Do I, or don't I? That was the conversation going through my head yesterday in consideration of following through with the "Hike Day" that we had planned to do yesterday. Several people had emailed me telling me that they wouldn't be able to go, so when it came to just Lisa Q, and maybe Steph H., I wanted to make sure they REALLY wanted to go, otherwise I was willing to scrap it as I had a lot on my plate to prepare for.
I'm so glad they wanted to go because the day was just brilliant. We ended up returning to the McKenzie River area to go on the Old McKenzie Pass (Hwy 242) as it is only open a short time each year and I knew the foliage would be amazing. We drove up 9 miles on that route and there is a trailhead pull-off for Proxy Falls. It is a loop trail, between 1-2 miles (not sure exactly) and along the way you delight in some gorgeous crimson leaves and spectacular cascading falls.
Because the hike went faster than we thought it would, and we had already traversed up some of the more windy switchbacks infamous of this old highway, we decided to keep going up. We ended up realizing we'd have time to get to the summit, which is celebrated with a sightseeing location called "Dee Wright Observatory". The area is totally covered with lava fields, giving it an almost surreal "moonscape" appeal. It's been so long since I've been there, it was great to see it again.
Instead of returning the windy way we came, we decided to follow 242 all the way to Sisters - and then take the traditional highway home. We managed all of this (and a stop at McD's!) in just 5 hours, talk about an amazing way to spend a day while the kids are at school!