Friday, October 12, 2007


In spite of the big blob of smashed insect in the center of this photo (you might not notice it, overlaid on the road), I wanted to show you some of the beautiful colors we saw as we drove from Summer Lake to Klamath Falls today. Most of the drive was around 4,500 ft. elevation, and the aspen and cottonwoods were brilliant.

We crossed three passes on good, winding two lane road. Narrow canyons filled with fall color gave way to meadows and wide valleys. Lots of old barns and big ranches, with heavily weathered old homesteads collapsing here and there. The towns were tiny, a gas station, a saloon, a mini-mart, a post office and a USFS ranger station.

We had a wonderful time at Summer Lake Hot Springs and we definitely will return. We stayed two nights and managed to fit in another soak in the pool before we left this morning.

Here is the "front view" of the bath house, built (if I remember correctly) in 1928. The sign over the door on the left says "Women"; the sign over the door on the right says "Others". No need for separate doors, as they both open into the same room.

If you stay in an RV or one of the cabins available for rent (considerably more modern than the bath house), the pool is available to you 24 hours a day - and is open to the (paying) public from 8 am until 9 pm.

This is what you find when you enter the bath house: the concrete pool, with 100 degree water constantly pouring in through a pipe on the side wall. See Odel waving at the far end? A narrow hallway runs down both sides of the pool, with funky little changing rooms opening along each side.

Windows on two sides let in light; big skylights on top do the same. It is an incredibly relaxing, comfortable, fun spot. In the three times we visited the pool, there were between 1 and 4 other people in with us, around our same ages, so we could chat or just float around, propping ourselves up with pool "noodles".

Our friend Sharon added a comment to my prior post, about what appears to be a dust storm approaching. Sharon, that is exactly what it was!

Summer Lake is mostly dry, but not completely. It is in the center of a huge, alkaline "playa", which was about the consistency of heavy ash - very pale, soft and powdery. On the day we drove from Bend to the hot springs, the wind was blowing, picking the dust off the playa and blowing it in huge clouds to the north (away from us).

To me, the white dust looked like steam rising off water, and I thought maybe there were hot springs out in the lake bed.

Yesterday, the weather was much calmer and we went for a long walk through one of Oregon's largest bird refuges, Summer Lake Wildlife Refuge. This is a huge wetlands area on the edge of Summer Lake, filled with marshes and cattails. LOTS of birds, mostly waterfowl - but, in a little stand of cottonwood trees, the only large trees around, we saw TWO GIANT owls, the biggest I have ever seen.

It was a gorgeous walk, sweeping vistas in all directions. As we left, we stopped to read a historic marker about John Fremont's trek through the area in... hmmmm... I think it was December 16th, 1864, going from The Dalles on the Columbia River to Sutter's Fort in Sacramento, California. Funny, that is where we are now headed (well, not the fort).

So, we had to leave the hot springs, and we find ourselves tonight in much more dismal circumstances. We arrived at Klamath Falls, Oregon, mid-afternoon. Once we were set up, we went off sightseeing. Perhaps it was the gray, overcast weather, or maybe Klamath Falls reveals her charms only to residents; to us, it looks quite depressed and depressing, with only the fall colors in its favor. No matter, we're off tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. What gorgeous photos, Laurie! My kind of landscape.