Monday, June 27, 2016

From Badlands to Waterfalls


For a change of scenery we returned to the Oregon Badlands Wilderness, about 15 miles southeast of Bend. In 2014 we hiked the Flatiron Trail to a large rock outcropping. This time we took the Badlands Rock trail to a different rock outcropping. This is classic high desert, hiking along a soft sandy trail through ancient western junipers and interesting rocks.

It’s an easy three miles to Badlands Rock, and impossible to miss.


Since this is a wilderness area, horses are welcome but no mountain bikes allowed.


We scrambled up the rocks to see the views from the top. It was a good cloud day.


Jim attempting to make his way up.


Jeanne taking photos of the snow-capped Cascade mountains in the distance.


The trail continued on and I thought we could make a loop that wouldn’t be too much longer but we ended up with an eight mile hike. It was not bad since it was mostly flat, but it got pretty hot by the time we finished.


The following day we took a drive along the 82 mile McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway west of Sisters, OR, which we missed on our last visit. The road just recently opened for the season, and we drove the loop counter clockwise, which first took us through lava fields. The blue skies we had as we left Bend changed to low hanging clouds, drizzle, and a serious drop in temperature as we climbed to over 5,000’. When we stopped at the Belknap Crater viewpoint and the Dee Wright Observatory it was down to 41, not exactly what we were dressed for.


The observatory, looking like a medieval castle high above McKenzie Pass, was built by the CCC in 1935.


The peak finder didn’t do us much good with all the clouds.



We continued on hoping the rain would end before our next destination, the Proxy Falls trail. It did stop raining but only warmed into the upper 40s. The trail is just under 2 miles if you take both offshoots to the upper and lower falls.

The trail was just beautiful. Lush, green, damp and mossy. Such a contrast from the previous day’s hike in the Badlands.




Bend, OR 2016

Proxy Falls at 226’ tall is impossible to photograph it in its entirety. This is the lower falls.




Don’t think it’s part of the official trail but you can continue down a steep slope to the base.


Jeanne got her feet wet to get a good shot of the falls. We joked that the forest service ought to trim some trees for better views.


The falls flow into this shallow pond which has no apparent drainage, but I read that the water just seeps into the ground, which is hard to imagine if you see how much water flows down.


We continued on to the upper falls, but you can’t get as close here.


Our next stop along the scenic drive was the trail to Koosah and Sahalie Falls. We started at the 100’ Sahalie Falls, just a short walk from the parking lot.


But hiking along the river to Koosah Falls was almost as impressive as the falls themselves.




We were awestruck by the beauty.





Koosah Falls, obscured by more of Oregon’s trees.


But walking a bit farther brings you to a better overlook of the 70’ falls.


Jeanne and me at the overlook.


There are many more miles of trails and lakes to explore in this area but that will have to wait for another time.


The rest of our week was spent playing pickleball, mountain biking on the Phil’s trail system, and visiting more breweries. We took a tour of Deschutes Brewing Co, which was fun, although their beers are just okay. Watching the bottling process was fascinating, though.


And after their shift is over, the employees can go in this “restroom” and get a pint. Nice job benefit. It’s an employee owned company and everyone seems happy to work there.

Bend, OR 20161

We also went out to dinner with Marial and Jeanne to Pacific Pizza and Brew. The pizza was really good and they have a huge selection of local craft beers on tap. And we had to go back to Crux since Jim wanted another Tough Love before it ran out, and also revisited Bridge 99, which is now our favorite brewery in Bend.

Our Bend time ends on Thursday, so unless something exciting happens between now and then, our next post will be coming from Portland. See you there.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Hikes, Pickleball, Breweries and The Blitz


For some reason I had a sense that we didn’t do much this past week in Bend until I was thinking of a title for this post and realized we’ve been pretty busy here. I guess it’s because we had way too many days of highs only in the 50s with clouds and rain thrown in to cause me to forget we also had some decent enough weather to get outside and play.


We played pickleball two mornings at Pine Nursery Park, where they have 16 beautiful courts. Pickleball is a really big deal in Bend, and in order to play on 12 of the courts you must be a member or guest ($5 fee) of the Bend Pickleball Club. It’s very structured and you have to take classes to get to a certain level before you can even join in the play. I guess since they have hundreds of members it works best to do it that way, but four of the courts are open for anyone to use for free. We did manage to find two other couples to play with and if we lived here would definitely join the club, but for the less than two weeks we have left we’ll just drop by and either play singles or hope there are other visitors looking for a game of doubles.

