McKenzie River NST-McKenzie River Ranger Station to Belknap Hot Springs

February 27, 2007

The weatherman almost stopped this trip before it began with a forecast of snow in the valley and freezing rain. McKenzie Bridge Ranger Station said they’d had a half-inch of snow and were expecting more overnight. Most signers wanted to go and were advised to plan for cold wet weather with lots of extra warm gear in their packs. We also planned to ride the bus out to the ranger station in the morning no matter what and make an evaluation then, based on the inches of snow we saw at the trailhead. All fuss and bother over nothing! The temperature had warmed up a few degrees and the snow had melted. We saw snow piled in the brush occasionally and had a few light flurries as we hiked, but no rain. Everything was the greenest green Oregon can offer and the trail was relatively free of mud holes. The worst mud hole on the trail, at a private drive to the cabin across the river, seems to have had drainage work recently and was filled with gravel. We reached the resort and had a nice lunch. Only two of us were adventurous enough to don suits and dip in the 103-degree pool. We were rewarded with periods of weak sun overhead — pure heaven! Others walked the grounds, or toured the hotel halls — these are hung with many wonderful historical photos. Too soon it was time to load up for the quick hike out. We realized we were ahead of schedule at the road to Paradise Campground and decided that, rather than go straight to the ranger station, only to sit and wait more than 30 minutes for the bus, we would tour the campground, one of the nicest up the McKenzie. After the campground loop, we double-timed to the ranger station, arriving in time for a fast pit stop and a choice of seating on our LTD chariot. We did the entire hike with only a scattering of funny little barrel-shaped snowflakes, until we were within a quarter mile of the station. The snow began to fall in earnest then, huge wet fat flakes that would have soaked us through in no time. It snowed all the way home until Walterville, where it turned to rain. Here’s a little tip from those of us who took the trip: If you ride this LTD route on a cold and rainy/snowy day, don’t sit in the back of the bus. The buses have inadequate defrost systems; when the windows fog up, they open a window near the back to clear the condensation. We froze! Thanks to all my companions for a great trip and to Dave Call, who was my sweep.

Participants were: Jane Allen, David Call, Shelly Call, Walt Dolliver, Sachiko Iwasaki, Sue Meyers, Mary Morrison, Pat Soussan and Barb Revere, leader.

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