.

The highlight was the 30 mph winds, which were a lot of fun to play in!

The burbling Metolius is a perfect place for quality time with the kiddos!





My B-Day @ Metolius River!

18 06 2010

Love the ever relaxing Metolius

Spanking GREAT weather broke for my birthday weekend on the Metolius River June 12-13 2010.

We had planned a trip there in late April with a great forecast. But NO, in typical 2010 fashion, the weather turned ugly exactly 8 hours before departure and we canceled. This rescheduled weekend was – picture perfect. Clear, no wind, no humidity, temps 75 – 80 – just perfect for humans to enjoy. AND – no bugs, no skeeters.

I’ve got a special place in my heart for the Metolius, and in particular for the walk in campsites at Allen Springs Campground. There, the river bends around the campsites in a perfect U, so you get stereo burbling all day/night. It’s just wonderful! Magical, actually.

Metolius = magic for a number of reasons. The river comes out of the ground fully formed at the south end of the valley. It never changes levels. Same all year. It’s busy – flowing fast – but few rapids. The trees are orange bark Ponderosa Pines, a very cool contrast to the verdant green, low vegetation below, and the blue sky above. In  between, fly fishermen present their caddis flies to finicky salmonids.

Planning strategically, I headed down early Friday afternoon and scored a campsite on the peninsula. Not my first choice campsite, mind you, but a site good enough for our group of six. It had views of both sides of the peninsula, and plenty of space to the adjoining site. All was good because we scored, and the campground subsequently filled up.

I was to be joined by Kent, and then Jessie and her brother Joel. Later, after dark, Christian and Katie arrived. Saturday morning we breakfasted on French Toast topped with walnut and sliced pears, with bacon on the side. Yum!

Our plan called for hiking two miles down to the Lower Bridge and then back up the west side to Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery. What a nice hike it was. Filled with views from “A River Runs Through It” the whole way. Each bend brings more photogenic views into play. One would think they had polarized eyes.

Along the way we witnessed two fishermen, on either side of the river, bringing in fish. They were casually talking as they reeled in their quarry when one guy’s rod just about broke. He said, “Holy Cracker! A 20-pound bull trout just ate my fish!” We all stopped to view the spectacle.

He was not far from netting his burden when the bull trout let go – leaving this mauled, dead trout on the hook. I was really disappointed! I wanted to see that!

Later Saturday we packed up the boats and headed over to Suttle Lake for a sunny paddle. The lake was not really busy – only one jet skier – but it seemed a bit busy for the group compared to our campsite. Little did they know how it can be later on. Anyway it was pretty because Mt Washington is visible, all snow covered.

We did a shared Mexican meal Saturday evening. Soft tacos with green peppers, onion, salsa, cheese, jalapenos, beans, rice – all good stuff on there. Darn hungry we were. Then it’s time for my birthday treat – a cherry pie! Following the food fulfillment was a nice talk to the campfire. I also used my Android phone to use Google Sky Map to check out the constellations above!

Hey! Wake Up!

Sunday was an oatmeal feed with fruit, honey, nuts, butter, cream, brown sugar, all the good stuff.

I knew of a place high up on Green Ridge, which forms the east side of the valley, with amazing vews. So with hot beverage in hand, we headed up there. Wow!

You can see at seeminly eye level from Mt. Hood to Diamond Peak. That’s Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Washington, Three Sisters, etc.

Then we kinda lazily packed it all up. Had to end sometime!








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