One day we took a hike at nearby Shevlin Park, hiking along Tumalo Creek in the pines on the Shevlin Park loop trail. It’s a pleasant five miles on a ridge above the creek, but Jim thought there were too many trees.



This is the Hixon Crossing covered bridge.


A Google search found this information about the bridge: 

According to the Bend Parks and Recreation District, this small covered bridge was constructed by a movie company in the early 1990s in exchange for filming some scenes in the park, including the bridge.
The bridge across Tumalo Creek was built upon the footings of a much larger logging railroad trestle that spanned the canyon of Tumalo Creek from 1941 to 1957.


No hike in the Bend area is complete without a stop at a brewery, and our favorite from last time, Crux Fermentation Project,  just happened to be on our way home.


My favorite was still the Half Hitch IPA, but Jim liked one of their limited release specialty beers, Tough Love.


While in Bend in 2014 we volunteered to work at a mountain bike race, The Blitz, but a large wildfire encroached on the trails so the race was cancelled. A couple weeks ago we got an email from the volunteer coordinator who said they still needed volunteers for this years event, which was on the 16th. Since we knew we would be here then we signed up. Volunteers got a tshirt and a beer. Unfortunately it was 55 when we arrived at our post, with dark clouds all around, but we layered up and brought our rain gear. It’s always interesting to be behind the scenes of an event because you wonder how they ever pull it off. Nobody was sure where exactly we were supposed to be stationed, but they finally figured it out. And no one had blocked off the trail intersection so cars had already parked there and the riders had to thread between cars to cross the road.

There’s Jim manning his post at the road crossing, while I was farther down the trail directing the riders on which way to go, as other cars had parked in the dirt by the trail and made it very confusing.


Of course it started raining about a half hour before all the men had come through, so we got cold and wet as the temperature dropped into the mid 40s. We did head over to get our beer after but we had to bring it inside the clubhouse of the golf course to get warm, and they cancelled the arm wrestling contest which the riders normally do after they finish the race since it was pouring by then and all the spectators were leaving. It was still fun and a different way to spend the evening.

Jeanne arrived in Bend last week and joined us in the pasture, so on Friday we took a drive north of Redmond to Smith Rock State Park. We had hiked there before but wanted to visit it again as we remembered it being very scenic, and our memory was correct. Even though afternoon thunderstorms were predicted and it was overcast during most of our hike, we managed to finish the 4 mile Misery Ridge loop with just a bit of rain near the end of the trail.

The park is every bit as beautiful as we remembered. Jim was loving the lack of trees and endless views, which start right out of the parking lot.



Misery Ridge trail from across the Crooked River. It climbs 600’ in less than a mile over loose rock and lots of stairs.


Making our way up.


Jim and Jeanne taking one of many breaks.



But there was good reason to stop and take photos, and catch our breath.




Looking back down on the trail.


At the top. Jim was telling me to get closer to the edge but this was it for me.


Great views all around.




You can’t see them in the photo but there are huge houses scattered around that rock.


Jim did some spying with the zoom to see how the other half lives.



Monkey Face rock.


Looks more like a monkey from this angle.


I saw some people ahead of us stop and look at the ground next to the trail. When we got there I was curious to see what they were looking at and didn’t realize at first what this actually was, until Jeanne spotted the rattle. It never moved while we were watching it.


This is a climbers paradise, and they were out in force. They always make it look so easy.





The last easy part of the trail along the river is very scenic.




Smith Rock is a great place to hike, but unless you stay along the fairly level river trail be sure to bring hiking poles. The trails are covered with tiny stones that make your feet try to slip out from under you. We all managed to stay upright but we did see another hiker go down. And don’t expect much solitude on the trail as it’s a popular place.

We were hungry and thirsty after the hike, and there was a brewery in Redmond we hadn’t tried, so we stopped at Wild Ride Brew on the way home. They have a nice tasting room but no restaurant, just four food trucks parked outside. We had Caribbean wraps from The Jerk King that were excellent, and Jim found his new favorite beer, Nut Crusher Peanut Butter Porter, while I liked the Dark Dynasty Belgian Dark Ale. We would definitely go there again.

Yesterday was cold and drizzly, but Jeanne and I decided to check out the Saturday farmer’s market while Jim ran some errands and took advantage of his Silver Sneakers membership to go work out at a gym. There were quite a few people at the market but I felt sorry for the vendors, especially the gelato guy, as it was not an ice cream kind of day.

No big plans for this coming week, but it’s supposed to be getting back into the 70s and 80s so we hope to get in some more biking, pickleball, and a hike or two, and I suspect there will be beer tasting.