We headed east along the beautiful MacKenzie River. Once more the day was bright and beautiful, but as we drove we realized that our original goal of Bend would land us in Klamath Falls pretty late. So we found the scenic Rt. 19 which led us past the Cougar Reservoir and south through the deep green ancient trees of the Willamette National Forest to Rt 58 in the south.
We followed the shores of the brilliant blue green Cougar Reservoir. Ther were no other cars, and we wondered if we had wandered through a magic door to a different reality. Suddenly a small parking lot appeared with several cars from far flung destinations: Texas, Nevada, California. There was a sign explaining that these were the Cougar Hot springs, and we would have to pay a fee if we wanted to climb the path into the woods. Then we read that clothing was optional and photography was not allowed. We realized that this was not a spot for us. We took pictures of the still, green lake and headed off to find another picnic spot.
We found a great location with an ancient picnic table, close enough to the water so Kate could wash the plates.
We began to hear a murmuring brook to our right which gradually swelled to a river. It was the Middle Fork Willamette River flowing to join the Willamette. We found a spot to park and climbed down the path which quickly turned to piles of volcanic rocks and gravel. We held on to a massive trunk oozing sap as we made it to the cool, clear river, tumbling over he rocks like our own private waterfall. We saw delicate wild Tiger Lilies as we climbed back to the car.
Finally we made it to Rt. 58. My cell phone chimed with three new messages as we came back to cell phone coverage. The road climbed to the Willamette Pass which was over 5000 ft. high. We stopped to see Salt Creek Falls, 286 ft. high, second highest after Multnomah Falls that we saw last week.
Salt Creek Falls is beautiful, especially because it drops from a shelf of black, volcanic basalt which shimmers in the sunshine. The altitude encouraged the wild rhododendrons we had seen at Mt. Hood.
We passed Diamond Peak rising over Odell Lake,