01 October 2010

McKenzie Pass

McKenzie Pass.  Elevation 5325.  15 miles of uphill climbing.  23 miles of glorious descent.  And at the top, the most unique summit of the trip.  It was also our last pass making it pretty much all downhill from here to the coast.

The road had been newly paved and there were hardly any cars.

It went from trees to rock as we got closer to the top.  At this point we saw the lava fields.  Miles of miles of what looks like rubble.  It was unlike anything I've ever seen, or even heard about.  1500 years ago all of this was a sea of red hot lava!

At the top there was a castle-like structure made from the lava rocks.  Inside there were big curved windos and in between them were tiny windows, each with a name written below it.  The name was indicative of the mountain you could see through the window.  All the way around, there were 11 different peaks you could see and identify with the help of these little windows. 

 Hard to see but in real life it wasn't.
Ken takes a look at Mt. Washington.  It had some minor volcanic activity as little as 1330 years ago.  
This is what Ken was seeing through that little hole in the wall:
Mt Washington.

See that little trail I am on?  There are 20 miles of that trail around here.  There were a bunch of workers there making even more trails:
For years this pass was closed for construction.  They had only recently reopened it.
Simon couldn't find any grass.

It was also COLD and windy there!
 As we began the descent, things started to become more green.  We thought it would get warmer but it really didn't until we were down below 1000 feet again.
It got VERY green, and the 23 miles to the bottom was nothing short of magical.  The forest here was so lush and dense, it was like something from a fairy tale.  The road was smooth and winding and we had it all to ourselves.  We camped that night at a campground appropriately named "Paradise" where there were enormous trees covered in moss, and the rapid McKenzie River ran beside us.  I didn't get many pictures of this part.  I was too busy saying, "Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!"  It was so much fun!!!
Knowing McKenzie was our last pass to conquer made it even more fun.  
I let some of Alex's ashes float down the river...

From this point on, things got sort of hectic.  The next day we were back in traffic and we got rained on until we arrived in Eugene where we got a room.  Everything was soaking wet and covered in road grime and we were miserable.  We admitted to one another that as sad as we were about the trip ending, we wouldn't miss this part.  Getting soaked, breaking a wet camp, and riding on a dirty busy road isn't fun.  The next day we headed for Florence...  Our final destination.  We would arrive there, but not in the way we'd anticipated for oh so long...  stay tuned!

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