Thursday, July 16, 2015

Chapter 25 - Smiling River Campground, Camp Sherman

Saturday, July 11th:
Last night the temperatures here at the Smiling River Campground dropped down into the low 50s and we slept like newborn babies.  The only sounds that we heard in the early morning hours when we awoke at the break of light around 5 am were the sounds of the rushing waters of the Metolius River and the occasional sounds of the wind in the tall evergreen trees surrounding our travel trailer.  This is heaven.  This is the only way to greet a new day.  This photograph of the Metolius was taken in front of our campsite not long after I crawled out of bed to explore this morning.

Our plan today had Kathy kind of giddy.  About 15 miles south of our campground is the city of Sisters named after the three Sister Mountains located just to the southeast of Sisters. Each of these tall and snow covered mountains rise to an elevation of over 10,000 feet which means that they are visible from most of the surrounding areas.  Anyway, this particular weekend was very important to the City of Sisters as well to Kathy for that matter for it was Sisters' annual Quilt Festival weekend where the stores all around the downtown city displayed quilts made by participants from all over the western states. There were hundreds of quilts on display and for most of the quilt makers this judgment day was the culmination day for all of their hard work making quilts during the prior year.  Kathy was anxious to get to the festival.  She loves this kind of artwork and to find it here in Sisters, Oregon.  What a surprise.

Sisters is an interesting city. The forerunner of Sisters was a short-lived military camp in 1865 and after its departure it remained as only a very small settlement that served as a source of supplies to the local sheep ranchers and loggers.  It was not until 1901 that the town of Sisters was formally established although as the local lumber industry declined by the mid-1900s, the population actually decreased to a population of under 500.  Fortunately with the improvement of the roads, the area soon became a tourist destination and in the early 1970s the Sisters City Council passed an zoning ordinance requiring that all stores maintain a store front that replicated an old style Western appearance. While the appearance of the downtown area resembles somewhat of a Disneyworld western town (not totally real looking), the city is attractive and very popular.  The population of Sisters has actually more than doubled in the past ten years.  The annual quilt show has definitely helped with the city's popularity and growth and this year the show is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Kathy was as expected thrilled with the show and not unexpectedly she disappeared for awhile so that she could explore the quilts and stores without being hindered by her slow and more passive followers: myself, Joan, and Terri who joined us again last night. We were fortunate in one respect in that we arrived at the show early since we were able to find a parking space and avoid many of the hundreds of visitors that were to arrive later and flood the walks and streets of this charming little village.

We departed the quilt show and the city of Sisters after around three hours and headed north to visit a completely different type of tourist destination, the Smith Rock State Park.  Smith Rock is really unlike anything that we have visited so far to date in that it is a series of huge volcanic rocks rising almost vertically above the winding Crooked River.  This area besides being a popular hiking destination, is a world famous rock climbing area.  By rock climbing, I mean scaling a vertical cliff rising hundreds of feet above the banks of the river below. While the weather was overcast which detracts from the quality of our photographs, we were thrilled to be able to watch as many as a dozen climbers scaling the rock cliff.

If Kathy and I were younger or at least in as good a shape as my sister, we would have attempted to walk the trail to the top of the rock cliffs or down to the river to the starting point of the rock climbing.  Instead we preferred just to sit on a bench and watch the action from this comfortable position while at the same time insisting that our lack of activity was due to our need to watch over Kathy's precious dog Cabo. This was to be our last "tourist" activity for this Saturday.  We relaxed the rest of the afternoon at our campground, followed by a dinner off the grill, and once again a great nights sleep.

Sunday, July 12th:
Today Joan's plan for us is to hike a trail that runs along the bank of the Metolius River first to view one of the many springs that rush out of the mountain side feeding new water into the Metolius and then followed up with a visit to the very primary source of the Metolius River at the base of the nearby Black Butte Mountain. We are fascinated that a river of this magnitude would be created simply by water flowing out of the sides of mountains.  We guess that all rivers must start somewhere but for us to actually visit the beginning is quite an experience.

This spring and early summer has been relatively dry here in Oregon as was this past winter.  It is therefore somewhat surprising to see the vast flow of water flowing into the river from the mountain side as shown in this photo to the right. There were other areas along the river where we could see water entering the river but the spring shown in this photo was by far the largest flow.

This photograph to the left shows Kathy standing at the source of the mighty Metolius River.  When we looked down at the source that was only a small trickle of water coming from under the mountain and a small pond, but, it WAS THE BEGINNING. Maybe this is what really motivated us to travel almost 4,000 miles.  To visit the beginning.

Our final tourist activity of the day as planned by my sister Joan, our travel agent and our real motivator was a trip to the Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery to see the source of the many fresh water fish that swim down our Metolius River.  The hatchery has been in existence here in the Camp Sherman area since 1947 and it was surprising large and well staffed on a daily basis.  There was even a help wanted ad if anyone is interested and according to the uniformed man that we ran into at the entrance, the position pays $13 per hour.  The photo of the fish in the huge tank that appears to the right is not the best, but we will testify that when Joan dropped some food into the tank, the fury of the Rainbow trout trying to get the small amount of her droppings was a sight to see.

This final photograph shows Kathy and I and Cabo on the bridge over the Metolius River that leads into the fish hatchery.  We had finally finished another wonderful day visiting this wonderful State of Oregon.  And best of all, there will be more wonderful sights to visit tomorrow.  Until then.

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