We set out on another very long drive to McKenzie Pass on a Friday afternoon. We had not had the chance to go backpacking yet this summer since the first attempt ended with rustic car camping. I was 32 weeks pregnant and feeling great.
We found the trailhead and started the easy trek to Hand Lake shelter. The bugs were out and some folks hiking back toward the trailhead said they were especially fierce at the shelter.
We got to the three sided shelter and the little lake view. We covered ourselves in bug spray, put on as many clothes as possible, cooked some dinner and hung a bear bag. You have never seen a four year old so eager to go to bed to get even more covered from bugs. The two adults were quickly in sleeping bags as well to avoid being eaten alive at dusk! Fortunately the bugs went to sleep as it cooled off.
Though Sarah was my mule, I was proud of myself for sleeping on the ground in my third trimester of pregnancy and actually had a pretty nice night in the shelter. I got up early and got a fire and breakfast going.
After breakfast, we headed out for a day hike. It was a gentle stroll around the lake and we enjoyed some mountain views as well as some fascinating terrain.
There was an old wagon road carved through the volcanic rock. It was fun to see a bit more central/ eastern Oregon landscape.
We saw a family of ducks swimming in hand lake and arrived back at the shelter late morning, just as the bugs were waking up. We decided to grab our food bag and hit the trail back to our car. We had some other stops in the area to visit beautiful, hopefully less bugfull, waterfalls. I proudly carried the backpack the half mile back to the car, feeling like a real pregnant backpacker!
We drove to two waterfalls- Sahalie and Kooska falls. We parked at Kooska Falls and hiked the mile between the two falls. Kooska Falls had an awesome rainbow in it. The creek was amazingly blue, green, and raging.
It was wonderful to hike along such clear amazing water- a great day of hiking and a long drive back. No more backpacking until next summer. We will stick to car camping with an air mattress and tent. There will be a few weeks more adventures to come before this baby is born.