Cascade Lakes Highway
Elevation: 5,400 feet
It has been a beautiful fall in Central Oregon in 2004. The sun was plentiful, keeping most days right at 71 - 73 degrees during the day and really not getting terribly cold in the evenings. There was little frost on the ground in the mornings. We knew it was only a matter of time before Fall leaves with the coming of Halloween. The last couple of Halloweens have been ridiculously cold and I had a feeling this year was going to be exactly the same.
Tanis had made a comment earlier in the week that he hadn't been on a hike in a while and that he would like to go on one. Figuring he hadn't got to go to Mt. Thielsen with Linda and I, nor got to go on my raft trip with work, I owed him something and I love to go hiking myself. Tanis has been very independant with activities and wanting to do things he is fully capable of doing by himself. This was included in hiking. Tanis had spent so much time in a backpack in Colorado it was nice to have him volunteer to get his own butt up a hike.
I looked in a wonderful, local guide called "Bend, Overall." I found a couple of small hikes originating from Devils Lake on the Cascade Lakes Highway. The highway runs through the Deschutes National Forest, a mass of land 1,600,000 acres or twice the size of Rhode Island.
Devils Lake is famous for a small rock garden near it called "Devil's Garden." This area was a training place of the 1960's Apollo Space Program. James Irwin and other astronaughts were training in the Lava Lands area and the Lava Lands lava tubes. He took a hunk of rock from the Devil's Garden and planted it up on the moon in the Apollo 15 mission in 1971.
Driving southwest out of Bend you come so close to Mount Bachelor that you can see the lift lines forming up at the base. You can feel the scouring, cold wind knocking you off your snowboard. South Sister and Broken Top loom up on the other side of the highway, mixing this with the lakes around every other corner you get the feeling of being crowded by nature. Like she has invaded your personal space.
Devils Lake is just after Sparks Lake on the southern side of the road. The lake isn't large, about the size of two large ponds put together. It is shallow but unbelievably green and clear. Those two observations usually do not coincide, but this lake is a brilliant emerald green, not deep but vibrant. Usually if the lake is green, it's not clear. If it's brilliant it doesn't have a depth. But this lake has both. Gorgeous.
The first small hike was the head of Hell Spring. Tanis led most of the way up the trail. It was an easy, small hike but the stream we followed was a joy the entire way.
The stream was filled with moss. It was an epidemic of furry green vegatation that covered all rocks, falled logs and debris and bracken that had covered in between root systems. It was a delicate area in the middle of a desert. I hadn't ever seen moss be able to survive like this on the east side of the Cascade Mountain Range. Had this been on the west side, this wouldn't have been out of place, it would have been what everything looked like.