Home in Rocky Point: partly cloudy and breezy with 80% chance of rain, 64 F high, 34 F low:
The photo at left was taken from an internet site. The photos below are all mine. We stood in the same place but as you can see in the monument photo, it was clouded in.
I have a book I bought several years ago in California, it is big and heavy and isn’t available on the Kindle. But after seeing the John C. Fremont monument at Fremont Point Overlook on Winter Ridge, I had to go dig it out and read. The book is “Memoirs of My Life, by John C Fremont, Explorer of the American West.” It was on the second expedition after leaving the Tlamath Indians (Klamath Lake) during mid-December of 1843 in a snowstorm that this amazing explorer wrote these words:
“….toward noon the forest looked clear ahead, appearing suddenly to terminate; and beyond a certain point we could see no trees. Riding rapidly ahead to this spot, we found ourselves on the verge of a vertical and rocky wall of the mountain. At our feet – more than a thousand feet below – we looked into a green prairie country, in which a beautiful lake, some twenty miles in length, was spread along the foot of the mountains, its shores bordered with green grass. just then the sun broke out among the clouds, and illuminated the country below, while around us the snow storm raged fiercely. Not a particle of ice was to be seen on the lake, or snow on its borders, and all was like summer or spring. The glow of the sun in the valley below brightened up our hearts with sudden pleasure; and we made the woods ring with joyful shouts to those behind; and gradually, as each came up, he stopped to enjoyed the unexpected scene. Shivering on snow three feet deep, and stiffening in a cold north wind, we exclaimed at once that the names of Summer Lake and Winter Ridge should be applied to these two proximate places of such sudden and violent contrast”
Fremont and his men still had to find a way down from the ridge to the lake below, and in the process rode several miles north and still had a mule roll over and over several hundred feet into a ravine, but “he recovered himself, without injury, other than to his pack”.
We drove from Plush to Summer Lake in heavy rain and hail storms, and arrived at the campground happy to be protected from the wind and rain. Our campground host at the Ana Reservoir RV Park has to be one of the nicest we have encountered. He met us at the entrance in the rain, and talked our ears off before leading us to a nice pull through site at the upper end of the campground. We settled in, relaxed into the afternoon and decided that it was a good time to catch up on blogs and email since we again had a signal with the Verizon Mi-Fi. In this area Verizon works fairly well and ATT is just about useless. So no phone, but at least a slow internet connection gave us some catch up time.
Our evening entertainment consisted of a walk around the campground viewing the very few other rigs that were there, and making sure we did each loop. The reservoir is down the hill a ways and we didn’t see any route down from the campground and with the threatening storms, decided that exploring on foot wasn’t on our agenda for the evening. Mo had finished her book and we thought maybe the little community of Summer Lake just three miles back might have something around for her to read. We found the Summer Lake Lodge, all closed up, and the Refuge Wildlife Loop, an 8.5 mile drive on soggy roads through the wetlands. Silly me, I had thought we were just going to find a book and didn’t have the camera with me that first evening, but we enjoyed the little outing and the birds, even without the camera.
We then took advantage of the power hookups to watch a movie, “Dreamkeepers” about a young man on the Pine Ridge reservation who drives his grandfather to the All Nations PowWow in New Mexico. I loved the movie, it was filmed in some beautiful locations, including the Black Hills, and the characters were real, not dressed up romanticized versions of the noble Native American. Mo was less enthralled than I was with the “stories” that Grandfather told, but I loved all of it. Especially the Coyote and Spider silliness. It was great.
The next morning we woke to stormy skies and rain after hard rain and wind for most of the night. We really wanted to see Fremont Point, and knew that the 18 mile trip on FS gravel roads might yield nothing but clouds, but it was still worth a try. The road leaves Highway 31 just a few miles north of Summer Lake, and travels up the beautiful Winter Ridge area of the Fremont National Forest. I also noticed that Highway 31 is called the Fremont Highway. No wonder!
Traveling through huge old ponderosa forests higher into thick fir, we came to large burn areas left from the Tool Box Fire Complex that raged through in 2002, the same year that fires all over Oregon including the Biscuit fire on the southwest side burned more than 200,000 acres. Amazingly, I had five bars on my Verizon iPad and managed to navigate the fog and cloud shrouded roads to the overlook. As we imagined, the point was completely clouded in, and we could only see that there was nothing, just nothing, beyond the rocks at the edge of the cliff. I took the first photo at the beginning of this post from internet images to show what we would have seen if it had been clear. At the edge of the cliff there used to be an old cabin, once the residence for lookout personnel, that the Fremont National Forest would rent for overnight stays. It was destroyed in the fire, and now volunteers are rebuilding another cabin at the same location.
