McKenzie River Trail, Clear Lake to Trailbridge

October 22, 2006

Why is it that crisp fall days put a little spring in everyone’s step? Clear Lake is crowded with cars and campers. The air is cold — about 28 degrees, our breath comes out in white puffs. Water vapor rises off the lake and swirls in white eddies on the shore. We envy a group huddled by a fire in the CCC shelter as we begin our walk but, before long, we are stuffing jackets, hats and gloves into packs. Several times someone remarks on our good sense to leave chores behind for another week. With a canopy of red vine maple overhead and damp trail dust underfoot, we make our way from Clear Lake to Trailbridge, about 9½ miles of mostly downhill walking. We ooh and ah at the two big falls and wonder if there are names for the smaller cascades in between. Lunch is luscious and lazy on a sun-warmed beach at Carmen Reservoir. Below the dam, the river runs silently underground as we pass through an alder bog and then ancient cedar, fir and maple forests. Dogwoods are lavender. We have very little company on the trail until we arrived at the hiker-mountainbiker-and-doggy convention at Tamolitch Pool. The dogs are well behaved and everyone is friendly and happy to be “in the moment.” From Tamolitch to Trailbridge, we pass more and more wise souls who have left the garage cleaning and leaf raking and paperwork behind to get out on possibly this last glorious day of fall.

Members: Lou Maenz, Nola Nelson, Barb Revere (leader) and Pat Soussan. Nonmembers: Pat Bogan, Bill Buskirk, Chris Maenz, Matt McBride and Kathy Wilkowski.

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