‘In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through the man, in spite of real sorrows.’ –Ralph Waldo Emerson
2020 has been a lot…on all levels! But I have had a lot of personal growth. Once Bend and Central Oregon starting reopening, I was so glad to be able to explore and clear my head. One of the places I wanted to check out was La Pine State Park. I’ve been a couple of times in the last six weeks and it is really a lovely spot! I first went the day it reopened. I was able to see ‘Big Red,’ one of the oldest Ponderosa trees around! It’s pretty big! It is easy to access as is just up from where I parked (and lots of signs pointing you in the right direction. It’s quite famous-there are even signs on the highway as it is an Oregon monument or something or other) and I was lucky as I was one of the few people on the trail. The other were, I am sure regularly a nice couple, who would not get off FaceTime so I could get a good picture without them in it. They were there forever! Take notice of people waiting when you are standing in front of a landmark. Even just stepping aside for a minute so I could get a better look. Oh well, it’s been there for hundreds of years, it’ll be there for my time in Bend!
Recently, I did the Falls River Loop. While it is part of La Pine State Park, it is not the same entrance as Big Red. I bought a great trail guide, Day Hiking Bend and Central Oregon by Brittany Manwill, and she gave great directions. The loop was also on my iPhone’s gps. A note, though, you turn onto a dirt road. It has a name but it doesn’t matter…there is no street sign, but I assure you it is a road and will get you to where you want to be and Brittany made it really easy with noting guideposts (I have used this book a few times and love it!).
When I parked (and there are public compost restrooms at the parking area), I headed right on the trail. The trail is quite scenic but I think if you go right, it gets better and ends with the Falls (thus the name). When I was walking, I found a hole in the tree and a very loud humming noise. I surmise it was baby woodpeckers sleeping and not some weird creature that will keep me up at night, lol! There are several views points of Falls River and the surrounding mountains and cinder cones. There are several trails in the area but all are clearly marked at most junctions, so very easy to follow. With about a mile left of the hike (it’s total about five miles), there is a junction to continue on the loop or head to the falls. You do you, but I headed to the right and off to the falls! It felt as if I was in Sleepy Beauty when she meets Prince Phillip. While my prince did not come, I did sing along to some Bob Dylan so almost the same, HA! The falls are small (about 14 feet) but mighty. The water rages down but is incredibly tranquil. The water is crystal clear and just felt pure, also cold! There was a man fly fishing and, while not my sport, he seemed very relaxed.
Hiking has become an incredible respite for the struggles in the world, both my own and the world in general. It is really peaceful to just walk and listen to some music (while I love being in nature and listening to the birds chirp, too much time in my own head without music is not great for my anxiety…music soothes my soul and my dad exposed me to great music to do this).
A note…holy pollen! Turns out, my idea of my hay fever not being an issue in Bend due to altitude and being a desert is wrong. Apparently, Junipers and other types of pine can produce a lot of pollen and this is coming from someone from South Carolina. I was on the Falls Loop for about three hours and my car was covered when I returned. I’ve been told it doesn’t last long but I have yet to determine how long long is.