When the temperatures are hovering around 100 degrees in Central California, the cool nights of the mountains of Oregon are a respite worth the drive. Recreation Creek and Crystal Creek are on the western side of the Upper Klamath Wildlife Refuge. One of the highlights of my soils career was the opportunity to map the marsh soils in the 11,000 acre bird wonderland. The canoe trail is one of the best I know of, and the water is crystal clear from the input from meltwaters of the Cascade snow packs that feed the underground springs that feed the creeks and the wetlands.
We kayak this creek often, at different times of the year, and each time has surprises. The wetlands support tall bullrushes "tules", that in summer make navigating without a GPS a daunting task, especially if you travel out into the marsh at all. But this year the spring came later, and the wocus flowers were just emerging and the tules were still brown and low so that nothing interrupted the views. We heard blue herons and sandhill cranes, saw lots of geese and ducks, willits, and red wing and yellow headed blackbirds. One of the best treats was watching a huge flock of white pelicans flying high over the marsh as they were arriving. I have never seen a flock this big before, and they were very high in the sky, circling and circling for a very long time. I thought maybe they were just arriving and trying to decide where to hang out for the springtime.
The beavers were especially active this year as well, and when we put our boats into the water later in the evening on Sunday we were boating with beavers. Fun. Somewhat like our kayaking with dolphins in the lo country of South Carolina. There were at least 6 we think, all swimming along, very busy of course. The whap of their tails on the water is loud. I tried making my paddle do the same and watched the instant diving of the beaver that had been swimming along beside us nonchalantly.
If you love to kayak on quiet fresh water, don't miss this experience. The channel of the creek is deep and dark, bounded on the east by the fresh water wetlands of the marsh and on the west by the high ridge of the eastern Cascades. Mt McLaughlin, Harriman Peak, Pelican Butte all are visible rising above the steep front beside the stream. In the north are the peaks that surround Crater Lake, the Watchman and Mt Scott, covered with snow. Two wilderness areas are visible as well, the Sky Lakes Wilderness and the Mountain Lakes Wilderness. It's a place that rivals any I have ever experienced. I have added the link for the canoe trail and another one for the birding trail that is here as well. If you are anywhere near Klamath and if you love to kayak or canoe, it's a treat not to be missed.
Malone Springs is just off the West Side Road a few miles north of Rocky Point. It's free boondocking, with a narrow gravel road that could still accomodate a motorhome and a large turn around area with a couple of camp sites right at the springs. Be ready for mosquitos, however, but it's a beautiful spot. Of course, there is always the Rocky Point Resort for good food and camping as well, with space for RV's, We launch either here at Rocky Point or at Malone Springs for the trip north to Crystal Springs, another deep velvet green wonderland spring. ahh, Oregon, how I love you.
All these places are listed as part of the itinerary for the volcanic scenic byway that includes Crater Lake. http://www.byways.org/explore/byways/2587/itinerary/4034
If the photos have inspired you to look further, check out the Recreation Creek album on my Picassa website. The link is at the top of this blog page.