Metolius and Big Lake, Oregon

27 06 2011

I returned to the Metolius River area because the weather there was forecast to be 70 degrees and sunny. I’d planned to check out some areas near Yale Lake, WA, but the weather up there was due to be poor – drizzly and 55 degrees.

Clouds breaking up at the crest of the Cascades

I don’t know if it’s because I like to spend time outside, or if it’s because I’m living in Portland, Oregon, where it is dismally cloudy each spring, but in the summer I get a salmon-like cabin fever drive to get out of town and enjoy the beautiful weather in the summer. I really feel like any free time spent in town is wasting opportunities to squeeze in as much outdoors time as possible!

So I chose to go where the weather looked great. And that meant Metolius. Metolius sits in a valley, and just to the west lie Oregon’s Mt. Washington, Three Fingered Jack, and Mt. Jefferson.

Nice yard view.

There are a few homes in the valley with backyard views of these peaks. In this early summer, with so much green in the valleys and the white of the mountains, the view is eye-popping.

On my way to Metolius, the highway passed Hoodoo Ski Area, and just behind Hoodoo sits a recreation area I’d seen on my map called Big Lake. Not in any hurry, I stopped in to Big Lake. The elevation is 4,650 feet, since it’s right on the high Cascades pass.

The road to Big Lake led through 6 – 8ft tall snow drifts on either side. The road led to a campground on the lake, which had spectacular views of Mount Washington.

Much to my surprise, the campground was completely empty. My guess was that the snow had just melted enough to allow vehicles in.

It was lovely and warm. So I took my kayak out for a paddle, exploring its back marshes and coves. There were no bugs – but as there were a lot of snow melt pools nearby, in two weeks the mosquitoes will be unbearable. But on this day, it was bug-free and all mine!

I could see that Big Lake might not be a good choice in mid-summer. It’s got a lot of ATV trails nearby…I could imagine lots of RVs pulling noisy ATVs and the campground full of noisy RVs and their generators…but today, it was quiet and lovely!


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