On Sunday afternoon (another perfect day of summer weather), we headed east into the Cascades to visit Clear Lake. It’s about an hour and a half away from Eugene, providing plenty of time to listen to the new Relient K album about a dozen times. It’s a fun listen, if you haven’t checked it out yet.
Anywho, we packed the same picnic lunch that we took to Sweet Cheeks the day before, and enjoyed it on a bench overlooking the lake. We were sitting near the dock where people could rent row boats for the lake, so we got to overhear a lot of conversations.
A few of our favorite quotes:
“Look at this scenic scene!”
“The lake is so clear!”
But, I’ll admit that we were both exclaiming that Clear Lake was really clear during our hike. It really is incredible.
We started our hike (which was either 4.6 miles or 5.4 miles, depending on your source of information) around the lake to the right of the parking lot. I’d recommend doing it this way so that you get to save the view of the mountains for the end. We were really disappointed in the beginning because the hiking path didn’t get very close to the lake, but once we got around to the other side, there weren’t as many trees, so we got to get up close.
At one point, I was getting pretty warm, so I kept talking about jumping into the lake for a swim. The water was so clear and inviting! But once I stood in the water for a minute, my bones started aching. I don’t think swimming in Oregon waterways is for me. Way too cold.
A good portion of the trail went through lava rock. I read that the lake was once a forest, but lava flow dammed an ancient river and flooded the area, creating the lake. Apparently you can still see the trees in the lake, but we didn’t get to go out onto the water. There were a ton of people enjoying the lake on rented row boats and kayaks, but we didn’t get around to it (more on that later). But knowing that this perfect place for smooth boating exists only fed the fire for our dream of owning kayaks. If anyone would like to contribute to the Ringer Kayak Fund, we’ll take cash or checks. Thanks.
By this point, we could see where we started our hike, so we assumed we were almost finished. What we didn’t know was that the trail continued around a part of the lake that we couldn’t see, followed by another 1.5 miles around a creek. I should mention that I started the day with a slight stomachache, and by this point, my stomach was starting to get really uncomfortable. But I figured we weren’t too far from the end, so I could probably make it without much trouble. False.
Even though the water looks like something you would find in the tropics, don’t be fooled. It wasn’t warm. But it was definitely beautiful. The hike goes around the springs that feed the lake, and the water is even colder there, as it has yet to be warmed by the sun. That’s where Eric decided to test out the water. Clearly, he had to keep himself from diving in.
After the springs, things didn’t get too exciting again until we came to a break in the trees where we could see a couple of the Three Sisters and Mount Washington. From what I can tell, this is the only spot on the hike where the mountains are visible, so we took a seat on the conveniently located bench and soaked up the view (and clutched my aching stomach).
From there, the hike went away from the lake and through the forest, which wasn’t nearly as exciting, but was still beautiful. The trees around here are just so enormous. Several of them have fallen across the path, so huge chunks of the trunks have been cut out and rolled to the side. I’m sure I would have enjoyed this more had I not been feeling quite so crummy.
Eventually, we made it back to the start of the trail, hopped in the car, and drove a miserable 1.5 hours back to our place, where I discovered I had a fever and spent the rest of the evening throwing up (which is probably more than you wanted to know). Still, if hiking 5 miles while ill doesn’t impress you, I don’t know what will.
Here’s to remembering the more pleasant portion of the day! Happy hiking, folks!