Fresh Water

Fresh Water

The McKenzie River is a beautiful river. Its clear cold waters are blue, seething with bubbles, and active—this is no place for the faint-hearted. Famed for trout fishing and wooden drift boats, it starts at Clear Lake, hurrying down from the mountains through black lava fields and dark evergreen forests. In several places it tumbles…soars…over rocky cliffs, none more exuberant than the 100-foot drop-off we call Sahalie Falls.

I pulled off the highway on Saturday so my grandsons could see this boisterous display of nature—the river’s running full now, the beneficiary of later-than-normal snowfalls and rain—and it actually stopped them in their tracks. Over many years the forest services have improved the site—replacing red pumice rock with pavement in the tiny parking area, adding access for wheelchairs, cutting down a couple of potentially dangerous trees (they could fall on visitors), building a larger restroom—while the waters continue their wild romp through the canyon, unchanged since I first viewed it forty-five years ago.

Before leaving we walked the short trail to the top of the falls, where we were rewarded with rainbows dancing above the turbulent waters. Everyone agreed we’d already found the pot of gold.


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