Brian's Photo Blog — Article 19
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Cascade Lakes Photo Outing
Saturday 20 August 2011   —   Category: Outings

This past week my wife and I got up early and headed southeast to find the Cascades Lakes Scenic Byway, which winds through 66 miles of breathtaking Oregon scenery — by tranquil lakes and snowy peaks, from Oregon Route 58 in the south to the city of Bend in the north. This area is somewhat off the beaten path, and thus has more of an undeveloped and unspoilt quality than some of the other more well-traveled parts of Oregon.

We arrived at our first stop, Davis Lake, around 8:15 AM. As you can see from the first photo to the right, it was so calm that early in the morning that the water was reflecting like a mirror.

Continuing north, our next stop was Crane Prairie Reservoir, with great views (and reflections) of the 10,358-foot South Sister, the 9,175-foot Broken Top, and the 9,068-foot Mount Bachelor. We saw a lot of these mountains throughout the day. After taking quite a few photos with my various lenses, it was time to move on.

On our way to the next lake, we stopped briefly at the Deschutes River, just north of Crane Prairie Reservoir, about 6 miles south of its source at Little Lava Lake, and then again only two-and-a-half miles from its source.

Our next stop was at Little Lava Lake itself, which is dominated by Mount Bachelor to the east and the South Sister to the north. It is here that the Deschutes River begins its 252-mile journey all the way to the Columbia River.

After hanging out here for a little while, we drove next door to big brother Lava Lake. From there, we hiked for about three miles (round trip) around the northern end of Little Lava Lake. Once we got back to the car, we enjoyed our picnic lunch, with a great view of Lava Lake and the South Sister.

Down the road further north we stopped at the marina at Elk Lake — this was the most “civilization” was had seen all day! It was really a bit too crowded for my tastes, so we stayed just long enough for me to take some more great photos. Then we drove back to the south end of Elk Lake where there is a small beach. And I thought the marina was crowded?! This place was packed like a Los Angeles beach in the summer!! After a handful of shots, we sure got out of there quickly!

Back in the solitude of our car, we continued north, starting to circle around Mount Bachelor, until we came to the Sparks Lake area. This region was the favorite of Oregon’s official Photographer Laureate, Ray Atkeson, for whom a roadside memorial was created in the 1990s. As soon as I got back home, I ordered one of his photo book from Amazon: Oregon, My Oregon, featuring over 100 of Mr. Atkeson’s best photos from all around the state of Oregon — some of the photos are quite stunning. As well they should be, because the scenery at this location was stunning too!

And that was the end of our stops along the Cascades Lakes Scenic Byway, but seeing that we still had a 150-mile drive, over the Cascades, to get back to Albany, our trip was definitely not over yet! I was planning on finding a nice restaurant in downtown Bend (the largest Oregon city east of the Cascades) for dinner, so that’s where we headed next.

As we walked around the old town / downtown part of the city, we felt more and more out of place with all the fancy shops and restaurants ... it just wasn’t our style. Finally, hungry and tired, we gave up and decided to eat at a restaurant we had been to before in Sisters, 23 miles down U.S. Route 20, on the way home to Albany.

We had a great meal at Bronco Billy’s Ranch Grill in historic downtown Sisters. I especially liked the optional “blue cheese butter” they put on top of my steak — yum, yum, yummmmm!! It was a long, long day, but we finally made it home in time to crash into bed and dream of the enchanted lakes of the Cascades.

Words cannot adequately describe all the beauty we found there, so be sure to take a look at each of the 40 photos in the Cascade Lakes 2011 photo album.
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 19
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