Green Lakes/Soda Creek Loop

September 21, 1986

What could be more thrilling than the feeling of anticipation you get as you are greeted by a brisk chill in the morning air and watch white swirling clouds encircle the mountains, as they herald the coming of fall! Here and there patches of blue sky and sunshine win out over the clouds to say “It’s not quite time! We’re not quite ready for summer to end.” Firs and hemlocks bend in the wind, chipmunks and Golden Mantle squirrels scurry to prepare for harsh weather, Canada jays and Clark’s nutcrackers continue their never-ending search for food, black crow flop their wings and call to each other and all of nature is in a state of flux.

On just such a morning six of us adventuresome hikers made our way at a leisurely pace upstream from the parking lot on Century Drive across from Spark Lake 4½ miles along the Fail Creek Trail to Green Lakes. The stream and waterfalls were especially beautiful as they raced down the mountain. Ditches had been dug out across the trail in preparation for the heavy rains and snow that would one day come. Near the Moraine Lake trailhead we surprised a doe and two nearly grown fawns along the stream and watched them disappear into the trees. A little farther along the trail some of the more observant hikers saw a small fawn calling for its mother. As the clouds blew in from the Northwest and snow appeared on the trail, we hurried the last mile to get some good mountain views of the South Sister and Broken Top before they disappeared. The clouds did subside and we watched them play peek-a-boo with the mountains, as we enjoyed our lunches of smoked Gouda, Havarti Dill, sliced turkey, French bread, nectarines, grapes, nuts and raisins.

A flock of mallards greeted us as we climbed above the second lake and turned to look back at the South Sister. It looked like a giant ice-cream cone that someone had taken a lick off of the top. It was a perfect day of fun, fellowship, photography and snowball fights as we hiked along the snow-covered Crater Ditch Trail and “oohed and awed” at beautiful views of Broken Top blanketed in snow. Here and there the last of the blue lupine, purple asters and thistles, fading yellow rabbit brush and red Indian paintbrush still held out in hopes of an Indian summer. As we dropped down the Soda Creek Trail, I was forcibly remind of how important it is to carry a first aid kit. One of the hikers developed such pain in her knee that she could hardly walk. After a rest and getting her knee wrapped, she was able to walk the remaining three miles and say, “It was worth every minute!”

We said goodbye in the parking lot. Mary Ellen, Ardys and Herb left a little early to enjoy the crimson-colored maple leaves on the way back down the Santiam to Eugene. Carrie stayed in her camper and Jane and I drove to Elk Lake for a cup of coffee and a view of Mt. Bachelor before going back to Bend.

The biggest thrill of the day was seeing a black bear lumber in front of us across the highway! We stopped when we got to his crossing point but he was nowhere to be seen. Only his footprints remained in the red lava on the shoulder of the road. No doubt he had gone off to find a safe, warm shelter where he could snuggle down and await the coming of fall and then winter.

Green Lakes loopers were Carrie McClish, Herb McMurtry, Ardys Ringsdorf, Jane Tucker, Mary Ellen West, and leader, Merge Kocher.

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