Combine a clear rushing river with the tall ponderosa pines that live on the eastern slope of the Cascade mountains, and you have one of our favorite landscapes. We indulged ourselves last week and spent six days camping beside that river and below those trees. Nature is a great remedy for the stresses and strains of American culture—especially in an election year.
The source of the Metolius is just a mile or two south of the little town of Camp Sherman (grocery, post office, cabins, resorts). Following the road north brings you to the numerous campgrounds that dot its eastern shore along a 15-mile stretch. This is not wilderness camping. The river corridor is a favorite destination for Oregonians—especially fishermen—and even in deep winter there are visitors.
We found our site in one of the more distant campgrounds and it proved a good choice. Most of our fellow campers were, like us, tenting, and there were no noisy generators or ugly motorhomes to obscure our view of the river. The weather was hot, in the 90s, but a breeze was usually present and humidity was low. The 42-degree water made swimming impossible, but it was enough to sit at river’s edge and watch the clear, rushing water, or to simply read under the towering pines. One day we hiked to the fish hatchery (trout, salmon), another day up the west side of the river through an area known as the gorge. And one day we drove into the nearby town of Sisters to buy a new air mattress. And of course we played boules and gin rummy, had an occasional glass of wine or a beer, and read. (American Dynasty by Kevin Phillips for Ray, and Of Wolves and Men by Barry Lopez for me.)
I wanted to walk this log (well, crawl actually) but Ray wouldn't let me. He said I'd surely die if I fell off on the right side and probably would if I fell off the left. The water is very fast here.
We have at least one more camping trip scheduled before the weather changes, and I think we should squeeze in another trip to the Metolius. Wouldn't you?