Fish Lake

January 6, 1979

The Potato Hill snowshoe expedition opened the winter season with a strength of four Obsidians. At our destination, we found the wind gusting so stoutly that it threatened to blow the webbing out of our gear—a peril skiers obviously do not face—so we withdrew in orderly fashion to Fish Lake guard station, in a more sheltered spot and went in, westering along the Old Santiam Wagon road.

This road was projected in 1866 as the Willamette Valley and Cascades Mountain Military Road, but was never built in its entirety, following instead the pioneer wagon roads. On an 1876 map, it is shown as extending from the mouth of the Malheur River on the Snake, venturing through the Blue Mountains north of Malheur Lake, up into Ochoco Creek and Crooked River and into Sisters (not yet built); thence westward into the South Fork of the Santiam River, and thus finally into Lebanon, Newburn, and Albany.

It is a picturesque tour, we discovered, with fine, mature forest and occasional clearings to sun ourselves, eat lunch, and gaze at vistas. We took pains not to travel so fast that the scenery blurred; and since we had parked the car at Fish Lake, we decided not to go on to Albany, but turned back after a mile or two. We must report that wagons do not appear to travel the road these days, at least in wintertime. Fine, friendly company, blue skies were enjoyed by members Wilbur Groner, Jane Hackett, Paula Vehrs, and leader Ted Stern.

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