Alder Springs

With a three-day weekend I wanted to drive someplace a little further than I normally would, so I picked the area along Highway 242 just west of Sisters. I grabbed a spot at the Cold Springs Campground around lunchtime then went into Sisters to grab a quick slice of pizza before doing the Matthieu Lakes loop. (Holy cow, Sisters was a MADHOUSE that afternoon!)

It quickly became apparent that the weather was not going to cooperate. It was cold, rainy, and overcast. No mountain views. Of course, what else did I expect on Labor Day Weekend? After my pizza I sat in the car flipping through the Sullivan book looking for an alternate hike. I briefly considered Proxy Falls, but there was A LOT of very curvy road between here and there. It made me carsick just thinking about it.

So I decided on the short Alder Springs hike, which is NE of Sisters in the Crooked River National Grassland and which follows along Whychus Creek. On the drive out there I discovered that parts of the access road are quite rough and rutted. It started to pour down rain right around the time I got to the TH so I sat in the car and waited, pondering how this area boasts 300+ days of sunshine and less than nine inches of rain annually. I managed to hit one of the other 65 days, I guess.

Black Butte’s summit obscured by clouds:

The Three Sisters are out there somewhere in the clouds:

Dramatic clouds above the canyon of Whychus Creek:

Some of the rock formations reminded me of Leslie Gulch or southern Utah:

At Alder Springs the trail crosses the creek, which is an easy wade this time of year. Since it wasn’t exactly warm I opted out of the wade and made this my turn-around point. If you were to cross the creek, the trail keeps going another mile and a half down to the Deschutes River where the trail ends.

A good spot for camping is just out of frame on the left. I could see a few tents through the bushes. Even though campfires are discouraged here, someone was whacking away at some firewood during the whole 20 minutes I sat here enjoying the scenery.

On the hike back out the clouds were trying to break up a little bit.

This would make a great early-season backpack (albeit a short one) and it would be a lot prettier too, when the landscape is still green and not brown and dried out like it is now.

That night at the campground the woman camping next to me invited me over to enjoy her campfire with her, so I figured why not. We have a very nice chat. She’s from Colorado and has been traveling all around the west in her RV this summer, with her cute little dog Molly for companionship. She likes to ski and will head back to Colorado in the fall just in time for ski season. It was fun talking to her and I’m glad she invited me over. Fifteen years ago I never would have pictured myself carrying on a conversation like this with a stranger. I was too shy.