Sarah, Amy and I headed out on a Friday afternoon toward Bend in hope of backpacking to a three sided shelter near Tumalo Falls. We got a late start as usual and drove a long time. When we stopped in Sisters it was dinner time but we decided to keep our plan of cooking near the falls.
Unfortunately, there were signs at the falls stating that it was a day use area with no overnight parking and that the shelter was for day use only. It was hard to find this out after so many hours of driving. We did sit by the falls viewpoint and made dinner while we tried to come up with Plan B.
By the time we left Tumalo falls, it was about fifteen minutes before bedtime for Amy. Our plan was to head back to a state park campground we saw on the way in. We arrived at the campground around 8:45pm and it was full. We were not thinking that it was a few days after July 4th and a holiday weekend for some. At this point it was getting dark and already past bedtime. The only resource we had was a hiking book for the area and neither of us was very familiar with our options. We could have gone to Smith Rock, but that would have been a lot more driving.
We found an area hike with a small car campground symbol on the map near it. There was also a story of how several years ago, a rancher was running a meth lab nearby and chasing hikers off the trail. Now it is public land but the darkness and thought of that past meth lab was not very comforting!
We past the Alder Springs trailhead and went another mile down a very steep dirt road that ended at a very remote, rustic car campground with no other people or vehicles. Amy was very tired by this time and Sarah helped her into her PJs while I pitched a tent. Good thing I had brought it just in case. Sarah and I enjoyed some pudding and weren't too far after Amy in getting to bed. In the morning we woke up in a beautiful canyon near a small stream.
We headed up to the trailhead in the morning which was actually quite popular. It was good we got their early since the temperature went into the 90's in central Oregon. We enjoyed seeing the Sisters mountains which we rarely see from very close and the rocky, dessert like terrain and wildflowers.
The cliff spires looked like castles and we found a few cave like openings to explore.
We arrived at our destination, an oasis near the river which was a great, cool place to have lunch and dabble. Amy did not want to swim and we did not feel safe making the crossing to continue the trail with me pregnant with a four year old. We enjoyed watching others cross and cheering them on through the waist plus deep water with a swift current.
We had an amazing curry cooked lunch and took time to enjoy this cool spot on a hot hike.
On the way back, the rule was we only took breaks in shady spots but it still took some convincing to get Amy back up the hill out of the canyon! We stopped a lot to enjoy wildflowers and mountain views.
When we got to the car, we were all ready to start our long drive toward home. We stopped in Sisters for a treat and realized that the huckleberry smoothies we had been drooling over at the local coffee shop were free due to it being their grand opening!
We learned from this adventure to always carry a tent backpacking just in case and to always research whether it is possible to sleep in the potential shelter. We did get to sleep on the ground two weeks later just so that I could say I went backpacking when 32 weeks pregnant and slept on the ground...Stay tuned for that adventure.
Also, on the drive home we stopped to admire Mt. Washington in all her glory looming over us.