Short Trips in Sisters, Oregon, 07/03/10-07/04/10

Some good friends invited us to spend the extended Fourth of July weekend with them and friends of theirs at a ranch in Sisters, Oregon. We enthusiastically agreed, and had a great time. The area is beautiful—the closest we’d ever been is the also-beautiful Breitenbush Hot Springs, but the environment is a little different on the east side of the mountains.

Three Sisters from The Ranch.

There were wonderful views of a lot of volcanoes and near-perfect weather…

We were able to sneak away Saturday morning for a drive along McKenzie Highway. Even with the mountains visible in every direction, the highlights for me were the massive lava flows, dubbed the “Sea of Lava” by a roadside interpretive sign. Apparently—and I quote something I found via Google—“the McKenzie Pass area in the central Oregon Cascades contains one of the largest concentrations of youthful volcanism in the United States. Lava flows from Belknap [shield volcano] and the smaller Little Belknap shield volcano…cover nearly 100 sq km. Most of the largely unvegetated flows were erupted between about 2900 and 1500 years ago.” It is definitely an interesting landscape.

Mt. Washington beyond the lava and above the trees.

A view of Mt. Jefferson north of the lava fields.

At McKenzie Pass (~5325’) we were greeted by the strange sight of Dee Wright Observatory, a structure built entirely of the lava stone. We stopped and checked it out, staring over the impressive, expansive flows.

The interesting structure called Dee Wright Observatory.

Black Butte as viewed from McKenzie Highway.

After a short stop, we continued west from the pass, losing a bit of elevation until we reached the trailhead to Proxy Falls. Just before we left for our trip to Sisters, I’d seen a photo of Proxy Falls on Flickr, looked up its location, and was excited to find it was a short drive from Sisters. (All the other interestingness of McKenzie Highway was a pleasant surprise!)

A short ~3/4 mile trail takes you to Lower Proxy Falls, and you can loop back and stop at Upper Proxy Falls if you can tear yourself away from the prior. I couldn’t. Camera and tripod in hand, I left Nicole at the viewing area and scrambled down to the base of the falls. I haven’t learned an effective way to protect my camera and lens from spray, so after shooting a few frames I decided I’d try something different. I was glad I did, and after spending a bit too long doing so, I hurried back to a stern-faced Nicole, who’d been waiting for me for about an hour. Whoops…

Couldn't keep the spray off my lens at Proxy Falls.

So I moved to another location to take a detail shot.

And another.

And another...

Since it was now mid-afternoon and our friends had probably already returned from horseback riding, we made our way back over the pass to Sisters. Along the way we were passed by motorcycles in spots where one should not pass. Shortly after, we were waved around one of the motorcycles, which the driver had laid down in the middle of the road. Then they both passed us again later. Motorcycle drivers

The following day we took our friends up to Three Creek Lake for a short hike our hosts had recommended. We fought off mosquitoes throughout our ~four mile hike from the main lake to Little Three Creek Lake (~6700′), but the lakes themselves were quite pretty, we saw small trout swimming in meadow streams, and the views of Tam McArthur Rim (which I’d initially hoped we could climb up onto) were impressive.

Tam McArthur Rim above Little Three Creek Lake.

Afterward, we headed back to Sisters for more food and merry-making, forgoing fireworks for stars in the very dark Oregon sky.

There is definitely a lot to do in the area, and I hope we can return many times in the years to come.

As always, a few more photos at Flickr.


3 Responses to Short Trips in Sisters, Oregon, 07/03/10-07/04/10

  1. Bee says:

    I really love the waterfall shots you took. Could you share the camera settings, like shutter speed, aperture size ?


    • jeremy says:

      Hi Bee,

      Sorry for the much-delayed response. Life has been crazy with the new baby.

      For most of the waterfall pics, I chose F13, and had a shutter speed of between 1/3 and 1 second, with my favorites being .6 or .8 of a second.

      I really do like these, too, so thanks!

      • Bee says:

        No worries! This is just in time for a waterfall hike I’m sorta planning tomorrow, if I can find one ! LOL!

        Btw, Congrats on your new arrival! Life’s indeed crazy, but fun too! Hope you’ll resume your hiking adventures soon with the little one!

        Take care,

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