McKenzie River Trail near Belknap Hot Springs - October 21, 2017
Coordinator, narration and pictures by Richard O'Neill

Rain, rain, rain…so much rain. That would explain why only 5 hikers showed up for this hike. Originally, the hike was slated for a circumnavigation of Clear Lake but as we drove up the McKenzie Highway, the temperature dropped and was rapidly approaching freezing temperatures. Not wanting to deal with slush and cold rain in the barren and exposed lava fields on the east side of the lake, an impromptu decision was made to instead hike on the heavily forested McKenzie River Trail near Belknap Springs. The thinking was that the trees would provide a modicum of protection from the elements.

Nope, there was simply too much rain and we got soaked within minutes of setting foot on the trail. But since we had a long drive already invested in this hike, we commenced hiking anyway. The trail was wide and well groomed, so we were able to step around the many puddles on the trail. The vine maples were putting on a spectacular, albeit soggy, autumnal show and it was like walking in a yellow hallway. Or maybe a yellow-tiled cold shower.

A couple of miles in, the trail crossed over the McKenzie River on a roadway and from there, it’d be a real trail. Unfortunately, most of that real trail was covered by real water so our party of 5 became a party of two as John and Richard continued on to a trail junction with a forest road.

We didn’t hike very far but despite the rain, the trail was always eminently beautiful what with miles of yellow leaves, a nearby rushing river, ankle deep puddles, and lots of cold fat raindrops. Maybe you just had to be there to understand.


 

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