Oregon Wilderness: National Forests & Bend

Having only been in Oregon just over a year, there’s a lot I haven’t seen yet. For that reason, Ktams and I decided to take an extra long holiday weekend and head to southern Oregon for some hiking and camping adventures. Now I don’t consider myself a diehard camper, but I do enjoy the change of pace and the “ready-or-not” attitude that tends to come along with camping without reservations. I do not suggest this way of doing things to anyone else because it’s very stressful! It did, however, make for quite the interesting trip! We left home Wednesday night and camped at Paradise Campground along the McKenzie River in the Willamette National Forest.

Mountains and trees along the McKenzie River (via TheSpicyBee Instagram)
The Three Sisters from a Lookout Point (via TheSpicyBee Instagram)

Thursday, we set off toward Bend, stopping to gaze in awe at the Three Sisters and Mt. Bachelor. We had breakfast at Chow in Bend, a suggestion from one of Ktam’s friends from work. Chow definitely surpassed our expectations with good coffee, perfect outdoor seating, and delicious dishes. While Ktams dined on The Local (two eggs, sausage, toast, potatoes, and a side of crispy fried tomatoes), I dug into the Huevos Rancheros; two eggs, tortillas, ancho sauce, black beans, green chile sauce, and queso fresco with a side of house potatoes. There is no better way to start the first day of vacation than with a hearty and amazing outdoor meal. After breakfast we headed across the street to Newport Market, which had the neatest way of organizing its produce! We spent some time wandering through the store and ended up leaving with approximately 2.5 lb of gorgeous Rainier cherries.

Food at Chow–From top clockwise: coffee, The Local, Huevos Rancheros (via TheSpicyBee Instagram)

Produce at Newport Market in Bend (via TheSpicyBee Instagram)

That afternoon we had a drink at 10 Barrel Brewing and a tour at Deschutes Brewery. I would highly suggest a tour on your next trip through Bend. The tour is complimentary and finishes with 4 tasters of your choice. Our guide was very well-versed in the scientific side of brewing and took us through the whole process, from the delivery of the grains to the bottling (7.5 bottles of Deschutes are bottled per second!). My favorite sips were the 25th Birthday Porter and the seasonal River Ale.

Ktams climbing boulders at Sparks Lake

After the tour we jumped on the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway and headed toward our next campsite, which would end up being at Hosmer Lake just north of the Lava Lake Lodge. On our way, we stopped at Sparks Lake, and had to promise ourselves to come back. If you haven’t been to this part of Oregon, write down Sparks Lake somewhere! It was the most beautiful body of water I’ve seen (beside Crater Lake, of course). The stars were the best we saw on the whole trip—though it could have had to do with how late we stayed out by the fire. It’s almost eerie to think about how in the middle of nowhere you are when camping. The nearest hospital was an hour away in Bend. Having lived within a mile of a hospital most of my life, I seem to calculate my mortality rate based on distance to the nearest emergency care center. The increased chance for bear or cougar encounter may have also played a large role. The entire trip I did not see anything larger than a ground squirrel—just for the record.

Our first view of Crater Lake–NO POST PROCESSING. Yes, the water’s that blue

We rolled into Crater Lake National Park on Friday and were dumbstruck not only by the view, but by the crowds as well! The 4th of July has to be one of the busiest weekends of the year for Crater Lake because the snow has only just melted away. I wouldn’t quite call it as bad as the traffic we encountered in Yosemite a few years back, but it wasn’t easy to get around either. The view alone was worth all the trouble though!

More pictures to come 🙂

Have you been to Crater Lake?

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