I'm back at work after a really fabulous overnight trip to Central Oregon with Z on Monday/Tuesday. I'd been wanting to go back to the McKenzie Pass for literally YEARS, since the first time I went, it was beautiful but too cloudy to see any of the mountain views. The pass is closed most of the year, and it's a long drive from Portland, so getting there isn't super convenient, but I finally nagged my husband about it enough to plan a getaway. I'd read in some BEST HIKES EVER article about Tamolitch Pool in Central Oregon, and it turns out that it's pretty near the Pass, so that was the first thing on our trip agenda. Holy shit, you guys, it's amazing.
Just look how blue that is! That water looks like it's just a few feet deep, but it's actually 30-40 feet deep. This is where the McKenzie River emerges from underground -- there's a big cave under the rocks to the left. The water in the pool looks totally still, but just to the right of the frame, it's rushing out, being the river that it is. The hike to the cliff here was pretty easy -- 2 miles, mostly flat -- but to get down to the water where those people are, you basically have to rock climb. It took us a really long time just to find something that looked like a path down, but we eventually got down to the water's edge. We put our feet in, but only for about a second, because HOLY SHIT it's piercingly cold. The water is 37 degrees. If it had been a more strenuous hike, maybe the cold would've felt good, but I don't know how hot I'd have to be for that to feel refreshing. I did the ice bucket challenge just the day before and that was CHILD'S PLAY compared to putting my toes in this water.
Anyway it was a beautiful day for hiking, and Oregon continues to dazzle me with its natural beauty.
After Tamolitch Pool, we drove on further up the Pass and stopped for a short hike at Proxy Falls. There are two sets of falls and a whole bunch of lava beds there, and I'm sure that hike would've impressed the shit out of me had I not just come from the previous one. As it was, it was beautiful, but kind of meh in comparison.
Our last hiking stop of the day was at the top of the McKenzie Pass, at Dee Wright Observatory. The summit of the Pass is an expansive field of lava beds from an eruption 360,000 years ago. The landscape is like being on the surface of another planet. From there, you can see Cascade peaks in 360 degrees. It was a clear day, and the views we got were absolutely breathtaking. I imagine it's even more stunning in the winter when all the peaks are white with snow, but you can't get there that time of year. Anyway I loved it.
We continued down the other side of the mountain range and stayed the night in Redmond, then did another hike along the Deschutes before taking off the next morning. I could not keep my eyes open on the drive back, which was a shame, because we drove through some beautiful parts of the wilderness, but I slept most of the way. I think Z was a little disappointed about that, and I am, too, but it sure felt good to sleep...
We got back to Portland in the late afternoon and had our first counseling session in about six weeks -- I hope we never go this long between sessions again. Counseling is good for us, but we were way overdue for some maintenance work. It was a difficult session. We've been all over the map emotionally the last few weeks, and I think more regular counseling will keep us more level...I think we're in a good place right now, mostly...but it's hard. It remains the biggest challenge I've ever faced, but I'm proud of the progress I've made and the work I continue to do. I think McKenzie feels the same way, but he is less hopeful than I am, which is very hard. Anyway. It's going reasonably well, but it's not smooth. We're doing our best. This mini-vacation was really, really good for both of us.