Clear Lake, Oregon Loop Trail

I had an amazing experience Sunday. My wife and I and our friends from Central Oregon decided to hike the five mile circumferance of Clear Lake.

…created volcanically, Clear Lake boasts some very clear, blue water.

Clear Lake is fed by snow run-off that passes through miles of volcanic rock, coming into the lake virtually pure. And being a few degrees above freezing, it doesn’t harbor much in the way of algae. A hike around the north end of the lake brings you to this treasure: Great Springs, where the clear water just flows out of the rock, to the delight of the butterflies that land there to drink.

We started the hike at Clear Lake Resort and joined the trail moving clockwise. Soon we were in an old growth forest and could from time to time get a peek at the clear, blue lake. One stop gave us a great view of the three sisters towering above the lake. It’s an easy trail, relatively level until you reach the old lava flows where the lake starts from underwater springs. We had Ralph, our Golder Retriever with us, and every chance he got would go for a swim in the frigid water. I could see ahead that while only about five miles around, that five miles looked like quite a distance around to the other side.

About half way into the hike I started to worry, needlessly, that we could be out here until dark, if we didn’t pick up the pace. I got into a rhythm and my friend Bill said don’t let us hold you back. So Ralph and I stepped out. Through the lava fields, we walked, studded with vine maples draped in their yellow and red fall colors. At about the three mile mark we came to a bridge that crosses the MacKenzie river and the trail started rising back to the resort.

Ralph and I were moving as fast as I could walk. Arms swinging with each step, I marveled that my thighs weren’t protesting the steady climb. It felt so good to be alive! On we walked. The pace seemed slow, so I broke into a jog and still no thigh problem. My shirt was soaked, the sun was giving my back a gentle push and my heart hardly moved above an idle. Only in my dreams have I had jogs like this. I waited ten minutes before my friends met me back at the car, where I handed them a cold beer.

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