We decided that a loop route would be more fun than backtracking and with the help of the BLM map, the iPad, and the gazateer, we managed to find our way south through the forest to the Government Harvey Camp Road that led down the steep escarpments to the southern end of Summer Lake. Looking down on the lake from the ridge when the skies opened up a bit was fascinating. The lake is so shallow and the bottom is white, and we couldn’t actually see where there was real water or just white mud. Someday I do have to go back and see the view from Fremont Point.
Not far east from our intersection with the Fremont Highway was the Summer Lake Hot Spring Resort. I think the word “resort” is used loosely, but there are basic cabins there and an old historic bath house built in 1927 to serve hot spring customers. There is an inside pool, but it seemed kind of scummy and not that warm. In addition there are three outside stone man made pools for soaking.
I stopped into the office and met the owner who said he would only charge me $5 to soak instead of the customary $10 fee, but there were a bunch of kids in the big pool and the stone pools I would have preferred were filled with soaking young couples. It didn’t excite me, especially after my little dip at Hart Mountain, so I declined. I can see that the outside pools would be nice if they were less crowded, and the fact that there is enough water exchange to not require any chemicals is a big plus. The views toward Summer Lake were beautiful as well. Too many of these developed springs are adding chlorine to their pools. Yuk.
On the way back to camp, we decided that a good dinner at the well reviewed Summer Lake Lodge was in order since it was raining again and we didn’t really want to haul out the BBQ for the steaks I had thawed. The place looked rustic and fun through the windows, and even though the CLOSED sign said they would be open at 5, no one showed up. We talked to some couples who were staying in the cabins there and they were not happy that the restaurant wasn’t opening. Later our camp host told us the owners were basically just burned out and had the place up for sale.
We decided to take another little tour on the wetland refuge road and try to get some photos in the rain of the campgrounds and the kayak launch on the Ana River. The skies opened up just enough to be gorgeous, to give us a very different and beautiful rainbow, and we added another boondock site to our list. It would be wonderful to camp here in late April or early May when the birds are here in force. The nice thing is that being only 150 miles or so from home, we can decide to come on a moment’s notice when there is a break in the spring weather.
I must say the the Ana Reservoir RV Park was a surprise. Not only because of Jay, our host, but everything was so spiffy and clean, with an open fresh feeling. The second night we were there, most of the campers had left, since it seems that the park caters more to weekend types than full time RV’rs or retirees. There are no lights except for a small bulb over the washrooms, which are locked and the skies were completely dark. I think this may have been one of the quietest campgrounds ever. During the night it felt like we were almost as alone as we had been in our boondock site near Plush! If you are in the area and want some hookups I would highly recommend this little park. Just talking with Jay is fun enough to make it worthwhile. He gave us the inside scoop on the reservoir, where to kayak and put in and take out, the stories about the local people, and about Fremont Point.
Our trip home was beautiful, passing Silver Lake and the road to Fort Rock, crossing the beautiful Klamath Marsh and connecting up with our very familiar route home Highway 97 through the Wood River Valley and safely into Rocky Point. Home looked lovely, except the cold snap had completely killed the dozens of buds on our three hardy azaleas.
11 thoughts on “Winter Ridge and Summer Lake and John C Fremont”
Thanks so much for the origin of the names Summer Lake and Winter Ridge. We spend a lot of time wondering about that when we visited! Great post. Too bad your trip is over!
Love your first picture. What a view from those windows. Thanks for the information on Freemont and the quote from the book. There sure are a lot of things named for him.
Oh, Sherry, that is the one photo that isn't mine. I took it from the website because as you can see in the monument photo, we couldn't see a thing in the clouds. I updated the blog to explain that more clearly.
Well, it is good to go and good to come home, Laurie. We are happy to be here again and will be happy when we find the next trip!
yet another great post from you! thanks for sharing your photos and your travels!!
Thanks for the interesting info. I was glad to see a full hook-up park in the area – you know what wimps we are!! Beautiful shot of the Avocet.
Beautiful photographs of an area we are looking forward to exploring in the future. Of coarse, I love the American Avocet picture. They are such cool birds. So sorry to read that your azaleas got “nipped”.
I don't know how you could have left this place to go home. I'd have been kicking and screaming. Even with the oddly behaving weather, it still is a stunningly beautiful place.
Sue, suddenly your blog template is reversed and too large to fit my screen. Whatz changed? Me or you? (We're at Goose Lake – almost there!)
From what I have read in all four posts, you had a wonderful trip … I bookmarked the Ana Reservoir RV park for when we get out that way (it will happen someday). Love the Avocet. I had my first ever sighting of one this year … such a beautiful shorebird.
Hi Sue, Thanks for your comment today! If our paths cross at Sisters that will be great. I have never been there and do not know the layout of the show or the streets. I'll be with my SIL and I don't know what she plans to do. Are you going to the 4 day Quilt Expo in Redmond's Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center? We will be staying at the fair's campground during that time.
Quilt Expo's site: http://www.quiltexpos.com