Tuesday, October 21, 2014
IS THIS HEAVEN? NO. THIS IS CAMP SHERMAN, OREGON.
On the Volcanic Legacy Tour of California and Oregon
Dateline: Camp Sherman, Oregon. There is the river. A few cabins dot the Ponderosa forest floor and a gently sloping sward of green links the forest and the stream.
And there’s the tiny but very nicely appointed general store. Several footbridges cross the river to it.
But there is no Internet access. Cell phone coverage is limited to a clearing called “the Crossroad” about 400 yards west. There’s a stump you can sit on if you must make contact with the outside.
But why? This place is perfect.
After each day’s ride, I’d grab a copy of whatever it was I was reading and head for a rustic bench positioned about seven feet back of the Metolius River. There, with the robust flow of the spring-fed stream providing the ideal white noise for concentration, I read. Uninterrupted for ninety minutes or more, until the sun slipped behind the stand of pines and evening’s coolness breathed in and settled across the little valley.
I said “uninterrupted,” but that was an overstatement. Twice a pair of Mallards jetted past, their wingtips just touching the river’s surface. Each time, they squawked as if deep in disagreement with one another or, more likely, angry with me for claiming their bench. Then there was that hawk’s primal “good night” call just around dusk. It still echoes.
Camp Sherman is located about twenty minutes west of Sisters, the quaint but rapidly becoming a bit too touristy home of a renowned annual quilt show. Spanning both sides of the river, Camp Sherman is a Mecca for fisher-people and deer hunters in season.
What do folks who do not fish or hunt do on the river? Reading was nice. So was a good cigar and a dram of local whiskey after a grilled steak or pit-barbecued chicken.
Upstream, it is a short walk to the source of the river: a huge and dynamic spring flowing from beneath a moss and fern covered hunk of basalt.
Downstream, Oregon wildlife folks have established a fish hatchery in order to stock this and other area waterways.
In the vicinity are stretches of pine forest, some of which, lately, have been touched by fire.
Further on, evidence of the area’s glacial and volcanic legacy can be found in the etched faces of the mountains, the vast acreage of impassable “aa” and the gritty, sandy, cindery ridges that, were it not for the root networks beneath the forest floor, would be eroded or simply blown away.
A good day’s drive from either Sacramento or Seattle, Camp Sherman is centrally located in Oregon and in the west. It is a little piece of heaven that recalls rugged, yet simpler times, inviting our pulse to slow, our hearts to reflect and our spirits to be renewed.
Notes and Resources:
The Camp Sherman Store is worth the trip all by itself. Nice collection of wines, beers and all the sundries any forgetful person might have forgotten. I’d forgotten butter and matches and ended up with that and a six-pack of Mirror Pond Ale, brewed locally in Bend. Had I needed a Royal Wulff or a Gray Ghost trout fly, I'm sure they'd have accommodated.
Here is the store’s website: http://www.campshermanstore.com/
On this latest visit, riding brother Randy and I stayed at the Cold Spring Resort: http://www.coldspringsresort.com/ Accommodations were clean and quaint but a little tight for a couple of big buffaloes such as ourselves.
When previously visiting the area with our wives, the Metolius River Resort’s cabins proved to be quite comfortable, spacious and well appointed: http://www.metoliusriverresort.com/index.asp
The local restaurant wasn’t open for breakfast, and we didn’t pack for that, so we started each day trip with a run into Sisters where there are several nice breakfast places.
The Sisters Oregon Guide has this to say about Camp Sherman: http://www.sistersoregonguide.com/recreation-camp-sherman.html
Church of the Open Road Press